Netting Fruit Trees

I see alot of people are having trouble netting trees to keep the birds out. Here is what we do.

Folks, we use bird netting extensively, netting the whole tree, The trick to netting is to use 10’ sections of 1 1/4" or 1 1/2" PVC water pipe with a 90 degree elbow at one to handle the nets, the nets won;t snag on this (if there are any mold points file them off). We use 34’ X34’ pieces of netting, fold it in half with the fold towards the tree, using the PVC pipe pick the netting up at the fold and pull it over until the fold is 1/2 way across the tree (you have to do this from both sides), then unfold the net over the rest of the tree and secure it with clothes pins. 2 people can net a 10’ tree in 10 min, one person in 15 or 20 min, You and actually net pretty large trees as long as your pole can lift the net over it. If the trees are to big so a 34’ piece will not reach the ground we use a skirt of netting around the bottom (again attaching with clothes pins, we use a lot of these). If you don’t leave it on to long there is little leaf pulling (or summer pruning as we call it). Don’t wear any buttons, wear smooth soled shoes, and try to keep your fingers out of the net (beer helps). Years ago we bought a 5000’ roll of 17’ netting and take a 68’ piece fold it in half and sew up one side using poly bailing twine to get a 34’ “sock”, now you can buy wide netting. We move the nets from tree to tree as they ripen, and unless you badly rip the net they last several years (small holes can be fixed with clothes pins). Its a pain, but it can save a 100% of your crop. Once the birds learn about the net they barely try to get in so small holes are not a problem.

Eric

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Eric, are you using monofilament? The woven netting doesn’t get snagged as much and isn’t too hard to put over a tree- especially if two people do it with poles and/or ladders. Takes about 10 minutes per.

The junk I bought this year is nearly impossible to use. Even Plumhill’s method wouldn’t really work for it. My wife and I caused so much damage to the tree just attempting to net it. In the end, for whatever reason, the birds didn’t bother us too much.
Plumhill, with decent netting I think your idea of using the PVC is a good one.

Appleseed, do you know the brand and source of that netting? If you could share that info, it might help others avoid wasting money and time and losing some crop.

It’s the very cheap stuff sold widely on ebay. It would have many good uses, but netting trees is not one of them.

Thanks. I’ve been using a garden netting, but will eventually wind up buying bird netting for some specific areas. The birds have been kind this year. The squirrels, not so much.

Hello, we use the normal black polyethylene “expanded” netting with 3/4" square holes. The trick is to place the netting on the tree and unfold the net, you cannot pull the net over the tree. Take it off doing the opposite. When you prune make sure there are no snags sticking out of the leaf canopy or the net will catch on them. We take pruners out when we net and cut any snags we missed off before putting the net on. Any large water spouts sticking way up also get summer pruned off (make sure the cut is below the leaf canopy). A couple of leaves here or there are not a problem but wholesale leaf shreding means your’re pulling the net over the leaves, not placing the net onto the tree. The net also bends down the water spouts helping the tree not be so straight up.

Eric

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Good tips, Thanks

For the home grower with adequate funds a woven net from American netting will be more the ticket, IMO. It is stronger and much less inclined to tangle. I would never use monofilament again. But then, I can’t be bothered erecting frames. Many of the trees I protect only need it some years and the frames would have to be removed every season. Ultimately frames are the best system though- just not that much better.

The woven netting doesn’t kill birds, either, like the black stuff. .

The only problem is a 30X30’ precut net will cost you about $50. You can make it last for 10 years though. Much cheaper in 500’ rolls per 30’.

A bird managed to get so tangled in my netting that we needed to cut the netting to save it.

Over all, I like it a lot. I am not good at making frames or building anything. I can throw this netting (from American Nettings) over a tree and be done with it. Not much snagging at all when comparing to the black kind from Home Depot.

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I also have problems with birds getting stuck in the monofilament netting. Most of the time the problem is they could get under it due to a gap I missed, but occasionally they get stuck from the outside. I switched to the thicker stuff on my blueberries and its made it a lot easier for me. I put tall poles with old tennis balls mounted on the tops at the corners and drape the netting over that. For bigger trees I found the multifilament netting was too heavy, its too hard to get it over. The PVC cage might be the best way for those. Fortunately the scare tape is working really well for me so only the blueberries need netting at this point.

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Too heavy to get it over? Are we talking about the same kind of netting? This is 2 stranded netting that these days comes in green with yellow stripes, It is not at all heavy and weight isn’t an issue. The only problem is when it gets stuck on the small wood which a frame prevents, but as long as you pull it over the top with a pole or stand above the tree with a ladder it is easy to free it from the small snags.

About 15’ is the usual height of trees I net, but they usually have over 4’ of branch free trunk starting off so you bunch the net up and tie it to the trunk just below first branches. .

I think mine is 4-strand. Its also black. I have some of that green stuff but not a lot of it. The heavy netting is great for blueberries, birds never get stuck in it. I have the green 2-strand on a couple bushes and I have killed several birds in it this year. But its a lot lighter, it would go over a big tree no problem.