To buy and plant a young fruit or flowering tree could cost you $40.00 or more, depending on what type and size you’re buying. That doesn’t include fertilizer, time, watering costs, and the offering of novenas for it to survive. If it’s a fruit tree, apple or cherry, you’ll need at two of them so that they will cross-pollinate and bear fruit. Unless you have an unlimited budget, you’ll need to do whatever you can to help the young tree to survive its first seasons.
There are many natural events which can kill a tree, insects and drought being foremost among them. But very often, a tree will be killed by unnatural events, very often by that favorite fun tool of lawn care specialists everywhere, the string-trimmer.
Fortunately, protecting your young trees from the string trimmer is a lot easier than protecting them from insect or deer predation. The solution is to protect the tree trunk with a tree trunk guard. I shopped for tree trunk protectors at Lowe’s and was told they didn’t keep them in stock. The same thing occurred at the local Home Depot.
I searched online and found what I wanted, however. The only bad news was that I had to buy them in lots of 100 while I only needed about ten. There are several types of trunk protectors, and many of them don’t work or will only work for a little while before they disintegrate. My Ryobi string-trimmer sometimes seems as if it could double as a chain saw-it wears through the cheap cardboard types and even snaps those long plastic spirals which eventually become brittle and fall apart anyway. The tree trunk protectors I found online seemed well designed. Some of them were taller (up to 4 feet), designed to protect from chewing animals, and others were shorter, designed to protect from mower bumping and string trimmers. The tallest ones were naturally more expensive, at 6.95 apiece. The vinyl spiral types were $3.99 apiece at a placed called Sooner Plant Farm, with shorter ones for $2.00 each. At those prices, I thought of manufacturing and selling them myself, maybe even dreaming up a cool site name-something like “Rather Not Farm” or something.
Instead of buying, I decided to make them myself so back to Lowe’s I went and straight to the concrete, lumber, outdoor and large plumbing department. There is a type of black flexible plastic pipe which comes in twelve foot lengths and costs only $4.97. These plastic pipe lengths are generally used for drainage systems, and come in diameters of five or six inches. I’ve used them before to direct roof gutter water away from the house. They are typically buried underground and withstand fairly high pressures of traffic above ground. A very important thing to know is that some of them have perforations in them which permit water to seep out into the earth, gravel, or sand bed. These are the ones best suited for tree trunk protection. All trees need air and the holes permit air to penetrate to the bark skin of the trunk. But there aren’t enough holes in these sections so I get a two-inch drill to create more holes so that air can move around the trunk of the tree freely. .
The next step is to use a hacksaw to cut the plastic pipe into the desirable lengths. A hacksaw will cut the material very easily. I’ve found six to eight inches to be the ideal length for tree trunk protection. After cutting the individual sections with a hack saw, you must then cut a slit along the length with a tin snips, enabling you to spread the cylinder open while you attach it to the tree. You may then close the slit by pulling it together with a twisted wire braid but you don’t have to. This type of piping retains its shape and stands up very well to the string trimmer. From one twelve-foot length of plastic pipe, I could cut from 12 to 24 tree trunk protectors. And there you have it, the Moeursalen “Rather Not Farm” totally cheap low-cost young tree trunk protector.