Revisiting a small alder plantation on the Chayne after four years, it’s been interesting to see the effect of cutting corners. In an attempt to save money, I recycled a huge pile of second hand tree guards from a plantation on the neighbour’s ground. Most of these tubes had been slashed and left to rot, but I reasoned that with some care and attention they could be put back to use again at a fraction of the cost of new guards. This was a ripe spot for planting, and acknowledging a scant but significant population of roe in the deep heather, I decided to fit as many of my new birch and alder trees with deer guards as I could, giving the birches priority treatment. After all, alder trees are supposed to be naturally resistant to roe deer… while this is essentially true it’s really not an absolute.
Frustratingly, my attempts to recycle the tree guards has been a disaster. Almost without exception, the flopping plastic tubes have fallen apart and killed the trees they were supposed to protect. A few held together long enough for the tree to get a good start, only to then blow over and pull the tree down with it. In reality, I would have been much better simply leaving the trees to their own devices – a point driven home by the which were just bunged in the ground without any ceremony or decoration. Some have been grazed and a handful have been killed by fraying roe deer, but on the whole they have done very well without any protection, forming a kind of thick, bushy understory which even held a woodcock or two as I walked around to check on them last week.
By trial and error, I am making progress in this project – let’s chalk “recycled tree guards” up as an error.