7 Types of Tree Guards Explained

Trees protected from winter with burlap.

To help protect trees from equipment, weather, or animal damage, there are a number of tree guards you can install. Different types of tree guards are effective at protecting from various types of threats, so you will want to choose your tree guard depending on the kind of damage the tree may encounter. For example, trees in the yard will most likely be harmed by equipment like weed whackers or lawn mowers. Trees in an open field are more likely to be damaged by animals. Learn about the different types and decide which will benefit your trees the most.

Tip: When installing a tree guard, always leave room for adequate air ventilation. Remember, your tree will grow and your tree guard will need to be adjusted as it does. Check your guard frequently to ensure it is not constricting the tree.

1. Plastic Base Guard Tubes

The most popular types of tree guards are the plastic ones installed around the base of a tree. These simple tree guards usually have plastic latches or connectors that allow them to be easily fixed into place. They are effective at providing protection against small animals or rodents. However, they don't offer much in the way of protection from the elements.

2. Spiral Guards

Spiral tree guards are very similar to plastic base guard tubes. However, they are usually strips of plastic that are wrapped around the base of the tree. Generally speaking, they are taller in height than base guards and provide the same type of protection. Spiral guards are flexible, to allow the tree to grow and also have ventilation holes. This is very important because guards that become too tight can cause rot and disease.

3. Paper Wrap

Heavy commercial paper wrap is also a popular option for protecting trees from some types of inclement weather, mostly colder temperatures. However, they can also be effective in repelling certain types of insects or rodents as well. In some cases, the paper wrap tree guards are treated with a special type of eco-friendly chemical that repels pests. Unfortunately, paper guards will not protect trees from equipment damage.

The paper is wrapped around the tree and secured with twine or rope. Adjust the ropes occasionally to ensure the paper is not becoming too tight.

4. Burlap

Burlap has been used as tree guard fabric for many years. Although, it won't protect a tree from severe weather or cold, it is effective at providing some warmth protection for the tree. Also, some types of pests and rodents find burlap to be very irritating to their nose and eyes and will avoid the material if it is wrapped around the base of the tree. Burlap is not effective against any equipment damage.

Secure burlap around the base of your tree by tying with twine or rope. Readjust your rope occasionally so that the burlap does not become too constricting as your tree grows. Burlap blends in with bark, so it is hardly noticeable from a few feet away. Hardware cloth, which is a metal mesh, can also be used in the same fashion. Secure it around the base of the trunk, but not touching the trunk. The bottom five inches of the hardware cloth should extend five inches into the ground for the most secure fit.

5. Field Tiles

Field tiles are a plastic sleeve that is usually used to wrap or protect pipes. However, in recent years, many orchard growers and tree farmers have adapted them for use as tree guards. They are relatively inexpensive and can be cut to any length needed. Field tile will typically protect trees from severe weather, animals, and equipment damage. They are easily installed and can be secured with nylon rope or a wire wrapping. Some types of field tile pipe coverings also come with latches or snaps that can be used instead of wrapping. The bottom edge of the field tile should extend five centimeters into the ground for maximum support and protection. Dig a small trench around the tree, or simply wiggle the field tile into the ground if it is soft.

6. Metal Tree Guards

Some people choose to install metal tree guards on their trees. This type is generally more decorative than functional. However, if designed correctly, they can be effective at repelling certain types of animals and rodents. They are usually not effective at protecting a tree from the weather or insects.

Tip: The metal will attract a lot of heat during the summer. The tree's bark will absorb it, which could cause cracking. As a basic rule of thumb, steer clear of dark colored tree guards that will conduct heat since the tree will end up absorbing it.

7. Homemade Tree Guards

You can create your own very effective, homemade tree guards by using a couple of two-liter plastic soda bottles. First, cut off the tops and bottoms of the bottles. Then, make a slit lengthwise to cut them open. For smaller trees, the plastic soda bottles can wrapped around the base of the tree and secured with wire or rope. Stack two or more bottles on top of one another for full coverage. For maximum support, make holes in the plastic, tie string through them, and secure the string to a sturdy stake in the lawn. These types of tree guards are effective against small rodents and pests as well as weather conditions and equipment damage.