Monday, March 14, 2011

Stretching Your Tree Planting Dollar - Part 1

We're not just in the business of selling Tree Tubes.  We are in the business of making your planting project a success.  Tree Tubes are just one tool for increasing your success rate - with less work and less frustration.

Part of "success" means "within your budget."  Everyone has a budget, and every tree planter wants to establish as many trees as possible, as quickly as possible, within that budget.

So what happens when you want to plant more trees than you can afford to use buy tree tubes for?  This was exactly the situation for a landowner I have been working with over the past 2 weeks.  Here is how we approached the problem.

1) First we asked: Which tree species are most likely to get browsed by deer and rabbits?  Here we called upon the expertise of local forestry and Soil & Water Conservation District staff for guidance.

2) Where are trees most likely to get browsed?  Portions of the new planting are closer to existing woods, or to a creek - both are favorite haunts for deer and the heaviest browse is most likely to take place adjacent to them.

3) Which trees, if browsed, would "bounce back" and keep growing - perhaps not thriving but at least surviving?  These would be the faster growing trees with indeterminate growth habits that allow them to keep flushing growth all summer.

4) Next we asked: 4ft tubes or 5ft tree tubes?  It was a question of protecting more trees with 4ft tree tubes, or fewer trees with 5ft tubes.  There's no "right" answer to this.  Using 4ft tubes means fewer trees will get browsed initially, but more will get browsed upon emerging from the tree tubes, and these might need to be treated with deer repellent in order to punch through the browse line once and for all.

In the case of this particular landowner, we developed the following plan:

a) 5ft tubes on all the oak trees, since he paid more for specialty hybrid oaks, and they are the least able to bounce back from getting browsed of the species he is planting - plus the goal is getting "fast mast" for wildlife, so every year lost to deer browse makes that wait even longer.

b) 4ft tubes on all the trees within a given distance of the woods and creek draw.

c) 4ft tubes on the species deemed most susceptible to deer browse throughout the rest of the planting.

The next phase of the project is to watch and monitor.  Yes, some trees will get browse by deer, but:

1) Remember, these are the species most likely to bounce back from deer browse.  They might not thrive, they might be kept clipped to ankle height by deer and rabbit, but they won't die.  And as long as you have a living root system, you have a tree.

2) If/when deer browse occurs, un-tubed trees can be treated with deer repellent.

3) After a year or two if the deer are keeping the un-tubed trees mowed off, the landowner can then protect them with tree tubes, knowing that once protected those trees will draw on that well-established root system and literally scream out of the top of those tree tubes.

This plan - focusing the use of tree tubes on the species and in the locations where they are most needed, and then possibly coming back and protecting the trees if necessary and as funds allow - gives the best chance for success given ambitious planting plans and a limited budget.

Working with landowners to help them achieve their tree planting goals is why I love my job so much!  If you have any questions about how best to utilize tree tubes to make your project the success you envision, please contact us

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