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Protecting Plants From Rabbits, Deer and Farm Livestock

The vast majority of freshly planted plants, especially young ones, need protection from rabbits and deers. What protection is required depends on numerous factors, such as the plant’s species, its size, its shape and the position it is planted in.

Ideally rabbit proof wire, stock fencing and deer netting can all be used to deter any animal from accessing the planting area, which avoids having to protect individual plants.

English Woodlands are always on hand to advise the best and most appropriate protection for your plants. As a starting point, however, we suggest the following guidelines:

Protection from rabbits -

Protecting Container grown ornamental and fruit trees

Small ornamental and fruit trees of a size between 150cm-200cm, generally require protection from rabbits. Ideally, spiral guards offer the best protection here, protecting rabbits from gnawing the bark at the bottom of the stem, while usefully the spiral guards expand as the tree grows. If the stem is damaged all the way round the stem, it can be fatal to the tree.

Larger trees are usually more durable, coping without rabbit protection. However if rabbit damage is likely, wider diameter spiral guards are available.

Protecting Bare-root hedge plants

Bare-root hedge plants should be protected from rabbits with spiral guards too. With plants of up to 80cm in height, a cane placed inside the guard is usually required to keep the plant and guard upright. Plus, if you are planting small holly trees within a mixed native hedge, don’t forget these need protection too – for rabbits are attracted to holly in particular!

Bare root tree and hedge plants, for woodlands, roadside planting, screen and shelter belts

Tubex tree and shrub shelters offer solid, but bio-degradable protection from rabbits, deer and herbicide sprays, provide the tree with support and an ideal microclimate for fast, healthy growth. Although they need to be supported by an appropriate stake, the shelters come ready with ties attached.  Tubex shelters are ideal for broadleaved bare root plants for woodlands and gardens, shelterbelts and roadside planting, with the larger sizes able to give some protection against roe and fallow deer.

Shrub shelters are similar, but wider in diameter than the tree shelters, and are suitable for shrubs and multi-stem plants.

Protecting Evergreen hedge plants and trees

Evergreen plants such as Conifers, Pines and Hollies benefit from good protection and ventilation, so a perfect solution is to use a mesh guard. We supply these as either preformed tubes or rolls of recycled plastic that will degrade over time.  As with our spiral guards, mesh guards need to be secured by a stake. Beech trees, although not evergreen, also benefit from good ventilation and so mesh guards are favoured over solid protection for this species.

Providing Deer protection for standard trees

Trees with a 1.8m clear stem are still vulnerable to deer damage to the stem and lowest branches. To prevent this, deer fencing should be used to keep deer out. Where this is not possible weldmesh tree guards are ideal. Alternatively, you can construct your own barrier with four stakes and stock, and deer or rabbit wire between the stakes.

To view English Woodlands complete selection of planting accessories, visit our category page. If you are seeking further advice on how to protect your plants, you can visit our contact page to pose a question to our staff, or give them a call on 01435 862992.

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