Protecting Plant Seedlings


The following information is provided as a courtesy of:

Forestry Supplies Inc.
205 West Rankin Street
P.O. Box 8397
Jackson, MS 39284-8397



Information on International Reforestation Suppliers. International Reforestation Suppliers has been helping tree growers protect trees for over 20 years now. Austrailia-wide we've consulted the use of protection devices or systems to protect trees from domestic farm animals, rabbits, hares, wallabies, cockies, crows, fruit bats, parrots, kangaroos, donkeys, deer, dogs and the elements of nature. Through the years, I.R.S. has also consulted Tele-com (in the 1980's) with wombats chewing phonelines, elephants causing damage to forestry plantations in India and Australian possums in New Zealand Forest Plantations.


A prime concern to anyone growing seedlings is the mortality or simply loss of growth caused by animal damage. The more thought and planning growers give to their planting program can only benefit their final establishment outcome. An assessment of the animal activity in your planting area (well before planting ) and use of the appropriate seedling protection device (if needed at all) is the best insurance of seedling survival.


Planting site assessment for animal activity

An assessment of a planting area should be done over several nights and is best accomplished with spotlighting and the use of lures. Carrots, Grain or lucerne (ALFALFA) can be used as your lure to find out what animals are in your planting area. Before putting down your lure, brush off an area in the dirt (alittle dust is good) so that you can read the tracks of your animals that you expect to eat your lure. Although spotlighting by itself, is a good way to make your assessment the best way is employing both of these methods.


If you are confident that you have little or no animals within your planting area, this assessment could save you from hundreds to thousands of dollars on your seedling establishment costs when choosing your appropriate seedling protection device. This will make your planting dollars go further on planting more trees, rather spending money on expensive plastic and stakes.

Seedling Protection Devices

There are many product devices that are available to growers and some manufacturers will claim almost unbelievable growth response to the use of a particular device. But a multi-million dollar study in North America has concluded, "the successful use of any barrier protection device may be site specific, in many cases." Meaning: the aspect, elevation, prevailing winds, animal activity and those actual site conditions (moisture and competition with weeds) can vary the effectiveness of any treeguard. Growers should also note: The cost of some of these guards may exceed the price of the seedling, take longer to install than planting and may require further maintenance to remove. A survey from Chisholm Institute (Melbourne, Aust.) indicated the cost of a guard to protect seedling from rabbits, hares and birds (alone) ranged from under 10 cents to over $2.00 per tree.


Information from public growers , nurserymen and farmers conclude that plastic tube guards are the most widely used (in Australia). Costing from 60 cents to over $1.00 (plastic sleeve and 3 stakes) the poly sleeve creates a microclimate with the tube, while providing animal/wind/frost protection. (The support stakes used for a sleeve guard should be of substantial size, as this type device creates a perfect wind sail) The tube overall size should be large enough to allow the plant lateral development, proportional to the tube height.

Chisholm’s survey also revealed guards constructed from plastic mesh to be the lowest cost commercial products available. The product costs from under 10 cents, up to 60 cents each, depending on the size and strength. Mesh guards provide some seedling support, however, allow the seedling to move and strengthen the seedling bole (main stem) with some wind movement. (Stakes used with mesh devices can be a smaller size, as the product does not create a sail.)

Other methods of barrier protection include steel mesh and electric tree guard devices. We have found these two methods the most cost efficient to establish trees in an open paddock (for domestic animal protection) and cost may vary from under $2.00 to over $10.00 per tree depending on the individual product chosen.

Protecting trees from migrating animals is probably best accomplished by the use of repellents. Egg repellent was the most popular product till the 1990's when bitter compounds were proven very effective. All repellents are relatively low priced, but require application on all new growth. In Australia, we have been using a gritty, textured

compound repellent successfully, that is applied before planting, when plants are still in their boxes (or planting bags). It has protected trees from wallabies, rabbits, hares, deer and some birds.

International Reforestation Suppliers will again offer seedling protection consultancy to growers world-wide. For more information please call/fax 61 (0351) 579404. Our website on

Don't forget to tell Forestry Suppliers that Wildlife Damage Control sent you.


Thank you Mr. McCord for the information you have provided here.




Disclaimer: WDC seeks to provide accurate, effective and responsible information on resolving human/wildlife conflicts. We welcome suggestions, criticisms to help us achieve this goal. The information provided is for informational purposes only and users of the information use it at their own risk. The reader must consult state/federal officials to determine the legality of any technique in the reader's locale. Some techniques are dangerous to the user and to others. WDC encourages readers to obtain appropriate training (see our informational literature at our Store ), and understand that proper animal damage control involves patience, understanding that not every technique/method works for every situation or even 100% of the time. Your use of this information is governed by this understanding. We welcome potential users of the information and photos to simply ask for permission via e-mail. Finally, WDC welcomes e-mail but understand that all e-mails become property of Wildlife Damage Control.