400 trees – including Alder, Birch, Aspen and Rowan – were planted by the Killandean burn towards the end of 2017. When planted, the top layer of turf was cut and placed upside down to suppress competition and the trees were protected with 1.2m tubes.
When the RiverLife team returned with volunteers in early May 2019, we were pleased to see a high degree of survivorship. All the guards were lifted and cleared of any rogue plants before being re-seated in the ground. The upside-down turf trick produced visible evidence of suppression of competitors. This is great news and will reduce our need for mulch mats in future planting schemes.
Furthermore, the extent of sucker growth from mature Aspen trees with multiple age recruitment across the entire site was encouraging. It will be interesting to see how the species composition develops here.
There is a lot of gubbins associated with tree planting – plastic wrapping, labels, mulch mats, tree tubes, stakes… the list goes on. These sundries are available in several shapes, sizes and materials from single use plastic to biodegradable.
Tree guards are a bugbear. They provide protection from grazing, a small microclimate conducive to growth and some support. However, this microclimate and support can reduce the hardiness of the trees which can make them more susceptible to weather damage when (or if!) the tubes are removed.
While for particular species and situations it is necessary to use protection, mulch mats and support, we try to reduce these tree planting accessories through species choice, site choice and planting technique.