‘Liberation’: April 2021


Do you know how cranky I get when I see tree guards at the base of hedges or trees which need to be removed? This job (which is most probably in the kind of management plan that I used to write) has been ignored. What I ask is the point of planting trees or a hedgerow, going to the trouble of protecting them with a tree guard to they have a better chance of growing, but then leaving them to strangle the tree and limit its growth?

The Outback has a lovely group of Oak and Small Leaved Lime in the SE corner. There are also two new lengths of mixed native hedgerow, about 500m in total. All are thriving. All about 5m tall. All being strangled by tree guards. The plastic mesh ones on the trees are now cutting into the tree and preventing the branches from growing at the base of the trunk. In places the guards are being stretched and the tree is liberating itself to a degree but mostly they have a strangle hold and the tree is ‘growing into them’ so to speak.

The hedgerows have spiral plastic guards at their base. The first 40cm the trunk is bare as there are no side shoots. A ‘floating’ hedge. The spiral is clearly intended to expand and fall off as the hedge grows but this does not appear to happen very successfully. Mostly they are still on, filled with soil, cutting into the shrub in places and breaking. Now this plastic is old and it snaps into sharp shards, really not ideal for wildlife nor our eyes as we lie under the hedge with glasses on trying to unwrap them in one piece to minimise sharp plastic litter.

So that has been one of the first management jobs in the Outback. A month, which was quite dry fortunately (!) of lying under a hedge and liberating the shrubs that make up the hedgerow. Then snipping away at the tree guards and trying to untangle the branches that are trying to grow through them. You know, looking at the before and after picture I would even say the tree looks happier! And yes, I do look like I have been dragged through a hedge backward because I was!