The Tree Sentry™ represents a significant advancement in shelter design. As such, it is a unique (and patented) approach with a distinctive shape, material, staking design and entire manufacturing process not employed by other shelters. With a heavier investment in design, tooling and processing machinery, the result is a level of protection and ease of use not attainable with other products.
If you look, you'll find a number of seedling shelters promising tremendous improvements in your planting experience. Many of these other shelters are very similar in appearance employing approaches to seedling protection which have been in use since the late 1970's, when seedling shelters were invented in the UK. Nearly all of these products employ a long slender tube, extruded or assembled (by you, the planter) from sheets and attached to an external stake with wires, staples or pull ties. The Tree Sentry™ is not a copy of another idea with some small modification. It instead reflects intense study of those aspects of plant shelters that work well - and those that don't - and then takes a unique approach to its shape, stability system, materials, installation method and manufacturing process. And quite simply, these changes work.
As a unique and much improved approach, the Tree Sentry™ has proven (with over 8 years of favorable field tests and customer testimonials) to offer an attractive list of advantages over traditional sheltering methods:
- Self-Anchoring Design, requires NO TOOLS to install. There is no need to carry a hammer or mallet along with a bundle of stakes to set up your tree protector.
- Ease of Installation. When you consider the price of a shelter, don't forget to include the stakes, ties and your time spent installing them. With 3 integral wire stakes, the Tree Sentry™ simply pushes into the soil in seconds! There is no assembly to do in the field and no wire ties to fuss with! The Browse Mesh extension also installs without tools or ties.
- Photo-degradable translucent base and Protective browse mesh. No other sheltering device offers this combination of protection!! When getting started a seedling needs protection from the wind and intense, scalding sunlight. This protective, windless environment of filtered sunlight and greater moisture in the solid base section of Tree Sentry™ promotes photosynthesis, thus accelerating root system development and caliper of the planting. The vertical growth rate of a planting inside the Tree Sentry™ is also enhanced by the tendency of a plant to "reach" for the light - a botanical process called phototropism. The brighter light entering the cone from the top - as opposed to the translucent sides - causes accelerated vertical growth as well.
- The top section of Browse Mesh on the Tree Sentry™ offers protection against the larger browsing animals as the planting matures. When a seedling is very young, some species may produce as few as one terminal bud. Browsing this solitary terminal bud can actually be fatal to some species. And even if not fatal to a particular species, growth of the planting will be seriously compromised the following growing season. This is an especially critical time to protect seedlings and very robust protection is necessary at this early stage. It should be stated that it is difficult - and expensive - to prevent ALL browsing on a tree, shrub or other planting.
- As long as a seedling can reach a stage of maturity where it doesn't stand to have every bud on its branches browsed, it can survive to progress to a stage where natural browsing does not threaten its existence or it's ability to take a natural form. In time, even though some browsing may slow plant maturity in the stage of growth when the seedling is extended beyond the height of the shelter, it will still grow into a natural, healthy form.
- Further, as a seedling develops and matures into a sapling, it is beneficial to the health of the sapling to feel the effects of the wind. As opposed to a tall, enclosed tubular shelter, this beneficial activity is permitted to occur in the Tree Sentry™ as the planting matures and extends beyond the 18" tall conical shelter and into the rigid browse mesh. This wind buffeting activity promotes a strong trunk in the sapling through a botanical process called thigmomorphogenesis. To disallow a sapling from feeling the effects of the wind can create a brittle or weak trunk and stem, making it more vulnerable to fracture during a storm, snow load or heavy wind.
- Further, by feeling the effects of the changes in seasons - while still being protected from browsing - allows the sapling to shut down properly and enter dormancy for the winter. This combination of protection is not offered by any other shelter!
- Wider basal area with the necessary venting at the top. With its generous diameter at the base and tapered conical shape, the Tree Sentry™ with it's unique shape is wider than other shelters, allowing for lateral branching of the seedling - very important for many species such as conifers but even deciduous species benefit by the improved ventilation of a wider space. When used with the optional browse mesh, the seedling sees the benefits of being exposed to the wind while maintaining the protection against wind desiccation of the soil at the base.
- 360 degree shading of the root stock. Before the roots of a seedling have developed and pushed far beneath the surface, they are most sensitive to extremely hot environments. The shading of the root stock keeps the ground which envelopes the tap root cooler. At the same time, by shading the soil and keeping arid winds from stripping the moisture from the plant and soil, the soil conditions under the Tree Sentry™ have been tested by independent studies to contain more moisture than surrounding soil. This promotes survival rates far beyond those of un-sheltered seedlings on your site or those protected with mesh alone.
- Protection from browsing animals and rodent girdling They're cute and furry, but rabbits, voles and other critters love to devour those conifer seedlings you just planted, or completely chew the soft, nutritious cambium around the base of the seedling (called "girdling"), inflicting a mortal wound to your project. And, in the winter when the soft blanket of snow hides other ground cover that can otherwise camouflage a seedling, those pretty seedlings grown in generously fertilized, nutrient-rich soils, (often in greenhouses) stand out of the snow looking and smelling like cookies to passing deer. The Tree Sentry™ keeps your planting out of sight and out of mind of these browsers.
- Protection from drying winds. Even on those hot summer days in the southwest, the nights are sufficiently cool for dew to develop on grounds cover and seedlings. When sun comes up, the morning breezes can quickly strip this condensation from the seedlings, robbing them of the moisture with which they could otherwise flourish. With the Tree Sentry™, this moisture stays with the seedling longer, allowing it to drop onto the soil, directly benefiting the growth of the seedling. Full length mesh or fully vented tubes cannot deliver this kind of benefit.
- Protection from the drift of herbicides and airborne invasive species . Herbicides are often used in the area around a planted seedling to clear competing vegetation, which can otherwise overrun young seedlings, denying them needed moisture and nutrients. If conditions or available equipment do not allow tilling or scarifying the local site, the herbicides used to scale back the weeds can accidentally damage or kill the planted seedling. The Tree Sentry™ protects your seedling from this lateral drift of herbicides. Some invasive species which are proliferated by the later drift of spores can have devastating affects on newly planted seedlings. Studies have shown the Tree Sentry™ to reduce the occurrence of infestation of invasive species such as dwarf mistletoe and others in conifer species, in which spores drifting across the site will easily land on unprotected seedlings or those protected with mesh or fully vented designs. These invasive species will shunt the growth of the seedling by feeding off it and can cause deformed growth and death of the seedling.
- Mitigation of temperature extremes. Behaving much the same as a miniature greenhouse would, the Tree Sentry™ works to ease the stress put on plantings from outside temperature extremes.