Over the past 10 – 15 years I have used tree tubes to protect and assist young trees. I could go into a lot of history and scientific claims which various tree tube manufacturers have about the benefits of their tubes. But after all these years with both success and failure I have come to believe in the Tree Pro system. The Tree Pro tubes need to be rolled up and put together with reusable zip ties. To me that makes them harder to initially install, but easier over the years to maintain.
The picture above is what the tree tube looks like in the late winter, early spring. Because it is a Red Oak the previous year’s leaves are still on the branches. I like to clean those leaves out of the tube and while the tube is open prune any unnecessary branches.
The above shows the tree with-out the tree tube. A lot of leaves and extra branches. I take the leaves off the tree, then prune. I usually prune these 2 or 3 year old trees to just one main branch.
The above picture shows a tree before pruning. You can see the side branches and then the top doesn’t have one clear leader and that needs to be fixed.
When pruning you want one clear leader on the tree. The above picture shows 3 leaders. The thing to watch for is that what might appear to be the best leader is a dead branch. You can see in the picture that the two side branches are green is color while the middle is brown. Another way to tell if a branch is alive is to scrap the bark with your fingernail and make sure it is green underneath.
At times when there isn’t a clear leader I might leave two leaders growing. This is okay for young trees as you can prune to one leader later. In the picture above I have taken the dead middle leader out and am leaving two leaders to see which one will prevail in the next year or two.
In the above picture is a Red Oak just starting it’s third growing season after transplanting. I have this one pruned to just one stem. I see information about pruning which warns not to prune this much. But I have seen this single stem when young approach work time and again. After 5 years of growth I prune much less. Just try and make sure that a primary leader keeps going for as long as I can reach high enough to prune.
After the pruning I replace the Tree Pro tube for the rest of the year. If you are interested in tree tubes here is the URL for Tree Pro. http://treepro.com