window screen vs. hardware cloth vs. ?


Well-Known Member
I'm planting my first apple trees in a few weeks. NWC selected 24 trees for me to try and I'm excited to see them as they have been highly recommended on this site and others. I'm going to cage them with 5' welded wire and will either use weed mats or gly for weed control, depending on the terrain.

I have experience planting with cages and tubes but have not protected trunks inside my cages and would like advise on the most effective methods. Between window screen, harware cloth, short (2') tubes, or some other method; what do you recommend and why? Please post pictures if possible. I'm really looking for "fire and forget" options as I do not get to visit my land often.

What about gravel in addition to trunk protection?

Thank you!
I just started using window screen. I didn’t protect them until someone I know had their trees girdled. I bought a 100 ft roll by 36 in. I will cut that roll in half for a height of 18in. I’m considering cutting it into 12 sections. I don’t know how long I will cut them maybe 12 then fold over and staple the ends together. You may need a taller height depending on snow depth but we don’t get much and I think 18in is good for my area.
I did purchase some rigid plastic mesh tree protectors from Amazon last year. I used a few on the chestnuts but decided not to prune all the lower branches so they didn't work on all my trees. I think the ones I bought are 36" tall.
All I use is aluminum window screen, mice/voles/bunnies can't chew through it and it last a long time and protects the trunk of a caged tree perfectly.
Be sure to use aluminum and not fiberglass window screen. Bury it 2" deep, right up to the root ball. I use pieces that are 24" tall and doubled over on themselves, then stapled at the seam every 4" from top to bottom. The drawback is that it makes it difficult to apply white latex paint or a wrap to prevent sun scald, but thus far it seems as if the doubled mesh screen does the job itself. Permeable ground cloth to reduce weeds followed by either wood chips (not mulch, which attracts rodents) or stone seals the deal.

I do as was shown with metal window screen but I don't double it and standard staples. I use the same to protect the leader on pines from deer browse.
Cool, thank you for the replies! The more pictures the better but I have a pretty good idea. I’ll document my work thoroughly so you all can make fun of me!

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