When to use rabbit and deer guards

When to use rabbit and deer guards

Spiral guards

Rabbits can get their teeth into anything up to 60cm/2ft from the ground; hares even more. If you know there is a rabbit problem, use spiral guards on young trees and whips.

Spiral guards are made of clear plastic that surrounds hedging whips or expands to protect the lower stems of young trees from rabbits, which love to nibble on tasty saplings.

It isn’t possible to put rabbit guards on shrubby plants or evergreens like holly. If you need to protect these you can construct barriers around individual plants. For example, you can drive stakes into the ground and then wrap chicken wire around these.


Canes are necessary to support rabbit guards. We supply 90cm/3ft canes for this purpose.

Canes are not necessary on most hedging plants, unless rabbit guards are required. If you are planting tall whips (over 100cm/3ft tall), however, they can be useful to help them stand upright. In particular, we recommend using 125cm/4ft canes on beech whips of 100-125cm and above.

Tubex for deer

If your tree-munching mammals are a little bigger than rabbits, ie deer-sized, you will need something stouter than a spiral guard. Deer cause damage to young trees by browsing and rubbing their antlers on the stem (fraying). They can also strip bark on older trees, which They usually go for tree bark in winter.

Tubex shelters are the answer if you are planting a small number of trees (a deer fence or other barrier is a more practical option for large planting operations). These are plastic tubes which prevent deer from getting at the first 0.6m (2ft) or 1.2m (4ft) of a young tree. They need to be supported by a square pointed stake.

Weld mesh guards

For a robust barrier against animals and accidents in urban situations, use a weld mesh guard. These are wire cages that sit around the trunk, secured to the stake with staples. They are available in 1.2m (4ft) or 1.8m (6ft) heights.

If you need to use a weld mesh guard in conjunction with a double stake arrangement, then you will need two guards to fit all the way around.


Squirrels can also be a pest, peeling off strips of bark – unsightly and damaging for the trees they attack. Unfortunately there is little you can do to prevent this, bar pest control measures (eg squirrel traps).

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