Tree Tubes are a very effective method to protect deciduous trees from rabbits, deer, and mechanical injuries. The tubes are a 4-foot tall, translucent polyethylene cylinder which allow enough light transmission to reach the seedling, but are a thick enough to prevent injuries from such things as rabbits, deer browsing and rubbing, and mechanical injuries from weed eaters or lawnmowers that often occur to seedlings and small diameter trees. While tree tubes are designed for use on deciduous trees, they are not to be used on shrubs or evergreen seedlings.
In addition to providing protection from injury, the tubes also create a "mini-greenhouse" for the seedlings which increase survival and growth. Because the tubes physically restrain the seedlings from outward growth, the seedlings focus on upward growth and often will begin growing out the tops of the tubes after only 2-3 years of being protected. Although the protected trees will be much taller than an unprotected tree, because the plants are not subjected to the wind, the tree's diameter will be much smaller than if it were growing unprotected. Therefore, if the tube is removed soon after the seedling begins to grow out the top, it will not be large enough in diameter to support itself and the seedling will fall over. Therefore it is important to leave the tube on the plants until the tree largely fills the cavity of the tube. Not only can tubes be used on newly planted seedlings, but they can also be installed on older stock that has been severely damaged. For example, tubes can be placed over an older seedling that has been heavily browsed by deer.
Tree tubes are 4 feet tall and approximately 4-6 inches around. They are sold in multiples of 5's and come with a stake and zip-ties to anchor and support the tube. To establish, simply place the tube over the plant so that the vents (the pre-drilled holes in the tubes) are at the top. Slide the provided stake through the zip-ties and pound the stake into the ground at least 12 inches are more until the stake and tube feel secure. It is advised to periodically check the tree tubes to insure that wildlife or weather have not loosened the stake, thus allowing the tree tube to begin rubbing on the seedling which may create damage to the seedling. It is also advised that the tops of the tubes be covered with a cheesecloth or similar porous material to keep birds, bluebirds in particular, from becoming entrapped within the tube.
For more information please read the full description of Tree Tubes.