Covering fruit trees with bird netting is necessary to protect your precious fruit from being destroyed by the beautiful but aggravating birds. This step by step guide shows how to easily cover your tree using recycled materials.
There is nothing better than sitting on your porch with a drink and watching the birds in your garden. We plant flowering shrubs, install birdbaths and even put out seed so we can have the pleasure of their company but that joy can quickly turn sour when they destroy the fruit on our trees.
You can make a bird scaring device from scrap materials with this guide. They will help to keep most birds away however some parrots will not be distracted especially if there isn’t as much food in the natural environment as usual. It is always a good idea to protect your fruit with netting then you can eliminate the stress of worrying about the birds.
Covering Fruit Trees
It is best to cover fruit trees with bird netting as soon as you see the fruit have formed on the tree. Some destructive birds will try to eat green fruit so it is always best to cover the trees early.
Purchasing Bird Netting
It can be overwhelming when you start to search for bird netting for the first time. The most important thing is that the netting is UV stabilized and is heavy duty. The smaller the size of the holes the better.
It is always cheaper in the long run to pay a little more for bird netting that will last. You may find sales on bird netting after the season is over in the late fall. Orchards which are closing down may also have a farm auction where netting can be purchased cheaply. Keep an eye on local newspapers.
The amount and size you will need will depend on your situation. For one medium tree you will need 26 feet x 13 feet (8m x 4m). For a small tree you will only need 13 feet x 8 feet (4m x 2.5m). This bird netting from Amazon is top rated and great value. (Paid link)
If you have a line of trees in an orchard then it would be best to buy long lengths that will cover the entire area. You will need to put in tall posts every so often to hold the netting above the canopy.
Using Bird Netting Without a Structure
There are two methods of covering fruit trees with bird netting. The first is to simply throw the netting over the top of the tree then pull the ends down to the trunk. The netting should be tied together around the trunk with stockings of something with some give so the trunk isn’t damaged.
It is important to tie the ends together otherwise the birds will fly in underneath the netting. This method works but it is difficult to remove the netting as the branches will grow through making it easy to rip the netting during removal.
Creating a Structure for the Bird Netting
The second method is to create a structure to hold the netting around the tree while giving the tree more room to grow and making removal of the netting easier. Once you have the structure in place it is simply a matter of attaching and removing the netting when needed.
For small trees that are just beginning to produce fruit; put in one or two posts then make a circle around the tree with fencing wire.
Attach the wire to the posts then attach the bird netting to the wire so it is pulled firmly but not too tight around and over the top.
For larger fruit trees it is best to create a structure with metal posts and poly pipes.
Finding Scrap Materials
You can find old metal posts and used poly pipes at farm auctions, in the classifieds section in newspapers and online. Scrap yards are also great places to find a bargain.
Tools and Materials Needed
- Four Metal or Wooden Posts
- Post Driver or Sledge Hammer (Paid link)
- Two Lengths of Poly Pipe 20 feet to 26 feet (6 m to 8m) Long and from 1 inch to 2 inches (2.5cm to 5cm) in Diameter
- Drill and Small Drill Bit – This top rated Black & Decker Drill with Accessories is great value. (Paid link)
- Tie Wire
- Tent Pegs (Paid link)
Time needed: 2 hours.
Creating a Structure and Covering Fruit Trees with Bird Netting
- Put in the Posts
First put in the first two posts directly opposite each other on either side of the tree. Each one will be approximately 6 feet (2m) from the tree. Put in the other two posts on the two opposite sides so they are evenly spaced around the tree.
- Line Up the Poly Pipe
Place the first poly pipe over the tree between two opposing posts. Judge the height needed to clear the canopy of the tree then line the pipe up with the side of the post furthest from the tree.
- Drill the Pipe then Attach with Wire
Find a hole in the metal post then drill through the hole and right through the pipe. Insert a length of tie wire through the holes then tie off securely with the pliers.
- Attach the Pipe on the Opposite Post
Go around to the opposite post then position the pipe and drill through. Tie off securely then drill another two holes on each post then tie off securely. For wooden posts is would be easier to use a self-drilling screw then drill the screw through the pipe then into the post.
- Attach the Second Poly Pipe
Next position the second poly pipe over the first one between the other two opposing posts. Drill then tie to each post as before. For two different sized pipes it is best to put the thickest one on first so the lighter pipe is laid over the top.
- Tie the Pipes Together in the Middle
Place your ladder as close to the middle of the tree as possible then drill a hole through both pipes where they meet in the middle. Place wire through the holes then tie off.
- Begin Tying on the Bird Netting
Start at one post then tie the bird netting to the post at the bottom. Pull out the netting around the outside edge of the posts. Tie the bottom onto the next post then place a peg through the netting and into the ground halfway between the posts.
- Tie to the Centre
At the first post pull the netting up to the centre point then tie. Tie the netting to the poly pipe along its length and to the post. Move to the next post then pull up the netting again to the centre point gathering up any extra netting around the top then tie to the centre.
Use the end of a soft broom to manoeuvre the netting over the top of any branches in the way.
- Tie to the Next Post
Attach the netting to the bottom of the next post then put in a peg hallway along. Pull the netting up to the centre again then tie to the centre and along the pipe pulling the netting taunt but not too tight.
- Tie the Netting to the Last Post and Centre
Move to the last post then tie to the bottom and put a peg in the ground. The last one is a bit tricky as you will have to work from underneath to tie the netting to the centre. It helps to curve the tie wire to get it around.
Take the ladder out of the enclosure then finish tying the netting down the last post. Insert more pegs in the bottom that may be needed. Some birds are cleaver enough to find a way through any gaps so try to eliminate as many as you can.
This Little Giant Ladder is a top rated multi use ladder and the only ladder you will ever need. It has a 22 Foot velocity and rated to 300 pounds. (Paid link)
Removing the Bird Netting
Keep in mind when tying up netting that those ties will need to be undone. It is best to have one section which is secure but can be easily opened so you can get in to pick the fruit when it is ready.
Be careful of branches sticking through the netting as it can easily rip. Try not to get frustrated and rip at it, just gently prise them out. Roll up the netting then store away from direct sunlight until the next year. This will extend the life of the netting.
Now that you have covering your fruit trees with bird netting under control, would you like to attract more birds to your yard? Try this guide to making a Bird Bath from Scrap Materials or make a Bird Feeder from Scraps.
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