“FOR said they were planting trees… but all I see is a field of green tubes!”

We get this a lot. “Where are the trees?”

As a part of our Rappahannock Coastal Forest Program, Friends of the Rappahannock works with our conservation partners to plant thousands of native trees to protect clean water, reduce erosion, and improve habitat for fish and wildlife. In order to make sure all these trees have the best chance of survival, and to make the planting manageable for our team, we primarily use bare root saplings. Many of these saplings are nothing more than a twig with roots when we put them in the ground. To protect them from wildlife we cover them with these green photodegradable tubes.

Each tube holds a little tiny sapling that will grow exponentially into a full grown tree. However, to protect that little sapling, we use these tree tubes. 

These tubes sit about two inches deep in the ground to project the saplings from voles and other burrowing creatures. They stand about 4 feet tall to protect the tree from deer and other animals that might be interested in a munchy snack. On top of the tube, we add a light mesh sock to keep birds from building their nests in the tubes. 

How do the trees get water and sunlight? 

These tubes are still open ended and rain will fall inside the tubes. Also the roots of the sapling will get water that enters the soil. The sunlight easily permeates the tube from all sides and will eventually disintegrate the tube. 

These tubes also are held up by a wood stake that keeps them from getting washed away in the case of a flood. 

These tubes are pretty neat! So next time you see a so called tree planting with only green tubes in the field you will be able to say, “I know what those tubes are for!” and impress all your friends with your use of the word “photodegradable”. 

Interested in volunteering for a tree planting or having trees planted on your property? 

To volunteer, just visit our events page and choose from one of the many opportunities we have available. 

To get trees for your own property, reach out to your local river steward.

Culpeper, Fauquier, Rappahannock, Madison, Greene, Albemarle, Orange Counties

Upper Rappahannock River Steward: Mike Shaw

[email protected]

City of Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania County & Stafford County

Middle Rappahannock River Steward: Adam Lynch

540-373-3448 ext 115
[email protected]

Caroline County & King George County

Tidal Program Manager & State Policy Coordinator: Brent Hunsinger

540-373-3448 ext. 117
[email protected]

Essex, Lancaster, Middlesex, Richmond, Westmoreland, Northumberland Counties

Lower Rappahannock River Steward: Libby Bieri

York, Mattaponi, & Pamunkey Rivers

York River Steward: Heather Strother

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