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wire baskets for gophers

 
Melissa Sullivan
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Location: Northern Arizona, 7300'
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I'm ordering 8 bare root apple trees that are on standard rootstock. I have gopher issues so I have to make chicken-wire baskets to protect the roots for the first few years while the tree gets established. I'm using 1" chicken wire. Does anyone know how large of a diameter I should make the baskets? I have no idea how quickly the roots will grow and don't want to inhibit root growth before the wire rusts away. Thanks!
 
elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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I have actually done this and people screamed from the roof tops that it was the worst idea ever. I got the impression that the metal wouldn't rust away fast enough.

BUT, if you want to do it I think 1'x1' would cover the main roots effectively. It did mine.
 
Alder Burns
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I've put all my important plants in chickenwire baskets against gophers. I just make them big enough to fit the roots at planting time, and figure that the roots will grow through, the wire will rust, and the trees will be large enough to tolerate the gophers all around the same time. So far so good after 3 years on some things....and some of these trees like the plum and apricot are pushing 12 feet tall now so I know their roots are well out of the basket.....
 
elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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What people were telling me is that the roots would grow through and then get pinched when they grew larger than the wire and stunt growth. I'm glad that hasn't been the case for you though Alder. I'd like to do more but they scared it out of me.
 
Dan Boone
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Maybe the trick would be to use old rusty recycled chicken wire that doesn't have a lot of life left in it. I've got a lot of faith in the ability of a tree to make the space it needs for its roots, but shiny new galvanized chicken wire probably does take a lot longer to break down than something salvaged from that old chicken coop.
 
Alder Burns
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I think it would be pretty hard to strangle a tree with metal mesh, below or above ground. Have you never seen a tree growing in a fence? Eventually the fence wire ends up engulfed in the tree, much to the regret of anyone coming along with a saw many years after.....
 
Melissa Sullivan
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Location: Northern Arizona, 7300'
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Thanks all!
I have all this 1" chicken wire that was given to me. It was sitting outside for a while, so based on your responses it looks like it should work.
Also - I partially dug a tree hole the other day and just returned to it today. A gopher has partially filled it up. Sigh.
 
Tracy Kuykendall
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I'm eat up with gophers myself, just found a new toy on u-tube I'm gonna have build for myself, it's called wak-a-mole and the gopher blaster. Pretty expensive though. If your worried about 1" wire not breaking down fast enough, you can build a fire and put the wire in it and let it set overnight, it will break down in just a couple of years after that.
 
Michael Qulek
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I'm sorry, but chicken wire pots are NOT going to work. The hole spacing is large enough that small gophers or moles can get through. Have you seen an actual mole before? They are small, about the size of a man's thumb. Assume any hole that you can shove two fingers through are big enough for them to get through. I had to learn this the hard way. I started out making pots out of hardware cloth. That wire with 1/2" spacing. Here's a pic of one of my pots in a tree hole I just dug.


Because of the expense of hardware cloth, I tried to substitute chicken wire, but every single tree planted inside CW was killed. I make my wire pots about 1' in diameter, and about a foot tall. I mate them together in such a way that they will spring apart if forced from the inside out, but knit together if pushed from the outside in. That way, as the tree eventually grows big enough to no longer fit, it will just pop the pot open. Some of my trees have been in the ground for 8 years now, and they are still doing fine.
 
Melissa Sullivan
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Location: Northern Arizona, 7300'
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Michael Qulek wrote:I'm sorry, but chicken wire pots are NOT going to work. The hole spacing is large enough that small gophers or moles can get through. Have you seen an actual mole before? They are small, about the size of a man's thumb. Assume any hole that you can shove two fingers through are big enough for them to get through. I had to learn this the hard way. I started out making pots out of hardware cloth. That wire with 1/2" spacing. Here's a pic of one of my pots in a tree hole I just dug.


Because of the expense of hardware cloth, I tried to substitute chicken wire, but every single tree planted inside CW was killed. I make my wire pots about 1' in diameter, and about a foot tall. I mate them together in such a way that they will spring apart if forced from the inside out, but knit together if pushed from the outside in. That way, as the tree eventually grows big enough to no longer fit, it will just pop the pot open. Some of my trees have been in the ground for 8 years now, and they are still doing fine.


Are you sure it was moles that got your trees? They're insectivores. It could be voles that ate your roots; they're quite good at that and they are also very small; they could utilize holes dug by other animals to get to your trees
 
Michael Qulek
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Melissa Sullivan wrote:Are you sure it was moles that got your trees? They're insectivores. It could be voles that ate your roots; they're quite good at that and they are also very small; they could utilize holes dug by other animals to get to your trees
Well, no, my head wasn't underground when it happened, so I can't say for sure. A mole, a vole, a gopher, or either of two species of ground squirrels. Does it really matter when you can't stop them? Personally, I call everything living underground a "gopher". The word squirrel has such a warm and fuzzy "Chip & Dale" kind of sound to it. Girls in my office get upset when they hear I'm shooting "squirrels". Gophers however, seem to be universally despised by everyone, so I call em gophers!
 
Chris Meador
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Location: San Diego County, CA (9a) ~13-15"precip/yr
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I've used aviary netting (it's like chicken wire but smaller holes, only 1/2") for years to make my baskets. Works great. I would worry that the hardware cloth would take too long to break down (it's a thicker gauge) plus it's more expensive. The aviary netting is just the right gauge that it appropriately breaks down allowing the roots to grow happily while keeping the gophers out for at least a couple years while the roots develop.

Here is a link the wire I am talking about. http://67.113.120.219:8080/catalog/store/Hardware/Deck,_Rail_&_Fencing/Fence_&_Gate_Hdwe.?productId=99497
 
Michael Qulek
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Chris Meador wrote:I've used aviary netting (it's like chicken wire but smaller holes, only 1/2") for years to make my baskets.
That looks interesting, but it doesn't look like my local Home Depot has it. Any other suggests for chains that carry it?
 
Chris Meador
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Location: San Diego County, CA (9a) ~13-15"precip/yr
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Michael Qulek wrote:
Chris Meador wrote:I've used aviary netting (it's like chicken wire but smaller holes, only 1/2") for years to make my baskets.
That looks interesting, but it doesn't look like my local Home Depot has it. Any other suggests for chains that carry it?


It's interesting because I used to be able to get aviary netting everywhere, mom and pop places as well as Home Depot. Now, the link I sent is the only place I have found it. Until I found it at that store I was going to ask a construction/farm material type store if they could order it. I think if you can find something like that they should be able to find it for you. Good luck!
 
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