“It”s a fantastic tool,” states Kirk Cekada of the Rusty Oak Nursery in Valley City, Ohio. “You set the guards in as you”re walking to the tree and you slip them on just about as fast at you can walk.”
The tree guard zipper is a hand tool that allows for quick and easy installation and removal of the corrugated plastic tree guards often used to protect young trees from deer and other types of trunk damage. In a field trial by the Healthy Farmers, Healthy Profits Project, the tree guard zipper was 37 percent faster at installing the guards and 27 percent faster at removing them than installing and removing by hand.
The tree guard zipper”s design spreads the edges of the corrugated plastic guard more efficiently than worker”s hands. The tool is a triangular piece of cast aluminum with a handle at the narrow end and channels on the side to hold the tool in place until you have installed the guard around the tree.
Using a zipper is easier on your body than installing and removing tree guards by hand. It reduces stooping and poor posture by more than 50 percent during installation and by 24 percent during removal. Also, the tree guard zipper keeps your wrists in a neutral position.
A zipper does the work and handles the pressure while you install the guard. Therefore, you don”t strain your hands, wrists and forearms from the force needed to spread the guard around the tree. You also greatly reduce your risk of getting your fingers wedged and cut between the guard and tree.
With its smooth edges and wide opening, the zipper prevents the rough edges of the plastic guards from scratching the tree. Scratches can result in scarring and reduced product quality.
The cost of the tree guard zipper ranges from $40-$50. The tool pays for itself quickly because it saves hours in labor and minimizes worker injuries.
The Healthy Farmers, Healthy Profits Project is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention”s National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), to find and promote the adoption of more efficient, safer tools by nursery growers. For more information, please see http://bse.wisc.edu/hfhp or contact Marcia Miquelon or Nicole Hosto at (608) 262-1054.