Harvestman Your Baffle

rambleJuly 18, 2012

How do you make your baffles? What materials, shape, size, method of making? How attach to tree?

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alan haigh

I use the kind of aluminum flashing used in some roofing projects. Because it looks better I use the prepainted stuff available in 50' rolls 24" wide from Home Depot. It is thicker and more expensive that other stuff you can get from roofing supply stores or special order from HD. Maybe you can find something 36" wide which would allow you to staple only one piece. You can always paint the cheap stuff to make it look better but here a little time is a lot of money.

I cut the flashing after measuring how much I need for any given tree by slashing with a razor knife and then bending it a bit. I staple the first 24" wide piece to the trunk at least one foot above the ground and then another 12" wide piece above that. The thinner, cheaper flashing is easier to work with.

I smear the top 16" or so with axle grease. Below I use a paint brush to apply a nice coat of motor oil.

I've seen people use duct pipe a lot, stacking pieces sometimes to get a 4' height from the ground.

I've heard that the grease can get dirty and give the squirrels the traction they need to climb it but that's not happened to me yet. Maybe I should be using the metal alone but I'm chicken to risk it at a clients place.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 5:02PM
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Not sure I get it. I'd appreciate your clarification. I'm a "handyman for dummies" guy.

The 24" piece, how/why is it bent? Is it affixed parallel to the ground? Because isn't it just a flat 24X24 square with no hole to fit around the trunk? How do you get it AROUND the trunk? Or, maybe you're putting it as a cone wrapped around the trunk with the bigger part towards the top of the tree?

What kind of stapler do you use? (the only stapler I have is an office one.)

The top 16" smeared with axle grease-how/where/which baffle is that centered on?

And is the 12" second piece placed one foot or so above the first one? Or how much above it?

Why do you need a second piece if they baffles are flat pieces parallel to the ground? Wouldn't the squirrel, if it gets past the first piece, just use the second a step because it's smaller width than the first?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 12:02PM
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alan haigh

You are creating a cylinder that attaches directly to and hugs the trunk- tight enough to stop a squirrel from squeezing through. Basically armoring the trunk with metal.


This article is about doing more or less the same thing with mylar, which hasn't worked for me as it's not rigid enough to stop their climbing- maybe if a tree has a very wide circumference it works.

I use two pieces- one 12" wide and another 24" wide and begin 12" up the trunk attaching the lower piece first so the seam where the two meet doesn't give the squirrel something to grab onto. That's why a 36" wide piece would be better- less work and smoother.

At Home Depot like stores they only sell heavy duty staplers in the hardware section. These don't have an anvil action to staple two things together and instead the staples work like a very light U shaped nail. The manual ones run from about 15 to 30 dollars. I use an Arrow model that has lots of red plastic and is the strongest one they make, but the all metal ones cost less and are easier to use and are more than up to the task.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 3:37PM
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A photo might be helpful?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 5:34PM
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alan haigh

Helpful but a hassle for me. Written instructions aren't for everyone, I know, but the link I gave shows the concept in illustration- all you do is substitute the mylar with aluminum flashing and start a foot above the ground instead of at ground level. In another thread on this subject a month ago, someone provided a photo of a baffle system she constructed loosely based on my plan. She didn't have 4' of branch free trunk from ground level so put a cone on the top of it. It limited the area where squirrels could jump up enough so it worked. She now enjoys watching the squirrels struggle and fail to hop aboard.

If my wife is in the mood and has time Sat. I'll have her take a photo and post it. Not my line.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 6:16PM
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Thanks so much for your info.

I believe now that you staple 2 pieces around the trunk. A 24" piece one ft. above the ground and a second 12" piece adjoining the top of the first. So, you end up with a 36" piece wrapped reasonably snugly around the trunk. Not shaped as a cone but as a new metal bark, if you will. Then, you slather the grease and oil.

Do you leave it on all year, til next year? Or just leave it forever? Or remove it after picking season? (I had some trouble leaving mylar on because the bark started to decay or something. I had to take it off to let the trunk breathe)

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 9:10PM
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alan haigh

Remove it when you harvest fruit to install the next season before fruit becomes attractive is the general rule I go by. The metal only hurts the trees when it restricts growth. I've never tested to see if the tree will burst the staples or be girdled and killed if left on long enough.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 9:28PM
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The mylar seemed to trap heat or cold (winter) or moisture. The bark looked funky but the tree was fine when I removed the mylar the next spring once I peeked and saw the trunk problems.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 9:32PM
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alan haigh

I tried using mylar as the top foot at many sites and at several the squirrels were able to push the mylar in and get traction.

I replaced the mylar with either metal or harder plastic from old plant pots and that has proven affective- so far.

I also used 4' of mylar at a couple of sites and it completely failed me at one of the two.

The squirrels are terrible here this year- worse in a decade. The strange thing is the last time they were this bad there was an obvious population explosion but this time the number around seems about normal- they are just not finding other food.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 6:03AM
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Here, I think it's water they're after. The squirrel that got my plums ate all the pulp but left the pits untouched. Animals and birds, both.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 10:59AM
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alan haigh

We have no drought and some of the fruit is just being chewed up and left on the ground near the pits which I assume is just a kind of teething action. Apparently they have to chew on something else when nuts are not on the menu or their teethe kill them. Now that the fruit is ripening they are eating that fruit normally. I don't know if plum pits are edible for them. I know not all peach pits are.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 1:42PM
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I just had my mylar fail like you even when slathered with motor oil.

I was thinking. Maybe a metal/hard plastic cylinder larger than the tree diameter encircling the tree would be good. It would have to start at ground level and go up to the lowest scaffold. Would be slathered with motor oil or axle grease. It could be left permanently there. What do you think?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 12:03PM
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alan haigh

I believe it works well and I'm not sure the grease is necessary with say an 8" diameter duct pipe. It may be best to close them with duct tape rather than using it's ability to close on itself because when duct pipe becomes too tight it is very difficult to take off.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 6:20PM
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