How to Install Bird Netting to Protect Fruit

Overview

As tempting as juicy ripe peaches, glistening red apples, sweet cherries and other tree fruit are to people, they're just as prized by birds, squirrels and other animals. While you've worked hard all season in anticipation of enjoying the fruits of your labors, birds are keeping an eye on your crops too, waiting for the buffet to be ready. While you can install fencing to keep out four-legged critters, protecting against feathered pests requires a different kind of barrier. Bird netting allows sunlight and water to reach your ripening fruit, but keeps your harvest out of reach of our feathered friends.

Step 1

Remove the netting from the package. Don't unroll it yet, but remove any tape or other fastening holding down the ends. Unroll it too soon and it may become tangled.

Step 2

Arrange the step stools or step ladders, one on either side of the tree.

Step 3

One person carries the roll of netting up the ladder. Climb until you can see over the top of the tree but don't climb any higher than the next-to-top step of the ladder. The other person climbs the other ladder to the same height.

Step 4

Hold tightly to the loose end of netting and toss the rest of the roll over the top of the tree to the person on the ladder on the other side of the tree. The netting is light, so you won't need to throw hard. The netting will unroll as you hold onto its free end.

Step 5

Unroll the rest of the netting. It's easiest for the person who catches the roll of netting to do this. Hold the netting above the tree as much as possible while unrolling. Though the netting is unrolled now, it's still folded.

Step 6

Unfold the netting, working together and holding the netting up above the tree as much as possible. If there is more than one fold, completely unfold one side, then the other.

Step 7

Allow the netting to drift down and settle over the tree. Don't worry if some edges get caught.

Step 8

Step down from the ladder, straightening netting you can reach as you go.

Step 9

Reposition the ladders on opposite side of the tree and straighten all netting within reach.

Step 10

Weave the thin cord or string in and out of the edges of the netting. Don't cut the string until you're all the way around the tree. Cut the cord or string, leaving a foot at each end hanging.

Step 11

Pull the string to loosely gather the netting around the tree. The second person can help by walking around the tree and helping to gather the netting. Secure the netting around the trunk of the tree, tying the string to fasten. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife recommends draping the netting all the way to the ground and securing it with stakes or garden staples.

Tips and Warnings

  • Make sure the ladders are stable on relatively level ground. Dig out around the bottom of the ladder if necessary to provide more stable footing. Never climb above the next to last rung and don't lean out too far to prevent falls. Don't leave openings large enough for birds to enter from beneath the tree. They may fly in and become trapped.

Things You'll Need

  • Two ladders or step stools
  • Thin nylon chord or cotton string
  • Scissors
  • Stakes or garden staples

References

  • Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife: Living with Starlings (PDF)
  • Michigan State University: Protecting Fruit Trees

Who Can Help

  • Iowa State University: Growing Cherries in the Home Garden
Keywords: bird netting, protecting fruit trees, installing bird netting

About this Author

Cynthia Myers is the author of more than 40 novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Texas Highways" to "Medical Practice Management." She has a degree in economics from Sam Houston State University. Before turning to freelancing full time, Myers worked as a newspaper reporter, travel agent and medical clinic manager.