Summit Environmental Group is a manufacturer and distributor of the Tree Sentry™ tree Shelter. This patented shelter is also known by other names such as TreePee and Gardener's Grow Cone and is made entirely in the USA of domestic recycled and virgin materials.
Our shelter was actually designed by a midwestern farmer - Todd Friesner - who was faced with the typical challenges establishing windbreaks on the hot open plains of Northwest Ohio. After trying a number of products himself over a handful of years, he believed improvements could be made to the shelters. Friesner observed the loss of many seedlings that were protected by shelters that he thought were preventable. Repeated trials at modest changes to the existing shelters did not work as well as taking a completely fresh approach to shelter design. From his earliest prototypes, Friesner was able to improve success (survival) rates and further enhance growth rates. Further, the staking method to secure most shelters left much room for variation in installation technique, was often tedious and time consuming and could require driving a large stake too close to the tap root of the seedling. Observing this, he continued to brainstorm an easier method to install the tree shelters.
Friesner observed the simple concept of a staked straight or flared tube, while certainly an improvement over no shelter at all, was still limiting in several ways. When you're out in the field and sometimes with the wind and rain or worse, a process which is simple, quick and consistent but very stable would be a huge advantage.
Friesner faced a number of considerations in developing a seedling shelter that would offer all of the advantages he felt were possible over conventional designs:
- Maintain the smaller opening top - a conical shape keeps the more intense rays of the mid day sun from overheating a young seedling and more importantly protects the moisture levels of the soil and the seedling - The conical shape also acts to better keep the seedling from the view of browsing animals
- A larger basal area for a less restrictive environment for the seedling, allowing lateral branching and better conditions for shading the soil and recycling the available moisture
- A staking method that was very secure without being too tedious or time consuming to install
- The shelter must be in one piece, to keep from having to do any kind of assembly in the field. Most planting projects are done in early spring or in the fall. Even in nice weather, assembling, unfolding or erecting a shelter and handling small components will slow you down. Ideal planting conditions may require working in cold and wet conditions not conducive to assembling shelters or fishing and adjusting plastic ties
- Make them as inexpensive as possible. Since incorporating this high level of detail (a one piece design, a self-staking base, a conical shape, etc.) was not possible with the conventional shelter manufacturing methods, a new process had to be utilized - called "thermoplastic injection molding"
If you know farmers, you'll agree that they are an industrious lot. They learn ways to get things done effectively and they value their time. After prototyping his idea with simple materials on hand, Friesner saw marked improvement in survival rates and in the grow rate of seedlings he planted. The "Tree Sentry™" name was coined and after several iterations of prototyping and then having professional tooling built for his idea, the latest generation - a one-piece, self staking conical shelter - was produced. This last generation represents the culmination of many planting trials and comparing many of the various forms of rolled and stapled or bonded sheet goods and extruded tubes then offered. It is unlike any other idea or approach. It is superior and its success has spread to Universities, Forest Agencies, and other agencies that would welcome improvements in the survival and growth rates of planting projects.
The Tree Sentry™ protects deciduous and conifer seedlings from hot desiccating winds, recycles available moisture inside the cone (the greenhouse effect) protects from animal browse and helps to shade the root stock from all directions.
The Tree Sentry™ also has applications in the gardening and viticulture fields. This shelter is ideal for producing young seedlings in such varieties as tomatoes, beans, peppers and the like. With its wider basal area, the shelter allows for lateral branching within the shelter of the many tree and garden species. The three self-staking wire legs allow for simple, fast installation and resist dislocation of the shelter in high winds or in water runoff. The greenhouse effect provided by this type of shelter allows for earlier planting in the spring with impressive growth rates afforded by the warmer temperatures maintained inside the shelter. In cooler temps, while providing cooler temperatures inside during overly hot spells, shading the plant within.