AviGard® Easy-Fit Bird Netting Guidelines
Part 1 - Handling Easy-Fit Net Out Of The Box
A quick word about the construction of the Easy-Fit net. Plantra’s one-of-a-kind, patented design is uniquely engineered from netting cut into panels and sewn together to create a knitted net with fixed installed dimensions that lock-in to the correct shape. The result is a super easy to use bird net that slashes the work required to install the right way, the first time, every time.
As Figure 1 shows, there may be one or more seam joints in the net depending upon its length. These seam joints, like a weld in metal, are the strongest features of the Easy-Fit net design. When your net is properly installed the seam joints should be running at about a 45 degree angle to the length of the net (see Figure 1 below). As an added benefit your Easy-Fit nets can be cut to length, even across the seams, without unraveling.
Step 1 - Remove Bundle Ties
Open package and remove ties used to bundle net during transport. For largest nets this may be done while net is still in the bag. If using a knife or scissor to cut bundle ties be careful to avoid cutting the net.
Step 2 - Locate End Corners
Look for colored flagging that mark net corners. Be sure to locate 2 adjacent corners on one narrow end of the net (see Figure 1).
Step 3 - Open One End Of Net Completely
To be sure net is properly “squared-off,” open the net to its full width on one end and compare to netting width ordered. If the width appears different than what was ordered, check to see that the distance measured is between two “adjacent” corners on one end instead of two “opposite” corners diagonal from each other (see Figure 2).
Step 4 - Install Easy-Fit Net
Easy–Fit Canopy Nets can be installed on hoop structures, frame structures or directly on rows of plants. If cutting to fit shorter rows < 100ft, install netting from one end of the row leaving about 10ft-15ft of extra net at the beginning of the row. After installing net the entire row length, leave another 10ft-15ft of net beyond the row end. Doing so will leave a “cushion” of extra netting to help compensate for future canopy growth. For longer rows, those beyond 100ft, a good rule of thumb is to leave 5%-10% of extra net on each row end.
AviGard Easy-Fit Bird Nets are for seasonal use only.
To achieve proper field life, store Easy-Fit Bird Nets in
a dry location protected from sunlight.If possible, store
netting in breathable bags suspended off the ground out
of reach of rodents.
Part 2 - Estimating Netting Size
The two most popular methods to install bird netting involve either securing nets to a frame or hoop house structure or draping them directly on the plants. Netting support structures are commonly used to protect berry patches, gardens and dwarf fruit trees. Canopy draping on plants is more common for blueberry bushes and grape vines in rows.
Netting Installed On Frame or Hoop House Structures – The variety of structures built to support netting is almost endless but most have some sort of framing with support posts, cross-members and wire. Regardless of the construction, the practice of estimating the amount of net needed simply requires measuring the surface area of the structure and then comparing the area to available netting sizes. In some cases, one net will cover the entire area but for larger structures several nets may be needed. Since most structures do not match up perfectly to available netting dimensions, some cutting or modifications to the net will need to be made.
Hint: Protect the base of your structure nets by keeping them off the ground where they might otherwise be damaged by critters or equipment. A barrier strip of galvanized or plastic coated chicken wire 2ft-3ft high with the bottom buried below ground will help keep rabbits, squirrels, raccoons and pets from tunneling into the structure or chewing their way through the base of the net. The barrier strip can also help prevent lawn mowers and string trimmers from cutting holes in the net. Include the ground barrier in your calculations and plan for a 6in overlap for the netting to extend down past the top of the chicken wire.
Example: Blueberry Structure 8ft tall x 8ft wide by 40ft long with 2ft chicken wire base to protect against chewing animals at ground level. Refer to the diagram below and the calculations that follow.
The width of a single piece of net for this example would be:
+8ft (side # 1 ht.)
+8ft (top width)
+8ft (side # 2 ht.)
- 3ft (subtract 1.5ft for each side to leave 6in overlap over ground barrier)
= 21ft total width
The length would be:
- 3ft (subtract 1.5ft for each side to leave 6in overlap on ground barrier)
= 53ft total length
For this example, one piece of net 22ft wide by 53ft long would be ideal. However, most nets are sold in different widths and lengths so some customization on your part will likely be necessary including using more than one piece of net.
Netting Installed Directly Over Plants – Estimating net for structures depends upon calculating the actual dimensions of the support area. Doing the same for net applied directly on plants requires a similar approach though leaf canopies involve more estimating than simply measuring. The following examples describe how to estimate netting needed for common applications. The goal is to estimate an imaginary 4-sided structure (for individual plants and patches) or 2-sided (for plants in rows) that would enclose the entire leaf area.
Example: Covering individual trees and berry bushes - Measure the height and width of the plant as though it’s a four-sided structure with a top as shown in figure to right.
Calculation: For a fruit tree with a height of 12ft and a leaf canopy width of 10ft the amount of netting needed would be 34ft x 34ft determined from the following calculations (12ft + 10ft + 12ft) X (12ft + 10ft +12ft) = 34ft x 34ft).
Example: Covering a row of grape vines - Measure the height and width
area of the vines as a three-sided structure as shown in figure at below
right. This method would also work to estimate netting size for a row
of dwarf fruit trees or blueberry bushes.
To calculate the width of net needed to cover a row, measure the height and width of the leaf canopy and add the up measurements. For a leaf canopy 6ft high and 5ft wide, the width of netting needed would be 17ft (6ft + 5ft + 6ft).
To calculate the length of net needed simply add up the row lengths (if known) and add extra at the end of each row if you plan to cut the net as discussed earlier. Where total row length is not known, a good way to estimate linear distance is to divide the area of an acre (expressed in ft²) by the width between rows and multiply by the number of acres as explained below.
Situation: A 2.7 acre property with 9ft row spacing would require an estimated 13,068 linear feet of net. See the calculations below.
- Square ft per acre = 43,560
- Row width (width between the rows) = 9ft
- Total acreage = 2.7 acres
- Sq. ft. / Acre (43,560) divided by Row width (9ft) - 43560/9 = 4,840 estimated linear feet per acre
- Total acres (2.7) X total linear feet per acre (4,840ft) - 2.7 x 4,840 = 13,068ft total linear feet needed.
Hint: For large operations applying netting by machine the best method is to continue from row to row without cutting the net. The net between the rows is simply left on the ground. Be sure to make wide enough turns with your equipment so that the net drapes down to the ground between the rows and carry an extra bag of net on the applicator so you’re ready to start where the current net ends. When you get to the end of one net simply overlap the next by 3ft-5ft for an effective seal and keep going.
Part 3 - Installation Examples
Another important consideration involves how to install netting. Nets can be installed by a variety of methods from applying by hand to the use of specialized machinery. In response, several rules of thumb should be considered:
Installing Netting On Vines and Berry Bushes – If you plan to apply net on small fields less than ½ acre Easy-Fit and it's square mesh design are perfect for the job. If the area you wish to cover is an acre or more, we recommend using a netting machine. To install by hand, simply lay the net next to the row along its length. Next, starting from one end, lift the net up and over the canopy. Moving down the row, be sure to drape the net on all sides by first stretching it open across the width as you deploy it down the length of the row. For taller bushes or vine canopies use a “soft-end” pole with a ring or non-snagging surface to guide the net above the plants. Some folks are fond of canoe paddles or homemade shepherd’s hooks to gently lift the net.
Hint: A nifty tool to make it easier to apply nets by hand can be made at home by attaching a smooth, snag-proof ring to a lightweight but sturdy pole – see figure to left. The pole can be made from lightweight material such as wood, rigid plastic or aluminum.
Threading the net through ring and lifting with the pole will make it much easier to position netting above the canopy. This minimizes snagging on leaf canopies allows the net to be opened easier by helpers on either side of the row.
A hand-held netting boom is great for small projects but it's best to use a netting applicator machine to install nets on larger fields over an acre. Always follow manufacturer recommendations for using any specialized netting equipment. To learn about Plantra's netting machine CLICK HERE.
Installing Netting On Hoop House Structures – Installing netting to protect berry bushes and garden crops can be accomplished by simply draping the netting over the plants allowing the net to be supported entirely by the foliage. While simple and quick, this method may still allow birds to reach the crop if the net is close to or in contact with fruit or tender shoot crops. For best results consider hoop houses structures with low arch supports made from plastic or metal to support the net safely above the canopy and the crop – see figures below. To calculate the length of hoop material for your application do a web search on “Calculate Hoop Ellipse Length” and you can find a calculator page to do this.
Easy-Fit Supported On Hoop House Structure Protects Blueberry & Other Berry Crops
Easy-Fit Supported On Hoop House Structure Protects Garden Crops
Another simple and inexpensive method to elevate the net is to drive shorter SunFlex stakes (or other narrow profile stakes) into the ground at intervals down the rows each topped with a used tennis ball (with a small “x-slit” cut into the tennis ball to fit over the stake) - see figures below. The stake and tennis ball combo will easily support the net and avoid abrasion. If wind is an issue the net can be secured with anchor staples along the ground edges. Depending upon your row width and distance between the rows you may be able to cover multiple rows with a single width of net.
Easy-Fit Net Supported On Double Row Tennis-Ball-Topped Stakes
Easy-Fit Net Supported On Single Row Tennis-Ball-Topped Stakes
Installing On Larger Support Structures – AviGard’s Crop Structure and Easy-Fit Nets are perfect to cover larger and often permanent support structures. AviGard Crop Structure Nets are designed for continuous, year-round use for up to 10 years while the Easy-Fit line-up is for seasonal applications only. The three figures below illustrate a simple permanent structure concept to protect berry bushes and garden crops. Support posts can be wood or metal and wire is often used to connect the poles and add support to the netting. Posts can be further apart but t's best to have support wires on a 10ft x 10ft grid (or smaller grid) and to attach the net to support wires for the most secure attachment.
Simple Netting Support Frame Design For Blueberry Bushes
Netting Support Frame Design For Blueberry Bushes - Side View
Netting Support Frame Design For Blueberry Bushes - Top View
Hint: Extend the life of your nets by reducing abrasion at points where the netting comes in contact with poles, cross arms and other supports. Examples include:
- Metal vineyard posts (< 2.5 inch diam.) – Place 12oz or 16 oz. plastic beverage cups or other readily available smooth edge plastic containers at least 1qt in size (like cottage cheese and yogurt containers) directly on top of the posts. These items will provide temporary (1 season) abrasion protection.
- Wooden posts (3-6 inch diam.) – Staple plastic ice cream pail lids or other smooth plastic material to top of posts for temporary (1 season) protection.
- For long-term abrasion protection for year-round nets consider protecting all post or pole contact points with material that is smooth and U.V. resistant.
Securing Nets – Once in place, nets that don’t reach all the way to the ground or those installed in breezy locations should be secured to prevent movement by wind and access by birds. Seasonal nets can be secured with a variety of attachments. To attach netting to drip hoses, stakes and wire supports, Plantra Twist-Lock double wire twist ties are an excellent choice. Other choices include readily available materials like plastic clothespins, bread bag twist ties, and plastic butterfly clips. To secure netting to the ground, Plantra anchor staples provide a fast, secure, and inexpensive way to keep net edges in place.
For securing year-round nets to structure supports Plantra Twist-Lock ties or “hog-rings (for attaching net to wire) are perfect solutions. But whatever you use it needs to be UV resistant to the sun’s rays to stay in place long-term.