Fig Tree Protector




This is the second year we have had our fig trees, they have deepened their roots and have started producing wonderful figs. The first weeks harvest was more than what we pulled all last summer. These juicy morsels have also attracted a few unwelcome scavengers. My goal is to protect the fig trees with something more than a net draped over the tree. Birds can still land on a draped net and pick at what is inside. I want to create a temporary haven so the figs could fully ripen on the tree without predation.

Step 1: Plans and Tools

In this build I will use one half inch PVC pipe and bird netting, both available at your favorite home improvement store. I wanted to cover two trees with netting, one was nice and compact, the other is in a wide V shape. For the V shaped tree I made two smaller frames to make it easier to move while mowing.

I did not glue these frames together, my plan is to have the option to quickly take apart the frame in the event of a hurricane.

These frames will not be cubes so I can save on materials and because they look cool.

Each frame needs a four sided base, a spine for the top and 3-way 90 degree corners to attach it all together.

A single frame needs six 3-way 90 degree corners. The store I shopped at did not have them so I needed to use a coupler to make it work.

All parts totaled I used 180 feet of PVC pipe, 18 3-way 90 degree fittings with side outlet with male adapter.

Do not be discouraged by the total length of PVC, I have several four foot lengths left over because the most common length I needed was six feet and the PVC was available in only ten foot lengths.

In addition to the PVC and netting I used a channellock wrench, hacksaw, saw horses, measuring tape, marker and a blade. I also used cord to tie the net down, I used mason line.

Step 2: PVC Work

This is by far the easiest step of the build. After measuring out the base of the frame, in my case
I wanted two 4x6 foot bases and one 4x3.5 foot base. From there I just estimated based on the height of the trees and made all of the uprights six feet tall.

So, for a single 4x6 foot base and its complete frame I will need two 4 foot lengths and three 6 foot lengths. Two six foot lengths for the base, and a third for the spine of the frame.

Measuring, cutting and assembling all the PVC takes about 30 minutes.

Step 3: Frame Assembly

After cutting out the PVC parts assembly is easy.

Lay out all the parts for a frame.

Construct the base by putting the base sides into the corner pieces. I choose to have the adapter piece facing upwards on the base.

After assembling the base, insert the uprights.

Attach the spine to one set of uprights, then bend the sides together to attach the final uprights.

Repeat as many times as necessary.

Step 4: The Net

When working alone this step is the most challenging. The net is near impossible to see and is easily moved by a breeze.

The basic process involved unfurling the netting, sliding it across the spine of the frame, pulling it down far enough to cover the 'back' of the frame and stitching it on with orange cord.

I am neither a sailor, a scout, nor a sailor scout so I am almost wholly unfamiliar with tying knots aside from what I use on my shoes.

Most tying attempts were through trial and error until I found a method that worked well.

The nets are attached but I would not call them pretty. I gave each of these frames a flap door to allow easy access.

For those of you who are familiar with knot tying feel free to comment below for advice and links to other instructables.

Step 5: Best Door

After a bit of fiddling I found a door that stays secure.

It is a flap that wholly covers the arch side and is secured with a few wooden skewers that are passed through in a zig zag pattern to put tension on them. This keeps the skewers in place and keeps the flap shut.

If you do not like the door option these frames are light enough for one person to lift to gain access to the delicious bounty that hides inside.

Step 6: Saved Figs

After putting the protectors up I let the figs ripen. Here is an example of what can happen to figs near the exterior of the netting. This one was scratched up a bit, but not completely eaten. Success!



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    12 Discussions


    2 months ago

    Did you mention what variety your lovely fig trees are? (I have four Chicago Hardy and one Brown Turkey fig that is 25 years old and has never produced mature figs.)

    Thanks for the great netting ideas.


    2 years ago

    but it doesn't help for some want to produce a lot of tree it's not practical but i like it as an idea, Good job


    2 years ago

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    4 years ago

    very nice design! I made one very similar. it can be scaled up or down in size according to need. if you go much larger I'd recommend using larger diameter PVC for extra support as the top bar will start to sag and the structure will become more rickety


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Skewers are so useful. Somebody else used 'em as tiny dowels for joinery. This is genius in its simplicity and execution. Nice work!

    1 reply

    4 years ago

    Nice design...the gothic arch shape is very elegant! Also, thats for the tip about using skewers to fasten the layers of netting. I can think of similar common items that might work: chopsticks, hair clips, binder clips, clothes pins, pipe cleaners, etc. From experience, I recommend painting anything you use a really bright neon color like pink, because you'll take them out, put them on the ground, and spend half the day looking for then after. :) For things like binder clips, just tie some of that neon cord they sell at the hardware store for mason's levels.

    We live up in MA in zone 5, so there are only a couple of varieties that are close to hardy enough, and you still have to completely and thoroughly insulate them for the winter. Your design is inspiring...I bet I could attach some sort of flexible insulation around the sides, leaving a space at the top. I think filling salt marsh hay around the fig would work, then I'd make a "roof" by folding something like a strip of galvanized metal to keep out rain and snow. Probably need to put straw bails around the bottom also, to protect the roots.

    A lot of work for one little fig tree, but when you garden, that's sort of what happens...

    Thanks again for the great Instructable!

    1 reply

    I am down here in Houston so cold weather is not the norm. I plan on using this design for any cold snaps we may have next winter. Erect the frame and add a series of tarps with some incandescent Christmas lights to keep things warm enough.