Metal tags to identify trees

Roberta Fineberg/Photodisc/Getty Images

Keep track of your trees' planting dates, pruning histories, where they were bought or even the details surrounding the acquisition of particular plant with durable metal tree tags.

Useful information recorded on these tags can be as brief as a number that relates to your garden inventory or the full botanical name plus any special instructions for plant care.

Types of Metals

Tree tags are made from durable and decorative metals to withstand the weather, accidental removal by animals who brush against the trees, corrosion by pollution and repeated watering sessions. These include treated zinc, aluminium, copper and large, impressed steel tree tags. Of these choices, copper is the most decorative, because weathering causes the formation of an attractive bluish-green patina.

Sizes and Shapes

Metal tags come in many sizes to suit trees, from saplings to mature specimens. Decorative metal tags are available in the shapes of gardening tools such as watering cans, dog tags and a selection of round, oval, rectangular and square shapes. Sizes vary from small 1-inch round tags to medium-sized tags 3 inches long and 7/8 of an inch wide to large, rectangular tags measuring 1¾ inches wide by 4 inches long.

Marking Metal Tags

Popular techniques for labelling metal tags include pencils, pens and markers. Permanent marker pens, also known as nursery markers, are used to label trees, but are subject to environmental factors like acid rain from air pollution, corrosion from fertilisers and the fading action on the ink because of prolonged exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays. Labels written by large, thick lead pencils are more durable, but less easily read, and a china marking pencil, also known as a grease or wax pencil, is easily read and lasts the longest against environmental erosion. A variety of "write-on" aluminium stock labels with a heavy-duty cardboard backing permit labelling by the impression of a pen or pencil to create an "embossed" effect.