Tree Guard


Humphrey Herington is a commercial nurseryman from country NSW. He cares about the environment and the longevity of the plants he grows. Like many entrepreneurs, he identified a specific problem in his workplace and pledged to solve it.

Currently, when large scale land restoration occurs, plastic tree guards are often used to protect seedlings from pests and adverse weather in their early stages of growth. Although these types of guards are effective, they come with 2 big challenges. They are time consuming to install, which becomes very significant when planting thousands of trees. More significantly, they are rarely removed at the end of life so the toxic plastic remains in the environment for ever. Humphrey had a better idea.

Industrial Design
Product Documentation
Supplier Sourcing

Sustainably focused

Our brief was to design a tree guard that was fast to install, robust and resilient in the outdoor environment for up to 2 years, but then would biodegrade in situ in a way that was harmless to the environment.

Balancing competing requirements of structure, rigidity and repeatability of operation with the need to biodegrade at the end of life was always going to be challenging. Add in a very low cost of goods target and what seems simple quickly becomes more complex.

We explored a range of materials, manufacturing technologies, finishes and assembly techniques. We worked closely with the client to optimise the UX and then with suppliers to design for manufacture. The result is a fully biodegradable, rapidly installed tree guard that reduces implementation costs and is better for the environment.

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For a simple concept, the design process was relatively drawn out. Our team used Humphrey’s initial ideas as a stepping off point and created multiple rounds of prototypes using different materials, manufacturing techniques and functional formats. These prototypes were tested in the field, refined, re-built and re-tested in an ever tightening concept loop.

In the end, the complexity was in making something simple. The final design is beautifully elegant, simple and fast to install. It hits the target COG’s and delivers a high performance product that is harmless to the environment.

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Graphic Design

One of the exciting things about working with startups is our ability to have real influence over the broader product eco-system. In this instance, Katapult was engaged to develop an iconic brand identity for Gropod.

We took inspiration from the product’s distinctive ventilation holes and Humphrey’s seedlings to design a distinctive brand mark for use on the product and online. Intuitive assembly instructions were also added to print to optimise the UX.

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Interested in developing a new product? Let's talk.