How To Select Trees

Not all trees sold commercially are equal. Purchasing a tree should be considered an investment, so take your time in selecting the right one and visit several nurseries if necessary.

When inspecting a tree, whether ball and burlapped (B&B), containerized or bare root, be sure to look at both above- and below-ground qualities before purchasing.

Reject trees that do not have the following qualities.

Above-ground qualities

  • Form Overall healthy appearance
  • Trunk Strong central leader; little or no scarring on trunk
  • Branches Balanced on the trunk; 2-4 inches of new shoot growth from previous year; few broken branches if any
  • Bark No signs of damage or wounds
  • Leaves Normal size and color for that species at that time of year; no evidence of spots, blight or wilting

Below-ground qualities

  • Root Main roots should not be exposed or covered by more than 4 inches of soil; not girdling or circling the trunk; strong root ball (B&B)

Ask nursery staff to temporarily remove any protective covering such as on the trunk that might be concealing damage.

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