Magazine article American Forests

How to Pick a Nursery Tree

Magazine article American Forests

How to Pick a Nursery Tree

Article excerpt

Follow these guidelines, and your yard tree will be all it can be.

Unless you live in the northern tier of states, it's not too early to begin planning that tree-planting you've been thinking about for a while. And it may even be time to head down to the local nursery, buy the tree, and start to get your hands dirty.

Selecting the tree is a critical step in this whole process, and one that too often is done without enough forethought. This article is meant to provide all the knowledge you'll need to select a nursery tree of the highest quality.

Before you visit the nursery, make sure you have decided on the placement of the tree in your landscape. Have a good idea about what general type you want (shade, flowering, ornamental, or evergreen windbreak tree, for instance) and how much space is available for it. Envision the tree fully grown, and make sure that you have enough space above and below ground for it to grow to its full potential (check especially for utility and power lines). Site-specific soil conditions (wet, dry, sandy, etc.) are also very important for getting the right tree for your use.

Equipped with the information on these two pages, you should be able to make the best investment in your tree. Remember, though, that a tree is a living thing, and its structure and health are already somewhat determined by the time you go to the nursery to buy it. It's a good idea to call your local nursery ahead of time and make sure their trees are grown to the standards set by the American Association of Nurserymen.

It's also a good idea to be ready to plant your tree as soon after you buy it as possible. You don't necessarily have to prepare the planting area before your trip to the nursery, but don't let the tree sit out for a long time after bringing it home.

To further increase your tree's health and longevity, use AMERICAN FORESTS' latest tree-planting specifications. To receive a copy of the article, "The Best Way to Plant Trees," send $3 to AMERICAN FORESTS, P.O. Box 2000, Washington, DC 20013-2000.

GENERAL APPEARANCE

* The tree should have a balanced shape.

* Balled and burlapped trees are bought during the dormant season, so have no leaves.

* For containerized trees, make sure there are no bare spots in the foliage, missing or damaged limbs, or discolored or spotted leaves, unless it's the end of the summer season.

* The tree should have a single strong "central leader."

* Check the size of the crown and rootball in relation to the caliper size of the tree. …

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