Tree Selection Guide
Before purchasing a tree for your landscape, consider the purpose of your planting, the soil conditions, location of planting, species desired, tree size and whether its growth and form are appropriate for your planting spot.
What to look for when inspecting the tree for purchase:
Bark and Trunk
Inspect the trunk for mechanical injuries and environmental injuries such as sun scald and animal damage. The ideal tree will have none of these injuries present on the bark. Trunk wraps may be utilized to hide insect wounds, incorrect pruning cuts and other damages. It is important to inspect underneath the trunk wraps, by completely removing them from the trunk. Avoid choosing trees with obvious insect damage. Look for vertical trunk cracks just below the first union of branches. These cracks are major starting points for fractures of branches and trunks. Select trees that have one main trunk that is straight and hasn't been pruned back at the top.
Look to see if there are broken branches, indicating that the tree was pruned improperly or handled roughly. Branches should not cross or rub, and should be spaced 8-12 inches apart. The branches should be evenly distributed along the main leader. Avoid selecting trees that have undergone excessive pruning. Avoid purchasing trees that have weak “V” unions. Look for symmetrical form with a balance between height and crown spread. Also take into consideration the overall health and vigor with at least 4-6 inches of growth from previous season to the end of the twig. Search or well-developed buds. Branches and crown should be in the upper half of the central stem.
Select trees that have no wilted or off-colored foliage. The presence of off-colored foliage is indicative of root problems or less than optimum care. Desirable trees should have average-sized leaves and possess good foliage color.
Well-rooted trees should not move independently from the container where the root ball is. Grasp the tree at the trunk and gently move it back and forth to make sure there is no separation in the soil. The container and the tree should move as one. Make sure the rootball is proportionate to the size of the tree. A well-developed root system isn't a dense mass that is pot bound or girdling roots.