Tips for selecting a healthy tree from your nursery:

    • For trees whose caliper is 2 inches or greater, look for good trunk taper and the root flare at or just below the soil surface.  (see diagram)  This indicates strong lateral roots.
    • Make sure the root collar is not buried or the soil piled up around it.  This causes roots to develop around the root stem in order to get access to water. Roots start growing upwards instead of down.
  • For smaller trees and narrow-leaved evergreen shrubs, grasp the main stem about 3 to 4 feet above the soil and move it gently in a circular fashion.  The trunk or stem should rotate along with the entire plant and soil ball.  No space should develop between the trunk or stem and the soil ball.  Lack of space indicates that the soil is firm in the ball and is held together by sufficient roots to ensure proper rooting when planted.
  • Look for evenly spaced branches throughout the tree.
  • Look for a well developed leader (the main central branch through the center of the tree).
  • Be sure there are no crossing or rubbing branches.
  • Foliage, branches, and trunk should be free of mechanical damage, insect pests, diseases, and wounds that indicate sloppy pruning.

Select plants that are cold hardy to your area.  Purchase trees and shrubs in a local nursery where the conditions are similar to your local.