Selecting a Healthy Tree

How do you select a healthy tree? How do you know what to look for?

Inspecting your tree upon delivery or at the nursery will help your tree provide a lifetime of benefits. Here is what you should be looking for:

  • Bare root tree: Abundant root growth, fibrous and numerous small roots, good color; moist
  • Balled and burlapped tree (B&B): Firm soil ball, with trunk securely tied. Do not accept a plant with a broken “ball”. Do not accept a tree with circling roots at the base of the trunk. Always carry B&B plants by the soil ball, not the trunk, stems or branches.
  • Container-grown tree (containerized and potted): Avoid trees that are “root-bound” in the can. Roots can circle around the edge of the container may become circling roots. (Cut any circling roots when planting.) Because of this, B&B trees are generally preferred for large trees. Always remove can, basket or pot when planting.

Bare Root Seedlings

  • Roots should be moist & fibrous.
  • Deciduous seedlings should have roots about equal to stem length.

Balled & Burlapped

  • Root ball should be firm to the touch, especially near the trunk.
  • Root ball should be adequate for the tree’s size.


  • Pot should not contain large, circling roots.
  • Pruned roots cut cleanly, none wider than a finger.
  • Soil & roots joined tightly.

Keep in mind that proper tree care begins when you pick a tree and what you do to your tree in its first couple years of life will affect its shape, strength, and its life span. By following these steps, you will make sure tree gets on the correct foot and keep it healthy throughout its life. We look forward to helping you with all of your tree maintenance needs. No matter where you live in the Tri-Cities, your tree maintenance needs are our priority.

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