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The most important part of a plant's life begins with how it is planted. Trees are most often purchased via 3 different ways: bare rooted, container or ball and burlap. 



Bare rooted trees are just as they sound, a tree with the root system bare of soil.

  • The pros of this are that they are easy to transport, often less expensive and have an exposed root system so you know exactly where the roots are and their condition.

  • The cons are that the roots are readily exposed to air without protection from soil. Being so, they will dry out and die much faster if left out unprotected. Bare rooted trees often have fewer fibrous roots as well. These fine, fragile roots play a huge role in absorption of water and nutrients but can break off when the soil is removed for transport. 


Container grown trees are transported in various sized pots. They are often small to medium sized trees.

  • The pros are that they are easy to move as the trees are often smaller in size, have a ridge around the container to grab ahold of, and fit well on a dolly. They come with all of their roots in one container so they don't loose as many of their fibrous roots due to the transportation.

  • The cons are that they are often too big for their containers and need to have their roots cut to prevent girdling roots. In the nursery, the tree's roots grow outwards but when they hit the impenetrable plastic of the container, they are forced to travel in a circle around the tree. When the trees get planted they need to have those circling roots cut or ripped straight so they don't continue growing in a circle around the tree.   


Ball and burlap trees are usually only larger caliper trees. They are transported with the root system in a ball surrounded by burlap and wire to hold the soil in place and for ease of transport.

  • The pros are that they often have a large amount of their roots included in the ball if dug properly, the trees are large in size so they instantly create an appealing landscape, and they are easy to maneuver with large equipment. 

  • The cons are that they are very heavy as both the trees and root systems are large. The trees are grown in bare soil so when they are ready to transport and dug out of the ground they can lose a lot of the root system if the trees are too large when removed. Ball and burlap trees also need to be staked after planting as the trees are often much larger than their root systems which makes them prone to wind damage.

If you desire much larger trees instantly in your landscape it is possible to have them spaded in. This is not typical for the average consumer as the trees and cost of delivery is often expensive and there is a lot of stress to the tree as the trees are often larger than the root system removed by the spade is able to support.

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