Nursery Standards for Growing and Buying Quality Trees
We know that growing an urban forest and individual trees requires excellent nursery stock. Our collective experiences have shown that poor quality nursery stock results in having to remove trees before they reach their larger mature size due to defects in the trunk and branch structure, or root system. There have been many efforts to improve the quality of stock grown at the nurseries.
This is a link to a usable Quality Tree Purchasing Specifications that provides the latest information in a usable document that can easily be adapted to your purchasing process. You will need to add the plant species, sizes, and pricing format you typically use.
We have all tried to make improvements to the root ball and branch structure at planting. This is challenging to initiate with the diversity of the tree planting community – arborists, landscapers, homeowners, and volunteers. Additionally, Landscape Architects will need to partner and incorporate the new standards, specifications, and details into their plans and designs. Sharing this information with plan reviewers and community development decision makers will further encourage the use of these standards in development projects.
CalFire sponsored this grant to improve the quality of the trees we buy and plant in California. The Urban Tree Foundation partnered with CalFire , California Releaf, WCISA and a group of knowledgeable reviewers to create the attached standards and specifications for quality nursery trees. Please take the time to review the material, understand the desired quality of nursery trees, and use the standards and specifications to order trees.
There is a caveat to change! Changes in growing plants will take at least one growing season to implement, and sometimes longer, especially for larger sized container or field grown plants. We each need to contact our local nurseries that provide trees, and work with them to produce high quality trees. It may take a year or two for the nurseries to come into compliance with these specifications. We should be prepared to have fewer trees available to plant for the first year this effort is in place, or plan to plant smaller size container plants which take shorter time to grow!
In the end, we know that our combined efforts to work with the nursery industry to growing high quality trees will benefit the urban forest through longer living trees, fewer root and branch structure defects, and increased consistency of planting depths and central leaders.
The specification link is in the area below. For more information on the standards and guidelines that were used to develop the specifications, visit the CalFire website:
Guideline Specifications for Nursery Tree Quality
Strategies for Growing a High‐Quality Root System, Trunk, and Crown in a Container Nursery
Quality Tree Purchasing Specifications