Eco-Friendly Ways On How to Buy a Tree
When looking for a tree, the roots, trunk, and branches should be in good proportion so the tree looks balanced. Select a well-shaped tree with good leaf color. Do not buy a tree if there are signs of recent heavy pruning.
A well-formed root system is symmetrically branched, with the main root growing down and out to provide trunk support. Container-grown and balled-and-burlapped trees should have fibrous roots that are developed enough that the rootball retains its shape and holds together when removed from the container or when the ball is moved. The main roots should be free of sharp bends near the trunk and roots that wrap around the trunk (circling roots).
A healthy tree trunk flares at the soil line. The absence of a flare may indicate roots that wrap around the trunk. Brush away the soil from the top of the rootball, or stick your finger in the top 2 to 3 inches near the trunk. If there are circling roots, you will be able to see or feel them at the top of the rootball. A circling root is one that wraps all the way, or almost all the way, around the trunk.
Circling roots can be hazardous to a tree. Over a few years, circling roots may girdle the trunk of the tree, slowing its growth and causing a weak spot that might break in a storm.
Select a tree with a straight, tapered trunk that can stand by itself. Be careful when inspecting the tree trunk. Some types of trees naturally have multiple or crooked trunks. The trunk should bend evenly in the wind, like a fishing pole.
Look for a tree with branches all the way to the ground, and that isn't staked, or is tied to its stake loosely. Trees that are loosely staked and contain branches that extend to the ground will grow into a better tree than a tightly-staked tree.
Untie the tree from its stake, and bend the top to one side. A strong tree will bend evenly along the trunk and return to within 20 to 30 degrees of vertical.
Inspect the bark for damage. The bark should be free of injury from staking or improper handling. Avoid buying sunburned trees. A sunburned tree will have split, flattened, or dull-colored bark. Sunburned trunks are extremely slow to heal and are subject to borer infestation.
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