Tree Planting Tip: Buy the Right Size Tree

Tree Planting Tip: Buy the Right Size Tree

We all want our gardens to flourish quickly and make an impact. So, when it comes to choosing a tree, the question arises: should you buy a larger tree or a smaller one? At Tips Tree Planting, we’re here to help you make the right decision. In this article, we’ll explain how to choose the best size tree for your landscape and why it matters.

How to Measure Tree Size

Before we dive into the different tree sizes available for purchase, it’s important to understand how to measure or describe tree size. There are several ways to do this, and they all have different meanings. Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • How to measure tree size
  • Available sizes for purchase
  • Reasons to buy a large tree
  • Reasons to buy a small tree
  • Choosing the right-sized tree for your garden

Determining the Right Size Tree

Choosing the right tree size requires considering two factors: the tree’s size at maturity and its size when planted. While it may seem logical to opt for a bigger tree, there are other important factors to consider.

When looking for a new garden tree, prioritize structural quality and form over size and cost. Ensuring that the tree is healthy and structurally sound is crucial for its long-term survival. Once you’ve assessed these factors, you can consider the size and cost.

It’s important to note that buying a tree from a nursery means you’re purchasing its history, including years of care and transportation. To get an idea of average tree prices and the different sizes available, visit a local nursery.

Tree Planting Tip: Buy the Right Size Tree

Why New Trees Vary in Size and Price

Tree species grow at different rates, which affects their size and cost. Some trees, like the ginkgo, grow slowly, while others, like poplars, grow quickly. The size and cost of a tree reflect how long it has been growing and receiving care at a tree farm or nursery.

Trees are sized based on their trunk diameter and height. The trunk’s diameter, known as caliper, is measured at a certain height from the trunk base. For example, a tree with a three-inch caliper can be 14-16 feet high or more. Root spread also plays a role in determining tree size.

Tree containers come in various sizes. Small trees or saplings are often found in 5-gallon pots, while larger trees are sold with their roots balled and wrapped in burlap or in special wooden boxes.

Tree Planting Tip: Buy the Right Size Tree

Choosing the Right Tree Size for You

While trees of any size can be planted, larger trees require more effort and expertise. Here are some considerations:

Pros & Cons of Buying a Large Tree

Plant a large, mature tree if:

  • You want immediate impact in your garden.
  • You need to screen a view or increase your privacy.
  • More shade is desired without building a shade structure.
  • You want the new tree to match existing ones.

However, there are downsides to buying a larger tree. It may be costlier, harder to transport and plant, and there may be fewer varieties to choose from. Larger trees also establish more slowly.

Pros & Cons of Buying a Smaller Tree

Planting a small tree can be the best option if:

  • You have a limited budget.
  • The tree will be planted in a small garden, patio, or container.
  • You want to transport and plant the tree yourself.
  • You’re looking for a specific species or cultivar.
  • Multiple trees are needed (more individual small trees for the same cost as one large tree).

The only drawback to buying and planting a young tree is that it takes time to make a significant impact on your landscape. However, smaller trees offer more variety and structure in your garden’s design.

To help you choose the best tree, check out our recommendations for northeast Ohio, including trees for small spaces, brilliant fall colors, and beautiful spring flowers.

Buying and Planting a Large Tree: More Work and More Money

The size and weight of a large tree mean you’ll need a crew and equipment to transport, excavate the planting hole, install the tree, and avoid damaging it. It’s a complex process that requires professional expertise.

Recommended Tree Size for DIY’ers

If you’re a DIY enthusiast and plan to plant a tree on your own, we recommend a tree in a 15-gallon or #15 nursery container. This size is easy to carry, requires a smaller planting hole, and has a small rootball and height that can be managed by one person.

Why Planting a Smaller Tree is Beneficial

When choosing the size of your tree, consider its growth rate once planted. Young trees recover from transplant shock faster, establish and extend their root systems more effectively, and grow taller and wider at a faster rate than older trees.

While a big tree provides immediate impact, a smaller tree planted at the same time may outgrow it in terms of height and overall growth. So, if you have longer-term goals for your garden’s design, planting smaller trees can be a wise choice.

At Tips Tree Planting, we want to help you make informed decisions about tree planting. Visit us at Tips Tree Planting for more gardening tips and advice.

Remember, the right size tree can make all the difference in creating a beautiful and thriving landscape. Happy planting!