University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

Download PDF
Publication #ENH1060

Chapter 10—Selecting Quality Trees from the Nursery1

Edward F. Gilman and Laura P. Sadowski2


Tree selection does not end with choosing the appropriate species or cultivar for the planting site. Suitable nursery stock must be chosen based on planting site conditions and intended after-care. This fact sheet discusses site conditions and after-care as related to maximum tree size at planting, root ball characteristics, appropriate tree production method, and tree structure. Nursery stock must also be carefully inspected to pick high quality trees. This publication also describes in detail quality factors to evaluate, including root ball defects, size, shape, and structure; nursery planting depth; presence of included bark; trunk form and branch arrangement; pruning cuts; presence of pests and disease; leaf color; top die-back; clear trunk length; and canopy uniformity.

Click Here to view pdf.



This document is ENH 1060 one of the Urban Forest Hurricane Recovery Program series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date September 2007. Reviewed February 2017. Visit the EDIS website at and


Edward F. Gilman, professor; and Laura P. Sadowski, horticultural information specialist; Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.