A Word About Nursery Stock

Although a person can save money buy purchasing a tree at a hardware store or big box store, stock may have been shipped from other parts of the country.  They may not be able to survive our Montana climate.  Reputable nurseries select plants that are suitable for local environmental conditions and many of them grow their own inventory.  Make sure the tree you would like to plant has a hardiness zone equal to, or less than, the zone of the proposed planting site.  A hardiness zone map can be found online.

Local nurseries will also have stock that has been properly cared for and packaged.  Avoid buying large trees in small containers.  Trees that have had all of their water-absorbing roots cut away in order to fit into a pot, will have difficulty establishing.  If possible, check containerized stock for circling roots, which may eventually girdle the tree’s transport system and block water uptake and movement of nutrients.  Trees that have been in pots for too long are suspect…beware of the “end of the season” sales!

Types of Nursery Stock

The three most common packaging types for nursery stock are “Bare root”, “Container”, and “Balled and Burlapped”.  Each has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on the given situation.

Bare Root Planting


Bare root trees come with no soil around the roots this is an advantage as you can see the roots to make sure there are no circling roots.  Bare root take longer to establish because they do not come with the root mass that other type trees come with.




Ball and Burlap come with burlap wrapped around the root ball of the tree usually held together by a metal basket.  With B & B a larger amount of established roots come with the root ball than either a bare root or a container trees.  Never having been in a container usually roots are free from circling.  With additional roots comes the weight of soil making them harder to move around.








container-planting-jr trees are the most common widely sold type of trees for their ease with handling and their ability to establish quickly.  The downside to container trees is that when left in the pot to long roots have a tendency to hit the side of the container and begin to circle.  If not corrected the circling roots will continue eventually girdling and choking other roots ultimately negatively impacting the tree.