Bare Root Trees: It’s a thing.

I don’t know what’s come over me, but lately all I can think about is Arbor Day. I know. But it’s because I am completely obsessed with trees. My husband refers to me as pacing lioness when I get antsy and start walking back and forth in our family room, looking out different windows to our backyard. Yesterday as we were driving to Denver, he pointed out a tree he didn’t like and gave me a weird look when I responded: “That’s a Canadian Hemlock.” I guess he didn’t realize I’ve been majoring in dendrology at google image university. It’s a thing.

We were blessed to move into a new subdivision almost 4 years ago, but being new comes with its downsides. No mature trees, no tire swings, no canopies over the sidewalks. And we’ve kind of been in a catch 22 with our tree situation. I think we thought at the time we moved in that we needed to save up for some beautiful trees. But beautiful trees are guess what- pricey with a capitol ‘P’. And we have four little girls who apparently think they have more pressing needs than me having trees I can enjoy. Well, they’re right, but I still need trees.

But we blinked and almost 4 years have gone by and we’ve realized that even if we did have the money to landscape our entire yard, we probably would need that for other things. And really, time is money when it comes to trees, so if we’d planted small ones 4 years ago… you get the point.

But I still need trees.

Our red maple (1 on the right) and my two beloved sycamores (2 on the left)

So after getting 2 gorgeous Sycamores and 1 flowering Aristocrat Pear for my birthday and still feeling like we had a lot of yard left, I decided to take a risk and order some from an online tree nursery. I figured, I just can’t beat 10 trees for $80 and I can literally line my backyard. So, I got 5 Sugar Maples and 5 Loblolly pines.

I knew they’d be small (they were 4′ and came in a package about 1 foot wide and about as tall as me) but I wasn’t totally prepared for the bare root thing. Because trees go dormant in the winter, nurseries can ship them without the potting container and simply “bare root.” As I’m new to all this, it’s nice to know that the company guarantees their trees for the first year, so if they’re not doing well this spring, they’ll send me new ones. But apparently people love bare root trees because they acclimate better & quicker and because there isn’t any new soil to adjust to, so they don’t go through the same shock that potted/ container plants & trees do.


Yes, these are all 10 trees (5 Loblolly Pines & 5 Sugar Maples).

So I watched about 20 youtube videos of how deep and wide to dig the hole and rented my husband and father in law a fence post digger to make the process “easier” since they are digging through straight clay. I get sad and jealous when I watch youtube videos of gardeners who have great dirt.

And that is why I need a worm barrel. 

But yeah, so we got some wood for stakes, mulch, zip ties and BAM: I have trees. It’s not hard, but there is actually actually a (slight) science to planting them. It’s just a few things- soaking the roots, making sure the base of the tree isn’t buried, but level with the ground (slightly higher than you think), root pruning if necessary, getting some wood for stakes (& zip ties- or just get a tree staking kit) for the first year, preventing air pockets as you put the soil back down in the hole to cover the roots, separating the mulch so it’s not touching the trunk once you’ve put that down as a blanket…

My husband & father in law digging the 10 holes about 10 feet apart. It was a lot of work.
One of my Loblolly Pines before we put the mulch down.

Now, I just sit and stare.

And think about where I could put a weeping Alaskan Cedar or Quaking Aspens. And then how good shrubs would look. Like a dwarf blue globe spruce- I love those.

And then my husband and I dream about 40 years from now when I’ll be harvesting maple sugar and maple syrup from my sugar maples. Do people my age dream about harvesting maple syrup in 40 years? I might be old at the time, but while we are tapping those trees and making some awesome maple sugar and maple syrup, trust me- you will be knocking on my door wanting to try some.

So, like I said: Arbor Day. I want to try to convince my neighbors to do an order of bare root trees (Maybe a Redbud, Dogwood, Japanese flowering cherry, Crabapple, Birch, Sugar Red or Silver Maple, Spruce Pine &/or other privacy trees)… or worse case scenario, the city gives out 1,000 tree seedlings. I only say worse case scenario, because it would be hard to figure out as a neighborhood how to have people driving to a different location and then all coming back… but they still offer a good selection including black walnut, shortleaf pine, pecan, redbud and serviceberry. I’m hoping the city would maybe let me pick them up for our neighborhood and then we could all meet at our clubhouse and do some kind of event where we pass them out. I’d welcome any ideas! Combining my love for neighbors and trees is almost too much. We’ll definitely need neighborhood Arbor Day t-shirts.

UPDATE 4/17/16: We did end up hosting an Arbor Day Party after all and it was a huge hit! Our neighbors ordered 345 tree seedlings through the MO Department of Conservation and we had all kinds of fun!! The kids LOVED it!!!!!


Does anyone have any suggestions for how I could coordinate the neighborhood Arbor Day Event or what to do? Some kind of gathering?


2 Comments on “Bare Root Trees: It’s a thing.

  1. Check out MO Dept of Conservation. They sell native, bare root stock for pennies and because they are native….they tend to thrive. Oh, and be sure to checkout native gardening. It is addictive as well…


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