It is that time of year -The most wonderful time of year!

Tree digging at the nursery!

Tree digging is one of the most important times of the year at There is a lot of time, work, and brainpower that goes into the weeks of tree digging in the nursery. Weather is the most important factor in this essential- time sensitive processes. In order to assure the best quality of life for each tree, trees must be dug out of the ground at the proper time. Ornamental trees, such as CrabapplesServiceberryOrnamental Pear, or Redbud, need to be dug out of the nursery fields before they start to bust their buds and bloom. Once a tree starts to bloom, it is no longer favorable for the future health of that tree to be dug out of the ground. As a general rule, trees should only be uprooted during their dormancy periods. Whether that be in the Spring before they leaf or bloom and/or in the Fall when the trees lose their leaves. For trees such as MaplesOaksElms, or Honeylocust, digging before they leaf out is most important and evergreens like, PineSpruce, or Arborvitae, should be dug before or after they push their new growth. Evergreens should not be dug while they are pushing new growth.

Once, the weather warms up and stays at a consistent temperature, buds will appear on branches and quickly bloom or leaf out. This is why tree digging is so crucial and very time sensitive. While most trees can be dug out of the field during Spring and Fall, some trees can only be dug out of the ground during Spring. For example, Oaks, Redbuds, and Birch should only be dug out of the ground in the Spring and not in Fall. During Spring digging, the nursery will dig additional amounts of each tree to sell from the holding yard through Spring, Summer, and Fall. All of the trees that are placed in the holding yard are on drip irrigation and ready to be planted at any time. Once, the nursery has sold out of certain trees, and digging is over for the Spring. That certain tree can be ordered, but planting would have to wait for the trees to go dormant when the nursery starts to dig in the Fall.

The nursery uses different size tree spades to dig trees properly in the fields. Each root-ball needs to be the correct size for each individual tree and its size. Jamie, from Spring Grove Nursery, will start the digging process by hand selecting and tagging each tree. He will spend a few days among the trees, measuring the caliper of each tree and making sure each tree is perfect to Spring Grove Nursery’s quality standards. He then places a size and label tag on each tree. When it is time to start digging, the crew arrives at each tree with the spade attached to a skid steer and starts digging.

Below is an excellent video showing the digging process...

The spade will wrap around the base of the tree and start digging into the dirt. Once the spade has finished, the skid steer lifts the tree out of the ground, with most of its roots and soil intact. A few members of the crew are beside the tree waiting with a burlap bag and basket. The skid steer operator will place the tree into the burlap bag and set the tree into the basket. The crew members then seal up the bag and place biodegradable twine around the metal basket to hold the root ball together. After that is done correctly and very perfectly, a tool is used to crimp the sides of the basket to ensure soil/root security. This process will take around 2 minutes and 20 seconds per tree.

-There you have it, a perfectly dug 2.5 inch caliper Red Sunset Red Maple ready to be planted in your yard.