Wednesday, April 8, 2009

15 Gallon Tree vs. 36" Box Tree

Originally uploaded by andrewkanzler
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This image is of the Chino Creek Wetlands Educational Park, It was taken a Year Ago. If you were to go to that same spot, your view would be completely obstructed with green crap(leaves).

Chainsaw Eddie asked a question. The basic question is, What is the difference between planting a 36" tree and a 15 Gallon tree. The answer is ONE thing. INSTANT GRATIFICATION. and even THAT can sometimes be a FALLACY.

Trees come in many different sized containers. The most common being 15 Gallon 24" Box and 36" Box. There is little difference between a 24" box and a 36" box and there is also little difference between a 15 Gallon container and a 24" container.

The INTENT for the difference in sizes of containers is based on the size of the ROOTBALL. NOT the size of the tree above ground. That can vary in relation to the size of the rootball. There is little consistency whatsoever.

Not only that, but sometimes a nursery will have just transplanted a 15 Gallon sized tree into a 24" Box just before it was sold and sometimes directly into a 36" Box (because it is harder to transfer from box to box due to the size) So There ARE chances you are getting a 15 Gallon Tree in a 36" box.

A lot of times those transfers are done TOO LATE! and that can be VERY DANGEROUS. If a 15 Gallon tree has been root bound in a bucket (meaning if you took the tree out and you can see a LOT of the roots and it begins to wrap around) Then that tree is in danger of Falling over in a few years. Trees need their roots to spread out laterally to gain a footing in the ground, not around in a circle (Arch principle doesn't work here folks). Nurseries WILL transfer those root bound buckets into boxes and SELL THEM. It is easier to check for this danger while it is still in a bucket. You can just pull it out, check the roots and put it back in. When it's in a box it's a little harder to check but you can push the trunk back and forth and see if the root ball moves in what might look like a 15 gallon sized radius(might take a trained eye).

Now let's say you've got ALL the BEST scenarios for a 36" Box, a 15 Gallon tree, of average size and healthy, and a MASSIVE 36" box with healthy roots and a healthy top.

That really means one thing. One is a bit older than the other (probably by a year). When you put the 36" in the ground it'll look like a tree (Instant Gratification Realized). The 15 Gallon won't look like an established tree for another year or two. But when it comes to trees, growth spurts happen only in their first few years of life. If you plant both those trees at the same time, by the second year, you won't be able to tell which one was the 36" tree and which was the 15 Gallon tree. (granted they are well taken care of)

So in the BEST Case scenario, the only difference is instant gratification.

No wait, that's not true. Let's not forget the price. a 36" tree can cost a few hundred dollars. A 15 Gallon tree, almost always under a hundred, say more like 50 dollars. If that tree dies, You'll be glad you went with the 15 gallon tree. Actually, no matter what, you'll be glad you spent 4x's less for any tree that'll look the same in 2 years.


Ed said...


Now if we can only get the Planning Department and Historic Preservation Commission to understand this.

Birdi said...

I think boxed trees are appropriate for parks and public places with heavy usage, but they require stout stakes for two or three years until anchor roots are established. On residential lots a 15 gallon or even 5 gallon tree is more appropriate both economically and for the future health of the tree. They need less staking and are less likely to be root bound.

Viagra Online said...

I've been in a place that has this kind of trees and it is amazing because whey those are growing the place looks so beautiful and green. It's ideal to have it in the garden.

Anonymous said...

I would just mention that a 24" box is often between $100 and $200 for the plant and $500-$750 planted (including the tree). For a 36" box, the cost of plant can be $400 or more and planted (including the tree) can be several thousand. So, patience can save a lot of expense. It takes several strong men to move and plant a 36" box.