It is estimated that 90% of trees that are established in the urban environment in the northeastern United States are produced in the nursery as a field-grown plant where they are dug, wrapped in burlap, and transported to the new planting site as a “BNB” tree (N.L. Bassuk, personal communication). In recent times, other nursery techniques have become increasingly popular, including PIP container-grown, IGF, and BR production systems. Though each method offers advantages and disadvantages, some researchers have speculated that nursery production methods may not significantly limit transplant survival and plant performance (Levinsson, 2013). Factors like tree species selection (Ferrini and Nicese, 2006), size (Struve et al., 2000), transplant timing (Richardson-Calfee et al., 2004), and post-transplant maintenance (Gilman, 2001; Watson and Himelick, 2013) may be more limiting relative to tree performance and inevitably, the successful long-term “greening” of a community. However, to the urban forester/tree warden charged with the day-to-day care of community trees, the most important limiting factor relative to successful tree planting and urban forest management are the resources required to acquire and plant street trees (Stobbart and Johnston, 2012).
With this in mind, the objectives of this study were to build on existing research pertaining to the costs associated with growing trees using different nursery production systems (Lass and Neal, 2014), by providing a more scientifically based understanding of the true costs associated with the planting of urban trees grown using four different nursery production systems (PIP, BNB, IGF, and BR).
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