Will my seedlings be the size you advertise?

Each tree or shrub listing will be accompanied by a size range.  For instance, the size range may read 6-12″ or 12-24″, etc.  Based on a variety of growing and weather conditions, there are variations in size from year to year.  Some species flourish in hot sunny weather while others favor cooler weather or seasons with above normal moisture.

Due to these factors, a tree listed in the 12-24″ range in consecutive years might be 12-15″ one year and 20-24″ the following year. Catalogs are printed and website details must be completed each year prior to the end of the growing season.  With projections, we strive to accurately estimate the size range of the trees. Sizes are measured from the top of the roots to the tip of the tree or shrub.  Our nursery stock size does not include the root system. If you ever receive trees or shrubs outside of the size range listed, please Contact Us so we can work together to resolve the matter.

Will all of my trees and shrubs survive?

Factors such as site conditions, soil type, precipitation and temperature will affect the survival rate you experience.  Someone who plans, prepares the site, promptly plants and provides proper care for their trees will undoubtedly experience the highest survival rates. Conversely, someone who plants their trees on a distant property and leaves them to fend for themselves will experience significantly reduced survival rates.

When the correct conditions are met, the average survival rate for bare root conifers is 75% or more. You may anticipate an 80-90% survival rate for most bare root hardwoods and shrubs.  This applies to most plants, whether they are young or more mature.  It would be extremely rare to experience a 100% survival rate.

What kind of trees should I buy?

Always take into consideration the type of soil on the planting site, sun conditions, and whether there is good air and water drainage. Some trees thrive in loamy, wet soils, like hardwoods; while others like dry, light conditions, like pines.  The purpose of your planting is also important.  Do you want a tree that will give you privacy, bear fruit, grace you with beautiful fall color, attract wildlife or provide shade?  These are all important considerations when planning your planting project.

In the online store portion of our website, each tree and shrub has a description that shows a map of where they are most likely to thrive.  Also described are the moisture requirements, acceptable soil types, sun/shade requirements and mature height and widths of the tree.  If you have additional or specific questions about one of our trees or shrubs, please email us at info@chiefrivernursery.com and we will respond promptly.

What if I can’t plant immediately?

We strongly advise that you plant your stock as soon as possible. If unable to plant upon receipt of trees, try to find a walk-in cooler. Otherwise, store your trees and shrub seedlings in a cool area, away from the sun and wind.  The basement or cellar can be a good place to store them where they are not subject to temperature swings.  If it is cooler outside, a shed, barn or other unheated outbuilding works well too.  Just make sure that if the seedlings are placed in an out building, it does not heat up with the daytime sun.  It is a good idea to open the plastic liner in the box ever so slightly to allow some circulation to occur.  It is even more important to make sure the seedling roots stay slightly damp and covered with moist shredded paper or sphagnum moss.

If you need to care for your seedlings for longer than 3 to 5 days before planting, it is recommended that they are placed in cold storage at a temperature between 33 and 38 degrees.  This will help keep the seedlings dormant.  If no cold storage is available, it is recommended that you use a process of heeling them in.  To do so, dig a trench that allows the seedlings to be placed inside without the roots bending.  Cover the roots of the seedlings with soil to just above the root collar.  Water well and firm the soil with your feet.  Try to minimize the handling and breaking of bundles as much as possible.  The less handling at this time the better.

It is important to note that “Our Guarantee” only covers seedlings that are planted within a couple of days of receipt.  While caring and heeling in can be done with great success, the level of care given during this critical time can vary greatly from customer to customer.  If the seedlings are not intensively cared for before planting, the survival rate will drop greatly.

What measures are necessary for weed control?

Some weed control may be necessary, particularly in richer soils. The trees and shrubs you plant will be competing with weeds for soil nutrients, moisture, and fertilizer.  You may want to eliminate this problem with herbicides and/or mowing. Maintaining the area that surrounds your seedlings is an important part of survival rates.  Like anything else, the more work you are willing to put into it, the better results you will get out of it.

What are bare root seedlings and transplants?

Bare Root Seedlings

Bare root seedlings are originally planted as seed and nurtured to grow.  At some point, depending on age or height, they are lifted from the ground and sold as seedlings.  Some will be replanted and left to grow longer, transforming into an even larger and better branched tree called a transplant.  Bare root seedlings do not have soil surrounding the roots when you receive them.  This makes for easy planting and seedlings that more easily adapt to your own soil.

Bare Root Transplants

Bare root transplants had originally started as seedlings for the first couple of years.  The seedlings were then lifted from the ground and replanted, hence the name transplant.  When this is done in the correct environment, an amazing natural transformation takes place.  The transplanted seedling branches out and becomes much more dense in form.  Our transplants are well branched, healthy and beautiful.  All of the tree measurements are from the ground up and are very conservative.  Bare root simply means that the tree comes to you free of soil on the roots.  This helps reduce the price of the seedling and makes them more adaptable to the soil that you are planting them in.

What’s the difference between Super Gel and Super Spore?

Super Gel

  • Granular formula that is mixed with water to make a root dip for your seedlings.
  • The root dip is used just before placing the seedling in the planting hole.
  • Super Gel sticks to the roots, absorbs moisture when it rains and releases it to the root zone over a period of time.
  • Seedlings receive moisture over a longer period of time and the highs and lows of watering are mitigated.
  • Reduces stress on the seedlings during establishment and increases survival.

Super Spore

  • Granular formula that is mixed with water to make a root dip for your seedlings.
  • Has Super Gel mixed in along with it.
  • Includes beneficial fungi that multiplies and stays with the tree or shrub for its lifetime.
  • Includes Endo & Ectomycorhizal fungi that naturally increases water uptake.
  • Makes trees more drought resistant and more adaptable to those tough planting situations.
Do you have any in the field planting tips?

In the field planting tips:

When heading to the field, keeping the roots moist is critical.  Seedlings can be killed in less than 20 minutes if exposed to the drying effects of wind and sun. We have listed a couple of pointers below.

  • It is a good idea have a tub or large bucket available for planting time.  The tub or bucket should be filled with 2 to 4 inches of water mixed with shredded newspaper or sphagnum moss placed around the roots.  As long as the seedlings will not be allowed to sit for hours, it is sufficient to place the roots directly into water.  Just make sure the roots are fully submerged so they cannot dry out while in the field.
  • It is not recommended to take plastic bags containing seedlings out into the field on sunny days.  The bags can act as mini greenhouses and expose the trees to undesirable temperatures, especially in black bags which particularly absorb the sun.
  • Only take as many seedlings as you will plant in a couple of hours.  Leave the rest in a protected area out of the wind and direct sunlight.
  • After the hole is dug, dip the roots of the plant in a root gel such as our Super Gel or Super Spore products.  These products are designed to retain moisture around the root zone and release it when it is most needed.  Super Spore has addition essential fungi that will stay with the plant its entire lifetime.
  • Cover the roots with soil as soon as possible to avoid overexposure to wind and sunlight.
  • Water the trees in thoroughly to help get them off to a good start.  A regular watering routine should be implemented, especially during the first full growing season when the plants are getting established.

If you would like to review our full planting and care guide, you may do so by clicking HERE.

Should I soak my seedlings and transplants upon receipt?

In general, it is a good idea to soak your plants for up to 6 hours just prior to planting.  This ensures that the plant has taken up full moisture and gives them a good start.  However, if you are storing your trees longer prior to planting, we recommend putting 2-4″ of water in a bucket or tub and placing shredded newspaper or sphagnum moss around the roots. This creates a micro-climate which will hydrate the trees without drowning them.  If you would like more information on planting and care, you can be taken to our planting and care guide by clicking HERE.

Can I pick up my trees at your nursery?

Yes, simply select the pick up option during checkout.  Plants are typically available between early April and mid-May.  In early April, please contact us to coordinate the pick up date at our nursery building.  On the morning of your pick up, your plants will be packaged and placed back into cold storage until you arrive.  Standard pick up hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  If you need to pick up your plants outside of those times, please contact us for an appointment.  A flat fee of $9.95 will be charged per order for root dipping and packaging, regardless of order size.

Our shipping facility is located at 976 Ulao Road, Grafton, WI 53024.  If you would like a map or directions on how to get to Chief River Nursery, click HERE.  Email: info@chiefrivernursery.com  Telephone: (262)377-5330

Can you explain the plant hardiness and zone maps?

Planting zones were established to help us correctly plant the right plants in the right climates. The zone map was created to illustrate plant hardiness based on the weather year round including factors such as average low temperatures and special climate areas like the Great Lakes.  While it is not a hard and fast rule, planting outside of the recommended zone for a specific plant exposes you to a much higher chance of failure. For instance, a plant grown outside of its recommended zone may bud out too early for your area.  If the early bud break is followed by a frost or too low of a temperature, this can damage the plant and even cause it to perish.  For your convenience, each one of our product pages includes a map which shows the area that the plant is most likely to thrive.

Do you ship everywhere?

We ship anywhere in the U.S. except AK, AZ, CA or HI.  These four states have stringent regulations and require special fumigation which we do not offer.  Please note that our nursery stock begins to ship towards the beginning of April and ends towards the end of May.  We will ship orders to the warmest climates early on in our shipping process and orders in the coldest climates then follow.

Shipments to Canada are not available at this time, but we will happily ship your order to a border city within the United States.  This way you can pick the packages up and clear them through Canadian Customs on your own.  Please contact us if you need help finding a place to receive your trees near the U.S. / Canadian border.

Do you offer a warranty or any kind of plant guarantee?

We provide the best nursery stock available and keep our prices as low as possible.  There are many factors outside of our control once the order is delivered to you.  As a result, we have a limited plant guarantee on our nursery stock.  Please refer to the “Our Guarantee” page for full details.  You can access the page by simply clicking HERE.

When will my order ship?

At this time, Chief River Nursery only ships plants in the spring.  Each year, our nursery takes orders from late September through late May.  The seedlings are harvested as soon as the frost is out of the ground, and shipping typically begins in early to mid-April.  All seedling orders will be delivered by the middle of May unless other arrangements have been made.

When we begin shipping, orders are sent out in the order that they were placed.  However, we are mindful of orders placed in warmer and colder climates and typically ship them earlier or later on in our shipping process.  We are also respectful of orders that have requested specific shipping weeks and work those in during the process accordingly.

Customers who place their order through our website have the ability to choose a window of time in which their order is delivered.  This is located in the “Timing of Delivery” section on the checkout page.  There, customers can choose a week in April or May and we will ship the order accordingly.  When possible, we recommend using the default selection and allow us to ship your order at the most appropriate time (based on the harvest schedule and weather in your area).  This should ensure that you do not receive your order too early in the event of a late snow melt.  We do our best to monitor snow cover in all regions as we move into spring, and ship your trees or shrubs so that you do not receive them too early to plant.

If you choose to arrange the delivery week at the time of the order, it will supersede our discretion and your order will ship.  We must be alerted at least one week prior to your chosen shipping week in order to make changes to your shipping schedule.

How should I space my trees and shrubs?

Spacing tips:

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to spacing as it depends on the purpose of your project.  We have compiled a small list of considerations below for you to think about when you plan your planting project.

  • When planting conifers for privacy, consider planting them in two to three staggered rows of trees.  Not only will the privacy screen fill in faster, but staggered rows will give you privacy from every angle with little or no open spaces.  Space the trees every 8 to 10 feet and space the rows the same.  In time you will have a living wall that gives you the privacy you want.
  • For commercial operations remember that someday you will need to run equipment in and around the trees.
  • The number of trees per acre will depend on how far apart you want to plant them.  This accounts for space between trees and space between rows of trees.  Here are a few spacing guidelines listed by the number of feet between seedlings: 5×5 spacing = 1,742 trees per acre, 8×8 spacing = 681 trees per acre, 10×10 spacing = 436 trees per acre, 12×12 spacing = 303 trees per acre, 15×15 spacing = 194 trees per acre.  The purpose of your project will dictate your spacing.  Planting a thicket or a privacy hedge will use much closer spacing than simply mixing trees or shrubs in for a wildlife food source.
  • Think about the tree or shrub as a mature specimen when you are planting.  The seedling you are planting may seem small now, but it is sure to grow into something large and magnificent.  In each description we provide details about the mature height and width of the tree or shrub.  If the mature width says 20 feet and you plant several of those trees with 20 foot spacing, they will eventually touch someday at their widest point.  Most people will plant the trees closer than the mature width for faster and greater coverage.
What is your order change and refund policy?

Order changes:

  • Changes to contact information:  Such as billing or shipping address, contact telephone number or updating your email address can be made by sending an email to info@chiefrivernursery.com or calling our local nursery office at 262-377-5330.  We will make those changes and send out an updated order confirmation to you.
  • Additions to your order:  Due to the volume of orders we process, an additional order will typically be placed in the event you need additional nursery stock.  Please email us at info@chiefrivernursery.com or call us at our local nursery office at 262-377-5330 and we will happily work with you on this matter.  *While we do our best to link multiple orders together, there is a chance they will ship at different times.
  • Order Cancellation and Refund Policy – Plant Items:  When an order is placed, your trees and shrubs will be held specifically for your order and will not be sold to anyone else.  When an order is cancelled late in the season, there is a good chance that we have lost our ability to resell them to another customer.  For this reason, we try to minimize order cancellations.  However, we realize that sometimes an order has to be cancelled all together due to circumstances beyond your control.  Orders cancelled prior to February 15th will be refunded at 100% of the order total.  Orders cancelled after February 15th will incur a cancellation charge equal to 25% of the total amount of the order. Orders cancelled after March 15th will forfeit the amount paid towards your order, up to 100% of the order total.
  • Refund Policy – Non-plant Items: All sales are final on non-plant items. Once your non-plant items leave our facility, the order cannot be cancelled. Non-plant items cannot be returned for a refund of any kind.
Will sales tax be charged on my order?

We are required by law to charge sales tax on all orders delivered to a Wisconsin address with the exception of certain tax exempt situations.  Sales tax will be charged at the local sales tax rate of the delivery address.  Orders shipped out of the state of Wisconsin are currently not subject to sales tax.

Tax exempt orders:

In certain circumstances, orders delivered to a Wisconsin address may qualify for tax exempt status.  State and federal agencies, non-profit organizations and companies who resell our products are the three most common reasons an order would qualify as tax exempt.  To see if you may be eligible for tax exempt status, please visit the WI Department of Revenue’s website at https://www.revenue.wi.gov/Pages/FAQS/pcs-s-exempt.aspx

If you are deemed tax exempt, you will be required to complete and return a tax exempt certificate prior to placing your order.  We will create your tax exempt account and provide instructions on how to access and use your account on our website. Please call us directly at our local nursery office at 262-377-5330 with any tax exempt questions.

Download Chief River Nursery Tax Exempt Form – Be sure to print and save a copy when you are done

This form can be sent to us by:

Do you ship nursery stock in the fall?

While the bulk of our shipping is done each spring, a limited number of special orders are taken for fall delivery.  Orders must be placed directly with the nursery office at 262-377-5330 before October 10th. All nursery stock shipped in the fall is sold without warranty, and a minimum order is required per the list below:

  • Hardwood or Shrub seedlings: Minimum is 500 per species
  • Conifer seedlings: Minimum is 2,000 per species
  • Conifer transplants: Minimum is 500 per species
  • Evergreen plugs: Not yet available for fall delivery, check back in future seasons
  • Fruit trees: Only available for spring delivery

If you would like more information, please contact us directly at 262-377-5330 or by email at info@chiefrivernursery.com.

When will I be charged for my order?

When an order is placed, nursery stock is removed from our sales inventory and no longer offered for sale to the general public.  As a result, the majority of orders are paid in full at the time of the sale.

In the event you would only like to place a deposit on your order, we require a minimum of 25% down to reserve your nursery stock.  The balance will be due by March 15th.  Orders placed after March 15th must be paid in full.  This option is only available on mail-in orders.

How do you handle order cancellations?

When an order is placed, stock is reserved specifically for you and is no longer offered for sale to others.  Orders cancelled after February 15th will incur a cancellation fee equivalent to 25% of the order total.  Order modifications or cancellations after March 15th are not permitted.