General Shipping Information

General Shipping Information

At Chief River Nursery, we offer many different options to get your trees to where you need them.  Most orders are packaged and shipped by FedEx.  Larger orders are stretch wrapped on a pallet and shipped on a semi by LTL freight.  In addition, we also offer direct courier service within a 350 mile radius around our facility when the delivery is very time critical.  The courier option is a great way to have your bulk order of trees delivered directly to a job site while minimizing the amount of time the seedlings are out of cold storage!


All of our seedlings are brought to our state of the art cold storage warehouse after they are harvested.  Temperature is monitored on a constant basis and our nursery stock is kept at 34 to 38 degrees to ensure dormancy and freshness.  One of our staff starts out by carefully picking your order from cold storage.  The types of trees and counts are verified against your order and the seedlings are labeled in groups according to species.  The roots are temporarily soaked in a root gel to give them proper hydration while in transit.  A strong box is lined with a thick plastic liner and the seedlings are carefully laid inside.  The roots are covered with moistened shredded paper or sphagnum moss and the liner is closed.  After the box is sealed and labeled for shipping, it is placed back into cold storage while it awaits the next truck out.  All seedlings are packaged the day they are shipped to ensure you receive the freshest nursery stock available.


At Chief River Nursery, we understand the importance of receiving your seedlings quickly once your packages have shipped.  Live plants riding around on a truck for several days or sitting in a warm shipping terminal over the weekend can cause extra stress so we make every attempt to avoid it.  This is why we use FedEx on almost every package that is shipped to a street address. By using FedEx, you receive your plants within 24 – 72 hours of them leaving our shipping facility.  FedEx delivers to commercial addresses Monday through Friday and residential addresses Tuesday through Saturday.  All packages are sent using a Signature Release so that your seedlings are delivered the day the driver comes and never taken back.  As an added bonus, FedEx® trucks are white in color which helps moderate the temperature inside better than the darker color that some of the other shipping companies use.


All FedEx packages are fully tracked from the time they leave our hands until the time they are delivered.  All orders which provided a valid Email address will receive a shipping confirmation which contains the tracking number(s) for your shipment.  The packages can be tracked online from the time they are sent until the time they arrive at your home or business.


Many nurseries provide you with what seems to be a fair price only to surprise you when it comes time to add on the shipping charges.  In fact, many charge 20%+ of your order total just for shipping seedlings.  If your order includes any trees that qualify as transplants, you can expect to pay 30% or more of your order total.  Not with Chief River Nursery.  Our shipping charges are just 15% of your order total (with a $9.95 minimum shipping charge)!  The 15% charge covers packaging and FedEx or freight shipping regardless of what you have ordered.  If you want to save on shipping, you can choose to pick up your order at our shipping facility in Grafton, Wisconsin.  Simply select “Pick up in person” at checkout and a nominal $9.95 flat fee will be charged to help cover the cost of packaging regardless of the size of your order.  This fee will be charged one time for each order placed and picked up in person.

Timing When You Receive Your Order:

Our tree and shrub seedlings are sent out from early to mid-April through May (weather dependent).  Orders are shipped out using a combination of when you ordered and where your order is being delivered.  While most of our customers accept the delivery based on our best estimate of the weather and climate in their area, some customers may need to receive their trees or shrubs at a certain time.  We understand that you may be taking on a large project when you order and plant trees and shrubs.  Everything in our power will be done to accommodate your request.  However, there are some very important things to know when you request a specific time frame in which to receive your order:

  • Chief River Nursery can never guarantee that you will receive your order on an exact date.  The reason is simple.  Shipping carriers are very reliable, but there are times when a package may be slightly delayed due to some unforeseen circumstance.  While this should not have an affect on your seedlings or transplants, it can greatly affect your planting plans if your order arrives later than you had planned on.  For example, customers have tried to time their order to arrive on a Friday so they could plant on a weekend with the help of friends or family.  We have shipped their seedlings out on the correct day to account for normal transit times.  The seedlings were then slightly delayed due to reasons out of our control and the customer did not receive them as they hoped.  This situation sets everyone up for a bad predicament.  This usually results in a dissatisfied customer, tree seedlings that go to waste and us caught in the middle.  As a result, we will only honor requests for a specific week as a window of delivery.  The exception is our own courier service which is available on larger orders delivered within 350 miles of our facility.  Additional charges may apply, please contact us directly for more information.
  • We can make sure you receive your seedlings within a specific week.  This gives us flexibility to coordinate the shipping date and gives a bit of leeway to the carrier while the seedlings are in their possession.  Don’t worry about receiving your seedlings a day or two early, it is better than a day or two late.  The trees and shrubs you receive are more hardy than some give them credit for.  Caring for them while they are in your possession is relatively easy.  To see our care and planting guide, click HERE.
  • Any changes to shipping dates must be made at least one week prior to your requested shipping week.  Once shipping season starts, it is difficult to make changes on short notice due to the volume of orders that we handle.  We ask you to give us as much advance notice if you are not able to receive your order on the originally requested delivery time frame.

Please click here to refer to our Planting and Care Guide which will explain how to care for your nursery stock prior to planting.