3 Ways To Transport Trees Home From A Nursery

What’s the best way to transport trees from a nursery to your farm? There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, because the answer depends on many factors.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: Daniel Johnson

What’s the best way to transport young trees from a nursery to your farm? There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, because the answer depends on a variety of factors.

How many trees have you purchased? How far away is the nursery? How big are the trees? And what are your options for bringing them home? These are some of the key questions to ask as you structure your shipping plans.

I regularly buy fruit trees from a nursery about 75 miles away from my farm. This isn’t exactly a quick trip. Through the years I’ve taken three different approaches to transporting the trees home. Here are the pros and cons of each.

1. Pack Trees in the Back of Your Car

If the trees are small enough (and your car large enough), you may be able to transport the trees by laying them horizontally in the back of your car, especially if you’re able to fold down or remove rear seats. One time I was driving past my favorite nursery and stopped in on a whim. I wound up purchasing a small cherry tree that fit cozily in the back of my car.

This approach doesn’t require any special equipment and protects the tree from wind on the drive home (unless you’re placing them in the open bed of a pickup truck, in which case you’ll have to tie blankets or tarps over the trees to protect them). It’s also simple and saves the cost of having trees professionally delivered.

But unless you’re willing to make multiple trips, you’ll be limited to the size and number of trees you can fit in your car.

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2. Load Trees in a Trailer

Since you’re a hobby farmer, chances are you have some sort of transportation trailer on hand. A utility trailer can haul many trees if you lay them down horizontally and tie on blankets and tarps to protect them from wind on the drive home, as I wrote about in detail a few years back. Even better is a box trailer or a horse trailer. Their enclosed design provides more protection and saves you from having to tie all those blankets and tarps.

You might even be able to transport the trees standing up instead of lying down.

Using a trailer to transport trees increases the size and number of trees you can carry at once, and it eliminates the cost of professional delivery. If you have an enclosed trailer, this is often the winning solution. A utility trailer works fine too, though tying everything down for wind protection (and untying it at your destination) can be time-consuming.

3. Have Trees Professionally Delivered

One year, I bought so many trees that I knew I couldn’t fit them all in my utility trailer. That’s when I decided to have the nursery deliver the trees using their box truck. The main downside was the cost of shipping the trees 75 miles. The price actually wasn’t bad, though, considering the number of trees they delivered.

And the cost came with considerable upsides. The trees weren’t ready to ship when I purchased them, so having them delivered saved me from making a special trip to pick up the trees. I gained three or four hours that I instead put to use on other farming projects. And the trees shipped safely and soundly inside the box truck, without any need to worry about wind.

Depending on your circumstances, any of these three solutions can work perfectly to bring home trees from a nursery. Once you weigh your options and consider the pros and cons, you’ll find the right answer and soon move on to planting your trees. Have fun!

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