Thanks to Nina Bassuk’s research and extension efforts in bare root transplanting technology, tens of thousands of trees have been planted in New York and the greater Northeast that would otherwise not have been. In 2014 alone, 8800 bare root trees were purchased by 93 municipalities across 11 states from Schichtel’s Nursery in Western NY.

Bare root planting by volunteers in Utica. Photo by Roger B. Smith

Bare root planting by volunteers in Utica. Photo by Roger B. Smith

Schichtel’s Sales Manager Jim Kisker, who has partnered with Nina on bare root and other research since 1990, says the vast majority of the nursery’s bare root sales go to municipalities that are using her bare root technique. Kisker says, “When I listen to some of our municipal customers give presentations on the success they’re having with bare root, they’re up in the exceptional 93-96 % survival rate with the dip and bag method. We know it works, because the same municipalities come back every year. Some have been buying from us, with this method, for 10-15 years and in some cases, 20-plus years.”

NYS DEC Urban Forestry Program Manager Mary Kramarchyk says, “When learning about volunteer efforts across the state, I find it uplifting that so many local tree stewards already know about bare-root tree planting and that they find it much easier to do than balled and burlap trees.”

Screenshot 2014-12-26 23.13.44If your community is using the bare root method, we’d love to share your stats and observations (including which tree species you tried and with what level of success) with the larger UC&F Community; please send an email to For those communities looking to get into bare root planting, they should start with the award-winning, beautifully illustrated, and free publication, the Urban Horticulture Institute’s (UHI) Creating the Urban Forest: The Bare Root Method. UHI also has a video on the subject. In Ithaca, the vast majority of street trees are planted bare root in the fall, with high rates of success.

Onondaga County CCE coordinates a bare-root Community Tree Buy for municipalities and non-profits in Onondaga County. Since 2001, municipalities have purchased over 3100 bare-root trees from Schichtel’s through the Community Tree Buy. Forestry Program Coordinator Kim Zhang is coordinating that effort this year; inquiries about how the Community Tree Buy works can be directed to Kim at

Nina would like communities to know about the full catalog of webinars on the UHI website, on topics as listed below. You may wish to begin with a webinar she gave, “Tour of the UHI website,” which includes tips on how to get the most out of the very useful Cornell Woody Plants Database.

NYSUFC President David Moore says, “Nina’s pioneering scientific efforts, combined with her gentle affinity for public education, make her a real treasure for New York State and the urban forestry movement. Her name and reputation are held dear by many, and it is exciting to hear any new developments she uncovers. I always bookmark her links and resources!”

UHI Webinars:

Creating the Urban Forest: The Bare Root Method
Tough Trees for Tough Sites (about Site Assessment and Plant Selection)
Soils in the Urban Environment: A Long-Term Evaluation of the Scoop-and-Dump Remediation Strategy (A simple but powerful means of transforming your worst soils)
Woody Shrubs for Stormwater Retention Practices
Support Your Local Tree (about Cornell Structural Soil Mix)
Excavation of Tree Growing in Cornell Structural Soil (root study)
Locating Tree Roots with Ground-Penetrating Radar, a Ground-Truth Study
Modeling Street Trees on a Statewide Basis in NY State (Looks at Species Diversity, Urban Forest Health & Stocking Rates, etc. across the state)
Modern Plant Hunting for Urban Plants
Planting Sod on CU-Soil

Many more resources are available to NYS communities at the UHI website, including a page on community forestry.