You and your customer may feel that a project requires a mature specimen(s) for the landscape. Beyond ordering the plant material, we recommend that you do a bit of planning first so everything goes well and the plants thrive.
Tagging the tree. Visit the nursery to see the specimen plant for yourself and take a look at the size of the root ball while selecting the specimen tree. Expected weight of specimen trees: 3" tree - 700-800 lbs. 3 1/2" tree - 850-900 lbs. 4" tree - 900-1200 lbs. 8' conifer - 700 lbs. 10' conifer - 900-1200 lbs. 12' conifer - 1200-1400 lbs.
Handling the tree. Are you going to load up your trailer at the nursery or are we going to deliver? Care in handling large trees is critical for survival when it comes to unloading and placement. Rough handling of a large spruce will result in losses of over 20%. With the cost of conifers, that doesn't leave room for a profit. Just the shock of a ball falling to the ground from 3' is enough to damage the root system of a tree. It is important to think about this delicate root ball and keep it intact from nursery to curbside to final planting. Protect this investment and have a loader on site.
Planting the tree. Whether you use an auger or dig the hole by hand, planting depth is critical. High is better than low. Planting too deep is a slow death. Clay soils require good organic amendment to re-establish the root system of most trees.
Follow up tree care. The larger the tree, the more root loss experienced in harvesting the tree. Expect that it will take 2-3 years for large specimen trees to recover the lost roots. It's important to have them on a watering schedule for the first two years. Stakes are critical for both deciduous and evergreens until they can establish their anchor roots. As a general rule, you don't fertilize until the second year to avoid burning the new tender feeder roots.
Have a safe and profitable spring.