Balled-And-Burlapped Trees: Pros, Cons, And Alternatives

If you are planting some new trees in your orchard or backyard, you may consider ordering some balled and burlapped trees. This leads you to wonder what the benefits and drawbacks are for this kind of planting. While balled and burlapped trees are one great way to get trees planted on your landscape, it is not the best choice for every situation. This post will break down the pros and cons of planting balled and burlapped trees while also giving you information about the alternative ways of planting. 

Here are the pros and cons of planting balled and burlapped trees. The alternative options are bare-root and container trees. 


  1. More choices of trees and varieties
  2. Can plant trees with larger trunks


  1. Heavier, may require machinery
  2. More expensive
  3. Requires more care when planting

Now that you know the general reasons to consider using balled and burlapped trees, you probably want to hear more details. This post will break down some key differences between bare-root and balled and burlapped trees, so you can be sure you are making the best choice for your landscape and circumstances. We'll also give you details on storing your balled and burlapped trees and whether or not you should plant with the burlap still attached. Keep reading to learn more. 

Tree saplings with burlap roots at a small plantation, Balled-And-Burlapped Trees: Pros, Cons, And Alternatives

Balled-And-Burlapped Trees: Pros, Cons, And Alternatives

Balled and burlapped trees are the only way you can order larger trunk trees. In some cases, it is the only way to order certain species of trees. The alternative methods for ordering trees are bare-root and container-grown trees. All of these methods have their own benefits and drawbacks. 

Pros For Planting Balled And Burlapped Trees

There are two primary benefits to planting balled and burlapped trees. The alternative option of bare-root for tree planting does not work for transplanting many different tree species, but there are such limitations for balled and burlapped trees.

Bare-root trees and container trees will only work for smaller trunked, younger trees. You can transplant larger trunk trees using the balled and burlapped method. 

Balled and burlapped trees are more drought-resistant than container trees that are transplanted to the field. This is a result of container trees being grown in peat moss. Container trees can establish more quickly, but they will need enough water to survive the transition. 

Balled and burlap trees on the side of a road

Cons For Planting Balled And Burlapped Trees

Balled and burlapped trees use a large amount of soil, which makes them heavy. You may need some machinery to plant these, and shipping costs will be more expensive than bare-root planting.

It is easier to plant balled and burlapped trees too deep because most of the roots are removed during the transplanting process. When transplanting trees, the roots need to be established quickly for the tree to survive. If they are planted too deep, they will die. 

Alternative Options For Tree Planting

Besides planting seeds, there are only two other options for tree planting. One option is to buy trees in containers.

The primary drawback to container trees is they become root bound and have a more difficult time establishing deep roots in the newly planted location. They do establish more quickly than balled and burlapped trees because the roots are mostly removed when using the balled and burlapped method.

The other option is bare-root planting, which is the cheapest option. 

Bare-root trees are sent without any soil. Several species of trees and shrubs cannot be transplanted without soil, so these species are not available in bare-root stock.

When buying bulk trees for a farm or orchard, bare-root is the cheapest option. These trees are not root-bound. They are much lighter and easier to plant than balled and burlapped trees. 

How Much Does A Balled And Burlapped Tree Weigh?

A balled and burlapped tree can weigh between 100 and 1,000 pounds. This means that you need to be prepared for planting day with a machine or strong people to help you.

If balled and burlapped trees are your preferred planting choice, you should check out this article for more tips on preparing for planting day: How Much Does A Balled And Burlapped Tree Weigh? [By Tree Type And Size]

Click here to check out this Speedy Dibble Tree Planting Bar Tool on Amazon.

Should Trees Be Planted With Burlap?

When you purchase balled and burlapped trees, ask the provider whether to remove the burlap when planting. Burlap is naturally biodegradable, but there are new formations of the material that will not break down.

If you do not know whether the specific material is biodegradable, you should remove the burlap before placing the tree in the hole. Otherwise, the material can inhibit root growth and prohibit the tree from growing strong. 

How Long Can Trees Survive In Burlap?

Young maple trees in wrapped burlaps

Trees can survive in burlap for several weeks but should be put back into the soil before it gets any longer than that. It is essential to keep the roots moist during the stage where the tree is balled and burlapped. If the root ball dries out, then the tree will not transplant well.

If you are receiving a shipment of balled and burlapped trees, you should make time to plant them in the ground at your earliest convenience to prevent the roots from drying out. 

How Else Can Burlap Be Used In The Garden?

Burlap can also be used to wrap trees to protect them from burning during the winter. Winter sunlight can burn trees with the aid of frost conditions, strong winds, and even salt that is dispersed on the road to prevent roads from being too slippery. Burlap is better than plastic for wrapping trees because it provides air for the tree to breathe. 

Not all zones or trees require burlap wrap to be protected during winter. If you live in a temperate climate with lots of wind, snow, or frosty conditions, you may benefit from wrapping your trees. Young trees may also benefit from being wrapped for the first two winters after you plant the trees.

Wrapping trees can also apply to evergreen trees that keep foliage through the winter. For more information about tree wrapping, check out this post. Should You Wrap Arborvitae For Winter?

Natural Jute Burlap Tree Protector Wraps

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How Do You Store Balled And Burlapped Trees?

Balled and burlapped trees should be stored in a shady location and be kept adequately watered. If you need to store them for longer than one month, you should consider putting them in the soil until they are ready to be planted or shipped.

The longer you store a tree out of the soil, the more likely it will become root bound, dried out, or the burlap will deteriorate. 

How Often Should You Water Balled And Burlapped Trees?

Balled and burlapped trees should be kept in a shady area, limiting the amount of water needed. You want a delicate balance between too much moisture and the roots drying out. The goal is to maintain moisture without making it soggy. It is best to plant the tree in soil outside as soon as possible for the health of the roots. 

Wrapped tree roots in burlap

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Bare-Root Trees?

Bare-root trees still have their roots, unlike balled and burlapped trees. Bare-root trees will not become root bound like container trees might. Bare-root trees are dug up during dormancy and shipped to you when it is time to plant. The two possible times of year that you can plant bare-root trees are in late fall and early spring. 

Bare-root trees are usually sent with moist, shredded paper to keep the roots from drying out. When you receive your trees, it is best to plant them within 24 hours. It can be delayed if you keep the roots from drying out, but you should try to plant your bare-root trees as soon as you can.

Bare-root trees are the cheapest option for bulk orders. They are not sent with heavy soil, so they are very lightweight. This makes for easier shipping and planting when compared to balled and burlapped trees. 

In Closing

Balled and burlapped trees give you more choices for the trees and shrubs you would like to plant in your landscape. They are more expensive than planting bare-root, and they are heavier, making planting the trees more labor-intensive.

Balled and burlapped trees are the only way to get larger trunk trees transplanted into your yard or field. If you want to plant large amounts of trees using the least labor-intensive method, you should opt for bare-root trees. 

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