Tree Size 101

Tree Size 101

Understanding the difference when purchasing trees at a Nursery or Garden Centre is not just about price when it comes to the right tree size for your yard or garden. Trees at Blue Grass are available in various sized pots and in caliper sizes, but what does that really mean?

A few things to consider when deciding on the right tree for your landscape other than the type of tree, where you want to plant it and what it’s purpose might be, it is also important to understand how much you’d like to spend, what size of tree you would like to start with (initial impact) and how will you get it home from the nursery. The last few considerations are not to be taken lightly and will be among the questions we ask when helping you decide on the right tree for your yard or garden.

Deciduous trees (loses leaves and is dormant through winter months) are sold in potted and caliper sizes. Pot sizes are #5, #7, #10 and #15 (or labelled as gallon pots – landscape industry standard of measurement) and are younger trees in varying stages of growth with #5 trees being smaller and younger, and #15 larger and more mature. Nurseries and growers will pot up trees and shrubs into appropriate pots depending on root growth, height, and maturity of tree.

The benefits of starting smaller are price, ease of transport, planting and often are quicker to settle in, but patience is required as they require time to grow and may seem too small to start in the landscape, or in case of fruiting trees may not produce in the first few years. Larger trees will cost more but create instant impact and fruit production and may be more difficult to manage when transporting and planting and can take some time to get established. Often a smaller tree will quickly catch up to a larger tree if planted in similar conditions. Sizes of potted trees in stock can vary as they are often subject to availability.

Coniferous or evergreen trees are also available in the same pot sizes as their deciduous pals but in caliper sizes are usually sold by height rather than trunk diameter.

Caliper trees are larger, mature trees (burlap and basket root balls in the ground at the nursery) that are measured by the diameter of a tree’s trunk (deciduous), or height (conifers). Caliper measurement of the tree trunk is usually taken at chest height or 4 to 5 feet above the soil.

Deciduous and coniferous shrubs are also sold in #1, #2, #5, #10 pots, with a few #15 specialty items.

Blue Grass Cheat Sheet on Tree Size (approximate heights in pot sizes*)


Pot size Tree height Pot size Tree height
#5 4-5ft #5 2-3ft
#7 5-7ft #7 3-4ft
#10 6-8ft #10 3-4ft
#15 8-10ft #15 4-5ft
Trunk diameter Tree height Tree height (metres) Tree height (feet)
40 mm 8-10ft 1.5m 5.0ft
50mm 10-14ft 1.75m 6.0ft
60mm 12-16ft 2.0m 7.0ft
70mm 12-18ft 2.5m 8.0ft
80mm 12-20ft 2.75m 9.0ft
90mm 12-22ft 3.0m 10.0ft
100mm 12-24ft 3.25m 11.0ft
3.5m 12.0ft
4.0m 13.0ft
4.5m 14.0ft



Pot size Shrub height Pot size Shrub height
#1 1ft #1 Groundcover to 1ft
#2 1-2ft #2 Groundcover to 1ft
#5 1-3ft #5 Groundcover to 2.5ft
#10 1-5ft #10 1-5ft


*heights may vary between tree/shrub variety and type