Here's some great tips for buying trees and shrubs from the good folks over at the Garden Rant, who we likes even if they don't link to us. To these tips, let TPP add a couple.
1. Balled and burlaped trees are preferable to potted ones, but if potted is only choice then make certain that roots are not bound into a tight cylinder. You must, MUST, tease out the root ball during planting; TPP's weapon of choice is a huge old screw driver used to pry the root ball apart. Failure to do this kills more trees and shrubs than anything but total neglect.
2. Plants grow people, so plan ahead. Read the label and check the size in 10 years. TPP just saw a whole row of little yews, big box cheapies, planted in a 18" wide bed between a wall and a sidewalk. They're too big for the location from the get go! No way this works. If you did plant too many trees for a hedge, bite the bullet and cut out every other one, and remember this lesson. It cost you money. TPP wishes he knew who planted 3 hack berries in a row 20 feet apart across his yard; now they are 90 feet tall and not easily or cheaply removed. Who would plant 3 hack berry trees anyways! Of course even TPP makes his mistakes. Hard to believe how quickly that Chamaecyparis shrub grew!
Camponotus: A Sugary High
1 hour ago in Catalogue of Organisms