Cheap tree seedlings!

Each year, the Washtenaw Conservation District has a tree and plant sale. These are not prize specimen landscaping trees; they are really intended for habitat restoration and other “natural areas” plantings. The trees are tiny – none as thick as a pencil, though most were 18″ long or more – and generally sold in bundles of 25 per species. The big deal is the price – I think the trees worked out to 65 cents each, and the shrubs were more like 85 cents.

A group of us went in together to buy about 150 trees and shrubs, which we then split up, so each person got a nice variety of trees. We ended up with a dozen or so red oaks, about a dozen red osier dogwoods, and half a dozen serviceberry trees. We’ve had one oak fatality due to bad planting, one shrub nicked by the weed wacker and resprouting from its base, and four of the serviceberries appear to have been eaten. My fault for not protecting them better, though.

We’re very happy with them so far. As we look into doing more layered permaculture installations, we’ll definitely keep this sale in mind for a source of lots of cheap plants.


Red osier dogwood:
Red osier dogwood



  1. Matt said,

    July 11, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Layered permaculture? Are you trying to combine layers of forest and food crops? Do you have other posts that describe your plans in more detail?

    • Emily said,

      July 11, 2010 at 5:23 pm

      My plans are really fuzzy at this point. I freely admit I’m sort of fumbling my way through this. Here’s a nice overview with a good diagram of the permaculture laters: Toby Hemenway’s book _Gaia’s Garden_ goes into a lot of detail, and he focuses on a really high percentage of edibility. I will probably stray a bit from his degree of edibility, because most of the edible nitrogen fixers are seriously aggressive plants, like Russian Olive shrubs. I think I’ll use more clovers, false indigo, and perhaps annual legumes, and perhaps some cultivars of legume trees that have been bred not to spread so rapidly.

  2. UrsulaV said,

    July 13, 2010 at 10:36 am

    I just planted three serviceberries recently, and I am praying they don’t get eaten or weed-whacked. Everything I’ve read is that they’re a seriously awesome shrub, and I’ve wanted to plant some for ages.

  3. July 13, 2010 at 10:59 am

    LOL, I wonder whether I filled your order for you! I’ve been volunteering there handing out trees for 6 years. A few have trunks thicker than a pencil, but not most. They also sell native perennials, books, next boxes, and planting aids.

    • Emily said,

      July 13, 2010 at 1:52 pm

      Very cool! You’ll probably be hearing from me again… 🙂

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