"Growing trees is as much an art as it is a science." - Becky Thomas
"When you plant a tree, you plant a legacy," - Pepper Provanzano
"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Perfection is what we strive for at Spring Grove Nursery. Each tree in our nursery is given care & attention multiple times through their years here in our field. Pruning & staking are parts of the routine growing process that we pay special attention to. Different species require different growing techniques. And each season offers it’s own unique challenges that also affect the timing to our work. Here is a snapshot of what we are doing right now in the nursery:

YEAR 1 – Planting of liners

We just finished getting all of our newly planted trees (or liners as we call them) pruned & ready to grow. Our new liner crop was planted earlier this spring & they will grow on in the field for the next several years. The first initial pruning of the liners is a very important step in the development of the tree.

Our first pruning on liners usually consists of some key actions. We make sure to prune off any damaged or dead branches that occurred from shipping or planting. Next we limb up some of the bottoms branches to get the canopy closer to the height we want from the ground. Next we look at the top & establish a select a leader & adjust the overall height as needed. Then we do the structure work on the lateral branches by thinning out, shortening up, & removing branches as needed.

If the liner pruning is done properly, then the tree is off to a great start for it’s years here in our field. As we move through the blocks & complete the first step of structuring, our crews come behind & do a final touch up to make sure the tree is straight in the ground at the proper height.  Then we just wait for rain & sunshine to do their work & our new trees are ready to start growing!

Liner Pruning in the Nursery

YEARS 2-4 – Pruning & Staking

In our older crops in the field we are removing un-wanted branches, continuing leader work on the tops, un-staking trees & flexing them to build strength and re-staking them as needed. Pruning will continue all season long through multiple years as we prepare our next crops for the future.

Right now in June we just finished going through our Oaks. They were putting on lots of new growth due to the great growing weather this spring so some of them were starting to burst off their stakes. We lightened the tops & re-staked as needed. Similarly we are now going through Elms & Honeylocust. They also are very vigorous on top growth so we need to keep that in check with the caliper of the trunk so that the end result is strong & well balanced. Next we will be moving through some of our older ornamental blocks to do some finishing touches where needed.  We love to watch the trees grow & change through the years!

We welcome you to stop by the nursery for a visit. It’s a great time of year to see the trees we have growing for the future!

Cover Crop

Our new crop of soybeans is up in the nursery! We use soybeans as our cover crop on areas in our field while the land is in between tree crops. The soybeans help add nitrogen back into the soil while holding our soil in place during the season as protection from wind & water erosion. Caring for our soil is a top priority at the nursery. 

As we have mentioned before, Becky is the 5th generation on our family farm. We have kept our farms productive & healthy for so long by taking the utmost care of our soil. Becky’s Dad, Doug Harford, was one of the first farmers in the US to implement no-till farm management into his corn & soybean operation. Through years of no-till farming, our soil has become naturally porous & rich in organic matter.

By using cover crops & minimal tillage in the nursery, we can continue the legacy of conservation started many years ago on our land. We also use grass strips between the trees rows for the years of production the trees are here. That practice also helps reduce soil erosion and uses minimal tillage. It also allows us the ability to avoid using pre-emergent herbicides as well. We are proud to pass on healthy soils to the next generation!

PS: Shout out to Becky’s brother, Chris Harford for planting & harvesting our soybeans. Thanks Bro!

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Now that June is here we are well on our way to field work!  Even though the weather this spring was strange, we are still on schedule in the field. We are in the full swing of pruning, mowing, spraying, etc. Summer is just around the corner! 

Our Holding Yard looks great & all of the trees that we have above ground have never looked better!  We have everything on drip irrigation and easily situated for tagging & loading. As we start out the month of June, we are still shipping out trees every day for customer projects.  On the sales end its been a great spring, and it seems to look like it will be busy into the summer. We are already taking orders for fall digging, and the new crop of trees coming along in the field looks terrific!

We just finished getting all of our newly planted trees (or liners as we call them) pruned & ready to grow! Our new liner crop was planted earlier this spring & they will grow on in the field for the next several years. The first initial pruning of the liners is a very important step in the development of the tree.

Our first pruning on liners usually consists of some key actions. We make sure to prune off any damaged or dead branches that occurred from shipping or planting. Next we limb up some of the bottoms branches to get the canopy closer to the height we want from the ground. Next we look at the top & establish a select a leader & adjust the overall height as needed. Then we do the structure work on the lateral branches by thinning out, shortening up, & removing branches as needed.

If the liner pruning is done properly, then the tree is off to a great start for it’s years here in our field. As we move through the blocks & complete the first step of structuring, our crews come behind & do a final touch up to make sure the tree is straight in the ground at the proper height.  Then we just wait for rain & sunshine to do their work & our new trees are ready to grow!

In our older crops in the field we are removing un-wanted branches, continuing leader work on the tops, un-staking trees & flexing them to build strength and re-staking them as needed. Pruning will continue all season long through multiple years as we prepare our next crops for the future. We love to watch the trees grow & change through the years!

We welcome you to stop by the nursery for a visit. It’s a great time of year to see the trees we have growing for the future!

Liner Pruning in the Nursery

  • “It’s not easy being green”
  • “Green with envy”
  • “Love is evergreen”
  • “The grass is always greener”
  • “Green thumb”

The list goes on and on… Green is often thought of as the color of life, renewal, nature, and energy.  The color green symbolizes balance, nature, spring, and rebirth. Green is often associated with prosperity, freshness, and progress.

How many shades of green are there? According to Wikipedia there are about 74. In the nursery, the shades of green change throughout the season. Right now in the spring as all of the new growth emerges, the shades of green are the most vibrant of the entire season. The freshly popping foliage shines with a spring green like no other. Some trees emerge with a bright green that darkens as the season progresses. Others emerge with hints of purple or red mixed into the green and then evolve into a richer green throughout the summer. Whatever shade of green the leaves end up, there is nothing like that fresh green of spring!

So take time this spring to enjoy the various shades of green all around. The gorgeous greens emerging in the nursery right now help us to realize that it IS easy being green! We are in the Green Industry after all!

Spring Green (4) Spring Green (3) Spring Green (2) Spring Green (1) Spring Green (7) Spring Green (6) Spring Green (5)

It must be a farmer thing… or probably even a 5th generation farmer thing. My favorite time of year is in the spring when my new & old crops start to come to life. I know it’s going to happen, it always does. But there is nothing like seeing those bright green buds start to swell and pop open. Within a matter of days the whole nursery comes to life, just like it does year after year.

So much hard work and faith go into every crop, especially when planting a new crop in the spring. So to see our new trees burst forth into rows of green is one of my greatest joys as a farmer. And then to top it off, the older crops in the field spring back to life again too! A variety of adverse weather conditions can afflict our crops. Farmers are used to living with those risks season after season.  With this kind of lifestyle, farmers endure great stress some days. But more often than not, we are rewarded with a bountiful harvest. We get to witness our hard work grow every season. We enjoy beautiful sunrises & sunsets every day while we work. We relish in much needed spring rains, and we soak up the sunshine along with our trees.

So being a part of this farmer thing is pretty cool. I love that I can pass that down to our 6th generation which is now growing up just like our nursery crops!

Becky Thomas, 5th generation farmer and lover of spring

Spring Growth (2) Spring Growth (3) Spring Growth (4) Spring Growth (5) Spring Growth (1)

As we harvest trees this spring from the field, we promptly bring them into our Holding Yard. Once in the yard, they are placed on drip irrigation. Throughout the season, we will ship trees that are fresh and ready to go on your projects. As we progress through the spring digging season, the trees available in our Holding Yard changes daily.

So what’s in our yard so far? Lots of spring blooms! All deciduous trees are now in the Holding Yard and ornamentals are in full bloom. Here are some recent pics:

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Holding Yard (10) Holding Yard (11)  Holding Yard (12) Holding Yard (13) Holding Yard (14) Holding Yard (15) Holding Yard (7) Holding Yard (8)Holding Yard (17) Holding Yard (18) Holding Yard (19) Holding Yard (16)

With clear sunny weather ahead we are in the final stages of digging & loading in the nursery! 

We hope to wrap up deciduous digging by the end of this week. As we are digging, we are also bringing in trees from the field to our loading area and our holding yard. Once those trees are in from the field, we will start evergreen digging. The recent cold temps slowed us up a bit as we needed to wait for certain species to be ready to dig. But the warm up seems to be here to stay, and the spring field work is going well. We actually wouldn’t mind some more rain now to settle in our newly planted trees!

Pictured here are some beautiful Red Maples in from the field and ready to bud out. We have a fantastic selection of trees in our above ground holding yard ready to ship. Spring is in the air!

If you have projects coming up that you need trees for this spring, now is the time to get your order in. Please don’t hesitate to call. Thanks & have a great spring!

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