In the nursery inspect the tree for signs of insect, disease, or major physical damage. Trees that have been severely pruned to "balance" their tops and root systems should be avoided, since this actually weakens the tree and may cause poor form later. Buds usually should be tightly closed since actively growing trees are easily damaged or killed by transplanting. Root balls should be firm and well-protected from sun and drying wind. A completely dry root system or potting soil is a sign of a neglected and possibly dead tree.
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