Understanding Size Specifications

(size of a specimen at time of supply)

Apologies if our method of specifying the sizes of our trees seems a little bewildering at first. We can assure you we have your best interests at heart. We adhere to industry specification standards because these are the most reliable and universally comparable indicators of size and maturity.

For example, although it is handy to know the height of a tree, you will appreciate that a very young tree can be extremely tall, whilst a very mature one can easily be shorter. Measuring the girth of the trunks would give a much more accurate idea of their relative maturity and value.

We can’t help but notice there is a growing trend amongst nurseries to ‘dumb things down’ for non-professional customers. At Majestic we simply cannot in good conscience sell our trees on a ‘small’, ‘medium’ or ‘large’ basis. No professional would dream of purchasing trees on this basis, and neither should you. Far better, we believe, to educate the novice and advocate adherence to industry specification standards within our industry.

Below is a rundown of the most commonly used size specification terms: 


This is the circumference around the main trunk measured 1m up from the soil surface. The only exception to this rule is when measuring a ¼ or ½ Std (short stemmed trees) or an olive tree, in which case the trees are measured half way up the trunk.

Girth is the key indicator of maturity for trees grown as ‘standards’ (a single trunk).


Height is a very useful specification for practical purposes, but an unreliable indicator of quality or maturity. It is relatively easy to produce tall trees quickly by not investing in formative pruning, root system development, and the like. Trees without a strong central stem, such as multi-stems or hedging, should always be specified by both height and pot size.

Always be very suspicious of tall trees supplied in small pots or trees specified only by their heights. 

Pot Size

When buying containerised trees, the 'pot size' of a plant refers to the litre volume of the container in which the tree/shrub is planted. It is expected that a containerised plant will be supplied fully rooted out into its pot, so this specification provides an indication of how well developed the root system is likely to be. A substantial root system is vital for good establishment and fast growth, so this specification is an important value indicator. It is easy for an unscrupulous grower to dazzle with height and spread measurements by selling immature 'leggy' trees that should really have been potted-on and pruned regularly to produce a better quality crown.

You can read more about how to determine the most suitable pot size for your access on Choosing Specimens of Optimal Size page

Pot size is also an important specification to consider as you plan the logistics of planting the tree in your garden. Generally speaking, pot sizes up to 85 litres are just manageable for handling by two strong people (usually men), and those in excess of 250 litres will require a minimum access width of 3 meters to accommodate lifting machinery.

Containerised trees can be supplied in plastic pots, bags, or Air-Pots (Air-Pots being the most superior). At Majestic Trees we grow the vast majority of our trees in Air-Pots. A few of our trees do come in plastic pots or bags purely because we can’t keep them in stock long enough to pot them on! Batches being grown in plastic pots are indicated in our availability list with the letter ‘c’ after the pot size (i.e. ‘250c’).

It is critical that you check whether the tree you are purchasing will indeed be supplied as containerised, and what size and type of container. Trees can also be supplied as ‘rootballs’ or ‘bare-root’, which are more economical but not containerised and have a far higher fatality rate. This specification is technically called the ‘Root Protection’ specification, or more commonly just the ‘root system’ or ‘root specification’. You can read more about this extremely important quality specification on the Understanding Root Quality Grades page.

All technical terms aside, we strongly encourage you to avail of any opportunity to personally view and select your trees in person. There is no better way to appreciate relative size and quality. Trees are one of the few things in life which cannot be mass produced in exact duplication. Each specimen is unique, which is precisely what makes them so wonderful!