Qualities to Look for When Buying a Tree
The tree should have an adequate root ball in proportion to the tree size. Make sure the roots are not crushed or broken, black or dried up, and do not have a circling growth pattern.
The trunk will be free of mechanical damage and unhealed wounds. Check for improper pruning such as stubs being left on the tree. Also, excessive pruning on the tree's branches indicates previous problems that you can inherit.
The branches should be well spaced and not broken. The main leader of the tree should not be removed unless it is a fruit tree. (The main leader on fruit trees are often removed to support the fruit's weight and to make it easier to harvest the fruit). Make sure the branches are not weak from where multiple stems squeeze together or squeeze against the trunk. The general appearance should be clean, not a ragged appearance.
When you buy high-quality trees, with proper planting and maintenance, you will enjoy a healthy tree for years.