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Typical Tree Bid Specifications for Florida

Developed by the Florida Urban Forestry Council and Dr. Edward F. Gilman
University of Florida, Gainesville
Updated June 1999
PART 1.0 
PART 2.0
PART 3.0 
PART 4.0
  • description of work
  • definitions
  • quality assurance
  • submittals
  • job conditions
  • transportation
  • unloading and handling
  • holding trees at the planting site
  • plant materials
  • accessory materials
  • general
  • installation
  • acceptance
  • maintenance



Awarded bidder shall provide and install trees in accordance to landscape plan and specifications


A. “Final Acceptance” shall mean that point in time when all requirements of project drawings are completed, including any punch-list items, to the satisfaction of the customer.  The awarded bidder shall be notified in writing of final acceptance by a customer representative.

B. “Maintenance Period” or “Warranty Period” shall begin when plant material is installed and continue for a twelve- (12) month period after notification of Final Acceptance.

C. “Final Maintenance Inspection” shall occur at the end of the twelve- (12) month maintenance period.

D. “Nursery-grown” shall mean grown in the nursery from liners or collected and then grown in a nursery not less than 2 years.

E. “Healthy, vigorous condition” shall mean live foliage out to the tips of all branches and stems, and a trunk caliper that is bigger, 12 months after planting, than at planting.  Healthy, vigorous palms have new fronds developing with no necrosis or chlorosis and are green in color.


A. The installation shall be by a single firm specializing in landscape horticulture.  Trees and palms shall be provided by the awarded bidder, as specified in the bid form.

B. Plant names indicated shall comply with “Standardized Plant Names” as adopted by the latest edition of the American Joint Committee of Horticultural Nomenclature.  Names of varieties not listed there shall conform generally with names accepted by the nursery trade.  Stock provided shall be true to its botanical name and legibly tagged.

C. Awarded bidder shall provide photographs of plant material prior to installation.

D. Plant selection shall comply with sizing and grading standards of the latest edition of Florida Grades and Standards for Nursery Plants (to order a copy, call 352-375-3505).  All plant material shall be “Florida Fancy” or “Florida #1”.  (for states other than Florida, “American Standard for Nursery Stock  ANSI Z60.1-1996” is the best substitute.  However, following the Florida Grades & Standards is more likely to result in good quality plants.  e.g. Trees with double leaders originating in the lower half of the tree shall be rejected.)

E. Substitutions shall not be accepted and will constitute an unresponsive bid.

F. A customer representative shall inspect for quality assurance and approve plant material at either nursery or project location, prior to installation.

G. Local government reserves the right to reject any and all plant material.


A. Awarded  bidder must submit planting schedule indicating dates for each project phase, two weeks prior to beginning work.

B. Awarded bidder must submit certificates of inspection, analyses for soil amendments, and labels for herbicides, insecticides and fertilizer materials.

C. Awarded bidder must submit the following material samples:
1. Mulch
2. Topsoil
3. Pre-emergent herbicide
4. Fertilizer
5. Photographs of typical plant material.


A. A customer representative will provide “notice to proceed” to the awarded bidder within thirty (30) days from award.

B. Awarded bidder is responsible for protecting utilities, paving, and other facilities from damage during landscape installation.  Awarded bidder must notify “Call Sunshine” (800-638-4097) 48 hours prior to beginning work.

C. Awarded bidder must protect plant material from desiccation during transport and installation period.  In most instances, this means daily irrigation.

D. Awarded bidder must familiarize themselves with existing project conditions, e.g., utilities, soil strata, drainage, and sightlines, prior to installation.  Conflicts should be addressed with customer representative.

E. Work along city, county, or state right-of-way must comply with appropriate regulating authority’s guidelines for “Traffic Controls for Construction and Maintenance Operations”.  Awarded bidder shall be responsible to file and obtain any and all required agency permits.

F. Awarded bidder must be substantially completed with project within sixty (60) days from notice to proceed.

G. Awarded bidder must provide tree protection within the scope of work.  Refer to local government tree ordinance for specific requirements.




  Tree root balls shall be irrigated just prior to shipping. Trees shall be secured in the truck so as not to roll. Do not allow closed trucks to remain standing in the sun in hot weather unless they are air-conditioned. B&B trees shall have their root balls shrink-wrapped prior to transporting them from the nursery.

  Trees shall be shipped to the site in enclosed vans or covered with woven shade tarp.

  Trees will be rejected if they are dropped to the ground suddenly. Container grown and boxed trees shall be lifted with a forklift under the container or carried by hand by the lip of the container. Trees may be lifted by wire loops inside the container. Trees may not be lifted by the trunk. Balled and burlapped trees shall be handled by the root ball in a manner that does not deform the shape of the root ball. Trees shall not be handled by the trunk.


  Irrigate trees as soon as they arrive at the planting site. After trees are unloaded from the truck, they shall be stood and stored in the erect position and irrigated twice daily with 5 gallons per inch trunk diameter until planted. Shrink wrapped B&B trees and trees in plastic containers shall be stored in the shade or their root balls shall be shaded.




A. Nursery stock shall meet the minimum dimensions for height, spread, caliper and root ball as described within bid form.  On large maturing and medium maturing shade trees, the tip of the dominant leader shall be the tallest part of the tree.  Trees with leaders topped or headed within the last year shall be rejected.

B. Caliper measurement shall be taken six (6) inches above grade if four (4) inches or less.  Trees greater than four (4) inches in caliper shall be measured at twelve (12) inches above grade.

C. Field-grown trees and palms shall be nursery-grown and hardened off (pre-dug) for a minimum of six (6) weeks prior to delivery to job site.  Container grown trees shall be nursery-grown.

D. Trees must be healthy, vigorous and full with good branch distribution.  Trees with bark included within major branch unions will not be accepted.

E. Root balls of field-grown trees must be intact and protected from desiccation with black plastic wrap.  Container trees must have the container on the root ball or the root ball must be appropriately protected from desiccation.  Trees with root balls that have bound or girdled roots shall be rejected.  Trees with synthetic burlap will not be accepted.

F. The top of the first major root originating from the trunk must be within one inch of the top of the root ball.  If the first root is deeper than this, the tree will be rejected.

G. Container trees should have few, if any, roots on the outside surface of the media.

H. Trees must have green, live foliage.  Shocked plants (i.e. those with dead or dying leaves) will be rejected.


A. Refer to drawings and other parts of specifications for accessories specifically used on this project.

B. Backfill soil shall match textural condition of existing soil.  No soil amendments are necessary.  Soil in sidewalk cut outs, parking lot islands, and other small spaces can be replaced or amended to improve conditions.

C. Fertilizer shall be complete with approximately the following ratio:  3N-1P-3K (+1Mg for palms only)

D. Mulch shall be derived from an exotic invader tree species, e.g. Melaleuca, and shall be clean and free from weeds and other debris.  Alternative products, e.g., Eucalyptus or pine bark or straw may be considered.  Baldcypress mulch will not be accepted.

E. Pre-emergent herbicide: apply granular Chipco “Ronstar” or approved equal at label rate.

F. Trees shall be secured using three-quarter (3/4)-inch elastic guys (3) as shown in Exhibit B.  As an alternative, where guying is problematic, container trees, 45 gallon (3-in. caliper) or smaller may be secured as shown in Exhibit A.

G. Palms shall be braced as shown in Exhibit C or equivalent.  No nails, screws or other securing devices may be driven into the trunk.

H. All trees shall be bermed with existing soil or Cobra Edging or approved equal (Exhibit A)




A. Awarded bidder shall provide and install trees and palms in the quantities and dimensions indicated on bid form.

B. Commencement of work: Work under this awarded bid shall commence not less than 10 days after notice to proceed and shall be completed in an orderly, business-like fashion.  Once work has begun, it shall continue on consecutive working days until it has been completed.  Sundays, Saturdays, holidays and stoppages due to inclement weather or delays caused by the customer shall be excluded.


A. Trees and palms are to be planted in accordance to landscape plan and attendant exhibits (A-C).  Good horticultural practices must be observed.

B. Trees and palms are to be planted in the right-of-way (ROW) at a minimum of four (4) feet from back of curb at locations identified on the landscape plan.  Awarded bidder shall stake and/or paint planting locations in the field.  Upon approval by the customer, these areas shall be sprayed with an approved herbicide and maintained weed-free for the duration of the project.

C. Excavate planting holes with vertical sides.  Do not disturb soil at bottom of planting holes.  Make excavations twice as wide as the root ball diameter and slightly less (two inches) than the distance between the top-most root in the root ball and the bottom of the root ball.  Alternatively, excavate the hole slightly wider than the root ball and place the root ball in the hole so the top-most root is even with or slightly (2 inches) higher than the surrounding landscape grade. Then, loosen the surrounding soil out to a diameter equal to twice the diameter of the root ball.  Finally, push the loosened soil toward the root ball to fill the hole.

If water fills the bottom of the planting hole, add soil to the bottom of the hole until the water is covered.  Pack this added soil firmly.  Place the root ball on this packed, solid soil, not in water.  No part of the root ball shall be placed in water.  If necessary, bring in soil similar to site soil to cover the sides of the root ball, creating a raised mound.  The base of the mound (i.e. the outer diameter) created shall be at least six times the diameter of the root ball.

When planting on a slope, the top-most main root in the root ball shall be even with the grade on the uphill side of the tree.  Site soil will need to be added on the downhill side to cover the sides of the root ball and to construct the soil berm to hold water.  The amount of soil added on the downhill side will depend on the slope and size of the root ball.

D. Remove all wood, plastic, or gro-bags from the root ball.  Set plants in center of holes with the top-most root in the root ball at the same height or slightly ( 2 inches) higher than finished landscape grades and plumb the tree so the trunk is vertical.  Backfill field soil around sides of root mass and work each layer to settle and eliminate voids and air pockets.  Material must be watered in as planted.  Provide approximately 5 gallons of water per inch of trunk caliper to the root ball once all backfill is filled in around the root ball.

E. Provide a 2-3” high soil berm around the edge of root ball to form a shallow saucer to collect water.  The watering saucer, regardless of hole size, is to be at edge of root ball (Exhibits A and B).  Alternatively, Cobra edging is to be installed at the edge of the root ball.

F. Broadcast over the root ball and backfill soil, at the recommended rate, a broad-spectrum pre-emergent herbicide prior to mulching.

G. Apply a controlled-release fertilizer to the soil surface under the mulch at 1lb. Nitrogen per 1000 ft2, prior to mulching.  No other amendments are necessary.

H. On trees up to 4” caliper, apply a three (3) -inch layer of mulch to an eight (8) -foot diameter circular area around the trunk.  On larger caliper trees, apply a two (2) -foot diameter mulch area for each inch of trunk caliper.  No mulch shall be applied to the inner half of the root ball surface.

I. Trees and palms are to be secured by awarded bidder as shown in exhibits A-C.  (Note: staking is optional for more protected locations).

J. A representative will inspect trees and palms during installation.  Material that is in shock or has been damaged during installation shall be replaced by awarded bidder within five (5) working days from notification.

K. Remove from work site all excess materials (e.g., soil, debris and equipment) daily through duration of project.  Damages resulting from installation shall be repaired by awarded bidder.

L. Pruning:  If there is a double leader in the top half of the tree, shorten one, by about one-half, back to a live branch that points away from the tree and is at least one-third the diameter of the cut leader.  Remove broken portions of damaged branches back to a live lateral branch.

M. Remove all string or wire wrapped around the trunk.  Remove all straps, rope and string used to lift the root ball.  Remove all burlap and wire from the top of the root ball.


A. Inspection to determine acceptance of planted areas will be made by the customer representative upon awarded bidder’s request.  Provide notification a minimum of five (5) working days before requested inspection date.

Planted areas will be accepted provided all requirements, including maintenance, have been satisfied and plant materials are in a healthy, vigorous condition.

B. The customer representative will prepare a “punch list” of those items, which must be corrected before re-inspection for final acceptance.  The representative will determine an appropriate time period for corrections.  Awarded bidder must request re-inspection two (2) working days in advance.


A. Begin maintenance immediately after planting.  Maintain all plant material until final acceptance and for a maintenance and warranty period of twelve (12) months after final acceptance.

B. Maintenance shall include but is not limited to pruning, cultivating, mowing, weeding, fertilizing, watering, and application of appropriate pesticides necessary to maintain plants in healthy condition.

1.) Reset settled plants to proper grade and position.
2.) Restore soil berm and mulch layer.
3.) Tighten and repair elastic guys or other supports
4.) Correct defective work.
5.) Remove and replace rejected material within one (1) working day from notification.
6.) Maintain mulch surface weed-free.

C. The contractor is entirely responsible for the irrigation through final acceptance and twelve- (12) month warranty period.  Plant material shall receive water in accordance with the following water schedule:


Size of nursery stock 

Irrigation schedule for vigor1,3

Irrigation schedule 
for survival2,3,4

 < 2 inch caliper 

Daily for 2 weeks; every other day for 2 months; weekly until established.  Twice weekly for 2-3 months

2-4 inch caliper

 Daily for 1 month; every other day for 3 months; weekly until established. Twice weekly for 3-4 months

> 4 inch caliper 

Daily for 6 weeks; every other day for 5 months; weekly until established. Twice weekly for 4-5 months


Notes on Irrigation:

  1. Delete daily irrigation when planting in winter.  Irrigation frequency can be reduced slightly (e.g. 2-3 times each week instead of every other day) when planting hardened-off, field-grown trees that were root-pruned during production.  Establishment takes 3 (hardiness zones 10-11) to 4 (hardiness zones 8-9) months per inch trunk caliper.
  2. Irrigation frequency can be reduced slightly (e.g. to once or twice each week) when planting hardened-off, field-grown trees that were root-pruned during production.
  3. At each irrigation, apply 2-3 gallons per inch trunk caliper to the root ball.  Apply it in a manner so all water soaks into the root ball.  Do not water if root ball is wet/saturated on the irrigation day.
  4. Trees take much longer to establish than 3-4 months per inch trunk caliper.  Irrigate in drought the following summer.