General Shipping Information
Important Spring 2021 Shipping Updates
Since multiple contacts slow down our response time, we kindly ask you to refrain from following up emails with phone calls and vice versa. Our staff is working through a record number of customer contacts and will reply as soon as they are able.
Between now and early June, our nursery will fulfill an estimated 20,000+ orders containing many millions of tree and shrub seedlings. Our nursery ships from south to north across the U.S., with shipping preference based on your planting zone and the chronological order in which your order was placed (we've been taking orders since September 2020 for this spring fulfillment period). We also honor specific shipping week requests which were made when the order was originally placed.
April 19th, 2021: Please watch your email for your shipping confirmation. Orders are being shipped at the rate of 300-400 per day. We are shipping orders based on when the order was placed, the geographic location of where the order is being shipped and sensitive nature of any plants contained on the order. Thank you for your patience as our large crew works its way through an unprecedented number of orders this spring. All orders will be delivered prior to early/mid June, with orders containing deciduous plants only shipping last, as they are least sensitive to seasonal temperature increases.
April 12th, 2021: We are currently shipping nearly all species to zones 5a through 9b, based on when the order was placed. Orders placed earlier will receive priority over orders placed later. An early spring, extremely high demand and a record number of orders have slowed down our response times to email and return phone calls. When your order ships, you will receive an email to let you know your order is on its way.
March 22nd, 2021: Limited shipping of hardwoods, shrubs and conifer plugs began the week of March 15th to the warmest areas of the country (Zones 6b to Zone 9b). Most orders containing bare root evergreens will not begin shipping until the week of April 5th. We have not shipped any orders to Zones 2a to 5b to date, unless it was previously arranged. We are no longer able to accept shipping date change requests as our fulfillment period has begun.
At Chief River Nursery, we offer many different options to get your trees to your location. Most orders are packaged and shipped via FedEx. Larger orders are palatalized and shipped on a semi via LTL freight. We also offer direct courier service within a 350 mile radius of our facility when the delivery is time critical for very large orders. Courier delivery may be dispatched to your job site which minimizes the amount of time the seedlings are out of cold storage!
All seedlings are brought to our state of the art cold storage warehouse after they are harvested. Temperature is monitored on a constant basis and our nursery stock is kept at 33 degrees to ensure dormancy and freshness. One of our staff begins by carefully selecting your order from cold storage. The types of trees and quantities are verified and the seedlings are bundled and labeled according to species. The roots are temporarily soaked in a root gel to give them proper hydration while in transit. A strong box is lined with a thick plastic liner and the seedlings are carefully laid inside. The roots are packed in moist sphagnum moss and the liner is closed. After the box is sealed and labeled for shipping, it is placed back into cold storage while it awaits the next truck out. All seedlings are packaged the day they are shipped to ensure you receive the freshest nursery stock available.
At Chief River Nursery, we understand the importance of receiving your seedlings quickly once your packages have shipped. Live plants riding around on a truck for several days or being held in a warm shipping terminal over the weekend can cause stress so we make every attempt to avoid it. Consequently, we ship nearly every package via FedEx and your delivery will arrive within 24 – 72 hours of leaving our shipping facility. FedEx delivers to commercial addresses Monday through Friday and residential addresses Tuesday through Saturday. All packages are sent using a Signature Release so it is not necessary to wait for the delivery driver to arrive. As a bonus, FedEx® trucks are white in color which helps moderate the temperature inside better than the darker color some of the other shipping carriers use.
All FedEx packages are fully tracked from the time they leave our hands until the time they are delivered. All orders which are linked to a valid email address will receive an email notification when the order ships. This email contains the tracking number(s) for your shipment. The packages can be tracked online from the time they arrive at our local FedEx hub until the time they are delivered to your home or business.
Many nurseries provide you with what seems to be a fair price only to surprise you when it comes time to add on the shipping charges. In fact, many charge 20%+ of your order total just for shipping seedlings. If your order includes any trees that qualify as transplants, you can expect to pay 30% or more of your order total. Not with Chief River Nursery. Our shipping charges are only 15% of your order total (with a $9.95 minimum shipping charge)! The 15% charge covers packaging and FedEx or freight shipping regardless of what you have ordered. If you want to save on shipping, you can choose to pick up your order at our shipping facility in Grafton, Wisconsin. Simply select “Pick up in person” at checkout and a nominal $14.95 flat fee will be charged to help cover the cost of packaging regardless of the size of your order. This fee will be charged one time for each order placed and picked up in person.
Timing When You Receive Your Order
Our tree and shrub seedlings are shipped from late March through May (weather dependent). Orders are shipped based upon chronological placement of the order, as well as delivery location. While most customers take delivery based upon availability and our best estimate of the weather conditions in their area, some customers may need to receive their trees or shrubs at a certain time. We understand that you may be taking on a large project when you order and plant trees and shrubs. We will do our very best to accommodate your request. However, there are some important things to know when you request a specific time frame in which to receive your order:
- Chief River Nursery can never guarantee that you will receive your order on an exact date. The reason is simple. Shipping carriers are very reliable, but there are times when a package may be slightly delayed due to some unforeseen circumstance. While this should not have an effect on your seedlings or transplants, it may affect your planting plans if your order arrives later than you had planned. The exception is our own courier service which is based on our discretion. Additional charges may apply.
- We can make sure you receive your seedlings within a specific week. This gives us flexibility to coordinate the shipping date and gives a bit of leeway to the carrier while the seedlings are in their possession. Don't worry about receiving your seedlings a day or two early, it is better than a day or two late. The trees and shrubs you receive are hardier than you may expect. Caring for them while they are in your possession is relatively easy. Click here to see our care and planting guide.
- Any delivery week changes must be made at least 2 weeks prior to your scheduled delivery week. During the busy shipping season, it is not possible to make changes on short notice. To minimize complications and the unfortunate possibility of error, we require 2 weeks advance notice if you must delay delivery.