“Energy cost” refers to the amount of energy consumed to do something. One example might be the cost of fuel it takes to transport your planting stock from point A to point B. Another example might be the amount of energy and other inputs required to produce the fertilizers you use on your trees. These kinds of costs also have a “carbon footprint” in terms of having an environmental impact. It is not only possible to minimize these costs and impacts when it comes to planting a tree, but to do so in a way that is quite beneficial to you as well.
There are a number of ways to reduce energy costs for you personally, for your community, and society as a whole. Tree planting energy costs are lowest when you use local and small planting stock. Trees grown in a nursery from local seed sources, assuming all else is equal, will have less fuel costs associated with their production and transport. Planting small trees also reduces not only energy costs, but also direct costs to the buyer. Small trees cost less to ship and are easier to handle for planting. Other factors to consider are inputs such as water and fertilizer.
A professional arborist can recommend when and how much to water and fertilize. Energy costs over the life of the tree can also be minimized by early pruning to train the tree for good structure. Pruning little/young trees is easier, safer, cheaper and better for the tree in the long run. A healthy, vigorous tree requires very little maintenance.