Georgia Champion Tree Program - How to Score a Tree

Three measurements - trunk circumference, tree height, average crown spread - need to be submitted on the Georgia Champion Tree nomination form. Instructions on how to obtain these measurements are listed below. Use the following calculator to get an estimated total score of your tree. A tree that scores within 5% of a champion will be recognized as a Georgia Co-Champion.

Trunk Circumference: inches
Tree Height: feet
Average Tree Crown Spread: feet
Total Score:
1. Tree circumference is measured in inches.

The trunk circumference is the distance around the tree. It is measured 4.5 feet above the ground level (Photo A). If the tree forks at 4.5 feet, forks below 4.5 feet or if the tree has a deformity at 4.5 feet, drop below and measure the smallest circumference between 4.5 feet and the ground below the lowest fork or deformity excluding dead branches and epicormic sprouts (Photo B).

Measuring a tree at 4.5 feet
Photo A - Measuring a tree at 4.5 feet
Measuring a tree forked at 4.5 feet
Photo B - Measure at nearest point between ground and defect
2. Tree height is measured in feet.
Tree height using stick method
Figure 1 - Tree height using stick method. Illustration by American Forests

Height is accurately measured using a clinometer, laser, hypsonometer, or other specialized tools. If these tools are not available, height can be estimated using the "stick method."

The "stick method" works using a stick of a length equal to the distance from your eye to the palm of your extended hand. With the stick vertical to the ground and the length of stick extending out of the top of your closed fist, back away from the tree until the bottom of the tree lines up with the top of your fist and the top of the tree lines up with the top of the stick. The height of the tree is equal to the distance from the point you are standing to the base of the tree (Figure 1).

If tree height cannot be accurately measured, estimate and note it as such on the nomination application.

3. Average crown spread is measured in feet.
Crown spread measurements
Figure 2 - Crown spread measurements

Average crown spread is estimated by taking two measurements at right angles to one another. The first crown spread measurement (A) is the widest crown spread, which is the greatest distance between any two points along the drip line of the tree. The drip line is the outline on the ground of the outermost leaves of the crown. Measure the second crown spread measurement (B) by turning the axis of the first measurement 90 degrees. The two measurements are averaged together (Figure 2).