September 15, 2015 0

How to Plant a Tree in the Denver Metro Area: Part 2 - Tree Selection

There is no perfect tree. So, no matter what tree you choose to plant in your landscape, there will be some sort of maintenance involved. Most trees will occasionally need pruning to improve its aesthetics and health. In tune with my environmental awareness, I strongly discourage my clients from planting trees that will need pesticide applications each year to keep them healthy. If a tree needs to be sprayed or injected to stay alive, there may be a better choice out there.

Denver has a good selection of shade, ornamental and evergreen trees that do well in the region. If planted in the right place, these trees can flourish with less maintenance required over their lifetime. Not only can the practice of “Right Tree, Right Place” save the homeowner thousands of dollars in maintenance care, the tree can add thousands of dollars to their property value.

Large Shade Trees

If you have the space for a large shade tree, there a few that stand out as great trees for the Denver area. Trees that mature to a height of 50 feet or more are considered large shade trees. These trees can add more value than most other types of trees because of their ability to add beauty, provide shade and protect understory plants.

I recommend the following large shade trees for their proven adaptability to Colorado’s soil and climate:

Western Catalpa-  Large leaves with beautiful white cone-shaped flowers.
Western Hackberry- Very tolerant of our soils and dry climate.
Common Horsechestnut- Beautiful flowers and yellow fall color.
Espresso Kentucky Coffeetree- Fruitless variety that provide cool winter structure.
Linden- Attractive yellow flowers that attract bees.
Honey Locust- A strong, sturdy tree for any property.
Bur Oak-  Slow growing, but worth the wait.
Swamp White Oak- An Oak tree with reddish fall color.
London Planetree-  Super neat, flaking bark makes this tree unique.
Heritage Oak- Vigorous cross of Bur Oak and English Oak.
Japanese Pagodatree- White flowers and nice yellow fall color.

There are other trees that can be successfully planted in the older neighborhoods of Denver where the soil has been cultivated for nearly 100 years. These trees include Ginkgo, Red Oaks, Red Maples, English Oak and Beech. If you would like one of these trees, a soil test is highly recommended prior to planting as most of these trees require acidic soil.

Medium Shade Trees

Medium Shade trees are those that typically grow to a mature height of 35-45 feet. These trees are utilized best in smaller landscapes. They are still large enough to provide shade to a home, but not so large that they dominate the entire landscape. There are not a lot of trees in this size range but there are a few good options.

I recommend the following medium shade trees for most Denver landscapes:

Ohio Buckeye- A hardy tree with white flowers in spring.
Goldenrain Tree- Beautiful yellow flowers that drape down the tree.
Crimson King Norway Maple- Rounded growth habit with deep maroon foliage.
Emerald Queen Norway Maple- The same as above but with dark green leaves.

Small Ornamental Trees

You’ve got more options when it comes to smaller ornamental trees, which typically grow to about 20-25 feet in height. Ornamental trees add great interest to any landscape and are also appropriate for planting under powerlines. This group offers the widest array of sizes and shapes, foliage colors, flowers, fruits or fruitless variations and fall colors. 

I recommend the following ornamental tree varieties to fit your landscape:

Bigtooth Maple-  Offers great red, orange and yellow fall colors.
Hotwings Maple-  Showy red fruit contrasts against the dark green foliage.
Serviceberry-  Many varieties do well in the Denver area.
Eastern Redbud-  Beautiful purple flowers in spring.
Hawthorn- Multiple varieties provide spring flowers and fall color.
Saucer Magnolia- One of my favorite trees in this group!
Apple/Crab Apples-  Apple trees come in all sizes and some are fruitless.
Apricot-  Barely produces fruit but has awesome structure.
Cherry-  As with most fruit trees, cherries offer lots of good choices.
Plum-  One of the most reliable fruit producers in the front range.
Japanese Tree  Lilac-  A small ornamental tree that has nice bark and flowers.

Choose the Right Tree for the Right Place

I gave you a lot of information in this post. The trees mentioned are ones that are endorsed by Colorado State University and that I have seen perform well in the landscape. Keep in mind, not all of them will perform the same way in every single yard. It is important that you consult us when planning to plant a new tree. Our experience will help you make the best selection for your outdoor space.

Call us at 303-623-TREE or send us a request for a free estimate.

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