The Centennial State is known for its high mountain peaks and low river valleys, but Colorado is also known for the Colorado Blue Spruce, a blue-tinted evergreen. The Colorado Blue Spruce is native to the Rocky Mountains and is common throughout Colorado and its adjacent northern border state, Wyoming. Growing to between 15 and 23 feet tall, the Colorado Blue Spruce has sharply pointed needles and ruby-red immature cones that morph into a classic pinecone. Although this tree is a frequently planted as an ornamental backyard tree, the Coloradan homeowner is faced with a wide variety of tree choices for planting purposes.
Due to its geography, elevation variance, and short distance temperature changes, the smart Coloradan grower will need to consider the following; climate, soil type, average precipitation, irrigation, growing zones and weather damage.
Best Trees for Colorado
Read about the specifics for your state in the following sections. If you’re looking for some quick ideas on what to plant, consider the following trees as expert-tested and The Tree Center approved:
- Willow Hybrid
Ideal for providing privacy, fast-growing properties, and easy care
- October Glory Maple
Ideal for continuous color, adaptable growing conditions, and landscaping designs.
- Everbearing Strawberry
Ideal for bearing fruit, providing color, and delicious, edible profits.
- Muskogee Crape
Ideal for mildew resistance, fragrant lavender blooms, and fast-growing height.
Fast Growing Privacy Trees in Colorado
As property in Colorado continues to be developed, land owners are searching for trees that will provide privacy from prying neighborly eyes and loud, unwanted noise. There are many fast growing privacy trees in Colorado, which will quickly grow after initial planting to offer your property and family long sought-after privacy.
The Thuja Green Giant, a staple of privacy trees throughout the United States, is a fast-growing pine that will quickly provide a barrier between you and your neighbors. Growing between 3-5 feet a year, the Thuja Green Giant will offer your yard classic French design with minimal hassle. Alternatively, the Leyland Cypress and Nellie Stevens Holly will also add color and privacy to your yard’s perimeter.
Colorado provides a diverse landscape with temperatures ranging from well below to zero to well over 100°F. Colorado is at the whim of its geography, with mountain ranges and low river valleys greatly influencing its daily weather and temperature. Typically, temperatures are lower as elevation increases and higher as elevation decreases. In the Eastern Plains region, the semiarid climate means low humidity and temperatures reaching the high 90s in summer and dipping just below 0°F in winter. In the areas west of the foothills, residents experience variant weather. Typically, winter brings moisture and summer, dry heat. Mountain areas will have milder summers and cooler winters that bring snow. Regardless of the location, extreme weather affects many Coloradan residents.
Most trees require well-drained soil rich with minerals to grow. Colorado is not known for its soil. With minimal rainfall, organic matter cannot take root and decompose to produce rich topsoil. Coloradan gardeners will almost uniformly have to purchase loam and add nutrient matter to the soil. Regardless of the property’s location in the Centennial State, a soon-to-be tree planter can perform a simple test to determine his/her soil type:
The squeeze test is a tool pedologists (soil scientists) use to determine the type of soil in a given area. Remove the first layer of soil and grab a handful of damp (but not wet) dirt. Then, squeeze the soil in the palm of your hand. When you open your hand, the results will help you to determine your specific type of soil.
1. The squeezed soil holds its squeezed shape. If you poke it, the soil will still hold its squeezed shape. You have CLAY
2. The squeezed soil holds its squeezed shape. However, when you poke it the squeezed soil collapses. Congratulations, you have LOAM.
3. The soil collapses as soon as you open your hands. You have SAND.
Once you know what soil type you have, you can find trees best suited to the dirt’s properties. Loam is the best soil to have, as its unique qualities make it ideal for holding and transferring water to trees.
Rainfall is an infrequent visitor to Colorado, with the Eastern Plains and Alpine climate regions receiving the most at an annual average of between 15 and 23 inches. Precipitation predominantly falls in the more populated regions, making gardening and planning schedules slightly more flexible. The Great Plains are one of the better places for water and irrigation systems, and as such, agriculture does well. Recently, a persistent drought has lingered in the area, with water reserves being primarily used by city-dwellers.
Since Colorado suffers from poor soil and minimal rainfall, irrigation systems are essential for successful tree growth. The Colorado Division of Water Resources is responsible for adequate dispersal of water resources, and if concerns about natural precipitation or water availability plague a growing area, it is best to contact the department. Tightly regulated in Colorado, drip systems are the most common form of irrigation technique. Adequate water access is essential to newly planted trees, and controlled water distribution is, therefore, needed in the state.
Colorado’s high peaks and low river valleys are, in part, responsible for its 10 unique growing zones. A growing zone simply refers to the USDA’s determination of areas where certain plants are most likely to thrive, preferring to focus on minimal temperature ranges in which a plant can survive. Temperatures are as low as -45°F in the highest elevations of the Western Rockies, but only drop to 0°F in nearby valleys. Plants will survive best that can sustain rapid temperature change, with much of Colorado experiencing warm days and cool nights.
Colorado’s divergent geographical topography and temperature fluctuations cause much of the extreme weather experienced by the state. Most damaging weather occurs in lowly populated areas, so the city or suburban planter has less cause for alarm. In the Eastern Plains, Tornado Alley is named for the weather systems that frequently cause damage to both life and property. Thunderstorms and wildfires also cause much of the damage in the state. Soon-to-be tree planters should be cautious as to the height and distance from infrastructure of planted trees.