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The Best Trees to Plant in Colorado for Optimal Growth and Beauty

When it comes to landscaping, choosing the right tree to plant is critical, especially in a beautiful state like Colorado. The best trees to plant in Colorado not only thrive in the region’s unique climate but also contribute to the state’s splendid aesthetics.

There are several tree species that prosper in this region, but the top three most popular ones include the Blue Spruce, Eastern Red Cedar, and the Rocky Mountain Juniper. These trees are celebrated for their hardiness, longevity, and the exceptional beauty they bring to any landscape.

Let’s explore 10 popular trees to plant in Colorado and where you can get them.

Characteristics of Trees Thriving in Colorado’s Climate

To flourish in Colorado’s distinct climate, trees must possess certain inherent traits. Below are the key characteristics to consider when selecting trees for planting in this region:
Choosing trees with these characteristics can significantly increase their chances of thriving in Colorado’s unique and varied climate.

Top 10 Best Trees To Plant In Colorado

Now, let’s explore the top 10 trees that not only embody the key characteristics needed to survive in Colorado’s unique climate but also add distinct beauty to your landscape.

From the stunning Colorado spruce to trees showcasing creamy white flowers and bright yellow fall colors, these top picks offer a combination of hardiness and visual appeal.

Each tree on this list has its own unique attributes, whether it’s the spring bloom of white flowers or the vibrant display of autumn foliage. Here’s a closer look at these exceptional trees that you can consider for your Colorado garden.

Colorado Blue Spruce Tree

Description: The Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens) is a majestic evergreen tree renowned for its silvery-blue needles. It can grow up to 75 feet tall and has a pyramidal shape, making it a stunning landscape addition.

Why it’s good for Colorado: As the state tree of Colorado, it’s naturally adapted to the region’s climate and soil conditions. Its high drought tolerance and ability to thrive at varied altitudes make it an excellent choice for Colorado landscapes.

Pros: The Colorado Blue Spruce provides year-round color and privacy. It’s resistant to pests and diseases, and its sturdy branches withstand heavy snow and strong winds.

Cons: The tree requires well-drained soil and may struggle in overly wet conditions. Its larger size might not suit smaller yards.

Where to buy: Purchase Colorado Blue Spruce from The Tree Farm located in Longmont, Colorado. They offer a variety of sizes and provide expert advice on tree care.

Description: The Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is a sturdy evergreen known for its beautiful dark green foliage. It can grow anywhere between 20 to 40 feet high, offering ample shade and forming an ideal barrier or windbreak.

Why it’s good for Colorado: This hardy tree is incredibly versatile and adaptable, thriving in a wide range of soil types found throughout Colorado. It boasts a high tolerance for drought, cold, and varying altitudes, making it an excellent fit for Colorado’s challenging climate.

Pros: The Eastern Red Cedar is a superb shade tree, providing shelter from the sun in the summer months. It’s also highly resistant to pests and diseases, and its thick, dense foliage serves as an effective windbreak and privacy screen.

Cons: The tree can become invasive if not managed properly, and its dense root system may interfere with underground utilities or structures. It’s also less attractive to wildlife as compared to some other native species.

Where to buy: Eastern Red Cedar trees can be purchased from Heidrich’s Colorado Tree Farm Nursery in Colorado Springs. They provide quality trees and advice for proper tree care.

Kentucky Coffee Tree Gymnocladus Dioicus

Description: The Kentucky Coffee Tree (Gymnocladus dioicus) is a native, deciduous tree known for its striking, sculptural appearance. This robust tree can reach heights of 60 to 75 feet, boasting large, compound leaves that provide generous shade and an ornamental quality to any landscape.

Why it’s good for Colorado: As a native tree, the Kentucky Coffee Tree is well-suited to Colorado’s diverse climate conditions. It’s extremely drought-tolerant, thrives in a broad range of soil types, and can withstand Colorado’s extreme temperature fluctuations.

Pros: The Kentucky Coffee Tree is a low-maintenance tree, offering an impressive canopy for shade during the hot summer months. Its ornamental qualities, including the deep fissured bark and large, bold form, provide visual interest throughout the year.

Cons: Despite its many benefits, this tree is slow-growing and may take some time to provide significant shade. It also has large seed pods that can cause a bit of a mess when they drop.

Where to buy: Purchase the Kentucky Coffee Tree from Alameda Wholesale Nursery located in Englewood, Colorado. They specialize in a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and plants suited to Colorado’s unique climate.

Apple Tree Malus Domestic

Description: The apple tree (Malus domestic) is a deciduous tree that produces fragrant blooms in the spring and delicious fruit in the fall. These trees can reach up to 20 feet in height and spread up to 15 feet wide.

Why it’s good for Colorado: Apple trees are adaptable to a variety of soil types found in Colorado and have a high tolerance for cold winters. Certain apple varieties such as the ‘Honeycrisp’ and ‘Gala’ are known to perform well in Colorado’s unique climate.

Pros: Apple trees provide beautiful spring blossoms, shade in the summer, and tasty fruit in the fall. They also serve as excellent pollinators for other fruit trees.

Cons: Apple trees require regular pruning and spraying to prevent common diseases like apple scab and pests such as apple maggot. They also need a good amount of sun exposure and well-drained soil to thrive.

Where to Buy: Purchase an apple tree from Jared’s Nursery located in Littleton, Colorado. Jared’s Nursery offers a wide selection of fruit trees, including several varieties of Apple Trees suitable for Colorado.

Description: The Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) is a striking deciduous tree known for its vibrant golden-yellow leaves in the fall. Fast-growing and reaching up to 50 feet in height, it’s recognized by its smooth, greenish-white bark.

Why it’s good for Colorado: The Quaking Aspen is native to Colorado, meaning it’s well-suited to the state’s varied climate conditions. It thrives at high altitudes and in well-drained soils, making it an excellent choice for Colorado landscapes.

Pros: This tree offers stunning autumn color and soothing rustling sounds when the wind blows. It’s also a habitat for wildlife, providing shelter and food for a variety of species.

Cons: Quaking Aspens can be susceptible to a number of pests and diseases, which might require ongoing maintenance. They also have a relatively short lifespan compared to other tree species.

Where to Buy: Quaking Aspens can be found at Tagawa Gardens located in Centennial, Colorado. This family-owned nursery offers a wide selection of native trees, along with expert gardening advice.

Description: The Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa) is a robust evergreen tree with a distinctive orange-brown bark that smells like vanilla when warmed by the sun. It can reach heights of up to 60 feet and is recognized for its tall, straight trunk and lofty crown.

Why it’s good for Colorado: This tree is native to Colorado and thrives in the state’s diverse climate and soil conditions. It’s particularly well suited to higher altitudes, and its deep root system makes it highly resilient to drought and wind.

Pros: The Ponderosa Pine is a low-maintenance tree that provides year-round color and shade. It also serves as a natural habitat for various wildlife species, contributing to the state’s biodiversity.

Cons: It requires full sun and well-drained soil to flourish. Its large size and extensive root system may not be suitable for smaller yards or landscapes near sidewalks or structures.

Where to Buy: You can purchase Ponderosa Pine from High Country Gardens located in Denver, Colorado. They specialize in plants and trees adapted to the Western U.S. climate and offer expert advice on tree care.

Flowering Dogwood Cornus Florida

Description: The Flowering Dogwood (Cornus Florida) is a beautiful deciduous tree well-known for its lovely white or pink flowers that bloom in the spring. This small to medium-sized tree typically grows up to 20-25 feet tall and wide.

Why it’s good for Colorado: While not native to Colorado, specific varieties of Flowering Dogwood have been found to adapt well to the state’s climate. This tree demonstrates considerable cold tolerance, which is essential for Colorado’s winter temperatures, and enjoys the state’s well-drained soil conditions.

Pros: The Flowering Dogwood offers stunning spring blossoms and vibrant red-purple leaves in the fall. It also produces red berries that attract various bird species, adding life and color to your landscape.

Cons: This tree requires some maintenance, including regular watering during dry periods and pruning to maintain its shape. It can also be susceptible to diseases such as powdery mildew and pests like the Dogwood Borer.

Where to Buy: Purchase the Flowering Dogwood from Alameda Wholesale Nursery located in Englewood, Colorado. They offer various tree species, including special orders for specific types like the Flowering Dogwood, and provide knowledgeable customer service.

Douglas Fir Pseudotsuga Menziesii

Description: The Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is a towering evergreen tree that can reach heights of 70 to 250 feet. Known for its thick, ridged bark and distinctive cones, it is one of the most dominant tree species in the western United States.

Why it’s good for Colorado: The Douglas Fir thrives in the varied climates found across Colorado. It’s particularly well-suited to higher elevations and it’s highly resistant to cold temperatures, making it a staple in many Colorado landscapes.

Pros: Douglas Firs provide excellent year-round shade and wind protection due to their dense foliage. They’re also known for their strong timber, which is used in a variety of construction projects.

Cons: Due to their size, Douglas Firs require a significant amount of space to grow and may not be suitable for smaller landscapes. These trees can also be susceptible to root rot if they’re not planted in well-drained soil.

Where to Buy: Douglas Fir trees can be purchased from The Tree Farm located in Longmont, Colorado. The Tree Farm is a family-owned business that offers a variety of trees and shrubs suitable for Colorado’s unique climate and landscape.

Silver Maple - Acer Saccharinum

Description: The Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum) is a large deciduous tree that can grow up to 80 feet tall. It’s known for its distinctive five-lobed leaves which flip upwards in the wind to reveal a silvery-white underside, hence the name.

Why it’s good for Colorado: The Silver Maple is a highly adaptable tree that can withstand Colorado’s varied climate. It thrives in full sun to partial shade and is tolerant of a wide range of soil types, including wet and occasionally dry soils.

Pros: The Silver Maple grows quickly and provides ample shade thanks to its broad, spreading crown. It also boasts a stunning display of color in the fall, with leaves turning to shades of yellow, orange, and red.

Cons: While generally robust, Silver Maples can be susceptible to storm damage due to their brittle wood. They also have a shallow root system, which may compete with grass for water and nutrients, potentially causing issues in managed lawns.

Where to Buy: You can purchase Silver Maple trees from Jared’s Nursery, Gift and Garden located in Littleton, Colorado. Jared’s offers a wide variety of trees, including the Silver Maple, and provides expert gardening advice.

Description: The Rocky Mountain Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) is a resilient evergreen tree native to the western United States. Known for its sturdy, twisted trunks and dense, blue-green needle-like foliage, it can grow up to 30-40 feet tall, depending on the growing conditions.

Why it’s good for Colorado: This tree is a native species to Colorado and has evolved to thrive in the state’s diverse climate, particularly in the Rocky Mountain region. Its drought-tolerant nature and ability to withstand cold makes it a highly suitable option for Colorado landscapes.

Pros: The Rocky Mountain Juniper is a low-maintenance tree that offers year-round color and texture to the landscape. It’s also an excellent habitat for wildlife, including birds that feed on its blue berries.

Cons: While adaptable, this juniper prefers well-drained, slightly alkaline soils. It may struggle in areas of poor drainage or high foot traffic.

Where to Buy: You can purchase Rocky Mountain Juniper from Bath Garden Center and Nursery located in Fort Collins, Colorado. They feature a wide variety of native plants and trees suitable for the Colorado climate, along with expert advice on their care and maintenance.

Best Trees To Plant In Colorado FAQs

The Hybrid Poplar (Populus deltoides x Populus nigra) is one of the fastest-growing trees for Colorado, with a growth rate of up to 5-8 feet per year.

This tree thrives in Colorado’s various weather conditions and soil types, making it an excellent choice for homeowners looking for quick shade or windbreaks. However, it’s essential to note that while Hybrid Poplars grow rapidly, they also have a relatively short lifespan compared to other trees, typically around 30-50 years.

In Northern Colorado, a variety of trees grow well due to the region’s unique climate and soil conditions. Such trees include the Blue Spruce, which is Colorado’s state tree and thrives especially well in the northern parts of the state. It is known for its bluish-gray foliage and can withstand heavy snow and cold temperatures.

The Narrowleaf Cottonwood is another excellent choice for Northern Colorado. This tree is native to the region and is noted for its resistance to drought and disease.

Lastly, the Bur Oak is a hardy tree that can adapt to various soil conditions and can tolerate the region’s sometimes harsh weather. It’s a great option for those looking for a tree that provides ample shade.

In the city of Denver, several tree species will thrive and add beauty to the landscape.
For those seeking a tree with stunning yellow fall color, the Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) is an excellent choice. This tree is known for its brilliant golden leaves in the autumn and its gentle, rustling sound when the wind blows.

For a tree with dark green leaves, consider the Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens). This is a sturdy tree with silvery-blue needles that remain vibrant throughout the year. It also serves as a large shade tree due to its dense foliage.

The Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) is a beautiful ornamental tree that offers a burst of deep pink flowers in the spring, followed by green heart-shaped leaves.

For those looking for a tree with a striking fall leaf color, the Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) is a top choice. It features a vibrant display of orange, red, and yellow hues in the fall, aside from providing large shade due to its expansive canopy.

The most popular tree in Colorado is the Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens). This majestic tree is not only a state tree but is also widely loved for its silvery-blue needles and stately appearance.

It’s highly adaptable, thriving in a variety of soil types and climates found across the state. The Colorado Blue Spruce provides year-round color and serves as a superb choice for a shade tree or privacy screen.

Its ability to withstand the state’s variable weather conditions and its minimal maintenance requirements further contribute to its popularity among Colorado homeowners and landscapers.

Get The Perfect Trees Planted By Colorado's Expert Landscapers

Land Designs by Colton is a leading landscape design and build company based in Colorado. We specialize in creating harmonious and sustainable outdoor spaces that cater to our client’s unique preferences and the distinctive Colorado climate.

Our comprehensive suite of services includes landscape design, installation, maintenance, and complete outdoor living transformations. Whether you’re seeking a serene outdoor sanctuary or a vibrant entertainment area, our team of experts is equipped to turn your vision into a reality.

We are committed to delivering high-quality, personalized service. Our focus is on understanding your needs and lifestyle to create outdoor spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional and sustainable. Our designs are inspired by the natural beauty of Colorado and are tailored to withstand the state’s diverse weather conditions.

For a consultation or to learn more about our services, please call us at (720) 580-3677. Let Land Designs By Colton take care of your landscape design and build needs in Colorado.