The Gambel Oak is also referred to as a Scrub Oak, Oak Brush, or White Oak. This tree is an extremly hardy and adaptable tree native to the southwestern United States and can vary in size. The primary dwarf variety is most often used as a shrub or small tree in narrow areas or in Xeriscape landscaping. This oak has shiny dark green leaves which are about 5 inches long with three or four rounded leathery textured leaves on each side of the stem. The Gambel Oak produces small acorns which ripen in August or September. The leaves turn a brilliant red in fall. It can grow as a single tree with a rounded crown or form a dense thicket depending on the availability of water and if you buy it in stem or clump form. Plant in full sun to partial shade, moist to semi dry, well drained or slightly rocky soil. It has very little needs and is adaptable to harsh conditions.
At mature height this tree will get to be 8-15 feet tall and 6-12 feet wide, making it a great choice to plant under power lines or in narrow areas.
Hardy to -40F Max. Elevation 9,000 Feet
Tilia cordata 'Greenspire'
Do you have a challenging site for a tree? Perhaps it’s windy. Maybe it’s too wet or too dry? Does the tree need to live in the ‘hell-strip’ between the sidewalk and the street? How about a small patio yard in a big city?
The Greenspire Linden is one of the most hardy and adaptable trees you’ll find. If you have a difficult place on your property that is windy, salty, wet, dry, questionable soil condition, or near the street—this is your option. This tree is extremely versatile and requires very little maintenance as long as it has full sun. It is also a fantastic shade tree with a strong, pyramidal shape.
The Greenspire produces fragrant yellow flowers that bloom in early summer when few other trees are in bloom. Then, the dark green heart-shaped leaves turn a gold color in the fall. It has a strong central trunk, nice upward branches which start to branch out at 6 feet above the ground and helps it minimize limb snapping during freezing rain and snow. This makes it perfect for parking areas and parks, as well as your yard.
Be careful when applying street or sidewalk ice melt/salt around the tree as Linden trees don't do well with salts.
Hardy to -40°F Maximum Elevation: 7,000 ft.
Heritage River Birch
Betula nigra 'Cully'
The Heritage River Birch is an iconic tree around Colorado for its highly textured and colorful pealing bark. This versatile, highly heat tolerant tree thrives with high water tables and problematic low wet soils, yet adapts to mild drought once established. If planted in a non-wet area, this tree will need to be watered regularly during the summer months for the first couple years. This tree requires full sun to partial sun. The Heritage River Birch is possibly the most adaptable and heat tolerant of the birches. Avoid pruning in spring when the sap is running. This tree is resistant to bronze birch borer. This tree will grow to roughly 45 feet tall by 30 feet wide at maturity.
This tree is sold either in clump form (most often) or single stem form.
Hardy to -30°F Maximum Elevation: 6,000 ft.
Malus sylvestris 'Honeycrisp'
The Honeycrisp Apple is consistently one of the best-selling apples trees on the market and one of the best fruit trees for cold weather. One of the benefits of this tree is that the delicious round yellow fruit that ripen in September don’t immediately drop, so you can take your time picking them. Plus, the apples keep until roughly April in storage and retain their crispness. This apple can be used for cooking and baking.
Note: This tree requires another type of apple tree within 500 feet to act as a pollinator. You may want to look around your neighborhood to see if another apple tree exists already.
This tree only grows to 20 feet and spreads an equal distance so it is the perfect size for an urban or suburban garden. Its low canopy makes it ideal for planting under power lines or in other such troublesome locations as well as convenient in picking apples without needing an extension ladder. It needs full sun for optimal growth and you can increase your fall yield if you plant another variety of apple tree close by to aid in pollination.
Hardy to -30°F Maximum elevation: 8,500 ft
Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis 'Impcole'
The Imperial Honeylocust is a favorite of ArborAdvisor—it's essentially the perfect tree for the Colorado Front Range. With its beautiful rounded shape, it makes a great lawn or street tree. In the spring it has yellow and white small flower strings which provide a nice fragrant scent. It has thin fern-like leaves which provide nice filtered shade all summer and then turn a lovely golden yellow in the fall. This tree does so well in lawns partly because it provides a filtered shade that allows the grass and other partial sun plants below it to still grow. Also, when its leaves fall they are so small that they don't need to be raked! The leaves aren't big enough to hurt the grass below them. Another great thing about the Honeylocust is it drops its leaves earlier in the fall which keeps it from being damaged by early Colorado hard freezes and heavy snow.
The Imperial Honeylocust is native the the United States and has been bred to be extra hardy. It holds up well in urban environments where there is air pollution, salt, soot, and varying soil types. All this tree needs is a full sun location and occasional watering (especially in the first couple years after planting) but otherwise it is an extremely low maintenance tree. This is a fast growing tree so you wont have to wait decades to see a beautiful large tree on your property. It's roots stay well below the surface as well, so no worry about pushing up the sidewalk or creating trip hazards in the yard. Unlike other Honeylocust varieties which have thorns and large seedpods this variety has neither—the Imperial Honeylocust is both thornless and seedless. This tree is slightly smaller than the Shademaster Honeylocust and will grow to be roughly 40 feet tall and 30 feet wide at maturity.
Indian Magic Crabapple
Malus 'Indian Magic'
The Indian Magic Crabapple has an open, rounded crown, upright spreading branches, and is covered in deep pink flowers in the spring. This is a great ornamental tree for landscaping standing 15 feet tall and 20 feet wide spread at maturity. This is perfect for planting under power lines or hiding any mid-height neighborhood eye sores.
Indian Magic truly has multi-season appeal. Red buds open into single, deep pink flowers in the spring, followed by green summer foliage, then turning to a golden-orange in the fall. It also has some small bright red fruit that persists into the winter attracting birds.
The Indian Magic Crabapple thrives in full sun and grows best in well drained, slightly acidic soils, however, it will grow well in many soil types. This tree tolerates cold winters and hot, dry summers.
Hardy to -30°F Maximum Elevation: 7,500 ft.
Iseli Fastigate Narrow Blue Spruce
Picea pungens 'Iseli Fastigiate'
The Iseli Fastigate is a narrow, vertical form of the Colorado Blue Spruce. It is the perfect evergreen for narrow spaces or for privacy screens as it doesn't sacrifice ground space. This tree is a strong growing and adaptable tree which works great as a landscape tree for vertical accent, or where space is a consideration. This tree is also widely used as a wind screen and as a natural privacy screen. It does great in the winter and adds nice accent to any landscape.
The Iseli Fastigate typically grows to a width of 6-9 feet and height of roughly 25 feet. This tree has a beautiful blue color which persists all year long and adds great contrast to any landscape. This tree is cold hearty and more drought tolerant than other spruce varieties and prefers rich soil but will generally do fine anywhere around Colorado's front range in well draining full sun areas. The Iseli Fastigate should be watered occasionally for the first 2-3 years especially during the hot summer months.
This tree requires very little maintenance and no pruning–just plant it in a well draining area with full sun. Recommended to water occasionally during Colorado’s hot summer months, especially in the first couple years after planting.
Hardy to -40°F Maximum Elevation: 9,000 ft.
Just as most flowering trees are beginning to fade, the Japanese Lilac tree blooms with fragrant-smelling, showy flowers.
The Japanese Lilac is typically planted as a multi-stemmed shrubby tree but can be formed into a taller single trunked tree over time if so desired. It is famous for its fragrant, creamy-white panicles of flowers and long bloom time in the summer. Unlike many of its peers, the Japanese Lilac's flowers and leaves are on the tree at the same time. This gives a beautiful and exotic look to your garden. Its rigid branches form a small tree or large shrub. Deep green leaves turn a golden yellow in fall.
This tree can be used in commercial landscapes and streetscapes as it is a very hardy tree. For the best floral display, plant the Japanese Lilac where it will get plenty of sun. The Japanese Lilac has textured and striped, cherry tree-like bark that looks great even during the winter. It is a slow growing tree and needs moderate watering, especially when young. A great tree for planting under power lines.
Mature Height: 15-20 feet, Mature Width: 10-15 feet Hardy to -30°F Maximum Elevation: 7,000 Feet
The Japanese Pagoda tree is actually native to China, not Japan. It was traditionally planted around Buddhist temples due to its beautiful flowers. It has strands of 1-2 inch leaflets and creamy white fragrant flowers in the spring. The flowers then turn into 3-8 inch green pods that mature into yellow-green fruits with large beans within thin pods that persist through the winter. It should be noted that these pods can result in some litter underneath the tree requiring periodic clean up especially if the tree is planted over walks or driveways. It should also be noted that the seed pods have poisonous qualities if ingested by animals and humans. Its fall color is not as showy as others on ArborAdvisor with leaves turning a green-yellow.
The Japanese Pagoda can be utilized either as a shade tree or a large ornamental accent tree. You can see this tree in Denver growing in lawns along York Street, in Washington Park, and in front of Union Station in cutout sidewalk pits.
The Japanese Pagoda has a rapid growth rate at a young age and a moderate rate in maturity. Tolerant of heat, pollution, and drought, the Japanese Pagoda grows well on the Colorado Front Range. At maturity this tree will grow to roughly 65 feet tall and 45 feet wide.
The Kentucky Coffee tree is a large, hardy, moderately fast growing tree which provides filtered shade, growing up to 40 feet tall. This tree can be seen all around Denver as it is a very popular street and yard tree due to its fast growth rate, adaptability, and low maintenance needs. It has leathery, olive-brown pods which are 5-10 inches long with large round seeds. Its leaves emerge pinkish, turn dark green in summer and golden yellow in fall.
NOTE: This trees seeds, leaves, and pulp are toxic for dogs and humans if eaten.
This tree requires very low water maintenance once established. Recommended planting site is in full sun with well drained soils. It is prone to snow loading damage which should be considered when planting near areas where snow is piled up in winter. It has very strong bark, and can withstand damage by animals, including deer. The Kentucky Coffeetree is a top choice by city foresters in cold climates such as Denver. This tree can be planted in landscaping as a shade tree, alongside the street, or in problematic areas.
Hardy to -40°F Maximum Elevation: 6,500 Feet
Juniperus scopulorum 'Medora'
The Medora Juniper is a compact upright, pyramidal evergreen shrub with soft textured blue needle-like foliage. Native to the Badlands of North Dakota, this evergreen tree, nevertheless, thrives on the Colorado Front Range. It is a multi-stemmed evergreen shrub with narrow vertical growth, which makes it great for full sun narrow spaces or as a privacy screen. This tree has attractive and unique looking powder-blue foliage which remains showy all year long. The Medora Juniper produces small blue berries and flowers in early summer.
This tree is best use as an accent tree or as a privacy screen and should be planted in full sun. The Medora Juniper makes the ArborAdvisor favorites list because it has no significant negative characteristics; it is tolerant of both moist and dry growing conditions (just no standing water), and does well with urban pollution. However, this is a high maintenance shrub that will require annual pruning in order to get a nicely defined shape which is best done in late winter once the threat of extreme cold has passed.
The Medora Juniper will grow to be about 15 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 6 feet. It tends to be a little leggy, with a typical clearance of 2 feet from the ground, and is suitable for planting under power lines. It grows at a slow rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 70 years or more.
Hardy to -40°F Maximum Elevation: 7,500 ft.
Prunus cerasus 'Montmorency'
The Montmorency Cherry Tree produces the United States' most popular sour cherry. It is considered the best cherry for pie making. This deliciously tart cherry matures in June and is bright red in color, medium in size, and has clear juicy flesh. Brilliant snow-white flowers appear in spring, and are followed by clusters of red sour cherries in July. Because it’s self-pollinating, only one tree is needed to produce buckets of delicious, tangy cherries.
The tree grows 15-20 feet tall with a similar spread. Montmorency Cherry trees can be maintained at any height with pruning. As with all sour cherry trees it has a beautiful round shape for a featured spot in the landscape.
It is extremely winter hardy and very adaptable. Fruiting time can take 3-4 years depending on soil and planting site.
Hardy to -30° Maximum elevation: 6,000 ft
Prunus cerasifera 'Newport'
The Newport Plum has unique purple colored leaves which makes it a great landscaping tree to break up the common green color of most landscapes. In the spring, the Newport Plum is one of the first trees to bloom delicate pink flowers. Its flowers produce a fragrant scent.
When the spring flowers are done flowering, a 1-inch purple fruit will develop which is a draw for birds in the area. The foliage of the tree turns a maroon-red in the summer and fall. The Newport Plum grows to 15 feet in height with an equal spread. Its spreading branches create a rounded crown. It’s a hardy tree requiring little maintenance and it's not bothered by deer.
Hardy to -30°F Maximum Elevation: 6,500 ft.
The Northern Catalpa tree is a fast growing tree with amazing spring blooms. It is a unique ornamental shade tree with large, showy white, trumpet-shaped spring flowers and bean shaped pods persisting into the winter.
It may reach heights of 70 feet tall and 40 feet wide, making a great shade tree that is known to attract hummingbirds. The huge heart shaped leaves can be as big as 12 inches across which help provide great shade and easier leaf raking in the fall.
The Northern Catalpa is very tolerant of tough conditions. It withstands wet, dry, alkaline soils and hot, dry environments, but prefers moist, deep soil. It should be planted in full sun or at least partial sun.
Tolerates heat and cold well. This tree is easy to grow and tolerates many conditions.
Hardy to -30°F Maximum Elevation: 6,000 ft
Pioneer Chinese Apricot
Prunus armeniaca 'Pioneer'
The Pioneer Chinese Apricot is a hardy deciduous tree that produces delicious, early fruit. In the spring, pink-hued, white flowers will appear across the tree’s branches. After spring, oval green leaves cling to your Chinese Apricot’s branchlets by colorful, reddish stems through the warm months. As the season progresses, the flowers give way to spherical, pitted fruit. The fruit of the Chinese Apricot is freestone, making it easy to use in canning, drying, or in baked goods. It blooms very early and is also one of the earliest ripening fruits. Chinese Apricot is typically sold in semi-dwarf size, growing up to 15 feet in height and 15 feet wide. This is a hearty tree which is adaptable to many soil types, disease and pest resistant, and visually pleasing. This tree can be trimmed back as needed (much like a peach tree) to fit smaller spaces.
It doesn’t require a pollinator, so you can plant one and still get fruit!
Hardy to -40°F Maximum Elevation: 7,000 ft.
Native to the western US and Canada, the Ponderosa Pine, also known as Pinus Ponderosa, Bull Pine, Blackjack Pine, or Western Yellow Pine, thrives on the Colorado Front Range. If you're looking for an evergreen tree with year round color that doesn't take up precious ground space—this tree is for you. It's long limbs branch out well above the ground.
This tree has a large trunk and long limbs, so it will need a lot of room to branch out. This tree adds lovely color to a yard and remains green throughout the entire year. Young Ponderosa Pines have a black/brown bark but it matures into a orange/red bark. This tree grows a deep tap root which makes it a good choice in a windy site. Very cold hardy and drought tolerant tree. Space these trees 15 feet apart.
This tree requires full sun and is a fast growing tree to a mature height of 50-80 feet and width of 25 feet.
Hardy to -40°F Maximum Elevation: 9,000 ft.
Looking to add color to your yard? The Profusion Crabapple has intense red flower buds which bloom into stunning purple-pink flowers. Not only is this tree extremely hardy, disease resistant, and tolerant of most soils, the new leaves, which appear early in the season, are a rich coppery red and provide color most of the year. The Profusion Crabapple has upright spreading branches with berry sized fruit; very little of it drops to the ground. It is not a messy tree.
The Profusion Crabapple does well in urban areas and the country. It is not bothered by pollution, salt, or deer. This is a great flowering tree for small yards in particular as it only grows to about 15-20 feet tall with a broad canopy that stretches no wider than 20 feet.
This tree grows moderately fast and does best in full sun, but can also be planted in partial sun.
Hardy to -30°F Maximum Elevation: 7,500 ft.
A medium sized, upright deciduous tree native to Colorado. Small, heart-shaped leaves are a waxy-green in summer and brilliant shades of yellow to gold in the fall. A fast growing tree with smooth, white bark that becomes furrowed with age. This tree can be purchased in single stem or multi-stem "clump" form. Aspens can be planted in full or partly sunny areas. A very adaptable tree for a wide range of soil conditions.
It should be noted that Aspen trees don't always do well in the Front Range and have been know to have roots that spring up small sucker trees around the area below. Aspens are naturally a “succession” tree, moving into areas where other trees and shrubs were removed by logging, fire, erosion, insects or disease. As a succession species, they are not long lived and can be prone to disease and insect damage. It is smart to plant a few of these together as they seem to do best planted in groves. We did not remove them from the ArborAdvisor list however because of their iconic Colorado status, shimmering beauty, and the fact that they are perfect for certain types of planting locations—just not all.
Mature Height: 30-35 feet Mature Width: 15 feet Hardy to -50°F MaximumElevation: 10,000 ft.
The Radiant Crabapple is an ornamental tree with edible fruit. The Radiant Crabapple is named for its “radiant” bloom of aesthetically pleasing color. Its single, deep pink blossoms are followed by persistent red fruit, providing food for birds in winter. The flower buds swell into the deep pink 1 1/3-inch blossoms that will cover your tree for weeks in the spring and provide a beautiful fragrance.
The leaves on this Crabapple display a reddish-purplish hue in spring before turning a vigorous green in summer. In the fall the tree turns bright orange-red and ½-inch crabapples ripen, ready for you to harvest for cider or various culinary dishes if you'd like. If not, you can leave them for the wildlife with very little yard mess.
The Radiant Crabapple is a moderately fast growing tree with a broad, globe shaped crown. It needs to be watered occasionally in the heat of the summer and planted in full sun.
Hardy to -30°F Maximum Elevation: 8,000 Feet
Red Delicious Apple
Malus sylvestris 'Red Delicious'
The Red Delicious is the most widely grown variety of apple tree in the world. It should be noted that Red Delicious and Golden Delicious (the other ArborAdvisor recommended apple tree) are entirely different varieties of apple tree. Red Delicious apples are sweet, but very mild in flavor. The flesh is juicy with a light crispness. Blooms appear around mid April, with fruit ripening around mid September.
NOTE: Unlike the Golden Delicious, this tree needs a different variety of apple tree nearby for pollination. It may be smart to look around your property (100 yards) to see if a neighbor already has an apple tree which would act as a pollinator for your tree.
This tree can grow to between 15-20 feet tall with an equal spread, resulting in relatively rounded crown and pleasing landscape appearance which can last up to 50 years. In the spring, clusters of small white flowers with subtle pink hues will adorn its branches with their fragrant elegance. In the summer, dark green leaves adorn a rounded shape which turns a brilliant yellow in autumn, sprinkled with deep red fruit.
This is a hardy tree that grows very well in the Colorado Front Range.
Hardy to -30°F Maximum elevation: 7,500 ft.
Prunus persica 'Reliance'
Considered the hardiest of all peach tree varieties, the Reliance Peach thrives on the Colorado Front Range. The Reliance also typically produces more peaches than other varieties. This tree bears medium-to-large freestone fruit around mid August with a sweet, mild flavor. The Reliance Peach, after exhibiting beautiful pink flowers in early spring, produces a peach with dark red skin. This a tough tree that is fast growing and can adapt to many soil types as long as it is well-draining. For optimal fruit production it should be pruned annually. This tree should be planted in full sun. Reliance Peach trees grow naturally to average heights of 8-15 feet tall by 10-12 feet wide, but can be trimmed to fit most areas.
Hardy to -25° Maximum elevation: 6,000 ft
Explore our curated collection of the best evergreen trees for Denver metro.