The American Sycamore is an excellent choice when a hardy, reliable tree resistant to pollution is needed for urban areas. It is a native tree from Eastern North America and grows well in most states including Colorado. This tree quickly grows into a large, attractive shade tree and will grow well on all but very dry soils. This tree is very popular due to its attractive mottled bark, fast growth rate, adaptability to many planting environments and soils. Its leaves turn yellow in the fall but it is not known for its brilliant fall color.
Its handsome mottled bark and large leaves make it an asset in any location where there is room for it to grow and display its best features. This tree will grow to 80-100 feet tall in time with a 30-50 foot spread, so plant your American Sycamore in the right spot with plenty of room. This tree can be pruned to make an effective privacy screen. This tree is a classic of small-town America and will look right at home on any larger property. It has large leaves and good branching structure make this a very striking tree which holds up well in Colorado rapid freezing/thawing.
The American Sycamore can tolerate some shade when it is young but ideal planting condition should be in full sun.
Hardy to -30°F Maximum Elevation: 6,000 ft.
Bloodgood London Planetree
Platanus acerifolia ‘Bloodgood’
Don't let this tree's name fool you! The Bloodgood London Planetree is a fantastic tree for the Colorado Front Range. This is a popular street tree which can also be used as a yard shade tree. This tree was discovered in London where the first hybrid was found thriving in the sooty air of 1645, while still providing wonderful shade. This tree can withstand pollution, drought, disease, and the challenges of urban growing environments.
This tree has great winter interest with exfoliating bark which reveals patches of light brown, olive, and cream. The Bloodgood grows medium to fast depending on the soil and will grow 13-24 inches per year. It has strong upward limbs which help reduce issues with snapping in freezing conditions. Its fall colors are not dramatic, however, due to its unique bark and branch shapes it has visual interest all year. Bloodgoods are long-living, big shade trees with a pyramidal shaped canopy so make sure you plant it in the right spot! It should grow to be about 75 feet tall and 50 feet wide, with a trunk circumference of 10 feet.
This tree needs to be planted in full sun and watered occasionally during the hot months during its first couple years after planted.
The Bur Oak makes an outstanding ornamental shade tree and is one of the most tolerant white oaks. It is sometimes spelled Burr Oak and is also called "Mossycup Oak".
Oak trees live a very long time—typically between 200-300 years. This beautiful tree is tolerant of most soil and water conditions and adapts well to urban settings. From Texas to Alaska, the Bur Oak adapts to its environment. Spring through summer the Bur Oak has distinctive shiny, deep green leaves. This tree is not know to be a brilliantly colored fall tree, but its leaves do turn an orange/brown before falling for the winter. Shortly after the arrival of the leaves in the spring, your oak will flower with yellow-green catkins. These small, elegant flowers are where the acorns will originate. The acorns of the Bur Oak are the largest of all North American oaks. They are very important to wildlife as a food source.
You can expect this tree to grow to between 50-60 feet tall and 40-50 feet wide at the canopy. This is a beautiful, rugged tree that will bring wildlife to your yard and last for many generations. The Bur Oak is a great choice.
Hardy to -50°F Maximum Elevation: 7,500 ft.
The English Oak is an iconic tree, easily identified by almost everyone with its lobed leaves and acorns. For those who have seen the movie The Shawshank Redemption, Red digs up the cash and directions to meet up with Andy (pictured) underneath an English Oak.
Often thought to be slow-growing, this tree can grow fairly quickly in good soils. This is a long-living tree that will typically be 60 ft tall in 50 years. The English Oak will grow best in deep, moist, fertile loamy soils. It will, however, cope with almost any conditions. It compensates for the poor ground by growing more slowly.
The English Oak is a stately, broad, round-topped tree with spreading branches and deeply grooved bark. Its dark green leaves turn golden yellow then brown in fall often clinging through winter. Its acorns are 1/2” wide and 1” long. They occur individually or in clusters of up to five and ripen the first year. This tree adapts well to most soil types and is relatively pest free.
Plant in full sun, allow plenty of space for growth, and prune for structure often when young. English Oaks provide dense summer shade. This tree is considered drought tolerant once established and requires relatively low maintenance after initial pruning years.
Hardy to -30°F Maximum Elevation: 8,000 Feet
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.
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.
Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis 'Shademaster'
The Shademaster Honeylocust is a favorite here at ArborAdvisor. This tree has a beautiful rounded shape and may be the perfect lawn or street tree for the Colorado Front Range. In the spring it has yellow and white small flower strings, which provide a nice fragrant scent. It has thin fern-like leaves that provide filtered shade all summer and turn a lovely golden yellow in the fall. Part of the reason the Shademaster Honeylocust does so well in lawns is because it provides a filtered shade that allows the grass and other partial sun plants below it to grow. Also, when these leaves fall in Autumn they are so small that they don't need to be raked! They simply aren't big enough to hurt the grass below them.
The Shademaster Honeylocust is native to 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. This is a fast growing tree so you wont have to wait decades to see a beautiful large tree in your yard. Unlike other honeylocust varieties which have thorns and large seedpods this variety has neither. The Shademaster is both thornless and seedless. No mess! No raking!
This tree will grow to be 50-60 feet and 25-35 feet wide at maturity.
Swamp White Oak
Native to the United States, the Swamp White Oak is a beautiful tree which grows very well in the Boulder and Denver metro areas. This oak also grows well in either normal or poorly-drained, swampy soil. A Front Range favorite, this is a fast growing tree that produces small yellow flowers in spring. As with all oak trees, this tree produces acorns, which shed in September or October.
This tree can live to be 300-350 years old and is one of the best shade producing trees with a rounded crown and dense foliage. The Swamp White Oak has dark green leaves, which become golden orange and red in fall. Its bark sheds in ragged, papery flakes providing great winter interest. It has stiff branches and it holds up well in tough conditions such as ice freezing and thawing.
This tree grows to be 40-60 feet at maturity, is highly adaptable, and should be planted in full or mostly full sun.
Hardy to -30°F Maximum Elevation: 7,000 ft.
Ulmus ‘Morton Glossy’
The Triumph Elm is a great tree for both residential and commercial properties. It has an upright vase shaped form with strong branching and dark green foliage. These new “Triumph” Elm’s are not like those of the past that were susceptible to Dutch Elm disease. This tree is exceptionally resistant to disease and pests. The Triumph Elm develops softly arching branches as it matures. Elms are adaptable to a wide variety of soil conditions and come in both vase-shaped and weeping forms. The Triumph Elm leaves turn a yellow/gold color in the fall. This tree grows extremely fast–up to 3 feet per year initially and in maturity 1.5 feet per year.
Elms prefer full sun and is very adaptable to wide ranges in soil pH, moisture, wind and heat. Note: this tree has very strong and aggressive roots which can probably break sidewalks and raise pavement if trees are improperly located. This tree is best located in the yard and used as a shade tree. This tree does very well in Colorado and quickly grows to be roughly 50 feet tall by 30 feet wide at the crown.
Hardy to -30°F Maximum Elevation: 6,000 Feet
If you're looking for a low maintenance shade tree that requires little to no watering—this is your tree. This may be the toughest tree on the ArborAdvisor site. The Western Hackberry is found on a wide range of soils east of the Rockies from southern Canada to Florida and is considered a Colorado native tree. The Hackberry thrives in a wide range of temperatures and on sites that vary from 14'' to 60" of annual rainfall. These trees also can stand up to strong winds and can tolerate air pollution.
This hardy shade tree has a wide spread, upright arching branches, and light green foliage throughout the year—creating an open, airy appearance. The Hackberry's leaves turn yellow in fall and produces small, dark red drupes about 1/3" in diameter that turn dark purple as they mature in mid-autumn. These berry-like fruit persist into the winter.
This tree grows at a fast rate, with height increases of anywhere from 13" to more than 24" per year. Full sun is the ideal condition for this tree. The Hackberry is best suited for open areas and along streets. It would fit well into the home landscape if there is a need for a large tree and lots of shade. Planting close to the west side of the house (no closer than 12 feet) will provide comforting afternoon shade.
Hardy to -50°F Maximum Elevation: 7,000 ft.
Explore our curated collection of the best evergreen trees for Denver metro.