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.
Autumn Blaze Maple
Acer x freemanii 'Jeffersred'
This Maple was introduced in 1982 as a cross between the red and silver Maple to provide a stronger and more color-consistent Maple making it a highly sought after Maple variety in the United States. Autumn Blaze Maple trees are the fastest growing Maple tree with a hardy nature and brilliant color. Due to upward limb growth, the Autumn Blaze Red Maple trees fare well in snow and ice with minimal limb snapping. It's leaves emerge as green with a slight reddish tint. It grows rapidly through the summer—almost 3 feet! It has one of the most vibrant red fall colors which hold longer than most other trees. It is also has a more narrow width than many shade trees, which makes it desirable for small yards and along streets. The Autumn Blaze Red Maple is disease and pest resistant and does well in drought conditions. Just plant this tree in a full sun area and water occasionally during the middle of the summer and watch this tree rapidly grow. In Colorado you can expect this tree to grow to roughly 45 feet tall by 20-25 feet wide.
The Autumn Blaze Maple tree has won several “tree of the year” awards for its amazing unequaled qualities. For all of the reasons listed above, it is one of the most popular trees in the Colorado Front Range.
Hardy to -30°F Maximum Elevation: 7,000 Feet
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 Chinkapin Oak tree is also known as bray oak, chestnut oak, rock chestnut oak, yellow oak and rock oak.
The Chinkapin oak is a medium sized deciduous oak of the white oak group that typically grows 30-50’ tall with an open globular crown. This oak produces small oval acorns with scaly cups that extend to approximately 1/2 the acorn length. These acorns are valued food for a variety of wildlife.
Chinkapin Oak trees have narrow, shiny green leaves which provides light shade. Its fall color is variable, but it usually displays shades of yellow and brown.
It is one of the more alkaline tolerant oaks, and will adapt to many soil types. This is a slow growing tree which will look great for many years—it can be planted as a street tree or yard tree.
Hardy to -30°F Maximum Elevation: 6,500 ft.
Crimson Spire Oak
Quercus robur 'Crimschmidt'
The Crimson Spire Oak is one of the most popular new tree varieties to appear in decades, and has become a favorite all over the United States. The Crimson Spire Oak is a hybrid of White Oak and English Oak trees, inheriting the upward branches and adaptability of the English Oak and the dark green, mildew-resistant foliage and adaptability of the White Oak. This tree is a fast-growing, hardy columnar tree that’s a great fit for both streetscapes and landscape settings. It reaches about 35 feet in height with a 7-10 foot spread in a typical urban landscape setting—making it an excellent choice for narrow spaces.
The dark green leaves turn rusty red in mid to late autumn. The leaves will turn brown and many will persist through the winter. Dense foliage creates living screens for blocking unsightly views and muffling traffic sounds. Its columnar form is a perfect fit for narrow or confined spaces. You can plant this tree alone, in groves, or in rows—it’s the perfect vertical design element. The Crimson Spire Oak thrives in Colorado's front range and requires low maintenance. It is cold hardy, drought tolerant, disease resistant, and adapts to varied soils and tough urban growing conditions. It is a long lived tree that will provide many years of shade, privacy, and enjoyment.
Available in either a low-branched form or with the branching starting higher up. (Please specify in the notes section if you have a preference).
Hardy to -30°F Maximum Elevation: 6,000 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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Texas Red Oak
The Texas Red Oak, also commonly referred to as Spanish Oak, Nuttall's Oak, Spotted Oak, Rock Oak, and Buckley Oak, is a large deciduous tree native to Oklahoma and Texas. The Texas Red Oak is the red oak tree recommendation by ArborAdvisor for Colorado. (It is almost indistinguishable from the Schumard Oak.)
This is a stately tree with a wide rounded crown which provides great summer shade. Like all oak trees it produces oval acorns (to 1 1/2" long) with scaly cups that mature in two seasons after planting. (The acorns are loved by small mammals.) This tree has dark green leaves that are 4-8'' long. Its fall leaves range in color from yellow-gold to bright red depending on seasonal and soil conditions. This tree's colors change later in the season, so while other trees are already turning brown, this tree will still be brightly colored.
The Texas Red Oak is very popular due to its fast growth rate, ease of care, fall color, and ability to thrive in varying soils including semi-wet areas. This tree is popular with city foresters along the Colorado Front Range. It does well in winter conditions and makes a perfect shade tree, street tree, or ornamental tree. This tree usually reaches a height of around 35-50 feet and a canopy width around 30-35 feet at maturity.
Hardy to -20°F Maximum Elevation: 5,500 Feet
Fagus sylvatica 'Roseomarginata'
The Tricolor Beech is a great shade tree with unusual foliage which thrives best in partially sunny and mostly sunny areas. Its early spring leaves are marbled with silvery-white and cream, changing to purple leaves edged in pink and white in the summer. Up close its leaves are purple with a border of blushing white and rose. This tree blazes with color for a stunning effect— it really stands out with its unique color. The Tricolor Beach becomes a large tree at around 30 feet tall at maturity, so it needs adequate room to grow. It can be a versatile tree but it's mostly ideal for lawns—possibly as a front yard statement tree or possibly as a backyard shade tree in a city environment.
This is a slow-growing tree so it can be used in landscapes, but be thoughtful when planting as it will become a large tree. Requires regular watering especially during the summer months. This is a cold-hardy tree ready to stand up to Colorado winters. It should be planted in well drained areas.
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.