The American Hornbeam is a slow growing, deciduous, small-to-medium sized understory tree with an attractive round form. Being a native forest understory tree, it is useful for shady landscapes and naturalized or woodland gardens. It is native to the midwest where it is typically found in rich moist woods, valleys, ravine bottoms, and rocky slopes along streams. That said, this tree thrives where many others do not—in 'partly shade' and 'mostly shade' areas in your landscape. It should be noted that this tree can be planted in full sun as well, but due to the very hot Denver sun (as compared to the midwest) it may do best with some shade. This tree is highly adaptable which is why ArborAdvisor recommends this tree for areas with questionable or varying sunlight.
This tree typically grows to be 20 feet tall by 20 feet wide. The trunk is a unique smooth grey color and larger branches of a mature tree exhibit a distinctive muscle-like fluting that has given rise to another common name of "musclewood" for this tree. Flowers appear in spring in separate male and female catkins, with the female catkins giving way to distinctive clusters of winged nutlets. New leaves emerge reddish-purple in the spring, changing to dark green, then turn yellow to orange in the fall.
The extremely hard wood of the Hornbeam was once used by early Americans to make bowls, tool handles, and ox yokes. Commercial use of the hornbeam is not practicable, however, due to the limited amount of wood that can be harvested per tree.
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.
Crataegus crus-galli var. inermis
The Cockspur Hawthorn, is a small, thornless tree which grows to be between 10-20 feet and a similar width. It has single white flowers which appear shortly after the dark green leaves unfold. The tree also has abundant red fruit and silver-gray bark. The fruits are a bright red and are produced in masses, which provide excellent color in late summer and early fall. The Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn is drought resistant and has low water needs but it does require well drained soils and full sun.
Rounded growth habit
Very disease resistant
No major insect problems
Resistance to rust diseases
Hardy to -40°F Maximum Elevation: 8,000 ft.
The Coralburst Crabapple is a compact, slow growing tree which forms a symmetrically rounded crown. Ruby red buds open into semi-double, rose pink blossoms and are followed by reddish-orange fruit alongside deep green foliage.
This tree is very disease resistant to scab as well as fireblight, cedar-apple rust and mildew. It produces a light crop of small, bronze-red ornamental fruit which will attract birds and wildlife.
It is best used as an accent tree that will grow to be roughly 15′ tall with a spread of 15′. Requires full sun and moist to well-drained soil.
Hardy to -30°F Maximum Elevation: 7,000 ft.
Cornelian Cherry Dogwood
The Cornelian Cherry Dogwood tree, also called “Cornelian Cherry”, is a hardy, small ornamental tree. They are highly adaptable due to their size and the fact that they can be planted in full sun or partial sun. This tree remains beautiful in all seasons. In the spring yellow flowers appear before the leaves appear. In the summer this tree produces olive shaped red fruits which are edible. This fruit can be eaten fresh, used in pies, preserves, and syrups. Depending on the year, this tree can turn a reddish-purple in the fall but almost always a red and yellow fall foliage. This is a self-pollinating tree meaning you only have to plant one to get fruit, however, it does much better with another variety of pollinator somewhere nearby.
This tree can be used in a lot of situations including in partly shady areas such as under or nearby large trees, overhangs, or side-yards. Scaly bark that curls back and can be displayed by removing lower branches to make a tree form. If left alone, this tree will grow into a bushy shrub, which acts as a privacy screen or hedge if that is the intention.
This tree does very well in the Colorado Front Range and should be planted in areas that have good drainage. It should be watered occasionally especially the first couple years, and then ongoing on a periodic basis during the summer months. Overall a low maintenance tree which grows to be around 12-15 feet tall on average in Colorado.
Hardy to -30°F Maximum Elevation: 5,500 ft.
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
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 Russian Hawthorn is a relatively small deciduous tree growing to about 15 feet tall at maturity. This tree is primarily planted as an accent tree in yards and landscaping. It has a low canopy 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 50 years or more. In mid spring, the entire tree is covered in stunning clusters of white flowers. The flowers are followed by showy red berries that persist through late fall which attract birds. Throughout the season this tree has green foliage. Its oval leaves turn slightly yellow and red but are not as dramatically colored in the fall as other tree species.
Note: The fruit can be messy if planted directly alongside a driveway or sidewalk.
This tree should only occasionally need maintenance and upkeep, and is best pruned in late winter once the threat of extreme cold has passed. This tree should only be grown in full sunlight. The Russian Hawthorn is a highly adaptable tree to both dry and moist soil as long as there is no standing water. It does very well with urban pollution and can thrive in inner city environments.
Hardy to -30°F Maximum Elevation: 8,000 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.
Explore our curated collection of the best evergreen trees for Denver metro.