By Joe Julian, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension agent, Natural Resources and Agriculture
You want to plant some trees for Arbor Day, but not the same trees that all the neighbors have.
Before picking out specific trees to plant, it's a good idea to ask yourself a couple of questions. For example, how big will the tree get? What space do I have in my yard for trees? Will the water requirements for the tree be the same as the other plants in the area, such as my lawn? How do I feel about raking leaves? What side of the house do I want to plant - is that a northern or southern exposure?
Once the homeowner has answered these questions, there are many varieties and possibilities that can fit in a landscape. For example, if you're looking for a large shade tree, a good option is the Common Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis). This is a native tree that is well adapted to Colorado soils, has an attractive yellow color in the fall, and a distinctive corky bark. The only drawback with Hackberry's are insect galls on the leaves. Some people believe this gives the tree some character. The galls are, for the most part, aesthetic and superficial in nature and do not necessarily require control measures.
If, on the other hand, you're looking for a small, fruit-bearing tree, sour cherry varieties are quite reliable in Colorado. Sour cherry trees are small, produce numerous fruit that can be made into pies or enjoyed by the local bird species for homeowner enjoyment. Varieties Montmorency (Prunus cerasus) and Meteor ( Prunus 'Meteor' tataricum) are popular in Colorado.
If you want a small tree but not necessarily a fruit bearing variety, consider Japanese Tree Lilac (Syringa reticulata). This tree will grow no taller than 20 feet but will spread as much as 15-20 feet. The shape can be described as upright but the main attraction are the clusters of creamy flowers that arrive in late spring.
There are many more varieties of trees that can be planted in Colorado. Check with your local Cooperative Extension office so your landscape can stand apart from your neighbors.
Photos: Judy Sedbrook
© CSU/Denver County Extension Master Gardener 2010
888 E. Iliff Avenue, Denver, CO 80210
Date last revised: 01/05/2010