March and April are a good time to start thinking about adding some trees to your garden.
Trees are an investment that, if grown well, will add value and beauty to you landscape for decades to come. Trees provide shade, shelter for birds, sometimes spectacular spring blooms, fruit and good fall color.
There are several factors to consider when selecting a tree. Scale is probably the most important factor. Pay close attention to mature size when selecting trees. Large trees can exceed 50 feet, while small trees may reach maturity at 20 feet. Like Goldilocks you need to find the size that is “just right” for your garden.
Growth rate is a factor to consider. While fast-growing trees may seem like a good idea, they typically are more brittle, making storm damage a bigger problem.
If you are considering a flowering tree, think about fruit. Flowering trees that produce fruit can make a major mess in your landscape; are you willing to do the cleanup every year? Some varieties produce no visible fruit; others have fruit that politely stays on the tree through winter (persistent fruit), providing a food source for birds and requiring little cleanup. There is no right or wrong; just know what you are getting.
Tree suggestions for Pikes Peak region
For small spaces:
• Blue totem spruce (Picea pungens “Blue Totem”), small blue spruce, 15-20 feet tall, 3-5 feet wide.
• Weeping white spruce (Picea glauca “Pendula”), up to 40 feet tall, 5-8 feet wide
• Russian hawthorn (Crataegus ambigua), up to 20 feet in height and width, white flowers, persistent red fruit.
• Crabapple trees (Malus sp.). provides profuse blooms in midspring. some cultivars produce fruit. Fire-blight can be a problem, so it is a good idea to choose a resistant species. For a good overview of species check out CSU extension fact sheet 7.424. https://extension.colostate.edu/ topic-areas/yard-garden/flowering-crabapple-trees-7-424/
For larger spaces:
• Hackberry (Celcis occidentalis), native tree up to 50 feet in height, crown diameter of up to 30 feet; good shade tree, requires pruning in the early years, fast growing, good habitat for birds.
• White fir (Abies concolor), up to 50 feet tall, 20 feet wide, beautiful silvery green needles that are soft to the touch.
For an extensive list of recommended trees for our region, consult the Front Range Tree Recommendation List (https://extension.colostate.edu/docs/pubs/garden/treereclist.pdf).
Approved trees for use in Colorado Springs right to way plantings:
Trees not recommended for Pikes Peak region
Ash trees because of susceptibility to emerald ash borer/ Aspen trees are not recommended for Front Range urban landscapes due to disease concerns and growth habits that can be difficult to manage in smaller gardens