Best Shade Trees for Colorado

Is your house getting enough shade from the trees in your yard? The US Department of Agriculture notes that the net cooling effect of a shade tree is equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. Just think of the energy savings a large tree can provide! Additionally, mature shade trees add value to your home. The Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers states that “a mature tree can often have an appraised value of between $1,000 and $10,000.”

If you already have trees around your house, be sure to do all you can to keep them healthy. Water adequately. Even with our Stage 1 drought watering restrictions you can spot-water trees and plants as needed. And don’t forget to water in the winter! In the spring, a light feeding will help your trees shake off the winter and produce abundant leaves.

If you’re looking to add a tree or two, we have a few favorites to recommend:

Boxelder tree

Boxelder trees are perfect for smaller yards.

Boxelder Maple,  Sensation (Acer negundo sensation)

At 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide, this maple won’t overwhelm a small yard yet it still gives ample shade. The Sensation variety of this Colorado native tree features green leaves tinged with a hint of red on new growth, and a lovely coppery red in the fall. As a bonus, this hardy tree does not suffer from iron chlorosis. Needs moderate water. Zones 3 to 8.

Red Oak (Quercus rubra)

This oak features green leaves that turn red in the fall. At 50 feet tall and 30 feet wide, it will provide cool shade all summer long. It’s a long-lived tree and will tolerate our city pollution and marginal soils. Somewhat drought tolerant. Zones 3  to 8.

Autumn purple ash tree

Autumn Purple Ash holds its color into late fall. (Photo courtesy J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co.)

Autumn Purple Ash (Fraxinus americana)

This tree’s rounded form reaches 40 feet high and about as wide. The green leaf turns reddish purple in the fall, with yellow on the inside of the canopy. It holds its color in the fall longer than any other tree.  Zones 4 to 9.

Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvania)

This ash produces a tall rounded form that is narrower than the Purple Ash–50 feet tall by 20 feet wide. It’s leaves turn from green to yellow in the fall. Drought-tolerant. Zones 2 to 9.

Kentucky Coffeetree (Gymnocladus  dioicus)

This tree’s mature size tops out at 50 feet high and 40 feet wide. It’s shape is somewhat irregular with arching branches.  It’s a long-lived tree–100 years!

Kentucky Coffeetree

Kentucky Coffee Tree tolerates urban stress. (Photo courtesy J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co.)

The compound leaves are green and turn yellow in the fall. Fragrant flowers in the spring. This hardy tree tolerates urban conditions, heat, drought, soil compaction and alkaline soils. Zone 4.

Autumn Blaze Maple (Acer freemanii)

This tall, oval-shaped tree grows to 50 feet tall by 40 feet wide and is a fast-grower. The green leaves turn a brilliant orange-red in the fall. Autumn Blaze is a hybrid of red and silver maples, showing off the best traits of both. Moderate water use. Zone 3.

Autumn Blaze Maple

Autumn Blaze Maple lives up to its name! (Photo courtesy J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co.)

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Posted in Low-Water Plants, Shade Trees, Uncategorized