Evergreen Trees for Colorado Landscapes
Needled evergreen trees, also called conifers, provide year-round interest, color and texture to any landscape. Before buying evergreen trees, consider planting location for soil, sunlight and space – is there enough room to accommodate it at its mature size? Read the label carefully – will it tolerate our low temperatures of –20 degrees Farhenheit? If there are overhead utility lines, you might consider a shorter evergreen. Make sure the evergreen is suited for the altitude.
Evergreens have widely different water needs. Spruce and fir need extra water, so they are well-suited to lawns. On the other hand, pines and junipers will flourish in drier sites. When planting several different species of evergreen trees in the landscape, plant those with similar water needs in the same general area.
Native evergreen trees make beautiful choices. The Ponderosa pine is long-lived, grows tall, tolerates rocky and clay soil and has fragrant, red-brown bark at maturity. Our spruce can fill a huge area if given enough water or snow. The shorter Pinon pine can grow to be almost sphere-shaped and be a great refuge for birds. Did you know the bristlecone pine – with its bushy, wax-flecked branches – is one of the longest-living organisms? The one-seed juniper also lives long, adapting to adverse conditions in fascinating shapes. Junipers make great wind-breaks. Native trees will always perform better than trees from other areas, especially when situated in a setting similar to where they naturally grow.
Large conifer trees include white fir, Douglas fir, Austrian pine, ponderosa pine, Colorado blue spruce, Englemann spruce and Norway spruce.
Medium conifer trees include eastern red cedar, limber pine, Scotch pine and black hills spruce.
Small conifer trees include Rocky Mountain juniper varieties such as Grey Gleam, Sutherland and Wichita Blue; and others such as pinyon pine, bristlecone pine, dwarf Alberta spruce and arborvitae. Many dwarf varieties of conifers are available for use in smaller spaces.
Before planting anything in your yard, call the local underground utility locating hotline.
For more information, see the following Colorado State University Extension reference materials:
- Evergreen Trees
- Xeriscaping: Trees and Shrubs
- Trees and Shrubs for Mountain Areas
- Tree Planting Steps
- The Science of Planting Trees
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Updated Tuesday, October 13, 2015