Friday, April 29, 2016

Planting Trees in Colorado for Arbor Day by Carol King

Photos by Carol King

Happy Arbor Day, an annual observance that celebrates the role of trees in our lives and promotes tree planting and care. What better way to celebrate than to plant a tree! Spring is typically tree and shrub planting time in Colorado.  The garden centers and big box stores are offering a huge assortment to choose from.  How does one know which tree to choose?  Choosing the right tree is essential to tree health and success. Don’t just go to the garden center and take whatever you can find.  Put some study into it.  

Ask yourself some questions. What is growing well in your neighborhood? What varieties are suited to Front Range Colorado and are most resistant to common insect and disease pests? What is the purpose of my tree?  Shade? Fruit? Windbreak?  This can be a daunting decision so here are some resources to help:

Front Range Tree Recommendation List, from Colorado Nursery Grower's Association, American Society of Landscape Architects Colorado, the Colorado Tree Coalition, and Colorado State UniversityExtension.
Recommended Trees for Colorado Front Range Communities, from Colorado State Forest Service,
Read more: Colorado tough: Great trees for your Western garden - The Denver Post 

You will also have to determine where the planting site will be. Choosing the right place for your tree will cause a lot less problems in the future.  Here are a few considerations: 
Sufficient Space.— Visualize a full grown tree. A tree needs at least ten feet of clearance from overhead power lines, underground utilities, and paved structures like sidewalks and streets. 
Adequate Drainage. A tree should not have soggy roots. One suggestion for evaluating is: digging a preliminary hole at the desired planting site and pouring a pitcher of water into it. Go back in 20 minutes. If there’s still water in the hole, it’s not a suitable location for a tree. 
Suitable Soil. Have a spoil test done on where you are going to plant the tree. Choose a species suited to the soil. Proper Sunlight. Different species need differing amounts of sun.  Determine how much sun your site will get.
Once you have chosen the proper tree and sited it in the proper place, your tree needs to be properly planted. Planting trees is more science than art. So many things can go wrong with a poorly planted tree.  It is much much more than digging a hole, putting a little amendment in and covering the roots.
Poorly planted trees can cause many problems down the road including girdled roots, inadequate root system development, planting too deeply.  Here’s a fact sheet on how to properly plant trees in Colorado.

If you prefer visuals, here’s a video from Carol O’Meara, Extension Agent from Boulder County.

Planting a tree can seem like a daunting task, but preparing, selecting, and planting properly will pay off in years of enjoyment!

For more information about Arbor Day go to the National Arbor Day Foundation..