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  • Writer's pictureKassi K.

4 Shade Trees that are Perfect for Colorado Yards and Landscapes

Updated: May 30

With summer temperatures still hanging in the high nineties, many of you may be thinking about adding a shade tree to your landscaping to provide some relief in the coming years! Along with acting as a shield from the sun, trees also can help shield your home from the heat, helping to take some of the burden off your air conditioner in the heat of the summer! In fact, trees provide many different benefits throughout every season, not just the summer! So, if you are thinking of adding a tree to your landscape, now is the time! Fall is one of the best times to plant trees, but the window of time is short, so don't wait too long! To help you decide which shade tree is best to plant in your yard, here are some options you may want to consider.


Shademaster Honeylocust

Honeylocust trees are popular for their delicate, fern-like foliage. Due to the nature of their leaves, not all of the sun gets blocked, providing lovely, dappled shade. This is also good news for any grass or other plants under this tree's canopy. They also exhibit vibrant yellow fall color and truly make for a lovely addition to any landscape. Many other honeylocust varieties produce little white flowers, long brown seedpods, or long and intimidating thorns. This variety however does not!


Shademaster Honeylocust Tree Care

When they reach maturity, these trees can be very large. They often reach heights of 45 feet tall with a 40-foot spread. They grow at a rather fast rate, and due to this and the large mature size, it is recommended to not plant these trees in confined areas, under powerlines, or any other overhead equipment that may get in the way years down the road. Plant honeylocusts in full sun and water it generously for the first year or two to help establish a healthy root system. Once this tree is established, it is very hardy and can handle a variety of conditions.

Image of a shademaster tree

Tree Information:

  • Botanical Name: Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis ‘Shademaster’

  • Zone: 3-6 (Learn more about hardiness zones!)

  • Height: 50 – 75 feet

  • Spread: 25 – 40 feet

  • Sun: Full Sun, Partial Shade

  • Water: Moderate, then Low

  • Soil Type: Widely Adaptable

  • Pollinator Friendly: Yes

  • Foliage: Green

  • Fall Color: Yellow

  • Bloom: No

  • Fruit: No

  • Growth Rate: Fast


Redmond Linden Tree

Unlike the honeylocust, Redmond Linden trees are known for their large, broad leaves that grow densely throughout the entire tree. These trees are ideal for bringing shade due to the nature of their foliage, which appears glossy green throughout the summer and turns bright yellow in the fall. They also produce lovely little clusters of fragrant yellow flowers early in the summer, followed by small dangling fruit later in the season.


Redmond Linden Tree Care

These trees can also grow to be rather large in size, so again, make sure to plan your space accordingly! They need to be watered at least once or twice per week in the first three months after planting to help encourage strong root development. Once the tree has established itself, it is rather drought-resistant and really only needs to be watered by hand during prolonged dry spells. They will grow best in full sun but can tolerate partial shade. They grow at a moderate rate, gaining anywhere from 1-2 feet per year height-wise. They can adapt to many different kinds of soil, though moist, well-draining soil that has a neutral pH is preferred.

Image of a tilia tree

Tree information:

  • Botanical Name: Tilia americana 'Redmond'

  • Zone: 3-8 (Learn more about hardiness zones!)

  • Height: 40 – 60 feet

  • Spread: 25 – 30 feet

  • Sun: Full sun to partial shade

  • Water: Once established, they only need to be watered during prolonged dry spells. Somewhat drought tolerant.

  • Soil Type: Moist, well-draining soil. Prefers neutral soil pH.

  • Pollinator Friendly: Yes

  • Foliage: Glossy green

  • Fall Color: Bright yellow

  • Bloom: Clusters of small, yellow, fragrant flowers in early summer

  • Fruit: Small nutlets in late summer

  • Growth Rate: Medium



Kentucky Coffee Tree

This tree is very well suited to urban areas due to its high tolerance to pollution. It has beautifully shaped, unique foliage that casts a lovely, dappled shade throughout the summer. In the spring, these trees produce beautiful star-shaped flowers that have a lovely fragrance. Later in the season, the tree produces leathery brown seed pods that can grow anywhere between 5 and 10 inches in length, creating some visual interest throughout the winter season. These trees are also low maintenance, drought-tolerant, and very adaptable, making them an easy decision for any yard. These trees are great for shading your house from the summer sun and are sturdy enough to withstand intense storms.


Kentucky Coffee Tree Care

Like all trees, watering generously in the first year after planting is important for the root system to establish itself. Planting in moist, well-draining soil will yield the best results, though these trees can adapt to many different kinds of soils. Kentucky coffee trees are very drought tolerant once established and grow at a slow-moderate rate. You will see the quickest growth in the first few years, but as the tree matures, the growth rate will begin to slow. It is best to plant these trees in areas that receive full sun for at least six hours out of the day.

image of a gymnocladus dioicus tree

Tree information:

  • Botanical Name: Gymnocladus dioicus

  • Zone: 3-8 (Learn more about hardiness zones!)

  • Height: 60 – 75 feet

  • Spread: 40 – 50 feet

  • Sun: Full sun

  • Water: Drought tolerant once established

  • Soil Type: Moist, well-draining

  • Pollinator Friendly: No

  • Foliage: Dark green

  • Fall Color: Bright yellow

  • Bloom: Fragrant white flowers

  • Fruit: Large brown seed pods

  • Growth Rate: Slow – medium


Northern Catalpa

This beautiful variety is native to the Midwest and features large, heart-shaped leaves and large, fragrant clusters of white flowers. It produces long and narrow seed pods that last through the winter season, bringing some visual interest throughout the cold months. These trees are very adaptable to a wide range of conditions, though they do tend to have a weak wood and branch structure making them susceptible to damage from intense weather conditions. Due to their adaptability, they are often planted in hard-to-plant areas. Northern catalpa trees make for lovely shade trees with their fragrant flowers and unique foliage, and their fast growth rate is ideal, achieving anywhere from 1-2 feet of growth per year or more!


Northern Catalpa Tree Care

These trees grow well in full sun as well as partial shade, though more sun is better! Make sure to water your new planting thoroughly every week until the tree has established itself (generally the first 3 months to a year after planting). Once the tree is established, continue to water every few weeks if you receive no natural precipitation. They are also very adaptable to a variety of soil conditions, though slightly alkaline soils that are moist, rich in nutrients, and well-draining are ideal. Pruning your catalpa tree is recommended to encourage strong and healthy growth. While these trees are rather tough and do not require a ton of maintenance, fertilizing in the spring is always a good idea, as this promotes stronger development throughout the growing season!

image of catalpa speciosa tree

Tree information:

  • Botanical Name: Catalpa speciosa

  • Zone: 4-8 (Learn more about hardiness zones!)

  • Height: 40 – 60 feet

  • Spread: 20 – 40 feet

  • Sun: Full sun to partial shade

  • Water: Once established, they only need to be watered during prolonged dry spells.

  • Soil Type: Alkaline, moist, well-draining

  • Pollinator Friendly: Yes

  • Foliage: Medium green, very large heart-shaped leaves

  • Fall Color: Yellow-green

  • Bloom: White, fragrant, in large clusters

  • Fruit: Long, interesting seed pods persist through the winter

  • Growth Rate: Fast


How and When to Plant a Tree in Colorado

If you have any questions on how to plant a tree or when is the best time to plant a tree in Northern Colorado, we have a Tree & Shrub Planting Guide to help you with any of your tree questions! Whether it is how often to water, how to stake a tree, how to fertilize a tree, or when to plant a new tree, we cover it all! And if you still have questions, feel free to ask. You can fill out a contact form or give us a call any time! And if you feel ready to shop for some shade trees to fill your yard, visit our online store today.







References:


Arbor Valley, "Shademaster Honeylocust Gleditsia tricanthos inermis ‘Shademaster’". Arbor Valley. Web. Date accessed: 24 August 2021. Retrieved from: https://www.arborvalleynursery.com/shademaster-honeylocust/


Piper, Christina. "Linden Tree Growth". SFGate. Web. Date accessed: 24 August 2021. Retrieved from: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/linden-tree-growth-64656.html


Arbor Valley, "Kentucky Coffee Tree Gymnocladus dioicus". Arbor Valley. Web. Date accessed: 24 August 2021. Retrieved from: https://www.arborvalleynursery.com/kentucky-coffee-tree/


Grant, Bonnie. "Catalpa Tree Planting: How To Grow A Catalpa Tree". Gardening Know How. 1 July 2021. Web. Date accessed: 24 August 2021. Retrieved from: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/trees/catalpa/catalpa-tree-planting.htm








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