Choosing the Right Size Tree for Your Colorado Springs Landscape

Choosing the Right Size Tree for Your Colorado Springs Landscape

There are so many choices when it comes to selecting a tree for your landscape. You want something that is going to be beautiful, hardy in the Colorado climate, and last a long time.

But, one of the most important things is making sure your tree has the space to grow. When a tree is planted too close to structures or the tree does not have the space to grow to its mature size, it can harm the tree. Planting in an area that is too small stunts tree growth and can even decrease the number of years the tree will live. Trees that are stunted may be less hardy and even attract harmful insects and diseases.

This is why it is important to plan for the future of the tree and consider the mature tree’s dimensions. Height is how tall the tree is likely to grow and spread is the width.

Below, our tree experts have included the large trees that many people know of and the substitutes that may be better suited to the size of your property. The tree categories we discuss are:

  • Evergreen trees and substitutes
  • Deciduous trees and substitutes
  • Ornamental trees great for small to medium spaces

Choosing the right size tree for your Colorado Springs landscape:

Evergreen Trees

If you are looking for year-round interest, evergreens are the tree for you. These trees do not lose their leaves/needles in the winter.

When people think of evergreen trees, the first ones that come to mind are typically the Colorado Blue Spruce, the Austrian Pine, or the White Fir. These trees typically grow too large for the average-sized property.

We get this question all the time, “What is an alternative to the Blue Spruce?”

Below are some excellent substitutes for these trees that are just as beautiful and that can be enjoyed in your medium to small sized yard. These trees also make excellent screening and windbreaks.

Large Tree: Colorado Blue Spruce (Height: 50-80’, Spread: 25-35’)

Silver-blue in color, the beautiful Colorado Blue Spruce is one of the most popular evergreen trees. These trees make the perfect Christmas tree, growing in a tall, columnar, pyramidal shape.

Growing 1-2ft per year, this tree grows too large for many residential properties. There are a number of smaller trees that make excellent substitutes for the Colorado Blue Spruce:

Baby Blue Eyes Spruce (Height: 10-12’, Spread: 6-8’)

This semi-dwarf variety is a perfect substitute for the Colorado Blue Spruce. It has the same pyramidal shape and pine needle color, but this variety grows much slower. It is a great evergreen option for smaller landscapes and spaces.

  • Beautiful blue-green foliage
  • Slow-growing
  • Low-maintenance

Baby Blue Eyes Spruce

Bakeri Spruce (Height: 25’, Spread: 15’)

The Bakeri Spruce maintains the unique silver-blue needles of the Colorado Blue Spruce. This semi-dwarf tree grows larger than the Baby Blue Eyes Spruce and is a great slow-growing option. Although many evergreen options are hardy, this tree is extremely hardy once established and is also drought tolerant.

  • Excellent accent tree
  • Very hardy
  • Year-round interest

Blue Totem Spruce (Height: 12-15’, Spread: 2-3’)

This smaller spruce option has powdery blue-green needles that grow more upward than the Colorado Blue Spruce. This tree has a narrow form with a narrow spread of 3’ making this tree a great option for smaller spaces or as a fence line tree for privacy.

  • Narrow columnar form
  • Deer resistant
  • Slow-growing

Columnar Spruce (Height: 12-15’, Spread: 5-6’)

The Columnar Spruce has dark blue-green needles and branches that grow in a tight upward sloping form (known as a fastigiate tree.) This tree is a great choice for Colorado because its compact, narrow form allows it to withstand heavy snow. It also works well as a wind barrier.

  • Hardy
  • Narrow columnar form
  • Deer resistant

Fat Albert Spruce (Height: 30-40’, Spread: 20-25’)

Although this tree can grow very large in the right conditions, the Fat Albert Spruce grows very slowly. This pyramidal shaped tree has vibrant silver blue-green needles and makes the perfect Christmas tree due to its dense branches.

  • Year-round interest
  • Tolerates salt
  • Easy to care for
  • Bird-friendly

Columnar Norway Spruce (Height: 25’, Spread: 7’)

The Columnar Norway Spruce has extremely tight and narrow branches that grow upwards making this tree an excellent choice for small spaces and perimeter planting. This hardy evergreen has dark green needles and is also able to withstand heavy snow because of its shape.

  • Hardy
  • Low-maintenance
  • Great windbreak

 columnar norway spruce

Large Tree: Austrian Pine (Height: 50-60’, Spread: 30-40’)

This dense and fast-growing pine tree grows large and is not suitable for smaller spaces. The Austrian Pine has long, dark green needles and makes an excellent windbreak. It is a hardy evergreen that can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions.

If this tree is too large for your space, these smaller trees may be a better option that still maintains the same beauty and hardiness that the Austrian Pine has to offer.

Austrian Pine Small Tree Substitutes Infographic

Arnold’s Sentinel Austrian Pine (Height: 20-25’, Spread: 4-6’)

The Arnold’s Sentinel Austrian Pine is an extremely dense tree that has upright growing branches. These trees are great for perimeter planting as a privacy screen or a windbreak. It can withstand Colorado’s heavy snow and has beautiful vibrant green needles.

  • Windbreak
  • Tolerant of a variety of soil conditions
  • Temperature tolerant (heat and cold)
  • Privacy screen

Vanderwolf Pine (Height: 20-25’, Spread: 10-15’)

The Vanderwolf Pine has upward growing branches and a pyramidal shape. It has beautiful long and bushy silver green-blue needles that grow densely on the branches. This slow-growing evergreen is a great choice if you are looking for a medium-sized pine that looks beautiful year-round.

  • Disease and pest resistant
  • Great as a landscape accent
  • Beautiful, bushy, and vibrant needles

vanderwolf pine

Tannenbaum Mugo Pine (Height: 10-15’, Spread: 6-8’)

With vibrant dark green foliage, the Tannenbaum Mugo Pine has a compact pyramidal form with upward growing branches. This is a great semi-dwarf option for small spaces. This tree produces cones at an early age and makes for a great Christmas tree.

  • Hardy and adaptable
  • Dense and slow-growing
  • Great shape for a Christmas tree

Pinyon Pine (Height: 15-30’, Spread: 15-30’)

The slow-growing Pinyon Pine is extremely drought tolerant. This is a great tree if you are looking to limit your water usage. With short yellow-green needles, the Pinyon Pine has a rounded head and produces edible pine nuts. This is a great low-maintenance and hardy option.

  • Extremely drought-tolerant (avoid excessive irrigation)
  • Hardy/ low maintenance
  • Bushy growth with a rounded top

pinyon pine

Large Trees: White Fir (Height: 50-75’, Spread: 20-30’) or the Douglas Fir (Height: 30’, Spread: 10’)

white fir

The White Fir has blue-green needles and grows in a pyramidal shape. This tree does well in slightly moist locations but may struggle in clay soils, which is common in Colorado, so choose the location of the tree carefully. Although this tree grows very large and may not be suitable for smaller yards, the Candicans Fir (covered below) is an excellent substitute that maintains the White Fir’s beautiful characteristics.

The Douglas Fir is another large tree option that has softer textured needles that range from yellow-green to blue-green in color. This cold-tolerant tree is pyramidal in shape and produces beautiful cones. The Douglas Fir is also pleasantly fragrant.

White Fir Small Tree Substitutes Infographic

Corkbark Fir (Height: 50-90’, Spread: 15-20’)

Native to Southern Colorado, this pyramidal tree has beautiful soft blue-green needles. Although the Corkbark Fir can grow quite large, it is a good substitute for the white fir as it has a more limited spread and is slow-growing. This fragrant tree makes an excellent Christmas tree.

  • Slow growing
  • Fragrant
  • Pyramidal structure
  • Beautiful blue needles

Candicans Fir (Height: 30’, Spread: 10’)

The Candicans Fir is a perfect small space replacement for both the White Fir and Douglas Fir. This a tall and narrow growing tree with beautiful new bright green foliage in the spring which turns to silver-blue as the needles age. This is an extremely drought and heat tolerant plant that adapts to a variety of conditions.

  • Vey adaptable (drought and heat tolerant)
  • Columnar and symmetrical shape
  • Slow growing and low maintenance
  • Pest resistant

Deciduous Trees

Deciduous trees offer beautiful spring to fall foliage and shed their leaves during the cold winter months. These colorful trees make a great accent piece for your landscape.

Deciduous trees have a canopy shape and growth pattern with various sized spreads. This makes these trees beautiful centerpieces for your landscape and some are more winter hardy than others.

While many people think of Maple Trees when they are selecting a deciduous accent for their landscape, the Autumn Blaze Maple and the Emerald Queen Maple grow very large. The Amur Maple and Tatarian Maple, and the Bigtooth Maple are excellent substitutes for these larger trees and may be the perfect fit for your property.

autumn blaze maple

Large Trees: Autumn Blaze Maple (Height: 40-50’, Spread: 20-30’) or the Emerald Queen Maple (Height: 40-60’, Spread: 30-40’)

The Autumn Blaze Maple has beautiful bright red and orange autumn foliage and makes a great shade tree.  This large tree grows very quickly (3 or more ft per year) and has a rounded crown. The Autumn Blaze Maple is tolerant of Colorado’s clay soil but is not suitable for small yards.

emerald queen maple

Growing even larger than the Autumn Blaze Maple, the Emerald Queen Maple has dark green foliage until fall when it turns to a beautiful yellow. This drought and heat tolerant tree can grow in a variety of soil conditions. The tree is dense with a rounded crown.

  • Hardy (drought and heat tolerant)
  • Fast-growing
  • Not recommended for planting near sidewalks and other hardscapes

Maple Small Tree Substitutes Infographic

Amur Maple (Height: 15-20’, Spread: 15-20’)

This ornamental maple produces beautiful and fragrant white flowers in the spring and leaves turn red-orange in autumn. This tree should be planted with careful consideration because it can produce thousands of winged seeds that can spread far and wide. The Amur Maple prefers moist well-drained soil.

  • Excessive seed production can make this variety a nuisance
  • Fragrant flowers
  • Moderately tolerant of different soil conditions

Tatarian Maple (Height: 20-25’, Spread: 15-18’)

The Tatarian Maple has yellow-white flowers in the spring and the foliage turns orange and red in fall. This tree is less prone to storm breakage due to strong branch unions. The Tatarian Maple is a great tree for fall-interest and shade in smaller yards. This tree is drought-tolerant after being established and enjoys being planted in well-drained soil.

  • Strong branch structure resists storm damage
  • Fast-growing
  • Tolerant of a variety of soil conditions

tatarian maple tree

Bigtooth Maple (Height: 20-30’, Spread: 20-25’)

With dark green leaves that change to a vibrant red and orange in fall, the Bigtooth Maple is a great slow-growing option. This tree adapts to a variety of conditions. The Bigtooth Maple grows in a round shape and is a great choice for smaller yards.

  • Slow growing
  • Hardy
  • Beautiful foliage

bigtooth maple tree

Ornamental Tree Options

Any of the following ornamental trees will work great for regular to small sized properties. Ornamental trees are beautiful and are planted for their aesthetic value. Many of them attract birds and are great for providing shade for a garden or patio.

These trees are great for the Colorado climate showing vibrant colors from spring to fall and are hardy during winter.

Ornamental Tree Options for Small to Medium Yards

Ivory Silk Tree Lilac (Height: 20-25’, Spread: 15-20’)

The Ivory Silk Tree Lilac is a compact species, making it perfect for smaller landscapes. This tree has rich green foliage with white flowers that bloom in late spring. It makes a beautiful accent tree for any landscape and especially in gardens.

  • Fragrance
  • Cold hardy
  • Attracts pollinators

ivory silk tree lilac

Cockspur Thornless Hawthorn (Height: 15-20’, Spread: 15-18’)

With green foliage and beautiful white flowers, the Cockspur Thornless Hawthorn turns to a burnt orange color with red berries in the fall. This deer-resistant tree prefers a full-sun location and grows at a moderate rate, making it a great option for medium-sized yards.

  • Fruit producing
  • Fall color
  • Xeric plant that does well in drier conditions

Newport Plum (Height: 20-25’, Spread: 15-18’)

The Newport Plum has exceptional dark foliage and pink spring flowers, making it a beautiful accent tree. This tree does occasionally produce sparse fruit. This tree blooms in early spring and can grow quickly.

  • Fragrant flowers
  • Shade tree with dense foliage
  • Cold-hardy

Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry (Height: 20-25’, Spread: 10-15’)

This beautiful ornamental tree has white blossoms that appear in early spring, even before its rich green foliage. The Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry’s foliage turns bright red, yellow, and orange during the fall. This tree makes a great focal point for smaller spaces and even attracts birds and butterflies.

  • Attracts birds
  • Fall color
  • Fruit producing

Shadblow Serviceberry (Height: 20-25’, Spread: 10-15’)

The adaptable Shadblow Serviceberry is similar to the Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry and turns golden in the fall. The tree produces edible Juneberries that look like blueberries. This winter-hardy tree is a great focal point for any sized yard.

  • Fruit producing
  • Grows well at high altitudes
  • Attracts birds

Canada Red Cherry (Height: 20-30’, Spread: 18’)

This hardy ornamental tree grows quickly and has beautiful green foliage that turns maroon/purple during the summer. This is a great tree if you love beautiful leaves but like a tree that is easy to take care of. The Canada Red Cherry also is loved by birds and squirrels.

  • Extremely hardy
  • Fragrant flowers
  • Attracts birds

When it comes to choosing the right size tree for your Colorado Springs landscape, don’t forget to make sure that the tree will fit in your yard. If there is a large tree that you are set on, consider finding a smaller substitute. Many of the small substitute trees look similar to the sought-after large ones but will be much happier in your landscape.

Ready to get your landscape done without having to worry about which trees and plants to select? Let our design experts handle it for you. Schedule your consultation today!