8 Great Shade Trees for Colorado

Just because there are lots of mountains in Colorado doesn’t mean it never gets sunny there. In fact, there is quite a lot of sunshine throughout the state, so for people wondering what shade trees would work best in their yard, just know that there are a lot of them to choose from.

Most shade trees are super easy to grow, but since they tend to take up a lot of space when they’re fully grown, homeowners need to be careful where they plant these trees. Some of them get as wide as they do tall, which means they shouldn’t be placed too close to a home or other permanent structure.

While maples, oaks or even pine are the trees a lot of people think about when considering shade trees, there are actually others that do very well in Colorado. The state encompasses zones 3 to 7, so the first thing people need to do is make sure they buy a tree that does well in their particular area.

Another good thing about shade trees is that most of them live for a very long time, from 40 years to several hundred years. This means people can plant shade trees in their yard and leave those trees for the next generation to enjoy.

Lots of shade trees in Colorado grow very well, and with a little research, anyone can find their favorite shade tree and get their yard looking spectacular and staying cool in no time. Below are some of the shade trees that people can consider.

1. American Hornbeam

American Hornbeam Carpinus caroliniana.
Daderot American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana).

Even though this tree is considered to have a medium growth rate, it does look spectacular when it is finally mature. It gets from 25 to 30 feet high and wide, so it provides a lot of shade for its owner. It is also fairly drought-resistant for those people who live in drier areas.

American Hornbeams need regular watering during the first three years, and they have leaves that turn yellow and red in the fall. The bark is very unique, having a sinewy presence like the muscles on an athlete – hence the nickname “muscle wood.”

The bark is certainly an eye-catcher, but once the tree fully matures, its color and shape, not to mention its sheer size, are what make homeowners super glad they purchased this particular type of shade tree.

2. Kentucky Coffee Tree

Kentucky Coffee Tree Gymnocladus dioicus.
Leonora (Ellie) Enking Kentucky Coffee Tree (Gymnocladus dioicus).

These trees are not only beautiful but very resilient as well. They get up to 50 feet high and 40 feet wide, so providing shade is never a problem for them. Their leaves also turn bright yellow in the fall.

The tree is called a coffee tree because early settlers used the seed pods on the tree to make their coffee. The leaves of the tree are also extraordinary, getting up to two feet in length when fully grown.

One of the reasons this tree does so well is because it is a tough tree that can withstand the elements very well. If the owner’s yard has “Colorado clay” in it, that’s alright because Kentucky coffee trees even do well in that type of soil!

3. Autumn Blaze Maple

Acer x freemanii
Plant Image Library Acer x freemanii

These maple trees are nothing short of stunning in the fall, with their bright-orange and red leaves that always stand out in anyone’s yard. They can grow up to 50 feet tall and 35 feet wide, making them the perfect shade tree every time.

The Autumn Blaze maple tree produces no flowers or fruit, but the medium-green leaves it offers before the fall make it a beautiful tree that easily blends in with everything else planted in the yard.

It also does well in elevations up to 6,500 feet, and it is available in a multi-stemmed clump form as well. It truly makes a great shade tree for most of the people who live in Colorado.

4. Shademaster Honeylocust

Thornless Honeylocust Tree
Dan Keck Thornless Honeylocust Tree

With a height of up to 50 feet and a width of up to 45 feet, this tree produces amazing shade for any yard and looks great as well. Unlike most other honeylocust trees, this one has no seeds and no thorns, and the leaves are very small.

In fact, the fern-like leaves are so small that they don’t have to be mowed because they will never hurt the grass. This means that when it comes to low-maintenance shade trees, this one can’t be beat.

The tree is a slow-growing tree, but it is also very hardy. In fact, its branches are so strong that no one has to worry about them snapping whenever it is cold and snowy outside, which all Colorado residents can be happy about.

5. Colorado Blue Spruce Evergreen

Colorado Blue Spruce
Frank Richards Colorado Blue Spruce

It’s easy to guess by the name of this tree that it is a Colorado native, and the tree not only has a beautiful shade of dark bluish-green, but it is massive because it gets up to 80 feet high and 35 feet wide.

The only thing people have to look out for is the fact that it needs to be planted away from other fixtures because when it is finally mature, this tree is larger than most people expect it to be.

For people looking for both beauty and shade, not to mention durability, the Colorado Blue Spruce evergreen tree is perfect for them.

6. Tulip Tree

Tulip Tree
Michiel Thomas Tulip Tree

Tulip trees grow well in growing zones 5 to 9, and they grow 75 to 90 feet high and 40 to 50 feet in width, making them extremely large trees. They also have beautiful pinkish-red tulip-shaped flowers in the spring and leaves that turn bright yellow in the fall.

Although tulip trees prefer full sun and soil that is slightly acidic and moist, they are nonetheless trees that are easy to grow. The leaves are also very large and slightly lobed, so they tend to hide the flowers a bit.

People automatically notice these trees because of their beauty, but they are also great shade trees, making them a great way to enjoy the warm summer temperatures in Colorado a lot better.

7. Japanese Tree Lilac

28562804 view of japanese tree lilac or syringa reticulata full of flowers in the springtime popular zaimov park district oborishte
Yay Japanese tree lilac full of flowers in the springtime.

Although smaller than a lot of other shade trees, lilac trees still provide good shade because they get up to 20 feet tall and 20 feet wide. This is a beautiful and eye-catching tree with a unique global shape.

The Japanese tree lilac is also dotted with gorgeous white flowers and has a very pleasing scent that will permeate the air and catch everyone’s attention. People who plant these trees near patios or decks will enjoy them for many years to come because of that aroma.

This is also a trouble-free tree after being given regular watering for the first three years, and once they are “established,” they are resistant to drought, which means they can handle the climate in many areas of Colorado.

Related Post: 23 Beautiful Types Of Lilac Trees

8. Greenspire Linden Tree

Linden tree. 1
Doris Antony Linden tree.

This pyramid-shaped tree is quite the looker and gets up to 40 feet tall and 35 feet wide. The dark-green foliage is gorgeous, but the bright-yellow leaves that appear in the fall are even more beautiful.

The tree also produces pale-yellow flowers that are very fragrant, so people can have a yard that both looks great and smells great. It is also able to withstand conditions up to 6,000 feet, making it reliable for most areas of Colorado.

Although it doesn’t bear any fruit, it produces great shade and looks fantastic, just as many other shade trees in Colorado do.