When we moved to Colorado in 1998, one of the first things we planted was a blue spruce tree because we have always had one in the yard of every house we've owned.
Then we planted a weeping cherry tree. It was a tiny wisp of a thing that our son helped to pick out and plant. Seventeen years later, it's taller than any of us and sturdy and strong. What a legacy that tree has. It survived the drought of 2002. It has watched our family grow and change. It provides a convenient place to hang the bird feeders each winter. It's covered with beautiful pink blooms each spring that reminds us that, in spite of some pretty tough winters, summer always returns to Colorado.
The glorious colors of fall are one of the highlights of the season. Bright-red maples, golden aspens, autumn blaze pears, autumn purple ash, and others all contribute to the medley. Fall just wouldn't be the same without them.
Trees add so much more to our lives than serving the simple purpose of being a place to hang your hammock. If you haven't planted or considered planting a tree for a while, it's the perfect time to get one planted in order to enjoy their brilliant colors this fall.
Aside from their showy autumn display, there are other reasons to install a new tree in your landscape. The facts are indisputable. If you're looking to improve the value of your home, then plant a tree. It's been proven that homes with attractive, appropriate landscaping sell for an average of 10-30 percent more than those who are not well landscaped. The average value of a street tree in the United States is $525.
Planting trees means improved water quality. Less runoff and erosion allows more recharging of the ground water supply. Wooded areas also help prevent the transport of sediment and chemicals into streams. With the runoff from the Gold King Mine last month, this should be something we pay attention to.
Trees are cool. Homes shaded by trees enjoy 10-30 percent savings on air conditioning costs compared with those without shade. Trees which are properly placed around buildings can result in a 20-50 percent savings in energy for that building. A healthy tree cools the air equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners, operating 20 hours a day. If you plant a deciduous tree (one that loses its leaves each winter) the leaves will shade your windows in the summer but warm your home in the winter once the leaves have fallen.
Trees can lower your grocery bills. Fruit trees provide apples, peaches, pears, cherries and other natural flavors to grace your kitchen table. One of my staff members had a bumper crop of cherries this summer and every one of us enjoyed them!
Trees make you healthy. One acre of forested area absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. And in laboratory research, visual exposure to trees has produced significant recovery from stress within five minutes. So if you are spending money on tranquilizers, save it. Plant a tree instead.
But what kind should you plant? Obviously there are some that are better than others, depending on exactly where in our area you live. These are just three of my "tried and true" that have great fall color or winter interest and should do well just about anywhere.
Autumn Blaze or Sensation maples
If you absolutely love fall color, these are my No. 1 favorites. Classic red in the fall, they provide great shade throughout the summer months. These trees ares wind-resistant, which also makes them a great choice and at about 40 feet tall at maturity, they make a statement in your yard.
Everyone who knows Colorado is familiar with aspen trees. Their rich, golden color in the fall makes them unique and recognizable everywhere in the mountains. Aspens are good for shade - I have them planted in front of windows that I want to shade in the summer, but during the winter when they've lost their leaves, that room is warm and sunny. Please don't go dig them from the forest! Many people don't realize that the aspen root system is among the largest in the world and an entire hillside can all be connected. By digging an individual one to take home, you are breaking that root system and your chance of survival is small for that tree. Instead, choose a container grown aspen from your local nursery. If you can't wait for a large tree, visit with us at Four Seasons and we'll share with you our secrets for success. We can teach you how to put 6 feet of growth on an aspen in a single growing season with leaves as large as my hand.
Colorado blue spruce
Another staple in the Colorado landscape, this is an evergreen which stays lovely all year. Often used for Christmas trees, this is a great one to use for that purpose then plant in your yard after the holidays to enjoy for years to come. I like Blue Spruce for winter interest and color as well as their ability to provide shelter for birds in the winter. It's also another tree that can grow quite large, so be sure to give it some room.
There's no time like today
There's an old saying that reads, "The best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago; the next best time to plant is today." That's especially true because of the season. Many people don't realize that planting in the late summer and fall is sometimes better than planting in the spring. The ground is warm from the summer sun, so the roots have time to get established. Think about it like putting your feet into a bucket of ice water when you plant in the spring, versus putting them into a warm water bath when you plant now. They like that warm soil and since the nighttime temps have begun to cool, there is less transplant shock. For just this reason, many times trees, shrubs and perennials that you plant now will have a better survival rate than those planted in the spring.
Trees are important for so many reasons and no matter how you view it, whether you're looking for a way to beat the heat, lower your bills, add oxygen, or enjoy the fall colors, it's a wonderful time to start your own legacy and plant a tree!
Gail Vanik can be reached at Four Seasons Greenhouse and Nursery at 565-8274 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook at Four Seasons Greenhouse and Nursery, or on the web at www.fourseasonsgreenhouse.com