Skip to content

Everything you need to know about planting a new tree.

So, you want to plant a tree?

It’s April in the Mile High City, and spring has sprung – or at least it’s about to – and with spring so close you can almost smell it, the time is right for successful Denver tree planting. By choosing to plant a tree in Denver, you’re choosing to contribute to Denver’s urban canopy. Here is everything you need to know about planting a new tree.

What type of tree should you plant?

The first thing you might be thinking about is what you want to plant. There are so many trees available, it can get overwhelming. And it’s important to plant a tree that will grow and thrive in its surroundings. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of some the best trees to plant in Denver, based on our unique climate.

You’ve picked your tree. Now what?

There are a few ways you can go about planting your new tree:

  • Choose a Denver landscape professional or hire an arborist to plant your new tree.
  • Get your hands dirty and plant your tree yourself with these step-by-step instructions from Colorado State University.  
  • If you’re interested in planting a tree in the public right-of-way adjacent to your Denver property, apply for a free tree through Denver’s Office of the City Forester. If your request is approved, we’ll deliver and plant the tree for you!

Keep in mind that regardless of which option you choose, it doesn’t happen overnight – it takes about 2-3 years of ideal conditions for a 2-inch caliper tree to establish. Although it’s a commitment, it’s well worth it. 

When to plant your new tree?

Now! ‘Tis the season for tree planting in Denver. Know why? Milder temperatures are less harsh on young trees when they are first getting established. Another tip: planting trees that are currently dormant or “sleeping,” like they are this time of year, also reduces the tree’s stress when it’s dug from the tree nursery to be transported and replanted in your yard.

Where to plant your tree?

Make sure there’s room for a new tree in your public right-of-way, especially if you’re applying for a free tree.  We recommend following the same spacing guidelines on private property.

Tree vitality tips to ensure your new tree survives

You did the research, you made a commitment and you planted a tree. Now, how can you ensure your tree continues to grow and thrive for many years to come? Here are Denver’s Office of the City Forester’s top tips for tree vitality:

  1. Check soil moisture and water more frequently during periods of drought and prolonged heat, but be careful not to overwater.

  2. Keep a mulch ring around young trees.
    • This keeps tree safe from mower and string trimmer damage, which can be an entry for pests and disease. It also holds moisture in and protects against temperature extremes. It decomposes and adds nutrients to the soil, too! 
  3. Staking is usually unnecessary unless the tree has a severe lean that needs to be corrected or is exposed to high winds, such as in Northeast Denver, where the winds blow a little harder.  

  4. Until your tree is established, you may not see much growth from the crown—that’s normal!

  5. Fertilizing is not recommended.
    • If you want to improve soil conditions, try vertical mulching or adding compost to entire area.
  6. Healthy trees can fight off many pests and small wounds without intervention.
  7. Suckers, or young stems sprouting from the base of your tree’s trunk, indicate a stressed tree, so prune them back and make sure you’re not over or under watering.

  8. If you need additional help caring for your tree, you can hire an experienced arborist to help with pruning, tree removal, emergency tree care, planting and more.

They say the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time? Today. So, invest in your own future, your kids’ and grandkids’ future – and the future of the city, too – because when it comes to planting a tree or two in Denver, it benefits us all for generations to come.