The following trees can be purchased from area nurseries, either in pots or in burlap wrapped root ball form. If the root ball is more than about 18” in diameter, it will probably be necessary for them to be delivered and planted by the nursery. It really depends on your physical capability and the availability of equipment. Real burlap, which is biodegradable may be removed or pulled back. That with plastic components in the fabric must be removed prior to planting a tree.

Trees in pots should be laid on their side and side of the pot tapped to loosen the roots. Roots protruding through the base of the pot should be trimmed off, and then the container can be gently pulled from the tree. Container grown plants tend to have a mass of circling roots which can be pried apart with care. This will help to prevent girdling, a phenomenon which can kill a tree. Also, it will enable the root systems to establish in their new environment more quickly.

If you don’t mind waiting a while for them to grow, Colorado State University nursery in conjunction with the State Forest Service, produces trees, either bare root or in pots, for a fraction of the cost of nursery trees. However, they are small, and it really depends what you are trying to achieve with your tree plantings. They may be obtained from Summit County’s Extension Office in the County Commons, and must be ordered well in advance of delivery. Contact the Extension Office for an order form, (970) 668-3595. Items available through the Extension will be labeled CSU in the information below.

Take a look at this terrific guide for planting bareroot trees:

CSU Notes on tree planting:

The Ten Commandments of tree planting are provided by a CSU Extension agent:

Also see these guidelines provided by the Colorado State Forest:
Following are brief descriptions of trees which we know grow well up here. However, if you would like more details on those offered by CSU, please see the following Buyers Guide which also provides photos of the bushes.  csfsbuyersguide.pdf 
Note that our mountain trees are shallow rooted with spreading root systems, making them susceptible to wind and surface disturbance. CSU indicates that in general:

It may be necessary to stake trees in windy locations, the stakes being removed after about 3 years, if the trees appear to be stable.

Aspen Populus tremuloides ~ CSU
The fall colors are amazing, especially when you look up at the mountain slopes and see the golden yellow groves of aspen nestled into the stands of dark green evergreens. Few deciduous trees grow at this altitude, but aspens love our mountains. They herald spring/summer with their small bright green leaves which flutter in the slightest breeze, and then remind us of the onset of winter with their yellow/brilliant, burning orange leaves in the fall.

Aspens reproduce vegetatively since they form clonal colonies, the individuals of which are genetically identical. Some of these colonies become extremely large, the suckers of which produce sprouts which will develop into new trees. Once an aspen becomes happily established in a garden, it will be seen that sprouts will begin to appear. Sometimes these are unwanted, but they are difficult to eradicate, because of the underground matrix of root suckers which has developed over time. If you want your aspens to form groves, ensure that they have sufficient room in which to do so. Aspens like moisture and may need irrigation to become established. They are not recommended for windbreaks because their branches can be fragile.

Our thanks to Doug Tomlinson for the photo:



Bristlecone Pine Pinus aristata ~ CSU
Bristlecones do well on poor sites, but tend to form forests in areas with specific conditions. They are an attractive evergreen with branches which have a bottlebrush appearance. The cones are spiny, the needles are dark green, and specks of white resin alongside the needles are quite normal. Their branch formations provide a nice contrast to those of other conifers.

This tree is quite healthy. Yes, there are brown needles on the branches, but conifers shed needles throughout the year.

Bristlecone Pine


Colorado Blue Spruce Picea pungens ~ CSU
Surprise, surprise, this is the state tree of Colorado! It has sharp, stiff needles with hues ranging from deep green to silvery blue, and horizontal branches. These evergreens are most attractive, especially when nursery grown, as they have a wonderful shape.

Colorado Blue Spruce


Cottonwood, Narrowleaf Populus angustifolia ~ CSU
These deciduous trees grow best in moist conditions such as along streams and rivers. They have a willow like leaves which turn golden in the fall. As with other types of cottonwood, the narrowleaf cottonwood does not produce cotton which can be so messy. The trees are capable of producing lots of suckers which can distort the shape of the tree. They tend not to grow at elevations above 9,500 feet.                     


Engelmann Spruce Picea engelmannii ~ CSU
These trees evergreens grow to over 45 feet when mature. They have a pyramidal structure with blue-green needles and a scaly, reddish bark.

Engelmann Spruce


Limber Pine Pinus flexilis ~ CSU
The limber pine has large (compared with other high altitude evergreens), ornamental cones. The green to blue-green needles occur in bundles of 4-5. The twigs are flexible, but the tree is very strong and copes well with high winds. It is a drought tolerant tree.


Lodgepole Pine Pinus contorta latifolia ~ CSU
Towards the end of the 19th century much timber had been harvested for heating and construction. Lodgepole is the significant native species for this area, excepting above 11,000 feet (8,500 – 10,000 feet being optimal) and on north facing slopes where it has more competition. Those trees which grew back in the forests were densely packed and much the same age. The longevity of forest grown lodgepoles is in 100-160 year old range. Despite being hard hit by the mountain pine beetle epidemic in Summit County, this remains a common tree. Those which have been killed tend to be old and close to their life span. Given the right conditions, lodgepole pines grow quite quickly. Their needles are light green and their cones are persistent.

Lodgepole Pine


We try to educate our members and the community about gardening in Summit County and provide a social setting for informational exchanges to share the beauty of gardening with others.

There's lots going on in our Club and room for many to be involved. It's surprising how much we accomplish in our short Summit summer