City of Colorado Springs / Forestry / Colorado Springs & Trees

Colorado Springs & Its Trees

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High Water Zones (high)
0.5" added 3 times per week
Approx. 30" over 20 week season
Typical plants: Kentucky bluegrass lawns, redtwig dogwood, pansies, blue spruce

Moderate Water Zones (med.)
0.75" added once per week
Approx. 16" over 20 week season
Typical plants: Turf-type tall fescue lawns, potentilla, Norway maple

Low Water Zones (low)
approx 0.5" added every other week
Approx. 4.5" over 20 week season
Typical plants: Buffalograss lawns, rabbitbrush, Russian olive

Rate of growth and longevity are good indicators of a tree's durability and resistance to insects and disease. Fast-growing trees are generally more brittle, and subject to storm damage. They are also less resistant to insects and disease so don't live very long. Slower growing, long-lived trees are ideal street trees because they guarantee a continuous, low maintenance urban forest.

Root habit is important when selecting a tree for your site. Trees that are planted near sidewalks or driveways should be deep rooted. If planting a tree with fibrous or invasive roots make sure there is no sewer line nearby. Know your soil type and how much irrigation the site will get. Trees with high irrigation needs generally do better in a lawn. Trees with low irrigation needs can survive on natural precipitation plus some supplemental watering. All trees require periodic watering the first 2 to 3 years to become established!

Limiting Factors

There are many factors which limit whether a tree will grow in Colorado Springs. Colorado's extreme fluctuations in temperature, high altitude sun, dry winds, and marginal alkaline soils all play a part in what trees will grow here.

Hardiness is one of the key factors used in determining if a plant will grow in an area. Hardiness is a measure of the average annual minimum temperature. The United States is mapped into different hardiness zones.

Colorado Springs is in zone 5 (-10 to -20 F). The Pikes Peak Region spreads into a zone 4 in the foothills to the west and to the north on Monument Hill. The smaller the zone number the colder the temperatures are during the winter.


The origin of many of our urban trees is from forest stands, initially through collections of seed, propagation and transplanting to urban sites. As the process continues, "better" trees have been selected and used as cultivars. Many cultivars have been selected for foliage color, better bloom, superior fall color, outstanding bark or an absence of fruit or seed. More successful urban forests have their future in the identification of cultivars that can cope with the urban environment. The matrix lists only "parent" trees and their characteristics. Cultivars of these are also suitable as street trees.