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Large Deciduous Trees – 7.419   Arrow divider image - marks separation between nested pages that are listed as breadcrumbs.

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by J.E. Klett and E. Hammond* (10/17)

Quick Facts…

  • Trees provide shade, beauty and protection from harsh winter winds.
  • Trees help moderate temperature extremes and offset poor air quality.
  • Plant trees on the basis of space available, soil conditions, proximity to irrigation lines and water requirements.
  • Plant trees prone to storm breakage away from buildings, walks, and driveways.

Everyone enjoys the beauty a shade tree provides. Trees also reduce harsh winds, moderate temperature extremes, and offset poor air quality.

How to Select a Tree

To select a tree, consider the following factors.

Available space. The location you choose for each tree should have enough space to allow for growth without severe pruning. Check for obstructions of buildings, overhead utility lines and tall fences. If lateral space is limited, select a tree that has a narrow, upright growth habit. Refer to height, branch spread and shape in the tree list shown in Table 1. If overhead lines are near, you may want to choose small trees. (See fact sheet 7.418, Small Deciduous Trees.)

Soil conditions. Most trees perform best in well-drained soil. Dig a saucer-shaped hole that is 2 to 3 times the width of the ball. Remove soil from the top of the root ball to expose the root flare if not visible. When planting, make sure first root is at or one to two inches above grade.

Irrigation lines. If you have an underground irrigation system, plant trees to allow for the tree trunk and basal root flare to expand without encroaching on an irrigation pipe. Otherwise, tree roots may eventually compress the pipe and shut off the irrigation line.

Growth rates vs. brittleness. As a general rule, fast-growing trees tend to be brittle and can be damaged by limb breakage in storms. Plant these trees away from buildings, sidewalks, driveways and utility lines.

Water requirements. Trees vary in water requirements. Do not plant trees that have low water needs in heavily irrigated lawn areas or at the bottom of slopes. Plant trees with high water requirements in locations where supplemental watering is possible and desired. In dry years, fall and winter watering is critical to the health of trees. Trees under drought stress are more susceptible to insect and diseases. For details, see 7.211, Fall and Winter Watering.

Large Trees for Shade

Table 1 includes trees that will exceed 30 feet in height when fully grown. These trees should not be placed under or near power lines or other overhead structures. Use one-half of branch spread (diameter) indicated below to determine minimum distance from structures. Greater distance from structures may be desirable.

Description of Tree Shapes

The following tree shapes describe the general outline of the trees in the accompanying tree list. Use this chart in combination with height and branch spread to determine proper location of trees and ensure adequate clearance from obstacles.

columnar shape Figure 1: Columnar. Sides more or less parallel, much more tall than broad. conical shape Figure 4: Conical. Cone-shaped. Broad at base, tapering to a narrow top. upright spreading shape Figure 6: Upright spreading. A narrow vase shape.
weeping shape Figure 2. Weeping. Branches tend to weep downward. broad spreading shape Figure 5: Broad spreading. A wide vase shape. elliptical shape Figure 7: Elliptical. More tall than broad, widest branching at or near the middle.
round or globe shape Figure 3: Round or globe. About as broad as tall.


Table 1: Large deciduous trees for shade.
Plant Name Mature Size
(H x W)
Aesthetic Value
and Cultural Hints
Acer x freemanii 45 x 35 rounded m-f M Hybrid of Silver and Red maple.
Freeman maple
Autum Blaze®
45 x 35 rounded m-f M Orange-red fall color. Avoid very alkaline soils.
Celebration® 45 x 25 columnar m-f M Red to gold fall color. Similar iron chlorois problems to silver maple.
Acer negundo
45 x 35 rounded t L-M Red fall color, male Tolerant of alkaline soils and harsh sites.
Acer plantanoides
Norway maple
50 x 40 rounded m M Dark green, dense foliage. Yellow fall color,subject to leaf scorch in dry conditions and limited rooting situations.
‘Columnare’ 50 x 20 columnar m-f M Good for tight, narrow locations. Street tree.
‘Crimson Sentry’ 30 x 20 columnar m M Compact, upright growth. Purple foliage year round.
‘Deborah’ 50 x 40 rounded m M Red foliage changes to green in summer. Straight leader.
‘Emerald Queen’ 50 x 40 rounded m M Dark green foliage with dense branching habit.
‘Royal Red’ 40 x 30 rounded m M Dark, glossy red foliage all summer. Similar to Crimson King but more cold hardy.
Acer rubrum
Red maple
45 x 40 conical f H Red flowers in early spring. Red fall color. Avoid very alkaline soils.
Red Pointe® 45 x 30 pyramidal m-f H Red flowers in early spring. Superior red fall foliage. Avoid very alkaline soils.
‘Red Sunset’ 45 x 40 broad,
f H Red flowers in early spring. Red fall color. Avoid very alkaline soils.
Acer saccharinum
Silver maple
65 x 50 variable f H Bright green foliage with silvery undersides. Tends to be brittle. Yellow fall color. Avoid very
alkaline soils.
Acer saccharum
Sugar maple
40 x 35 oval s H Red-orange fall color. Prefers improved well-drained soils.
‘Green Mountain’ 40 x 35 oval s-m H Thick waxy leaves resist scorch and retain summer color. Tolerates dry soils. Red-orange fall color.
‘John Pair’ 35 x 35 rounded s L-M More toleratant of alkaline soil. Excellent fall color.
Fall Fiesta® 45 x 35 rounded m H Fast growing, more heat tolerant. Red-orange fall color.
Aesculus glabra
Ohio buckeye
35 x 20 broad,
m M Red-orange-yellow fall color. Cream colored flowers in terminal clusters in spring. Nut-like fruit.
Aesculus hippocastanum
60 x 45 broad,
s M Large clusters of white flowers in late spring. Spiny fruit. Best used in large open lawn areas.
Betula pendula ‘Gracilis’
Cutleaf weeping
50 x 30 elliptical m H Yellow fall color. Plant where soil stays cool and moist. Avoid south and west exposures. White bark. Fall and winter watering important.
Betula nigra
40 x 30 rounded m H Exfoliating bark, yellow fall color. Fall and winter watering important.
Carpinus betulus
35 x 25 narrow,
s H Dark green foliage much like elm. Plant where soil stays cool. Avoid south or west exposures. Muscle-like trunk. Air pollution tolerant.
Columnar hornbeam
‘Frans Fontaine’
35 x 15 narrow,
s  H Narrow form maintained into maturity.
Catalpa speciosa
Northern catalpa
50 x 25 narrow,
s M Showy, white, orchid-like flowers in early summer. Bean-like pods often remain on trees all winter. Large heart-shaped leaves.
Celtis occidentalis
Common hackberry
55 x 50 broad,
m L Adapts to most soils. Yellow fall color. Warty  bark. Drought and wind tolerant. Small red to purple fruit.
Cladrastris kentukea (lutea)
35 x 35 round m M Fragrant white flowers in late spring followed by 4 inch seed pods. Tolerant of most soils.
*Fraxinus americana
American Ash
60 x 50 elliptical m M Yellow to purple fall color.
‘Autumn purple’ 50 x 50 round m M Yellow/red-purple fall color. Seedless.
*Fraxinus mandshurica
45 x 25 oval m M Pointed, dark brown buds. Yellow fall color. Seedless.

Green ash
50 x 30 round m M Yellow fall color. Adapts to wide range of soils. May have seeds.
Marshalls Seedless 50 x 35 elliptical m M Yellow fall color. Street tree. Seedless.
‘Patmore’ 50 x 30 elliptical m M One of the hardiest. Seedless.
‘Summit’ 50 x 25 upright m M Female will produce seed. Yellow fall color.
Fraxinus nigra ‘Fall
Black ash
45 x 20 upright m M Hardy, seedless, golden yellow fall color.
triacanthos inermis

65 x 40 variable m M Seedling selection. Not always thornless.
‘Imperial’ 40 x 40 rounded m M Foliage is fern-like and bright green. Thornless. May produce pods.
‘Shademaster’ 50 x 40 broad,
m M Dark green, ferny foliage. Podless and thornless. Upright branches.
‘Skyline’ 45 x 40 broad,
m M Dark green foliage. Uniform upright branching. Thornless and essentially podless.
‘Sunburst’ 35 x 35 variable m M Yellow-tipped foliage. May be more prone to diseases. Podless and thornless.
Gymnocladus dioica
Kentucky Coffeetree
50 x 40 variable s L May be male or female. Female has leathery seed pods. Interesting winter form. Yellow fall color.
‘Espresso’ 50 x 35 variable m L Seedless male cultivar.
Phellodendron amurense
Amur corktree
35 x 30 rounded m M Corky fissured bark. Male trees avoid fruit odor. Tolerates pollution and drought.
Populus x acuminata
50 x 40 elliptical f H Yellow fall color. Shiny, spear-shaped leaves.
Populus alba
Silver (white) poplar
75 x 60 broad,
f H Leaves green above and silvery white below. Greenish-white bark. Suckers from roots.
Bolleana (white)
45 x 15 narrow,
f H Good for fast screen planting. Short-lived due to diseases. Silvery, lobed, maple-like leaves.
Populus angustifolia
55 x 40 columnar f H Yellow fall color. Root suckers, thus should be used where it can  spread in groves.
Populus deltoides ‘Siouxland’
75 x 40 elliptical f H Cottonless. Easily transplanted.
Populus nigra ‘Italica’
Lombardy poplar
60 x 15 narrow,
f H Use as temporary screen planting. Due to diseases, shorter lived than Upright European aspen.
Populus sargentii
Plains cottonwood
80 x 50 rounded f H Native of the plains along rivers. Cottonless (male) selections available. Triangular leaves.
Populus tremula ‘Erecta’
Upright European
40 x 15 upright f H Use as screen planting. More disease resistant and long-lived than Lombardy. Yellow/orange-red fall color.
Quercus bicolor
Swamp white oak
50 x 45 upright,
m M Adapts to clay soils and irrigated lawns. Fall color usually yellow.
Quercus buckleyi
Texas Red Oak
45 x 40 conical m L Red fall color, tolerates alkaline soils. Need cold-hardy seed source.
Quercus x ‘Crimschmidt’
Crimson Spire® Oak
45 x 15 columnar m M Nrrow form adapted to tight spaces. Red fall color.
Quercus x ‘Long’
Regal Prince® Oak
45 x 15 columnar m M Narrow form adapted to tight spaces.Dark glossy green leaf, yellow fall color.
Quercus macrocarpa
Bur oak
60 x 50 broad,
s L Tolerates alkaline soils and drought. Flaky bark. Corky ridged twigs. Fringed cap on acorn.

Chinquapin oak
40 x 40 broad,
m L Alkaline soil tolerant. Sharp-toothed leaves that are green above and white below.
Quercus robur
English oak
50 x 40 rounded m M Broad, stout, spreading branches. Glossy, dark green, leaves that turn brown and persist into winter.
‘Fastigata’ 45 x 15 columnar m M Narrow form for small spaces. Brown fall color.
Quercus rubra
Red oak
40 x 50 broad m M Often broader than tall. Fall color usually maroon-red. Avoid very alkaline soils.
Quercus shumardii
Shumard oak
50 x 40 rounded
m M Red fall color. Need more cold-hardy seed source. Avoid very alkaline soils.
Salix alba ‘Tristis
Niobe weeping
50 x 50 rounded,
f H Yellow fall color, brittle twigs. Best sited near water.
Salix alba vitellina
Russian golden willow
40 x 40 rounded f H Yellow twigs, yellow fall color, brittle twigs.
Salix matsudana ‘Navajo’
Navajo globe willow
35 x 35 globe f H Formal globe shape. Brilliant green foliage in spring. May suffer freeze injury in some area. Widely used on Western slope.
Sophora japonica (syn. Styphnolobium japonicum)
50 x 40 rounded m M Creamy flowers in midsummer. Pinched, pea-like pods in fall. Olive green twigs.
Tilla americana
American linden
60 x 50 broad,
m M Large heart-shaped leaves. Fragrant flowers in early summer. Yellow fall color. May sucker near base.
American Sentry®
40 x 25 conical m M Narrow, straight trunked form for small spaces. Full sun.
Redmond linden
45 x 25 conical m-f M Striking reddish buds/twigs in winter.
Tilla cordata
Littleleaf linden
45 x 30 conical m-f M Dense foliage. May sucker near base. Creamy-yellow fragrant flowers. Attracts bees.
‘Greenspire’ 45 x 25 conical to oval m M Neat formal appearance. Glossy, dark green leaves. Cinnamon colored bark. Yellow fall color.
‘Glenleven’ 45 x 30 open conical m M Vigorus, open habit.
Tilia tomentosa
Sterling Silver®
Sterling linden
40 x 30 conical m M Dark green leaves with silver undersides, creamy yelllow fragrant flowers. attracts bees.
Ulmus Americana
American Elm
60 x 50 upright
m M Yellow fall color, vase-shaped, succeptible to Dutch elm disease.
‘Valley Forge’ 60 x 45 upright
m M Yellow fall color. Dutch elm disease resistant.
Ulmus x ‘Frontier’
Frontier Elm
35 x 25 elliptical m M Small stature with red fall color. Dutch elm disease tolerant.
Ulmus x ‘Triumph’
Triumph Elm
50 x 40 elliptical m M Glossy, dark green leaves have yellow fall color.
Ulmus x hybrida
Hybrid elms
50 x 40 elliptical m M Glossy dark green leaves have yellow fall color.
Many hybrid elms are being introduced in recent years. Many are Dutch Elm disease resistant. Various growth habits and other ornamental features.
1Growth rate:
s = slow
m = moderate
f = fast
2Soil moisture:
H = heavy water needs; more than normal lawn watering.
M = moderate water needs; normal lawn watering.
L = low-water needs; can withstand drought.

*Emerald Ash Borer was discovered in September, 2013 in Colorado. Colorado State University Extension currently does not recommend planting any ash trees along Colorado’s Front Range.For more information, see

*J.E. Klett, Colorado State University Extension landscape horticulturist and professor, horticulture and landscape architecture; E. Hammond, Extension horticulture agent, Adams County. C. Wilson, retired Extension horticulture agent, Denver County, contributed to original content of fact sheet. 1/00. Revised 10/17.

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