When is the best time to plant a tree in Colorado?

Posted at 9:06 PM, Apr 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-27 01:21:30-04

DENVER — Trees are perhaps our most taken-for-granted things. And they are miracles.

"It does magic. It performs magic every day," said Denver Botanic Gardens horticulturist Laura Swain.

If you think back to 4th-grade science, you'll recall that trees turn light into the fuel they need to live and grow through photosynthesis. And that's just their first magic trick.

"It takes the energy of the sun and turns it into shade for us, stormwater mitigation. If it weren't for trees, there would be runoff everywhere. Leaves slow down the water and filter it into the soil. They provide food for us. They provide building materials. They reduce pollution," said Swain.

Just walking among trees is good for you. The National Institutes of Health found that forest bathing, the Japanese practice of quietly walking in a natural environment, reduces stress and improves mental health.

"Trees heal. There's research they've done in hospitals that proves just being able to see a tree out the window allows you to heal faster. If that's not miraculous, I don't know what is," said Swain.

So we need more trees. Which ones should we be planting in Colorado?

Swain said they need to be a hearty species with low water requirements that can thrive in cold winters, hot summers, heavy snows and hail. She highly recommends trees in the walnut family. But she also suggests taking a more practical approach to planting trees.

"I think in our future, we're going to start seeing a lot of fruit trees in our urban landscape. Trees literally feed us but we're afraid to plant trees that are messy. I would really like to see a lot more integration of fruit and nut trees in our urban environment. And maybe they're not directly on the street, but maybe they're in a communal space, in an apartment complex or a duplex," said Swain.

There is a proverb that goes: The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.

What do you say we go plant some trees? Happy Arbor Day.

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