When it comes to developing the perfect Denver landscape design, your choice of trees and other plants will make a major impact. Even more so than your flowers or shrubs, trees on your Colorado landscape, the trees you choose will truly draw the eye and become the main part of your overall aesthetic and design.

But when choosing trees for your Colorado landscape design, it’s important to choose the right species for your specific microclimate. Depending on a variety of unique factors, such as soil type, moisture levels, sun exposure, elevation, and more, some trees may thrive in your space while others will struggle to even survive a season.

In Colorado, you have quite a few options for native trees to plant. Quaking aspen, perhaps the most iconic tree in the state, is a popular choice for landscapes throughout the various regions of Colorado. But will it do well in your unique environment? Here, we’re taking a closer look at whether or not you should use aspen for your Colorado landscape design.

What is Quaking Aspen?

Also known as trembling aspen, quaking aspen receives their unique name from their leaves. Aspen has flat leaves with length stalks called petioles. This unique design causes these thin leaves to shake and “quake” in even the lightest breeze. Watching a full stand of aspen shake in a breeze on a brisk morning is truly a sight to behold.

Another identifying factor is their bark. Compared to the dark pines and spruce that dominate much of the Colorado countryside, aspen offers a stark white bark that really stands out in a forest. This is one reason why so many property owners are excited to include landscapes in their spaces.

The white bark really stands out, and in the winter, they offer an eye-catching aesthetic when your trees have lost their leaves and color. But that’s not all. Unlike almost any other tree, the bark in quaking aspen can actually perform photosynthesis for the tree.

Quaking aspen grows in dense stands that are in fact all connected by the vast and intricate root system. New aspen springs up via “suckers” that connect one tree to the other. In fact, some of these stands grow so immense that one in Utah is considered one of the largest living organisms in the entire world.

Thus, when you see a grove of aspen in a meadow or along a mountainside, you’re most likely looking at one living organism.

Quaking aspen usually is pretty small. Most will grow less than 50 feet, but of course, the environment and conditions will impact their growth. Many different animals, such as deer, moose, elk, and birds rely on aspen groves for food and shade in the summer. Aspen plays an important role in the ecosystem of the American West.

Quaking Aspen

Can I Use Aspen for My Colorado Landscape Design?

Many homeowners and property owners are curious as to whether they can add these beautiful trees as part of their overall landscape design. Well, like most landscaping decisions, there’s no cut-and-dry answer. It really depends on the specific factors that make up your unique microclimates, such as sun exposure, elevation, precipitation, and soil composition.

If you live along the Colorado Front Range, like Denver or Colorado Springs, most horticulturists would advise you against planting quaking aspens. But why is this?

Well, the growing conditions in the Front Range are quite different than what you would find in their natural environments high up in the mountains. Aspen prefers gravelly, moist (but well-drained) soil that has a more acidic soil composition. While these conditions are common in the mountains, it’s much less so along the Front Range.

But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. If you’re really going to make an attempt at planting these trees in your yard, then there are a few ways you can better your odds. Plant your aspen on the north or east sides of your property and try to keep them away from spaces and objects that absorb and then radiate excess heat, like streets or paving.

You can also amend the soil with organic matter that can increase the acidity in your soil. Also, mulch newly planted trees well to help them retain moisture and fight off potential diseases and insects.

In many cases, you can plan ahead effectively to determine whether or not quaking aspen makes sense for your outdoor space. For example, if you’re working with a Boulder architecture firm to design your home, they may be able to refer you to experts who can help assess the feasibility of including aspen in your landscape. Your architecture firm may also know the area so well that they can help you make a smart decision.

Landscape Design

Conclusion – Can I Use Aspen for My Colorado Landscape Design?

When you close your eyes and envision the American West, most of us will see majestic mountains and slopes filled with quaking aspen. As one of the most widespread and recognizable trees throughout the entire United States, quaking aspen is truly special. Thus, it should really come as no surprise that so many home and property owners are looking to include a few aspen trees in their landscape design.

But don’t rush into this decision. While aspen may be beautiful and unique, they also don’t tend to do well in most Front Range landscapes in Colorado.

Due to a different elevation and soil composition, most aspens in neighborhoods and homes don’t tend to grow well and may even die off quickly.

Additionally, since they grow and spread via a connected root system, one aspen can quickly turn into many—making it difficult to have these in small yards. If you’re interested in using aspen for your landscape design, speak with a local landscape design services company or nursery for help and more information.



Sumona is a persona, having a colossal interest in writing blogs and other jones of calligraphies. In terms of her professional commitments, she carries out sharing sentient blogs by maintaining top-to-toe SEO aspects. Follow more of her contributions at SmartBusinessDaily

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *