Strategic Tree Planting

Planting the right tree in the right place: What is strategic tree planting?

IES affects positive change in community and environmental health through a process we call strategic tree planting. Trees can have both positive and negative impacts on our environment and ourselves.  For example, over a 50-year lifetime one tree generates $31,250 worth of oxygen, provides $62,000 worth of air pollution control, recycles $37,500 worth of water, and controls $31,250 worth of soil erosion. But, the wrong tree in the wrong place can be bad for air quality, increase energy use in buildings, or die before returning any environmental or social benefit. Today more than ever, it is important that communities make smart decisions when investing in trees.

Choosing a tree

Tree selection is essential to the future success of the planting and associated environmental improvements.  Hopefully, your tree will be here for many years to come, so choose wisely!

The landscape of Colorado has particular characteristics that will contribute to how you select your tree:

  • High solar radiation (lots of sun exposure!)
  • Alkaline soil  (clay soils that don’t easily hold water)
  • Early fall freezes and late spring frosts
  • Extreme temperature fluctuation (hot summers and cold winters)
  • Low humidity
  • Limited water supply

For most Coloradan tree planters, this means you will want a tree that is drought-tolerant, likes full sun exposure and is hardy enough to survive our high elevation summer and winter seasons.

If you want to plant a new tree, some other characteristics to consider are:

  • Size:  How large a tree do you want?  Remember that your little tree will grow significantly in the coming years.  Do you have enough space to accommodate its mature size?
  • Maintenance and Clean Up:  Do you like raking leaves in the fall?  If not, consider a conifer!
  • Water:  Will you be able to water your tree regularly?  If not click here for drought-tolerant recommendations from the Colorado State Forest Service.

Picking your planting location

There are a number of variables to think about when choosing a site for new trees.  To optimize the environmental, social and economic benefits of trees, IES considers a wide variety of factors when choosing a strategic tree planting location.

These factors include:

  • Sun exposure and shade patterns
  • Wind exposure
  • Soil depth and volume
  • Soil composition
  • Moisture availability
  • Drainage

How to plant a tree

The initial steps of tree planting are crucial to the tree’s establishment and health.  Take your time and follow these steps to insure a great planting and a healthy tree: