Cooler temperatures and rain in the forecast!

Fall is for Planting!

By Chris Leinster - August 28, 2020

Halloween decorations are filling the shelves of the big box stores and pumpkin spice lattes are back on the menu of your favorite coffee shop. Fall is for harvesting, but fall is also great for planting! If you’ve been waiting for Fall to plant the trees on your wish list, now is the time to take action.

A late summer cold front is descending upon us and cooler temperatures and rain is in the forecast. This is such a welcome blessing after the blistering heat of summer. August alone saw 15 days above 95 degrees! While Happy Trees plants daily all summer long with great success, trees appreciate fall’s cooler temperatures and increased precipitation that help reduce the stress of transport and planting. Now is a great time to plant trees!

Truth be told, there’s never really a great time to plant in Colorado. Most of the trees we enjoy in our yards could never exist here without human assistance and care. The ground is frozen for most of winter making planting impossible. Spring brings late frosts, snow squalls, and hail. Summer’s heat is stressful for newly planted trees. Fall can see early cold snaps, but for the next few weeks we have a window of opportunity where the weather cooperates to benefit the planting of trees.

Cooler temperatures and diminished daylight trigger trees to plunge their roots deeply into the soil in anticipation of winter’s wrath. We still have several weeks for trees to hunker down, in fact, now is a great time to fertilize established deciduous trees as they soak up nutrients to support root growth and other metabolic processes. The exception would be evergreen trees like Pine and Spruce. Don’t fertilize evergreens in the fall as it could trigger new top growth that would be too tender to withstand winter’s freezing temperatures.

As long as we’re on the topic of fertilization, now is the right time to fertilize your lawn. Bluegrass lawns are also triggered by shorter days and cooler temperatures. They stretch their roots deeply into the ground during this time of year. They need nutrients to do this, and nutrients are often in short supply after the stress of summer. Back east, the acronym for fertilizing is SOD, shorthand for September, October, and December, which are the ideal months for fall fertilizer application. In Colorado, bump that up a few weeks, starting in late August and finishing in November before the ground freezes for good. More on that topic can be found here…

This time of year some varieties of trees are in short supply, and those that remain may be showing signs of stress such as leaf scorch. Because Happy Trees shops wholesalers up and down the Front Range, we can locate and select only the healthiest and happiest trees remaining on the lots. I personally pick the trees you’ve requested, and I would never deliver a tree that I wouldn’t be proud to display in my own yard.

Pay attention to the weather in the coming weeks and be sure to adjust your irrigation system as needed. Your lawn and plants, particularly newly planted trees may not need as much water as you were pumping out over the summer, so check your soil moisture and water only when necessary. Having said that, make sure your plants have adequate moisture in the soil as winter approaches, even after you shut down your irrigation system. More on winter watering can be found here…

2020 has been a wild, whacky year. Many of us are feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the images and rhetoric flashing across our news feeds and social media. I am never more at peace than when walking through a shaded forest. Happy Trees can bring some of that calming sensation into your yard by planting trees that screen unsightly views, provide cooling shade, and give you something beautiful to admire in your landscape. Or maybe you’re stuck at home and sick of looking at your neighbor. Whatever you desire, Happy Trees can help you select the best trees for your needs, and fall is an excellent time to plant the trees of your dreams!

Chris Leinster
(720) 343-7263

Summer Flowering Trees

Bring a little color to your summer landscape!

By Chris Leinster - July 27, 2020

We generally don’t think of summer as the best season for flowering trees, and with good reason. Most flowering trees release their cacophony of color just as the snow melts in early spring. These include all flowering fruit trees such as Pear, Cherry, and Crabapple, as well as Kentucky Coffeetree and Redbud.

There are a few late bloomers however that when added to your yard can extend the season of bloom in your overhead tree canopy through summer and even into fall. Consider adding one or a few of these specimens to keep your neighbors talking about your garden all summer long!

Japanese Tree Lilac, Hawthorn, and Catalpa begin blooming just as the petals of the aforementioned ornamental fruit trees drop. That is to say late May and extending through June.

As the name suggests, Japanese Tree Lilac is a tree form of the Lilac or Syringa family, and is often displayed as a multiple stemmed tree with 3-5 main trunks branching up from the ground. The White flowers are typical of the Lilac you’re familiar with. The cinnamon bark adds winter interest. They are a smaller tree reaching 25’ with an upright habit of 10-15’ wide.

There are many trees in the Hawthorn family with similar outstanding attributes. They are covered with white flowers in late spring/ early summer. They have glossy green leaves that turn a red-orange-yellow in the fall. The trunks and bark of most Hawthorn trees often becomes gnarled and twisted as they mature, giving the trees an enchanted feel. The brightly colored berries can be messy but put out a bright display of orange or red mid-summer interest.

The mighty Catalpa have large, tropical leaves that invoke scenes from Hawaii rather than Colorado, but they are quite hardy here. The pitcher shaped flowers are tropical looking as well, appearing white from a distance but the throats reveal delightful purple-speckled coloring when admired up close. Bring them inside for table ornaments! These flower in June as well. The downside are the large, bean like pods that drop in the fall, but they are no more troublesome than raking up leaves and they can be left in the garden for a decorative organic mulch.

Linden trees generally aren’t considered flowering trees but they do in fact bloom in late June and into July. The flowers are a lime-green and aren’t particularly showy, but they produce a two-toned light green against a deep green leaf, and the blossoms are quite fragrant.

Tulip trees have among the most splendid and showy orange-yellow flowers appearing in June into July. They are in the Poplar family along with Cottonwood and Aspen, so they grow here but do best in protected areas like downtown Denver. The flowers sit atop the branches in an upright fashion, so they are best viewed from a second story deck or window.

Purple Smoketree and Rose of Sharon straddle the line between large shrubs or small trees. Both can be purchased as small five gallon shrubs and allowed to mature, but larger specimens and even single-trunked tree form plants are commonly available. Purple Smoketree have burgundy leaves and get up to 15’ tall. The wispy flowers hover above the foliage and resembles smoke wafting over the plants, hence the name. Rose of Sharon are in the Hibiscus family and sport amazing tropical looking flowers from July through frost. They are available in a wide variety of colors and can be either disc shaped or star clusters that will bloom until frost! They make an excellent patio tree or focal point.

Japanese Pagoda Trees have panicles of creamy white flowers that don’t bloom until late summer and into September. The green bark, fern-like leaves, and pea-like flowers evoke a Japanese garden in a far-off land. They do well here, but they are akin to Willow trees with shallow roots and messy habit. They are continuously shedding seeds and branches so they are perhaps best planted in your neighbor’s yard.

A very under-used and little known small tree is Hepticodium or Seven Son Flower. The white flowers are just beginning to appear as I write this in late July. The flowers give way to bright red calyces for an additional burst of interest before winter reclaims the land. You can read more about Seven Son Flower on my blog…

My personal favorite for summer color is the fabled Golden Raintree. Showers of bright yellow flowers sprinkle over the foliage in mid-summer giving the tree its name. It too has a tropical looking feel with a coarse appearance in winter. The flowers are followed by air-filled seed pods that resemble Chinese lanterns that decorate the tree into fall. Yellow is such an unusual color for a flowering tree. Plant one in your yard for your whole neighborhood to enjoy!

Most flowering trees deliver their payload in early spring, but with thoughtful selection flowering trees can spice up your landscape well into summer and beyond. From tiny patio trees like Rose of Sharon to massive shade trees like Japanese Pagoda Tree, there’s a summer-flowering tree for every yard!

Too hot to go outside?

The Best Shade Trees for Colorado!

By Chris Leinster - July 21, 2020

We’re midway into summer and the sun’s scorching heat has us mostly huddled up inside. Fortunately, Colorado’s dry air cools off nicely in the evenings, inviting us to relax or even dine outside. If your outdoor patio is seared by the sun during the day or evening, you probably need a tree to provide shade for your outdoor living spaces.

Trees with high canopies soak up the sun’s energy and provide cooling shade for your patio and even your home. Strategically placed trees can make it bearable to be outside even on the hottest days. Granted, it may take some time before you truly feel the effects from a newly planted tree, but if you’re in your home for the long haul, trees planted today will pay off within just a few short years. If you drive through a neighborhood that was built out during the middle of the past decade, you’ll likely be surprised at the maturity of the trees and the shade and privacy they are already offering. Check out the following list of some of our best shade trees for Colorado.

Maple Trees are prized for their fast growth rate, durability and disease resistance, and their explosive Fall color, generally red, orange, yellow, or a combination of the three. They are generally classified into categories of Red, Norway, or Sugar, among others, but for most purposes they are relatively interchangeable and mostly do well under most conditions. Silver Maples should be avoided due to their weak wood and rot susceptibility, but hybridized variants such as ‘Autumn Blaze’ are outstanding for our climate and are even seed-less! For smaller yards or tight spaces, Ginnala or Tartarian Maple offer diminutive variants of their colossal cousins.

Oak Trees are valued for their fast growth and hardiness. When you picture a tire swing hanging from a majestic tree by Grandma’s farm house, you are likely thinking of an Oak. Northern Red, Texas Red, or Scarlet Oak probably have the most refined branching habit and best fall color. Bur and Swamp White have a rather coarse appearance in winter, however they are rugged and adaptable to a wide variety of growing conditions. There are many varieties of Columnar Oak that are among our most slender trees for narrow spaces. All Oak have acorns, although it may take many years before trees produce them. Even then, not all Oak produce acorns every year. Still, it may be best to avoid planting over a patio or where cars park, as the nuts can pack a punch when dropped from 30’!

Linden Trees have become increasingly popular as common species such as Elm and Ash have succumbed to disease and insects. Linden are fairly clean trees with a graceful appearance. There are several varieties that are basically interchangeable and even experienced arborists have difficulty distinguishing among them at maturity. The flowers are a light green which aren’t particularly showy but they do produce an interesting two-toned effect over the canopy, as well as a pleasant honeysuckle scent.

Honeylocust Trees are among Colorado’s cleanest and fastest growing trees. The tiny leaves allow plenty of sunlight to reach the ground, keeping the area bright while providing cooling shade. The leaves also shrivel up and blow away in the fall, so there’s not much to rake up! Light penetrates upward too, so up-lighting your Honeylocust produces a glow high up into the canopy that reflects back down around the yard. These aren’t your grandparents Honeylocust that produced thorns and seed pods. Today’s hybridized versions are graceful and elegant, without either unwanted attribute. As with all newly planted trees, winter wrap the trunks to prevent sunscald.

Catalpa Trees are massive and tropical looking. They hardly look like they belong in Colorado with their lush, large leaves and prolific orchid-like flowers. Yet, they do quite well here, often recovering from drought and hail with renewed vigor. In early summer, clusters of white flowers cover the tree. Up close, the pitcher shaped bells have delightful purple-speckled throats that make splendid table ornaments. The down side are the large, long seed pods that resemble giant string beans and that clutter up the ground. This is no more of a nuisance than raking up leaves though, so don’t let that deter you if you appreciate the finer attributes that are only found on these striking specimens. The bean pods can be raked into the garden to be left as an attractive garden mulch, so don’t be afraid to add these splendid Catalpa to your landscape!

This is not an exhaustive list and many more shade and flowering trees can be found at For more details or information visit our website or call Happy Trees at (303) 903-3341 today!

Overstock Sale!

25% off 3” Caliper Brandon Elm only $850 delivered and installed!

By Chris Leinster - July 10, 2020

These Brandon Elm in excellent condition regularly retail for $1,125 each. For a limited time, Happy Trees can offer 25% off for a savings of $275 per tree! This amazing price of $850 includes delivery and planting. Installation includes our Planting Package which consists of organic compost to enrich the soil, stakes and strap to support the tree after planting, a water gauge to help you monitor your trees’ water needs, and top dress mulch to suppress weeds and to help cool the soil and retain ground moisture. Our planting package is a $50 value, but we offer it FREE with our professional installation services!

We’ll even add microbial fertilizer from Fox Farm to introduce beneficial bacteria and fungi into the root zone. Bacteria and Fungi sounds disgusting, but these essential micro-organisms colonize in the soil and break down organic material into simple compounds that the trees can take up as food. The root zone below ground is a living, breathing ecosystem, and Fox Farm microbial fertilizers help establish a healthy environment to get your trees off to a great start.

Brandon Elm are a fast-growing variety of American Elm with an upright, vase-shaped habit reaching heights of 50’ with a 30’ spread. They have an over-arching canopy and make an excellent street tree or shade tree over a patio. They are relatively clean, producing no fruits or seeds to clutter up the yard. It has gold fall color to brighten up any landscape. It’s about as cold hardy a tree as can be found anywhere in Colorado, and can be found growing far into northern Canada!

Brandon Elm make a suitable replacement for your Ash trees which may have succumbed to the Emerald Ash Borer. They can be mistaken for Zelkova trees, which have graceful arching branches but are less hardy in our harsh climate. They are widely adaptable and can tolerate a wide variety of adverse conditions, such as drought or swampy soil.

It must be noted that Brandon Elm is susceptible to Dutch Elm Disease which swept through the country in the early part of the 20th century and decimated Elm trees throughout Colorado. Dutch Elm Disease has largely run its course, mostly because there are few host species left to infect. Colorado’s harsh climate and dry air provide effective barriers to re-introduction of the disease, and Brandon Elm are seeing a resurgence in popularity. As with any tree planted in Colorado, good cultural practices to keep your trees healthy are the best preventative to help trees resist any biological attack.

These 3” caliper Brandon Elm trees tower upwards of 20’ high! This is an exceptional price and is only available while quantities last. If you need instant shade or privacy on a budget Happy Trees is proud to offer these under-used quality trees at a discount. Call Happy Trees today or shop on-line at

Colorado is brutal on trees.

Why did my tree die?

By Chris Leinster - June 17, 2020

First, the good news. Happy Trees is having a break out year and our crews are booked solid for weeks to come! That’s great news for a tree planting company, but many of the trees we’re planting are replacements for trees that didn’t make it through the winter. That’s bad news for homeowners who may have moved into a new home and invested in shade, privacy, or ornamental value.

So what happened? Why did so many trees die? Trees die for myriad reasons, but most deaths fall into a few categories. I remind clients all the time if you look around the next time you drive east of the airport, you’ll get a good sense of the types of trees that like to live here. That is to say, virtually none. Colorado is brutal on trees and plants of all types. Life is tough up on the high Chaparral, where only grasses, cacti, and a few wildflowers naturally squeeze out a subsistence.

From wild temperature swings to high altitude/ high intensity sunshine, brutal winters and spring hail storms, dry summer air and low precipitation, Colorado punishes any and all plants we attempt to grow here. Still, with a little water, fertilizer, and potentially a little pest control, many of the trees from similar climates around the world can thrive for generations to come! The staff at Happy Trees will make sure you understand the care your trees require to help your trees get established and thrive for your grandchildren to enjoy.

This year, winter slapped us with one last whiplash of plummeting temperatures and frigid conditions in mid-April- just as many plants were budding out or in flower. Water filled tissue within the outer layers of tree trunks froze and damaged the xylem and phloem that carry water and nutrients to the leaves from the roots, much like our own circulatory systems. This could explain why so many sensitive plants and trees didn’t make it this year.

It’s a miracle that we can have trees planted in our yards in the first place. How fantastic is it that farmers can cultivate and plant trees, dig them up and wrap the root balls in burlap, truck them across half the country, and store them in nurseries? Then companies like Happy Trees can pick them up and plop them in your yard! Really cool when you stop to think about it. Trees need to be handled and planted properly though, and poor handling and planting is probably the #1 reason trees die within the first year.

Trees are living, breathing entities, and loading, transporting, and planting are stressful for these magnificent life forms. At Happy Trees, our suppliers know we’re watching making sure the trees are handled delicately and professionally. When trees are in leaf, we tarp every load and keep speeds under 45 miles per hour- even on the highways. This was easy before COVID when it was impossible to drive over 45 on I-25, but now folks just need to go around, cause we’re not in any hurry. I also spray water over the trees before leaving the nursery to cool them off before the drive. This takes additional time, but I would rather go slow and do things right than have to warranty a tree.

I have never been in the “production” end of this business, where landscape companies contract with home builders to install plants and grass. That’s a cutthroat business, and operators must slap is landscapes without concern for quality in order to make any reasonable margins. I’m working with an HOA in Parker to replace hundreds of builder supplied trees that failed to make it through the first year. We will take our time and make sure that we are doing everything correctly to ensure that these trees get off to a good start and improve property values with each year’s growth.

Water. This is the most critical and essential element for all living things, and trees are no exception. Following the stress of planting, trees need consistent watering for at least the first three years to allow for establishment. This is the time that trees’ roots are penetrating the soil and hunkering in. Roots can’t grow in soil with no moisture, and just like us, no part of a tree’s metabolism can function without adequate moisture.

Generally speaking, for most situations a good soaking 3x per week is sufficient. Soak when watering, but give the soil a chance to drain and somewhat dry out. It can be very difficult to remember to water without the aid of an automatic irrigation system. If your tree is in a drainage area or planted in heavy clay, it may need more time between waterings to drain and dry out. If in sandy soil or exposed to winds or reflected heat, more frequent irrigation may be required. If you go on vacation and the soil dries out completely for even a few days, you’re likely to lose the tree.

Conversely, we probably lose more trees to over-watering than under-watering. Leaves wilt in response to both under and over-watering! For this reason, Happy Trees installs a water gauge with every tree we plant. This is simply a piece of pipe that we insert into the planting hole so that you can slide a dip stick into the pipe and get an understanding of the conditions at the bottom of the planting hole. If the stick comes out wet wait a day or two before watering again. if the soil is muddy and sticky that’s good, probably OK to water. If you poke hard ground and you can’t push the stick into the soil, you’re not watering frequently enough and you could lose the tree. Happy Trees can’t be on site to monitor so it’s your responsibility to check often and understand your trees’ water needs.

Newly planted trees from Happy Trees receive adequate compost soil amendment and fertilizer to get off to a healthy start. We even add microbial fertilizer that inoculates the soil with beneficial bacteria and fungi that condition the soil and break down complex molecules into simple compounds that the trees take up as food. It is unlikely that any newly planted trees expired due to a nutrient deficiency, but long term trees need balanced fertilizers applied at the right times to maintain vigorous health. More on fertilizer can be found in previous blogs.

Occasionally, trees can be attacked by pests or diseases that can ravage newly planted trees. This is rare, but consistent monitoring will help prevent most attacks. After you mow or some evening after work, take time to appreciate your trees and look closely for any symptoms of distress. If caught early most ailments are easy to cure. Love your trees and let Happy Trees know if you see anything amiss. Healthy trees are better able to withstand diseases and insects, so take the time to understand your trees’ water and fertilizer needs and treat accordingly.

All this might seem overwhelming when considering spending money to provide privacy or shade to your home. The professionals at Happy Trees are passionate about trees and we want your trees to thrive as much as you do. We hate warranty work and will do everything we can to make sure you never see us again, unless you want additional trees planted in your yard! If it was easy, anybody could do it. In my next life, I’m hanging my shingle in Portland where you toss out an acorn and in a few weeks you have an Oak tree!