Why Happy Trees are the perfect trees!

What to look for when selecting a healthy tree

By Chris Leinster - March 3, 2024

Why Happy Trees are the perfect trees!
In the olden days, if you desired to plant a tree you would load up the family in the ‘ole station wagon and motor over to your local garden center. There you would encounter thousands of trees over dozens of acres where you could wander through the mud for hours staring up through row after row of trees to find your perfect purchase. But do you really know what to look for when selecting a tree? Here’s how Happy Trees ensures you’ll be Happy when you allow us to select your tree for you.

Happy Trees makes it far more convenient for you to shop for trees by category and to pick the right type of tree for your needs. We provide pictures of trees for all four seasons so you can see how they look when barren over Winter, when donned in Spring flowers, leafed out during summer months, and when shrouded in Fall color! We also do the shopping for you, so there’s no need to waste a weekend driving up to Longmont or down to Franktown to fight crowds and pick through the trees remaining in stock.

For shade and ornamental trees, the first thing most folks consider most important is a straight trunk. In my retail days I would wonder as couples fought over which tree had the straightest, most perfectly aligned trunk. In my professional view a straight trunk is desirable, yet hardly the most important predictor for a glorious tree at maturity. It is perfectly normal for trees to have slight bends or bows in their trunks, and rarely do we find perfectly straight trunks on many varieties. Good luck finding a Hackberry that likes to grow straight, yet as they age the bends and bows add character and become desirable characteristics for these and many other varieties. For most trees slight bends and bows don’t actually straighten out but as the trees add layers of tissue through the years the bends become hardly noticeable. Still, I try to select the straightest trunks for the best possible initial impression.

Probably a balanced basket is a more important consideration. This means that branching is evenly dispersed about the tree. This ensures that the tree looks marvelous no matter from which angle you view it. It’s not the end of the world if a tree has a flat side or a gap in branching. It will fill in over time. Sometimes its desirable to have a flat side if planting near a house or where you need clearance over a driveway. For most trees a central leader is also preferred. This is the central vertical post from which the lateral branches will emerge.

Closer scrutiny should be paid to ensuring that the tree is free from physical damage or any type of disease. This is often overlooked by the novice shopper, but I obsess over this as I abhor warranty. Nurseries commonly wrap the trunks of trees during transportation and storage to protect the bark from scrapes and scratches. Its important to lift or remove the wrap to inspect for gashes, gouges, or other damage. I also check the graft if its visible to make sure it’s healed properly. I make sure the tree is solid in the root ball and not wiggling around. Minor snaps of twigs and branches are sometimes unavoidable, but I watch closely for major splits or broken scaffold branches.  

Diseases can be difficult to spot, but for most varieties I know what to look for and am always vigilant for telltale signs. Oozing sap or any discharge would indicate a bacterial infection. Soft spots in the bark reveal canker. Discoloration of the bark or other anomalies are to be avoided. Pinholes indicate the tree may have been infected with borers. Its rare that I encounter any of these problems from my reputable vendors, but I’m aware and always verify that I’m bringing out a healthy tree.


A December to Remember!

Brutal winter weather decimates trees.

By Chris Leinster - January 1, 2023

A December to Remember!
Happy New Year! As we kiss 2022 goodbye, let's bid last December good riddance. Our Colorado Climate is brutal on trees, and December gave us a stark reminder why most trees don't grow here. In fact, without human interference, most trees can't grow here at all. Fortunately, with a little knowledge and a bit of effort, many of our favorite trees from similar climates around the world can thrive for generations to come, but last December may have been damaging or fatal to many of our leafy friends.

The month started mildly enough, with temperatures comfortably in the 50s and even poking above 60 on a couple of occasions. Then on December 21st, the temperature plummeted from a balmy 51 degrees to 24 below zero overnight! This marked a 75 degree drop in temperature in just a matter of hours. How wildlife and livestock survive such a rapid shock is beyond me. It's remarkable that trees and plants can withstand such whiplash. Unfortunately, some won't.

The most catastrophic consequence of such dramatic temperature declines is frost cracking. This occurs when water within the tissue in the trunks of the trees freezes. Water expands as it freezes, and rapidly freezing water within trees can split the bark and rupture the heartwood. Have you ever tried to chill a bottle of beer in the freezer and forget to take it out? You likely encountered a shattered bottle, as water in the beer expanded and cracked the glass. The same phenomenon can occur in trees. Trees have defenses to counter cold temperatures, but this historic event is sure to have wreaked havoc on trees all over town.

There's really nothing that we can do to try to mitigate this. We winter wrap trees to protect from the sun, but there is really no practical way to prevent trees from freezing. Most seasons the trees own strategies can protect them from winters' wrath. December's nearly unprecedented drop will test even the hardiest of trees.

Just as we were beginning to thaw out, even reaching 62 degrees on 12/27, the bottom abruptly dropped out and a ferocious snowstorm dropped almost a foot of heavy, wet snow over much of the Denver region Wednesday the 28th. Snow accumulated at the rate of several inches per hour. In fact, by the time I finished shoveling my driveway I turned around to find almost 2 inches piled up where I had started!

Snow has an insulating effect and can actually protect the trees from freezing temperatures. The moisture it brings is of course welcome as well. The problem with rapidly accumulating heavy wet snow is the weight. Snow loads up on branches and boughs, bending them to the ground, and inevitably breaking some. Snows of this magnitude can clobber newly planted trees and can even rip mature trees completely apart.

This is why winter tying of trees, particularly upright evergreens like Juniper and Columnar Spruce, and multi-stemmed trees like Serviceberry and Canada Red Cherry, is essential along Colorado's front range. It's also wise to run out during a snowstorm to gently brush or knock the snow off your trees. Check out my prior blog on tree tying and even link to a poorly made video detailing how its done http://happytrees.co/blog/22314/Happy-Trees-Pro-Winter-Preparation-Tips-

Unfortunately, Happy Trees cannot warranty against physical damage as a result of unprecedented freezing or snow load. I'm not looking forward to the many uncomfortable conversations I'm predicting for this upcoming spring, as homeowners venture back outside and some discover fatal damage to recently planted trees. Happy Trees guarantees that trees are healthy at the time of purchase, and that trees were properly handled and planted. Even if we did everything perfectly, there's nothing we could have done to prevent frost cracking or storm damage. We wouldn't warranty your tree if it was hit by a car. Last December was more like a runaway freight train!

I don't mean to sound overly pessimistic. As I walk the grounds of the Westminster Arboretum and the world headquarters of Happy Trees, I observe no evidence of frost cracking and only minimal damage from snow load. Still, a quick drive around the neighborhood reveals major damage to an unfortunate few mature trees. Winter is the bane of Colorado gardeners, only cherished by skiers and arborists.

Late Season availability

Great time to plant- if you can find the trees you desire.

By Chris Leinster - September 4, 2022

Late Season availability
September 22nd marks the first day of Fall. As we approach that date, the nighttime temperatures are cooling down, even as the daytime temperatures stubbornly remain in the 90s. This temperature change, along with the subtle daily reduction of daylight, triggers plants to begin stretching roots deeply into the soil and storing nutrients for their winter slumber. This makes right now an ideal time to put trees in the ground.

The trouble with waiting for fall to plant, is that many of the most common and popular trees are completely sold out or at least pretty well picked through. We may see stocks replenish as the leaves begin to turn and growers begin the fall harvest, but there are still plenty of great trees from which to choose if you know where to look. You might have to drive up and down the Front Range to find the particular tree you seek, or you could have Happy Trees do the legwork for you! Because we shop many vendors, your perfect tree is just a click or call away.

Trees that have languished in the nurseries all summer may be showing signs of stress, such as leaf scorch or premature color change. These are cosmetic issues only, and should not deter you from planting at this time. The trees will hunker down this fall, overwinter in your yard, and begin to push roots into the ground before any signs of spring arrive. With proper water and fertilization, these trees should completely recover and display robust growth next year.

Common trees like Autumn Blaze Maple, Greenspire Linden, or Skyline Honeylocust may not be available at this time, but did you know there are many varieties of all of these species that are lesser know but virtually indistinguishable from their ubiquitous counterparts? Fall Fiesta, Hedge, or Emerald Queen Maple are great for our climate and good substitutes for Autumn Blaze. Ever seen a Silver Linden? All of the attributes of Greenspire, but with silver undersides to the leaves, resembling Aspen leaves fluttering in the wind. I defy you to show me the difference between Imperial or Shademaster Honeylocust vs. the Skyline. All of these are in plentiful supply.

Northern Red Oak may be difficult to find this late in the season. Consider Shumard, equally as regal and in abundance. Many varieties of Crabapple are still yours for the picking if you're looking for a flowering tree. One vendor has overstock of Kentucky Coffeetree, and still a few seedless Espresso trees ready for delivery. There's not an Austrian Pine left in the state, but check out Scotch Pine. Similar, but a little more funky if that makes sense.

If you need a tree its still likely that I can source exactly what you need. But if not, there's always suitable substitutes that you may even find preferable to your original choice.

Trees.com-the online authority for hydroponics, gardening advice, product reviews, DIY, and design ideas.

Happy Trees named one of the 'Best Tree Nurseries in Denver' by trees.com!

By Chris Leinster - August 13, 2022

Trees.com-the online authority for hydroponics, gardening advice, product reviews, DIY, and design ideas.
Trees.com started out as a simple blog and has evolved into a company with a single mission: to help readers learn how to build their optimal outdoor space. As part of their mission, they research the best tree nurseries based on client reviews, available services, and professionalism. Trees.com thoughtfully reviewed and analyzed our business and we are indeed honored to have been included in their Best of Denver list!

Truth is, there are very few retail garden centers in the greater Denver Metro area that still offer tree planting services. The land has simply become more valuable than the businesses. Paulino's, Silver Sage, and Arapahoe Acres have shuttered their doors. Today's nursery, Arbor Valley, James Nursery, and Harmony Gardens no longer offer planting services for the retail public. It is precisely because of this seismic shift in the green industry that Happy Trees was born.

In the olden days, if you needed a tree you would load up the family in the ole' station wagon and saunter on down to the local garden center. You'd wait a while to get the attention of a salesman, then spent the next hour or two slogging around in the mud, staring at trees you knew nothing about, and making a decision with very limited knowledge. Happy Trees takes advantage of today's evolving technology to help homeowners select trees without ever leaving their living rooms.

Happy Trees is not a physical nursery, but rather a service that provides professional tree delivery and planting. Descriptions and copious pictures are found on our online virtual nursery. No other company publishes prices online or makes tree shopping as simple as buying a handbag on Amazon. Happy Trees is the first company to use the power of today's technology to streamline the tree buying process. Happy Trees is the easiest way for homeowners in the greater Denver area to buy trees online and to have large trees professionally delivered and planted, usually within one week!

Happy Trees specializes in larger trees that in most cases require a crew to transport and install. If you're willing to wait for shade, Trees.com offers mail order trees and shrubs in smaller containers delivered to your door for you to plant. Trees.com also maintains an extensive blog and offers all types of landscape design and gardening advice. Spend some time on Trees.com to get inspired, then call Happy Trees for your next big tree planting project!

Introduction to Juniper Trees

Why I love them and why you should consider them for your Colorado Landscape!

By Chris Leinster - April 21, 2022

Introduction to Juniper Trees
When I try to suggest to folks that Juniper Trees might be the ideal plant for their screening and privacy needs, I often get an adverse reaction. "I hate Juniper" is the standard retort, and I get it. You're probably thinking about the old-fashioned Pfitzer Juniper that your grandmother had growing along her foundation. Every summer she's ask you to trim them down, and you'd dutifully get out the loppers and get to work. After much struggle, you'd be covered in pokes and small cuts from the sharp needles and your skin would break out into a rash from the astringent toxins within the plant. After all that effort, the result likely produced a plant that looked like you pulled it out of a dumpster, raggedy and half-dead. It's understandable that you might cringe at the thought of adding Juniper Trees to your landscape.

Botanists, plant propagators, and nurserymen have been tinkering and cross-hybridizing these plants for generations, and the result is a remarkable collection of stately and finely textured plants appropriate for most landscape applications. The Juniper family consists of a wide array of cultivars encompassing every shape imaginable, from low-lying groundcovers to small foundation plants, to formidable trees! Most of the tree form varieties are hybridized derivations of our own Colorado native Rocky Mountain Juniper.

Look around the next time you attend a concert at Red Rocks. Most of the trees you see clinging to the rocks and eking out an existence in this dry, harsh environment are Rocky Mountain Juniper. I encounter them along hikes around the Front Range, sometimes up to tree line, but always on barren, south-facing slopes. In more extreme conditions these ruggedly handsome ramparts take on krummholz characteristics, becoming gnarled and twisted in the relentless wind. They are so resilient they even grow among the cactus in the deserts of Utah and New Mexico!
Have a look at my introduction to Juniper Trees… https://youtu.be/x1xI3dT1lxU

This is precisely what makes them appropriate for Colorado landscapes. Colorado is brutal on trees, and almost none of what we like to grow here would survive more than a decade without supplemental water and fertilization. Our intense sunshine, dry air, and wild temperature swings are a death sentence for most imported trees barring human pampering, but the Juniper trees we plant today will survive for hundreds of years if abandoned.

Builders are cramming homes ever closer together, and lots are shrinking to accommodate our exploding population. We desire to live close to the city, but not so close to our neighbors. If you need evergreen trees for privacy and screening but have limited space, there are Juniper trees ideal for your situation. Most spread 6-8' wide at maturity, and reach heights of 15-20'.

Spearmint and Woodward Juniper have a deep green color, while Moonglow and Wichita Blue display vibrant blue foliage with a feathery texture. Blue Arrow and Blue Point fall somewhere in the middle, while Skyrocket has a grey appearance. Taylor Juniper form a tight column only 3 wide, while Trautman forms a stick only 12 wide! These trees are perfect for creating living fences for privacy, anchoring the foundation at the corner of the home, a bold accent in an English garden, or a Zen element in a Japanese garden.

Check out some of the amazing selection of inventory available Spring 2022! https://youtu.be/GfheYDeVDD8

Hopefully I've broken down your objections and you're open to considering the utility of Juniper Trees. Maintaining them properly is the key to enjoying them for generations to come. If you know how to trim them and perhaps more importantly when to prune, you can keep your plants healthy and thriving for generations to come! Check back to see my next blog on Juniper maintenance.