Native Plants for Your Colorado Landscape Design

In the world of landscape design, sustainable landscapes in Colorado, especially, have become a vital issue. No matter where you are, as we become more aware of our impact on the natural environment, homeowners and landscaping firms have made sustainability a key focus for their outdoor projects. Not only do native plants blend naturally with the surrounding environment and look beautiful, but they also prevent erosion, cut down on the need for chemicals and pesticides, and provide habitat for local animals, insects, and birds. With so many benefits, it’s hard to think why you wouldn’t select native plants for your next landscape design.

Here, we take a closer look at some of the most popular native plants for a Colorado landscape design. In such a unique state, only certain plants can survive, and thrive, in this type of climate. By choosing native plants, you can rest assured that your landscape will look beautiful for years to come.


Planting trees is one of the most effective ways to make your landscape greener. Not only do trees add color and fall foliage, but they also help prevent erosion and provide a natural habitat for birds, animals, and insects. There’s simply no comparison to the majesty of a fully-grown tree on your property. Here are a few native, Colorado trees to consider for your outdoor space:

1.             Blue Spruce.

If you really want to represent your state, start with the blue spruce. As the state tree, blue spruce is a common landscaping tree that grows well up to 11,500 feet.

2.             Ponderosa Pine.

One of the larger pine trees in the state, Ponderosa pine trees are notable for their size and distinctive, reddish bark.

3.             Douglas Fir.

One of the most common trees in Colorado, these pines are renowned for their versatility and size.

4.             Quaking Aspen.

Every fall in Colorado, people flock to the mountains to see the Quaking Aspen turn color and produce vibrant yellow leaves. However, you don’t always need a road trip to see these beautiful trees. In certain environments, Quaking Aspen are the perfect choice for your landscape.

5.             Cottonwood.

Another deciduous option, cottonwoods are found throughout Colorado wherever there’s water. These trees can grow up to 100 feet tall, so you certainly want to make sure you provide them with the necessary space to grow.


Shrubs are an excellent way to complement larger trees and still provide bursts of color and greenery. Shrubs are versatile and effectively planted to line walkways and paths and around garden areas.

1.             Mountain mahogany.

This hardy shrub survives well into the winter with leathery foliage that has a grayish-green hue. Every spring, mountain mahogany bursts to life with small yellow flowers.

2.             Sagebrush.

Sagebrush does best at slightly higher elevations, compared to the plains, and offers a sweet aroma.

3.             Three-leaf sumac.

This shrub thrives in the plains and foothills and is easily recognizable with its three-parted leaves.


A landscape isn’t complete unless you take advantage of the wide variety of beautiful and native flowers this state has to offer. Flowers can be used in gardens, lining walkways, or simply to provide a dash of color anywhere in your outdoor space. Here are some of the most popular native flowers for Colorado landscapes:

1.             Goldenrod.

Goldenrod is one of the most popular landscaping flowers. Easy to grow and maintain, these flowers can be planted in fall or spring and most varieties love the full sun.

2.             Blue flax.

Plant these in early spring to have a summer filled with the majestic blue and purple hues of blue flax. These flowers prefer areas with full sun and average to sandy soils.

3.             Common yarrow.

Similar to blue flax, yarrow also prefers full sun and well-drained soils.

4.             Prickly pear.

Be careful with these, but prickly pear cactus thrives throughout most of the lower elevation areas of Colorado. These cacti, like other succulents, require little water or other types of maintenance. However, be cautious planting prickly pear if you have small children as their needles can feel quite unpleasant. 

5.             Chocolate flower.

This black and yellow perennial is tough and does well in dry regions. Chocolate flowers can grow almost anywhere, but they do especially well in areas of full sun with well-drained soil.

6.             Prairie coneflower.

Add a splash of bright yellow to your landscape design with prairie coneflowers. These perennials are loved by bees, insects, and other pollinators.

7.             Black-eyed Susan.

Popular throughout America, these native wildflowers are easily recognizable for their vibrant yellow petals. Butterflies and bees love these flowers that are often found blanketing wide-open areas.


While a lot of attention goes to eye-catching flowers and trees, selecting the right type of grass is essential for the health (and visual appeal) of your landscape. Choosing native grasses for your outdoor space can cut down on fertilizer and expensive chemicals since they’ve evolved to survive and thrive in the Colorado climate.

1.             June grass.

Growing roughly two feet high, this grass is common in the mixed grass prairie regions and can grow well in most areas of Colorado.

2.             Buffalograss.

This grass is as tough and hardy as its namesake, growing across the Great Plains. This grass is extremely resistant to drought and is commonly used as a turf that doesn’t require tons of work or care.

3.             Switchgrass.

This grass performs most optimal in the warm season and is found throughout the prairies. As a decorative grass, switchgrass is commonly used as ground cover and throughout native habitats.


Choosing to use sustainable plants, trees, shrubs, and flowers in your outdoor space just makes sense. Not only are these trees and flowers beautiful, but they also promote sustainable landscaping by creating natural habitat, preventing erosion, and requiring far fewer pesticides and chemicals.

You don’t need to turn your yard into the Denver botanic gardens to have beautiful and sustainable landscapes in Colorado. Simply making strategic, informed decisions, such as using native plants and trees, can turn your outdoor space into something truly amazing.

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