How to Plant a Six-Foot Colorado Spruce


Colorado, or blue, spruce is a large pyramidal evergreen tree planted for windbreaks and boundaries as well as for its ornamental value. The blue spruce is native to mountains of the American west and is hardy to USDA zone 2. It grows most vigorously in moist soil and full sun and grows to a mature height of about 60 feet with a base width up to 30 feet. The best time to transplant these beautiful spruces is when they are 5 to 6 feet tall.

Step 1

Locate your Colorado spruce in full sun in an area that is not likely to flood; spruces do not tolerate shade or regular flooding. Colorado blue spruces are Big Sky trees; they will not prosper in intimate garden corners or on small suburban lots. Allow 15 to 20 feet around the tree; adult trees do not respond well to pruning.

Step 2

Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball on your tree. Mix the soil that you've dug out with a half-volume of an equal mixture of well-rotted compost and humus or well-rotted manure. Mix more of this mixture in with a sandy or heavy soil. The prepared hole should be as deep as the root ball is tall.

Step 3

Tie the lower branches up with twine if the tree spread is wide to protect ends from breaking as you "heel" the root ball into the prepared hole. Remove the container or untie the top of the burlap wrap and lay the tree at an angle on the rim of the hole. Slide it carefully into the hole and position it where you want it to stay. The tree should sit no lower than an inch below the soil line in the container or root ball.

Step 4

Fill the hole around the tree with soil, making a saucer-shape around the tree trunk. Make a lip around the saucer to hold water in while the tree settles into its new home. Untie the branches if they've been tied up and trim off any broken ends but do not prune; a healthy young blue spruce needs no shaping help.

Step 5

Water your blue spruce thoroughly after planting. Water it for the next two days to help it recover from transplanting. After that, water your tree only during drought; frequent watering encourages shallow root development.

Tips and Warnings

  • Call your local utility company or digger's hotline before digging a hole to plant a tree; locate spruce trees away from underground wires to keep the shallow roots from tangling with underground cables. Some "burlap" used to wrap root balls is actually synthetic fabric or plastic--or is treated with these materials. Remove any such materials before planting. Unlike real burlap, it is not biodegradable and will affect root health. Handle trees by their containers or burlap-covered root balls, never by their trunks or branches. Picking them up by their trunks creates pressure that can break the roots and damage the tree's ability to survive transplanting.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden shovel
  • Hand trimmers
  • Compost, well-rotted manure, humus
  • Twine


  • Ron Smith, North Dakota State University: Questions on Spruce
  • North Carolina State University Extension Service: Planting Techniques for Trees and Shrubs
  • North Dakota State University: Blue Spruce Trees

Who Can Help

  • Hometime: Transplanting Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: Colorado spruce, blue spruce, planting evergreen trees

About this Author

Chicago native Laura Reynolds has been writing for 40 years. She attended American University (D.C.), Northern Illinois University and University of Illinois Chicago and has a B.S. in communications (theater). Originally a secondary school communications and history teacher, she's written one book and edited several others. She has 30 years of experience as a local official, including service as a municipal judge.