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How to Plant a Colorado Spruce in Heavy Clay Soil

By Ma Wen Jie ; Updated September 21, 2017

Colorado spruce is native to the Rocky Mountain region of the United States. It is a very common variety of spruce and is often called a Colorado blue spruce. This tree can live between 50 and 100 years and can grow to 80 feet tall and 20 feet wide, so consider your planting location carefully. Colorado spruce will tolerate a range of soils ranging from clay, clay loam, loam and sandy soils. You might want to augment a heavy clay soil to help encourage a healthy young tree. Established trees should be able to grow well in heavy clay soils.

In the spring after the risk of frost has passed, dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball of the tree you are planting. This will be your base hole.

Continue removing about half again as much soil from the existing hole. Put this soil in a separate pile.

Augment your clay soil with 10 percent to 15 percent sand and about 10 percent to 15 percent leaves or other organic material. If the clay is unusually dense, increase the percentages.

Mix the soil thoroughly using a shovel. A hoe or rake can be handy to break up clay clumps.

Backfill with your new soil mix until you can place the tree so that the top of the root ball is a couple of inches below the level of the adjacent land.

Fill in the hole. Make sure that the tree is held firmly by the soil. Keep some of the soil to compensate for settling over the first few months.


Things You Will Need

  • Young Colorado spruce
  • Shovel
  • Hoe
  • Rake


  • Adjust the amount of sand and organic material to suit your soil.

About the Author


Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.