Buying trees for your landscape


The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) is warning consumers to be wary of trees, shrubs, perennial plants and turf grass sod that is included for “free” with the cost of exorbitant planting and landscaping costs or offered at a price that seems “too good to be true.” When viewing ads for nursery stock on social media, check to make sure the vendor is a registered nursery. CDA and registered nursery and landscape contractors all work together to protect consumers.
“More often than not, the quality of the plants included with these too-good-to-be-true landscaping offers is very poor and does not meet minimum industry or mandated standards in the Colorado Nursery Act,” said the structural landscaper, Phytosanitary, Plant-Pest Quarantine and Seed programs, Laura Pottorff. “Trees and other landscape plants are a significant investment made to add value to our property. Be wise and informed.”
While the Department of Agriculture cannot regulate how the plant is planted, it can regulate quality of woody plant material, turfgrass sod and perennials at the time of sale. CDA helps protect the consumer by ensuring that the product they see at the retail nursery or receive from the landscape contractor meets minimum standard for plant health and quality.
The Colorado Nursery Act requires that all people who sell nursery stock (trees, shrubs, turfgrass sod and other perennial plants) be registered to do so. If this plant material is offered for sale, it must meet strict standards for plant health and pest freedom that gives trees and other plants a “leg up” and increases likelihood of survival.
By law: Woody plants and perennials cannot be sold with insect or disease infestations. Woody plants must all have an adequate amount of roots; tree roots will not regenerate quickly enough under Colorado conditions for survival. Woody plants and perennials cannot be sold with roots that are girdling, indicating that the tree or shrub has been in the container too long or in the balled and burlapped state too long. Turfgrass sod cannot be sold if it contains more than three weeds in a 6-foot-by-6-foot (or 36 square foot) area. Native collected woody plants must be labeled, “COLLECTED NURSERY STOCK — this plant has been gathered from its original native habitat and was not grown in a nursery.” Native collected trees are under severe drought stress and need to be handled with special care during and after transplant.
Check with the CDA to make sure that the company or person you are purchasing your woody plants, turfgrass sod and perennials from is registered to sell nursery stock. By state law, they have to be registered to sell nursery stock.
The Nursery Act is a consumer protection law and all woody plants, sod and perennials sold within the state of Colorado and the people who sell them fall under the jurisdiction of this law and the CDA.
“If nursery stock is offered for ‘free’ or at a greatly reduce price, it may not meet state or industry minimum standards; consumers run the risk of paying for installation services and winding up with poor quality or soon to be dead trees and shrubs,” continued Pottorff. “If possible, go to the nursery and pick out the tree or plants you want. When those plants are delivered to you and planted in your landscape, watch them closely for the first few weeks and months to make sure they appear to be growing normally.”
The CDA routinely inspects plants at most of the nurseries in our state. The results of these inspections and any conditions under advisory or “Stop Sale” that were found during an inspection are available to the public. Contact the CDA at (303) 869-9070 or visit,
Upcoming events
May 25: Bee workshop. We will be heading to the Banded Peaks Ranch to visit with beekeeping experts and get hands-on experience with the bees. The workshop costs $25 and is limited to 20 people. Lunch will be provided. This is an all-day workshop, so please wear appropriate clothing and anything else you would need for being outside all day. Please call the office to sign up and pay, 264-5931.
Aug. 1-4: Archuleta County Fair. Do you quilt or sew, can vegetables or fruit, grow hay crops, veggies or flowers? Maybe you do leather or wood work? Possibly brew beer or make wine? Or, maybe you have a hidden crafting talent that you would like share with us? If so, then you can enter the Archuleta County Fair Open Classes. Go to to find out how to enter. It’s homegrown and county pride.
CPR and first aid classes
CPR and first aid certification classes are offered monthly by the CSU Extension office on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m. Anyone needing to receive or renew certification can register by calling the Extension office at 264-5931.
We will also attempt to schedule classes on additional dates with five or more registrations. Cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification.