Dear Master Gardner,
My backyard has intense western sun, especially in the afternoon. I’m wondering what trees/shrubs are hardy enough to withstand afternoon sun. The soil may have fungus so the ideal tree/shrub should be hardy enough to tolerate these soil conditions as well. So far, I am considering either a:
Velvet Viking Japanese Maple
I would greatly appreciate your advice.
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.
Not knowing what fungus your soil has makes it difficult to recommend a tree. If you are worried that your soil has the Verticillium fungus then planting a Japanese maple is not a good idea since Japanese maples are very susceptible to a soil-borne disease called Verticillium wilt.
My recommendation before selecting a tree is to have your your soil tested. We recommend the City of Toronto’s Guide for Soil Testing in Urban Gardens, which outlines a step-by-step process you can follow. Click here to read or print it. The University of Guelph’s Agriculture and Food Laboratory information can be found here.
Another issue with planting Japanese Maples in your site conditions is that they do not do well in full sun, their leaves may scorch. They should be planted in partial shade. Our Gardening Guide on Growing Japanese Maples gives futher information. Landscape Ontario also has an excellent article on Japanese Maples and lists different species along with mature height and hardiness zone.
You may wish to look at our Gardening Guide on Ornamental Shrubs for Various Light Conditions which lists shrubs that will grow in full sun.
Lastely, are you looking for a small city tree. If so we have lots of inforation on our website. This link brings you to a number of our archived posts.