Best City of Toronto Approved Trees for Poolside Landscaping?


Looking for some advice on some poolside landscaping options. I have mocked up a design (see attached) with a few tree options. The flower beds are 4’x30’ on the south-west side and 4’ x 19th on the north-west side. I prefer a fairly modern style Here are my questions:
1) We recently obtained permits to remove 2 weed trees from the yard an now need to incorporate the re-planting of 2 trees from the list of city of Toronto approved options. Looking for something that doesn’t grow too large so as not to shade the pool too much and doesn’t drop leaves or seeds or berries etc as they will be around the pool. I also like mixing a little red to flank the corners. Originally was thinking Japanese maple, but fear they will grow too large and shade the pool. Maybe something from the list of city approve trees? Looking for suggestions.
2) I love peegee hydrangea trees, but do you think 3 will be too crowded in an about a 14’ span betwee whichever trees are suggested for the corners? Backup plan of maybe euonymus trees that I can keep trimmed?
3)I’d like some privacy from the neighbours on the south-west side. Originally, I was thinking cedar trees, but I don’t like that they seem to harbour mosquitos, so now thinking of columnar beech trees. But open to suggestions
4) looking for suggestions on layering. Again, prefer more modern (or transitional) and not too busy. Thinking boxwood along the front and either hostas, grasses, or or periwinkle between the trees? I need some help!

I know those are a lot of questions, so if I’ve been too greedy in asking so many, the priority question would be #1 (which city approved trees are best for pool side planting?).

Thanks in advance,



You have posed quite a few questions and I am happy to try to answer all of them, firstly though the photograph of your plan did not come through on our site, so I am flying “blind” and hopefully these suggestions will work for you

1)  Suggested city recommended trees:  Most of the trees on the City site are quite large and may not be suitable for the spot you are describing.  Here are some of the smaller City recommend trees.

Yellowwood (Cladastris kentukea) is a North American medium growing native tree. It has a fairly open, vase-shaped canopy, compound leaves that turn yellow in the fall, and once established the tree produces wisteria-like fragrant white flowers in spring.  It grows to about 12m, but it does spread to 10m, when mature. It is a lovely specimen tree, and suitable for a small lot. This tree has medium tolerance to salt. The tree is not seriously affected by pests and diseases.

Japanese Katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) grows best in a sunny exposure in moist soil, however, it is considered drought tolerant once established and has moderate tolerance to salt. This is a medium to large tree reaching a mature height of  12-18m with a spread of  10-18m. The growth rate is moderately rapid when young however, it  slows down with age. Fall colour is a spectacular yellow- orange. This tree is not seriously affected by pests and diseases.

Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) is a fast-growing large tree which can reach heights of 35m tall. It grows best in full sun on sandy moist loam soil. The scented tulip-like greenish-yellow flowers appear in mid spring. The leaves turn a yellow gold in the fall. The tree in unaffected by light salt spray. Scale is a key pest of this tree.


I actually like the idea of a Japanese maple, they are a beautiful small tree, and their delicate leaves do not cast a great deal of shade.  Bloodgood is the most popular and fastest grower of the varieties and does have fantastic deep red colour turning brilliant in the fall,  it can grow to 6 meters. There are many other varieties that are slower growing and do not get as large as Bloodgood.  Look for J.Acer Suminagashi or J. Acer Aureum both shorter varieties with lacy leaves and intense fall colour.

2) Pee Gees or Panicle Hydrangea are lovely shrubs that can be pruned into a tree shape.  They can grow to over 15’ and have a spread of 8 ‘– therefore I would say that three of these shrubs would be too much for your space.   Two would be fine.

One tree you mentioned that  I definitely would NOT recommend is Euonymus alatus (Burning Bush). Yes it does have fantastic fall colour but it is a highly nuisance tree, dropping small florets in the spring, berries in the summer and of course lots of leaves in the fall.  It is also a very invasive plant that you will regret planting in no time.  (I will discuss the invasive nature of this and other trees later.

3)   You mentioned that you were not a fan of cedars but perhaps look at another conifer such as Juniper (Juniperus) – There are dozens of different Junipers, with many available shapes and sizes.  Look for (Juniperus virginiana “Skyrocket”). Like Junipers, False Cypress (Chamaecyparis) offer much choice in size and colour.  Look An C.obtusa “Nana Aurea” .  C.pisfera “Filifera Aurea” for attractive gold foliage and good winter hardiness.  All of these choices will offer you year-round privacy. Columnar beech are beautiful trees with interesting leaf colour. Pay attention to the variety as many can grow up to 80 feet.  Look for Dawyck as they grow to 25 ‘with a 8 ‘ spread.

4)  There are many wonderful choices for shade lovers to plant under your trees including many of the ones you mentioned. There are Astilbes, Ferns, Bergenias etc.  The one plant I strongly urge you NOT to plant is periwinkle (vinca).  This is a highly invasive plant.  It will prevent your other perennials from thriving  and once established, it is almost impossible to eradicate.

I am including some links that will have information that will be  extremely helpful for your new garden.  One that is very important is “Grow me instead”. This will help you understand the dangers of these invasive plants and will offer better, more well-behaved  planting suggestions instead.

Happy planting!!