We have a huge west facing front lawn which needs few fast growing shade giving trees. The house is in mid Toronto (Dufferin and Lawrence). What is your advice?
Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners. Please find some suggestions.
Freeman maple (Acer x freemanii) is a hybrid of red maple (A. rubrum) and silver maple (A. saccharinum). The Freeman maple cultivars commonly sold in commerce today reportedly combine some of the best features of both parents, namely, solid structure, attractive form and showy fall color (from red maple) and adaptability and rapid growth (from silver maple). Depending of the cultivar it can grow 40-45’ high, 20-25′ wide for the Scarlet Sentinel or Autunm Blaze, to 50-70’ high , 10-15’ wide for Armstrong.
River birch (Betula nigra) is a borer-resistant species of birch with thin, spreading branches It grows 40-70’ high, 40-60’ wide. When allowed to grow naturally and mulching out to the dripline, it is an attractive specimen with few problems. If you must limb it up, do it to expose the beautiful scaly bark. Some nurseries sell them as clumps to show off the bark.
London plane tree (Platanus x acerifolia) provides ample shade, has beautiful exfoliating bark and tolerates summer heat. They can grow 70-100 feet tall (reaching 35 feet in 20 years) and can spread 65-80 feet at maturity. They have large leaves so should provide your desired screening and privacy.
Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) is a large deciduous tree of eastern North America that typically grows 60-90′ (spread 30-50’) tall with a pyramidal to broad conical habit. It has beautiful flowers to decorate the tree and lawn in spring. Tulip-shaped leaves inspire its common name, tulip tree.
Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) is a deciduous, single or multi-trunked, understory tree with a dense, rounded habit that typically matures to 40-60’ high, 25-60’ wide. It is grown for its beautiful shape and its attractive foliage.
Thornless Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos form inermis) It typically grows 30-70 high, 30-70’ wide with a rounded spreading crown.
Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia Glyptostroboides) is interesting because it is one of the relatively few deciduous conifers (loses its leaves in the winter). It has lovely fern like leaves which turn a rusty colour in the fall before they fall off. It also grows 70-100’ high, 15-25′ wide, with a pyramidal shape.
Valley forge elm (Ulmus americana ‘Valley Forge’), is a medium to large deciduous tree, typically growing to 60-80’ high, 50-60’ wide with a vase-shaped, broad-rounded crown.
And in case you have not seen the City of Toronto’s Every Tree Counts website, https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/92de-every-tree-counts-portrait-of-torontos-urban-forest.pdf.
Here is a link that lists trees the City will plant in your yard, https://www.toronto.ca/services-payments/water-environment/trees/tree-planting/