I wish to be able to grow a fast growing evergreen tree, but it will be in the shade. This is in order to gain privacy from the deck belonging to the property behind me. I have clay soil.
I notice most evergreen trees, e.g. cedars require sun. This spot would be near an apple tree and shaded by other trees from neighbouring gardens (beside – not behind!)
Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners with your interesting question of what tree to plant for privacy in a shady site with clay soil. In addition to shade, your new tree will be affected by the myriad root systems of neighbouring trees and consequently with dry soil. The following link provides a description of the various depths of shade: light; medium; and dark, and also provides a chart listing trees suitable for each category: https://extension.psu.edu/plants/gardening/fact-sheets/trees-shrubs/shade-tolerant-trees-shrubs-and-groundcovers
Another option you may wish to consider is: Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Glauca’, a handsome weeping pyramidal tree to ultimately 20-25 feet and hardy in Toronto.
Other hardy choices include: White fir (Abies concolor), White spruce (Picea glauca), and Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), all hardy in Toronto, each with distinctive characteristics.
None of these trees fits the ‘fast growing’ bill. To encourage good growth, when planting dig the hole twice as wide as the width of the branching but not much deeper than it was planted in the container, breaking up the edge of the hole. Spread the roots out around the tree. We recommend that you do not amend the soil but backfill with the native soil. Water thoroughly, and apply a 2 to 3 inch (5-7 cm) layer of organic mulch of compost, well-rotted manure, composted pine bark or similar out beyond the root zone, but kept away from the tree trunk by about 2 to 3 inches (5-7 cm). Ensure that the soil remains moist for at least the first growing season.
With our current cool, moist weather, this is an ideal time to plant. We wish you much pleasure in your new, handsome privacy tree.