Are there any shade trees that don’t shed their leaves? Looking for a shade tree to provide some shade and visual interest over a backyard stone patio but that won’t make a mess when it loses its flowers, fruit or leaves. We live in Toronto South.
Thank you for your interesting question.
Unfortunately it would be quite a challenge to have a non deciduous shade tree survive our harsh winter climate in Toronto, especially this year! California would be a great place for this kind of tree.
Regardless of what kind of shade tree you plant, you will have some cleanup, even with conifers. However some trees create less work for the gardener than others. A Sunburst locust (Gleditsia tricanthos inermis ‘Suncole’) delights the viewer every year with beautiful foliage that starts yellow moves to green yellow and then to light green and back to yellow in the fall. The leaves are very small and easy to sweep into the garden for composting. Also, it does not have seed pods to contend with. The Sunburst locust will grow 30-40’ in most soil conditions. It is drought tolerant and pollution tolerant.
Another option would be a male Gingko biloba. It is one of the oldest trees on the planet and eventually will grow to over 30‘ with a spread of 15- 30’. The fan shaped leaves, brilliant yellow in the fall, drop virtually over night after a frost, requiring only one cleanup. The Gingko does prefer full sun.
Before you decide on which tree you prefer, you must identify your growing conditions: type of soil, clay or sand and light conditions. And remember to look at the height and width of the tree at maturity. You did not mention whether you had a large property or something a bit smaller.
You may wish to refer to the Toronto Master Gardeners Guide on: Planting a Tree for additional information
Good luck with your choice. If all fails, a large deck umbrella may just do the trick.