Planting Two Serviceberries Saplings – Part 2


I plan to plant two serviceberries in my backyard along the fence for privacy screening. I have no experience and can’t imagine how they look when they grow up.

1)  What should be the distance apart between them (both are single stem) that will give privacy screening?

2)  If I plant two serviceberries of the same cultivar, would that look dull?
Should I plant two, say Autumn Brilliance, one multi stem and the other single?
Should I plant  one Autumn Brilliance and one Robin Hill so that there is some variation? 

Many thanks


Thanks for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.

Serviceberries are delightful native trees which can be purchased in two forms: clump/multi-stemmed or tree form. You mention single stem trees are your preference, so be sure to specify which type (multi-stemmed or tree form) when you place your nursery order. You may prefer a tree form so that you can put additional plants underneath the tree. The multi-stem form could also provide a good screen by fence.

A similar question was answered on the Toronto Master Gardener website:

Robin Hill, Autumn Brilliance and Common Serviceberry may have too large a spread for the 8 foot space you mention. Below are details of the characteristics of each tree. You didn’t mention the total width of your backyard and also the trees will be placed by a fence. Good air flow around trees is important to combat disease and insect damage. If you want to plant a larger serviceberry, then use only one tree.

Robin Hill Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Robin Hill’) is a more narrow, upright tree with pale pink flowers, changing to white. It is often used in confined spaces or on streetscapes. Height is 20 feet and spread is 15 feet. Two Robin Hill serviceberries planted side by side, would mean you need 15 feet between the trees to give them room to grow.

Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’) is commonly known as Apple Serviceberry. It is a cross between downy serviceberry (A. arborea) and Alleghany serviceberry (A. laevis) which makes it more disease resistant to rust, leaf spot, fire blight, powdery mildew and canker. It thrives in medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Maturing to a height of 15 – 20 feet and spread of 15 – 25 feet. Fall colour is brilliant orange-red. With a spread of 15 – 25 feet, you would need 25 feet between the two trees to allow for growth.

Common Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis) is also called shadblow serviceberry. It is a larger tree which is tolerant of a wide range of well-drained soil. The height is 15 to 30 feet tall with a spread of 15 to 20 feet. Fall colour is orange red. Because of its size, this tree is often found in woodland settings or along stream banks. This tree may struggle with drought conditions. Although it is native to Canada, it is slightly more susceptible to disease problems. With a spread of 15 – 20 feet, again you would need 20 feet between trees to allow for growth.

There are smaller, more compact serviceberries available. The ‘Royal Family’ Series serviceberry includes ‘Princess Diana’, ‘Prince Charles’ and ‘Prince William’. All three offer abundant flowers, wonderful fall color and a handsome form. ‘Prince William’ is the shrubbiest of the three. These are more compact trees than the Robin Hill, Autumn Brilliance or Common Serviceberry. With a space only 8 feet between trees, it seems your only choice is a smaller serviceberry.

Princess Diana Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Princess Diana’) reaches a height of 15 – 16 feet with a spread of 10 to 12 feet. It can be purchased as a specimen tree or a multi-stemmed shrub. It is one of the smaller serviceberries with an upright form. Purchasing the trees from a reputable nursery is key and specify whether you want a multi-stemmed clump form or a tree form. This Zone 4 cultivar tolerates a wide range of soils and conditions. Leaves emerge in spring as bronzish-purple and mature to dark green. Edible red berries ripen to dark purplish black in June. Fall colour is an outstanding red, colouring early and long lasting.

Ideally you would need 12 feet between two Princess Diana trees to allow for growth. It may be possible to prune the trees to accommodate a space of 8 feet, but this may not work or impede the growth of the trees. If the spacing for a serviceberry doesn’t work for your backyard, then you might consider small, ornamental trees or even a larger shrub.

Two similar trees would form a pleasing backdrop and privacy to your yard. Repetition of forms and plants in a garden, particularly in a smaller space often works well. Depending on the design of your entire garden, different heights or types of trees may also complement your space. Visiting larger nurseries with tree stock may help you decide which type of tree to purchase. The Toronto Botanical Garden has many trees on its property and would be worth a visit to see how their plants and trees interact in a garden space.

May 6, 2022