Replacement of a City Tree

(Question)

The tree on my front lawn recently came down. It was a small leaf linden. We are devastated to lose a tree, but it is an opportunity to plant what I want. They have suggested a freeman maple or a tulip tree. I could not stand the aphids that plagued my old tree so a tulip tree is out of the question. I want something that doesn’t have too much of a dense canopy, no aphids and not messy. Love the red oak, do you have any suggestions.

(Answer)

Urban Forestry is the City  department that plants trees on City-owned land in front of residential properties for free.  Periodically, Urban Forestry will canvass neighbourhoods for tree planting opportunities. It sounds as if the tree that came down on your lawn was originally planted by the City. What is not clear is whether the City is going to replace the tree or you personally.  If the City is doing the replacing then you are restricted to the varieties of tree that are offered and are available in the program.

The City brochure at https://www.toronto.ca/data/parks/pdf/trees/street-tree-brochure.pdf provides a list of 34 trees. Red Oak (Quercus rubra); Freeman Maple (Maple fremanii) and the Tulip Tree (Lirodendron tulipfera) are listed. All are great trees. Its difficult to recommend a specific tree because so many factors come into play. Do you want it to have flowers, do you have a limit on how tall it should grow, would you prefer a native variety, a deciduous tree or a conifer, something with a dense canopy (which you mention you do not want) etc. Obviously all the trees mentioned in the brochure have proven to be excellent choices to plant in this city. However, the Ginkgo appeals to me because of its strange shaped leaves, it can tolerate a fair amount of pollution and is not particularly bothered by pests or diseases.  Whatever tree you choose you will have to deal with leaf cleanup in the Fall.

For your information LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests) is a local non-profit group dedicated to improving Toronto’s urban forest.  They offer a subsidized backyard tree planting program for Toronto residents.  The service includes on-site advice on appropriate species and planting location, a 1.2 to 1.8m tall native tree, and the planting service.  Native shrubs are also available. Visit www.yourleaf.org for a list of native tree species as well as other useful information.