We recently bought a house in Toronto’s east end and I’m considering a serviceberry in the backyard. I love that it is native and will attract birds, but I’m worried about raccoons loving it as well. We have a lot in this neighbourhood. Does anyone have experience with this? Do the birds generally eat the berries before the larger animals get to it? Thank you for your thoughts!
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your enquiry.
Serviceberry shrubs or trees are such a delight to have in our city gardens. In the spring we cannot wait for the bush to be covered in white fluffy looking flowers – winter is over!! In the summer we delight in seeing the many, many different species of birds enjoying the multitude of delicious berries and in the fall we are rewarded with a beautiful orange/red foliage display to let us know that winter will be back.
Amelanchier canadensis, commonly called shadblow serviceberry, is a deciduous, early-flowering, large native shrub or small tree which typically grows 15-30′ tall in zones 4 – 8. It is low maintenance, grows in a variety of soils and has few pests and diseases.
In addition to birds, squirrels, chipmunks, racoons and humans enjoy the taste of serviceberries. Racoons are unfortunately a way of life in the city of Toronto. They may try to climb up the shrub and even possibly break a branch or two with their weight. Hopefully there will be a better food supply elsewhere in the neighbourhood and the birds will be able to have their fill of the delicious berries.
There is a service available in the city of Toronto called “Leaf’s Backyard Tree Program”.
This program offers native trees and shrubs to homeowners at a subsidized cost. An arborist will help you make an educated decision about the type of tree that best suits your property, and where it should be planted. You might want to check out the LEAF website before you make your decision. Click here.
Don’t forget to have some of the berries yourself.