Shade Tolerant Shrubs/Trees


We have old Austrian Pines and a honey locust that will probably die within five years. Right now, there is shade and some privacy from their trunks. What shrubs or small trees can we plant in their shadow that would grow to give us privacy when they die?


Thank you for your question.

As we are unable to determine which area you reside in and the space and area in which your trees are growing, it is hard to provide exact recommendations.

We would suggest that you assess the available space, light, soil, water and wind conditions. that you currently have.

We would recommend you consider how tall and wide you want the tree or shrub to become and its growing habit. Will it be appropriate for the particular location you have and will it grow fast enough to provide the privacy you are looking to achieve.

Here is a list of some shade tolerant evergreens from a previous post you might want to consider

Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Gracilis’): this evergreen grows in full sun to part shade. This is a slow growing conical evergreen which will reach 6-9′ at maturity.

Yews (Taxus spp.) Yews come in many sizes and shapes. Unlike cedars which do best in full sun and moist soil, once established yews can handle partial shade and some varieties such as Upright Japanese Yew (T. cuspidata ‘Morden Upright’)Dwarf Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidata ‘ Nana’) , Globe Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidata ‘Clipped Globe’) and Taxus media ‘Runyan’ can grow in full shade. The above yews come in many shapes: pyramidal shapes, columnar shape, global and spreading and sizes Before you make your choice make sure to check the mature height and spread.

Jeddeloh Dwarf Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis ‘Jeddeloh’): Grows best in medium moisture, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. This plant grows as a dwarf, flat-topped, spreading mound with a distinctive funnelform center depression that resembles a bird’s nest. mature height is 2-3′ and 3-4′ wide.

Dogwood (Cornus spp.) Cornus is a genus of about 30–60 species of woody plants which grow in full sun to part shade and are tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions. Their colourful branches add winter interest to the landscape.

Japanese Pieris (Pieris sp.): These shrubs grow and flower best when planted in full sun or partial shade. They will grow in deep shade, but generally do not flower as well, and the new foliage growth is usually not as brilliant.

Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium): Is a broadleaf evergreen shrub with shiny holly-like leaflets

Dwarf Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum ‘Compactum’): is a rounded shrub with dark green foliage which turns red in the fall along with red berries in October. Does best in full sun to part shade.

Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best fruit production occurs in full sun.

You may also want to consider a native shrub and in the following link you will find some further good examples.

In addition, LEAF is a non-profit organization that has a backyard tree planting program that offers native trees and shrubs to homeowners in the City of Toronto at a subsidized cost.  If this is an option for you, they will help you choose the right plants for the conditions in your garden. Their website lists the trees and shrubs that they have available. Here is the link:

Staff at a reputable nursery or garden centre in your area is another good option for advice on what to plant.  Landscape Ontario can provide you with a list of garden centres in your area.

Finally we have provided a link to our Garden Guide with general information on planting a tree.

April 27,2021