Tree selection


We live in Toronto and between our raised flower bed and the house it is 36 feet. We want to plant a hardy deciduous tree- dappled sunlight- not be more than 25′ tall. I have done a lot of research, talked to arborists. Native species are all too big. Full sun, good soil, moderate amount of water. Thank you.


Hello, and thank you for writing to Toronto Master Gardeners for even more advice —  beyond what your arborists have recommended for your tree selection.

At first blush, the picture you paint of your property is of either the front, or back, of your home. The raised flower bed could be bordering your property at the front, or in the back yard, but, either way, the plantings will need light. And you have an ample expanse of open space for a tree that, at maturity, would have a dripline of 36′, or about 11 metres in diameter.

You don’t mention the directional aspect of your home, but the fact that you are looking for a deciduous tree might be because you wish winter sunlight in your windows, in addition to filtered sunlight during the summer months. And your comment re “full sun” does seem to indicate there are few, if any, tall buildings, or other taller trees in close proximity.

For trees that mature at approx 25′, or 7.5 metres, in height, many of which are native, and provide varying degrees of filtered, or dappled shade, you may consider:

  • American hornbeam, or blue beech  (Carpinus caroliniana) – Native
  • Pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) – Native
  • Ironwood  (Ostrya virginiana) – Native
  • Japanese maple (Acer palmatum)
  • Pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica) – Native
  • Redbud  (Cercis canadensis) – Native
  • Serviceberry  (Amelanchier canadensis) – Native

Slightly larger trees :

  • Paper birch  (Betula papyrifera) – Native
  • Honey locust  (Gleditsia triacanthos) – Native to southwestern Ontario
  • Katsura tree  (Cercidiphyllum japonicum)

We  hope these ideas are helpful, and perhaps this also gives our gardening readership a good idea of possible tree options if their needs may be similar to yours.