The City of Toronto plans to plant Red Oak this fall, and I like this big fast growing tree. But I also recently discovered Tri-Color Beech, a slow growing, species tree. I am wondering if it is good idea to have both… can I have two trees? The distance between them would be about 3 metres
I’m glad you are asking this question now, as opposed to 20 years from now when your yard might have been quite crowded and shady because of the trees.
The red oak can grow up to 30 metres (100 feet), with a spread (canopy) of up to 23 metres (75 feet) a trunk that is usually from 30-90 centimetres (1-3 feet) in diameter. It needs lots of room to grow, and once it’s older (and larger) requires full sun – so it should not be crowded. The beech will grow up to 9 metres (30 feet), with a spread of 3-6 metres (10-20 feet).
I’d suggest that you select one of the trees only, or, if your yard is large enough, ensure there is lots of space between them — don’t plant another tree within 12 metres (40 feet) of the oak. There are a few reasons for this. One is to to accommodate the spread of the trees’ roots, which may extend beyond the canopy of the adult tree; if trees are planted too close together, they would compete for water and nutrients from soil in the same area – and one of the trees would lose out and likely die back. Another issue to consider is the diameter of the tree canopies. Your oak tree can have a spread of over 20 metres, while that of the beech is a lot less – up to 6 metres or so. The oak tree might shade the smaller beech tree excessively if the two are planted too close together. This could stunt the beech’s growth.
Another issue to consider, regardless of which tree(s) you select, is the space between the tree(s) and other structures. For example, keep at least 6 metres (20 feet) between any tree and buildings or pathways. Remember that tree roots can crack and lift structures. As well, don’t plant the trees directly under power lines, which they might get tangled up in a few years from now.
Finally, think about other plants you have in the yard – annuals, perennials. Is the yard in full sun right now, so that you have lovely sun-loving plants in your garden? In a few years, the tree(s) will shade some or all of the space, which will likely change the plant “mix” your garden will support.
For additional information, see
- Missouri Botanical Garden’s Fagus sylvatica ‘Tricolor’
- Province of Ontario’s Red oak
- Missouri Botanical Garden’s Quercus rubra
And in case you have not seen the City of Toronto’s Every Tree Counts brochure, which lists trees the City will plant in your yard, here’s a link.
All the best with selecting one or more trees!