What Tree to Plant?

tree love

We talk about trees an awful lot here at the CLC Tree Services’ Blog. We have suggested when to plant them (Spring or Fall), how and why to plant them, and how to go about pruning them when the time comes for it. We have talked about specific trees, like the Caucasian Wing Nutfir trees and rowan trees. Heck, we have even talked about some of the homeopathic uses for trees, as well as thrown out a recipe or two of what you can make with them.

We like to talk trees.

I realized that there is a missing topic though; one that my local friends in Southwestern Ontario may have grappled with when they have thought about trees. That question?

What Tree Should I Plant?

It is an incredibly valid question with a wide variety of answers. Of course you have to look at your location, first and foremost. What is the soil like (clay, sand, silt, etc.)? How much sunshine do you receive? What is the average rainfall and how moist is your site typically? How much space will the tree have to grow? All of these factors affect your tree choice.

Trees to Avoid

You should also look at what trees are native to your area. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources takes trees pretty seriously. They don’t like to see trees planted that will not survive, or worse, that will harm our environment. Some non-native species are considered invasive and will crowd out native tree species. That can have far-reaching consequences, often bad. Some of their no-no’s for Ontario include;

  • By Pollinator at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2040096

    Avoid Black Locust in favour of a native tree

    Black Locust

  • English Oak
  • Horsechestnut
  • Little Leaf Linden
  • Northern Catalpa
  • Norway Maple
  • White Elm

Add to that, these other species that ReForest London suggests you also avoid;

Steer Clear of Autumn Olive

  • Autumn Olive
  • Amur Maple
  • Callery or Bradford Pear
  • Crack Willow
  • Crimson King Maple
  • English Hawthorn 
  • European Alder 
  • European Buckthorn 
  • European Mountain-ash 
  • European Weeping Birch 

Pass on the Glossy Buckthorn

  • Glossy Buckthorn 
  • Perfumed Cherry
  • Russian Olive 
  • Siberian Elm 
  • Sweet Cherry
  • Sycamore Maple
  • Tree-of-heaven 
  • White Mulberry 
  • White Poplar 
  • White Willow

Trees to Plant in Southwestern Ontario

It is far better to plant native tree species, as they have adapted to our climate and tend to be hardier. They help to maintain our biodiversity and the health of our ecosystem. Plus, there are tonnes of trees to choose from, like;

  • Bitternut Hickory

    American Basswood

  • Bitternut Hickory
  • Black Cherry
  • Black Walnut
  • Bur Oak
  • Canadian Plum
  • Downy Serviceberry
  • Eastern White Cedar
  • Eastern White Pine
A Sugar Maple looking for a home

Sugar Maple

  • Peachleaf Willow
  • Pin Cherry
  • Red Maple
  • Red Oak
  • Round-leaved Hawthorn
  • Shagbark Hickory
  • Silver Maple
  • Staghorn Sumac
  • Sugar Maple
  • Tamarack


  • Trembling Aspen
  • Tulip Tree
  • White Oak
  • Wild crabapple

This list is far from comprehensive. It is pulled from both the MNR’s Tree Atlas site and ReForest London’s Brochure “Choosing the Right Tree in London, Ontario“. There are other trees and species to choose from that might be more or less appropriate for your space. The only question that remains is what do you want to plant? Personal preference still leaves the field (or nursery selection) wide open.


Mary Strong-Spaid

I planted 3 river birch trees in my backyard about 9 years ago. They were only about 6 feet tall when we planted them. Now they are as tall as this 3 level house. The builder did a poor (understatement) grading the land, so my backyard becomes a swamp when it rains and there isn’t much I can do about it. There is a swale that runs very close to my basement walkout…and I have never gotten any water in the basement because the river birches do such a fantastic job soaking up the water. They are my guardian angels.
Problem now. The birch tree that gets the most water has become too top heavy, I guess.
It has 5 trunks and 2 of them are so bent now after this very wet spring…..that I am afraid they will split off or break in the next rainstorm.
I have a tree company coming over to look at the tree tomorrow. I don’t want to be completely ignorant about the tree before they show up. What I am wondering is this—can river birch trunks be cabled together? I was thinking about taking bungee cords and trying to pull the branches together that way. This particular tree is my favorite. If it wasn’t for my river birch trees, I think my house would have floated away a long time ago. I hope it can be fixed. Because this tree gets the most water when it rains, I think it just got to big too fast, Sigh. Big sigh.


This answer didn’t quite come in time for you to be prepared for your arborist, but I thought that you might be interested in our response anyway. Went all the way to the top for our answer. Here is Curt, the owner, with his answer to your question.

I would say you are correct on your assumption…
Yes the leaders can be cabled together. We use a couple of products, but a simple 5/16 cable between the trunks will work. Don’t pull the leaders together.
Install the cables with a little slack. Their real purpose is to prevent crotch overload in windy conditions. As growth occurs simply relax the tension of these cables.
I hope this answers your question.
Regards Curt”

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Published by
May 29, 2013 5:18 pm