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Request a Tree

Mountain Ash Boulevard Tree

Property owners may request a tree for the municipal boulevard adjacent to their property, subject to review and approval by the Parks & Open Spaces Section. There are three options if you would like a boulevard tree:

  • Call the Parks & Open Spaces Section (625-2195) and request to be put on the two-year waiting list, and the City will provide a tree at no cost to you.
  • Pay the full cost (approximately $500) of a 60 mm diameter tree and have it planted before too long (tax receipt provided by City.) Permission from the City must first be granted. You will need to obtain utility locates through ON1Call
  • Participate in the Tree Stewardship Program by paying for only 1/3 of the cost, and receive a tree the following growing season (tax receipt provided by City).

Please note: Not all boulevard locations will qualify due to space and utility restrictions. All plantings on City property must be approved by the City's Parks & Open Spaces Section.  


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Tree Species Selection

The urban environment is not a natural setting for tree growth, and conditions can be very difficult (see Caring for Trees below). The City of Thunder Bay plants cultivated species that are tolerant to urban growing conditions and are cold tolerant to our Canadian Plant Hardiness Zone 3A.

Thunder Bay's surrounding forest region contains relatively few native tree species suitable for urban tree planting, in comparison to more southerly ecosystems. Native evergreen species found in the regional forest are planted by the City of Thunder Bay in parks, open spaces and as living buffers. They are not planted on boulevards because their low, full branches block sight-lines for motorists and provide hiding places that affect public safety. Also, grass grows poorly under evergreen trees.

Native deciduous trees have been planted by the City of Thunder Bay in the past but several have become unsuitable for urban planting:

  • Ash and birch trees were once planted in Thunder Bay and did very well. However, they are threatened by these present or potential pests: the bronze birch borer and the emerald ash borer.
  • Native poplars are not planted because they sprout sucker shoots throughout residents' yards, drop sticky buds and produce copious amounts of seed.
  • Native sugar maples do not survive in urban environments.
  • Bur oak and mountain ash are some native species that do well locally and are planted frequently by the City.

Spacing requirements

Trees require space above and below ground. Without this growing room, their ability to absorb nutrients and water is reduced. Paving, overhead wires and underground utilities must all be accounted for before planting. Interference with other trees, compacted soil, and cramped areas can stress trees, leaving them more susceptible to disease and pests.

The planting site should meet the following minimum space requirements:

  • Distance from street curb line (corner) - 9 m
  • Distance from driveway - 3.3 m
  • Distance from fence/property line - 1 m
  • Distance from existing trees - 6 m
  • Distance from stumps (including those recently ground) - 1.5 m
  • Distance from street lamp - 3.3 m
  • Distance from water/sewer lines - 3.3 m
  • Distance from gas, telephone and hydro lines - 1.5 m

One of the City's ecological goals is to create an urban forest that is species and age diverse to better defend against natural and man-made threats. Even with the proper tree species and planting locations, our northern urban environment is generally not conducive to long-lived trees. Urban conditions shorten the lives of trees, and their average lifespan is 60 years.

Do I have a choice of tree species?

A limited selection of boulevard trees is viable for our climate: Canadian Plant Hardiness Zone 3A. Every effort is made to provide the tree species requested; however, tree species selection will ultimately be determined in consultation with the City's Parks and Open Spaces Section and based upon availability.

For larger planting areas where there are no overhead restrictions, the following species may be considered:

Manitoba Maple (Acer negundo 'Baron')
Height: 14 m
Form: rounded
Foliage: green, pinnately compound
Fall Colour: yellow/brown
Flowers: yellow-spring
Other: hardier, seedless variety, fast growing, short lived

Northwood Maple (Acer rubrum 'Northwood')
Height: 15 m
Form: pyramidal
Foliage: emerges vibrant red and turns to dark green
Fall Colour: orange/red
Flowers: showy red
Other: *only planted in spring, deer resistant, fast growing, cold hardy, strong, long living 

Silver Cloud Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum 'Silver Cloud')
Height: 17 m
Form: oval
Foliage: green 5 lobed
Fall Colour: bright yellow, some burgundy
Flowers: small, dull red/orange
Other: fast growing, bark splits to show orangey colour underneath

Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra)
Height: 6-12 m
Form: rounded
Foliage: green, Palmate compound
Fall Colour: yellow to red
Flowers: cream, upright, large, fragrant
Other: beige coloured prickly fruits containing nuts eaten by wildlife, long lived slow growing tree

Autumn Splendor Buckeye (Aesculus x arnoldiana 'Autumn Splendor')
Height: 10m
Form: rounded
Foliage: dark green, Palmate compound
Fall Colour: bright red
Flowers: cream, upright, large, fragrant
Other: beige coloured prickly fruits containing nuts eaten by wildlife

Prairie Horizon Alder (Alnus hirsuta 'Harbin')
Height: 12m
Form: oval rounded
Foliage: dark green
Fall Colour: yellow
Flowers: purple catkins followed by brown stabiles (flowers in catkin) in fall
Other: fast growing, tolerant of difficult and dry sites

Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)
Height: 14 m
Form: round
Foliage: green, birch-like
Fall Colour: golden
Flowers: showy, white
Fruit: small, purple
Other: corky and rough bark, hardy tree. * spring plant only*

Butternut (Juglans cinera)
Height: 14 m
Form: widespread
Foliage: opposite, compound leaves
Fall Colour: yellow
Flowers: not ornamentally important
Fruit: nuts
Other: slow growing, *only on large boulevards or in Parks*

Skyfest Poplar (Populus x deltoides 'Jefcot')
Height:24 m
Form: upright
Foliage: green
Fall Colour: golden
Flowers & Fruit: not ornamentally significant                                                                          
                                    Other: fast growing, *parks only, male cottonwood

Northern Pin Oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis)
Height: 20 m
Form: irregularly rounded crown
Foliage: elliptic-oblong
Fall Colour: red
Flowers: not ornamentally important
Other: drought tolerant

Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
Height: 20 m
Form: broad crown
Foliage: green, obviate shape
Fall Colour: yellow/brown
Flowers: brown, not appealing
Other: slow growing, long lived, strong/straight stem, drought resistant

Red Oak (Quercus rubra)
Height: 20 m
Form: rounded
Foliage: green, obovate shape
Fall Colour: rusty red
Flowers: pale yellow/green
Other:*only planted in spring*, strong, long lived, needs room

American Linden/Basswood (Tilia americana)
Height: 18 m
Form: oval
Foliage: heart shaped
Fall Colour: dark yellow
Flowers: small, white, fragrant
Other: great form, reliable

Dropmore Linden (Tilia flavescens 'Dropmore')
Height: 15 m
Form: pyramidal
Foliage: very dark green, glossy
Fall Colour: yellow
Flowers: fragrant, cream coloured

Harvest Gold Linden(Tilia x mongolica ‘Harvest Gold’)
Height: 12m
Form: upright oval
Foliage: heart shaped, dark green
Fall Colour: golden-yellow
Flowers: small, yellow, fragrant
Other: attractive exfoliating grey bark

Triumph Elm (Ulmus ‘Morton Glossy’)
Height:14+ m
Form: upright oval to vase
Foliage: glossy dark green
Fall Colour: bright yellow
Flowers: inconspicuous
Other: fast growing, Dutch Elm Disease resistant, drought tolerant

Discovery Elm (Ulmus japonica 'Discovery')
Height: 12 m
Form: vase/ symmetrical upright
Foliage: dark green
Fall Colour: yellow
Flowers: not ornamentally important
Other: slow growing, requires thinning when young, resistant to Dutch Elm Disease

For smaller planting areas, or if there are overhead wires, these species may be considered:

Tatarian Maple  (Acer tataricum)                                                                                                                            Height: 5.5 m
Form: upright, spreading
Foliage: lobbed, dark green
Fall Colour: brilliant red
Flowers: not ornamentally significant
Other: lots of showy red samaras (seeds)

Gladiator Crab Apple(Malus x ‘Gladiator')
Height: 6m
Form: upright narrow
Foliage: attractive deep purple foliage which emerges burgundy in spring
Fall Colour: yellow
Flowers: stunning clusters of fragrant pink flowers along the branches
Fruit: showy purple pomes carried in abundance from early to late fall

Starlite Crab Apple (Malus x 'Jeflite')
Height: 8 m (not recommended under hydro lines)
Form: upright
Foliage: dark green, glossy
Fall Colour: yellow
Flowers: very showy, white
Fruit:  bright red, small, persistent             

Goldspur Amur Cherry(Prunus maacki ‘Jefspur’)
Height: 5m
Form: upright
Foliage: medium-green
Fall Colour: golden-yellow
Flowers: white, showy, fragrant
Fruit: tiny, black
Other: exfoliating orange/brown bark

Showy Mountain Ash (Sorbus decora)
Height: 6 m
Form: rounded
Foliage: dark green, oval compound
Fall Colour: vibrant orange/red
Flowers: showy, white
Fruit: very red berries
Other: smooth olive green bark

Ivory Silk Tree Lilac (Syringe reticulate 'Ivory Silk')
Height: 5 m
Form: rounded
Foliage: glossy, dark green
Fall Colour: brown
Flowers: spectacular, off-white, light fragrance
Other: tree version of its shrub cousin, salt tolerant

Nannyberry - tree form (Viburnum lentago)
Height: 4 m
Form: dense branches which become more open as branches arch outwards.
Foliage: shiny dark green
Fall Colour: red
Flowers: creamy white clusters, no fragrance
Fruit: small drupe turns reddish, changing to bluish-black when mature
Other: food for wildlife

For information on invasive plant species that should not be planted in Thunder Bay please refer to the Grow Me Instead Guide for Northwestern Ontario. Grow Me Instead identifies potentially invasive plants and promotes suitable alternatives that are either native or non-invasive.