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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. To request a tree:

  • Email your request to  
  • Call the Parks Forestry and Cemetery Clerk, Monday - Friday at 625-3138 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
  • 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
  • Freeman Maple (Acer Saccharum "JEFSEL"
  • Lord Selkirk Maple (Acer Saccharinum "JEFSEL"

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.