General tips
Avoid non-native species such as Japanese lilac and Norway Maple (they provide poor habitat for native insects and birds, and are invasive) and
overly common species like Honey Locust (too much of a good thing creates vulnerability).
Get the right tree for you from a tree nursery with a good selection of native species, native seed sources (tree genetics matter a lot) and sapling
size. Specialized cultivars and large saplings are more expensive and not necessary. Medium to small saplings suffer less from transplanting and
will typically catch up to a bigger sibling within 5 years. Ferguson tree nursery is a reliable source.

City of Ottawa program
The City of Ottawa encourages tree planting through a “Trees in Trust Program”. At no charge to the homeowner, City staff will plant a tree
between the street and your home. You can request a tree even if you already have one in your front yard as it will eventually replace the
older tree as it matures and dies. Request a tree through the City of Ottawa website, or write to If the species you would like to
plant is not offered at the time of your request, submit a special species request to the City for consideration.

Why Plant Trees?
Street trees and yard trees are a vital part of healthy neighbourhoods. They conserve energy by shading, provide a windbreak and filter storm
water. Trees are also the most direct and cost effective means to remove carbon and pollutants from the air: a single mature tree can absorb 22
kilos of carbon a year, and make enough clean oxygen for 4 people to breathe. Trees near homes reduce human stress and provide shelter
for birds, beneficial insects and small mammals. For all these reasons, and more, now is the time to plant a tree in your yard. Best time? The spring or fall of 10 years ago. The second best time? This spring or fall!

Why Plant Native Trees?
Birds, mammals and insects need food, and may have a hard time recognizing non-native trees and shrubs as food they can eat. Native species support the web of life. Due to global heating, some more
southerly native species may be useful and viable. Following are small trees that will do well in Ottawa. Other options can be found at and All are used by
Ontario’s wildlife for food and cover and have a role in a healthy ecosystem. All are candidates for smaller front and back yards.

Site Assessment
Plan where the tree will go, considering the soil area available to the tree roots. Needs vary by species, but a two metre square is sufficient for
most small trees. Determine where there are overhead or
underground utilities and any obvious conflict with traffic safety (sightlines). While foundations in good repair are not vulnerable to tree roots,
optimize the distance from structures within the available space.
Consider what you love most about trees and what you want a tree to do in your yard (shade, be shapely, foster wildlife habitat, etc.).

Candidate trees:
Gray Birch (Betula populifolia). A hardy tree with whitish bark similar to the Paper Birch.
Pin Cherry (Prunus pensylvanica). Narrow crowned species, white spring flowers, red fruit, reddish bark, shiny leaves. Hardy and adaptable. Also, Choke cherry, Sand cherry and Black cherry (tasty).
Hop-Hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana). A small to medium tree. Famously strong wood and relatively disease free.

Service berry (Amelanchier). White spring flowers and edible berries. Birds love them.
Hawthorn (Crataegus). Small but bushy and wide, with spring flowers and red fruit. Medicinal.
American mountain ash (Sorbus americana). Hardy, with bright red/orange berries that last into winter.

Most conifers are pointy at the top and wider at the base, making them better suited near hydrolines than most deciduous trees. They tend to
have compact roots, so can be safely offset from the hydro line closer to your home.

Eastern Red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) A juniper that grows vertically, with berrylike seed cones.
Eastern White cedar (Thuja occidentalis) When open-grown is neat and trimmed in appearance.
Tamarack, is a deciduous conifer that turns colour in fall and loses needles in winter

Fruit trees
Elderberry, Apple, Pear, and Canada plum are great options for back and front yards, with spring flowers and food ready at hand. will even help harvest and share the bounty!

Already have a tree in your yard? Every tree has a lifespan so plant another now for tree succession. A young tree planted now near an elder will provide the next generation of shade and habitat.