Meet The Annex trees

The Annex is one of Toronto’s most well-treed neighbourhoods, and we want to protect our beautiful urban forest!

TreesPlease is a project of the Annex Residents’ Association that began in 2009. Over a period of four summers, all the trees in the Annex over 5 cm diameter were assessed using the Neighbourwoods© protocol. Teams of forestry students and numerous volunteers logged more than 10,000 trees in the TreesPlease inventory of Annex trees.

Just over three-quarters of the trees growing in the Annex are on private property, so it is our responsibility as community members to maintain and protect our neighbourhood trees.

Species Diversity

There are about 80 species of trees found in the Annex. These include both native and non-native varieties.

Maples make up the largest tree species group found in the Annex, about 30% of all of our trees. These include Amur, black, Freeman, Japanese, Manitoba, Norway, red, silver, sugar, and sycamore maples. However, the most numerous type of maple growing in the Annex is the Norway maple. Not only are they non-native and invasive, but they also crowd out native and local species, such as the sugar maple. There are 1084 Norway maples in in the Annex; they make up 42% of all the maples in our neighbourhood.

Cool facts about Annex trees

  • We are home to one of the oldest trees in Toronto!
  • A 23-metre tall bur oak off Spadina Road is estimated to be about 350 to 400 years old.
  • We have 1015 fruit trees in our neighbourhood! That’s thousands of kilos of fruit each growing season.
  • There are only eight hickory trees in the Annex.
  • According to the City of Toronto, the city’s entire urban forest has an estimated value of $7.1 billion.

Keeping Your Trees Healthy

Many of the trees in Toronto are being hurt by urban development, the expansion of city infrastructure and our day-to-day activities. Some of these threats include:

  • Chemical stress (over-fertilization or contamination from de-icing salt)
  • Environmental stress (drought, too little sunlight, poor soil quality)
  • Mechanical stress (damage from lawn equipment, improper pruning practices, trunk wounds and severed roots from construction)

Most of the trees in the Annex - about 76% of them - are growing on private property. While trees are a source of enjoyment, many homeowners don’t realize that trees require monitoring and maintenance to keep them healthy.

How to Avoid Stressing Our Annex Trees

  • Water trees during periods of extended drought. Saplings should be watered consistently for three years after planting to ensure the tree’s success. Trees do best with infrequent and deep waterings (like a downpour).
  • Apply mulch under the tree drip line to conserve soil moisture, control soil temperature, and provide nutrients. (The drip line is the outermost circumference of the tree’s crown.) Avoid piling mulch against the trunk as it can lead to insect infestation, mold, decay and eventual death of the tree.
  • Do not over-fertilize your lawn. Too much fertilizer or the wrong kind of fertilizer can burn tree roots.
  • Do not store equipment or building materials under the tree drip line. This compacts the soil, which can reduce oxygen availability for the tree roots, and cause suffocation and death.
  • Ornamental rocks placed around a tree trunk also compact the soil.
  • Do not dig trenches or cut roots under a tree’s drip line. This can cause irreversible damage to the tree.
  • Prune trees only when it is necessary for structure, health, and safety purposes. It’s usually
  • best to consult a certified arborist for this.
  • Use proper pruning techniques, and never remove more than one-third of a tree’s branches within the same year. Look at the International Society of Aboriculture website for proper pruning techniques.
  • Do not "top" a tree. Topping is a harmful form of pruning, where large branches or whole trunks are removed from the tops of trees to reduce its size. Topping causes the tree to lose nutrients and become vulnerable to sunburn, insects and decay.
  • Be sure to remove vines, turf or competing vegetation from around the tree’s trunk.
  • When planting a tree, make sure the root flare is not buried. The root flare is the base of the trunk where it flares out slightly to meet the root system. Ensure that the base of the root flare is level with the soil surface.
  • Looking after a tree requires pruning, treatment for pests, and occasionally even tree removal. It is usually best to hire a certified arborist to resolve issues you cannot deal with yourself. The City of Toronto provides homeowners with some information on how to choose an arborist.

Good trees to grow in The Annex

Some of the Benefits of Growing Native Trees

  • They require less maintenance because native tree trees do not need extra water, and are typically drought resistant. Native trees do not need any pesticide spraying because they are already acclimated to the local insect population.
  • They limit the chances of non-native species invading the landscape.
  • They support local flora and fauna essential for ecosystem diversity.

Questions to consider when selecting a native tree for your yard

  • Do you want a small or large tree? Consider the tree’s maximum height before planting.
  • During autumn, where will the leaves fall?
  • Do you want a tree that will cast a lot of shade? Consider planting trees with large crown sizes, such as oak.
  • Will your tree grow into overhead obstructions such as wires and buildings? Consider the mature size of the tree before planting.
  • Will blowing leaves be a problem for your neighbors? Consider planting an evergreen like a white pine.
  • Will raking and bagging the leaves be a problem? Consider a tree such as the honey locust whose small leaves will be carried away by the wind.
  • Consider the issues of allergies if choosing a nut tree.
  • Does your tree provide a windbreak or sun block to minimize your house’s energy needs?
  • Is your tree too close to a building?

Trees suitable for Planting in the Annex

Tree Name Moisture Requirement Soil Requirement Suitable Light Conditions Maximum Height
Silver maple moist-wet sand, loam, clay full sun to partial shade 35 metres
Red maple moist-wet sand, loam partial shade to full sun 25 metres
Sugar maple moist-wet loam, clay partial shade to full shade 35 metres
Northern hackberry dry-wet loam, clay full sun to partial shade 15 metres
Balsam poplar moist-wet sand, silt full 25 metres
Basswood dry-wet sand, loam partial shade to full shade 30 metres
Trembling aspen moist sand, loam, clay full sun 25 metres
American elm well-drained loam, clay full sun to partial shade 24 metres
Alternate-leaf dogwood well-drained silt or clay full sun to partial shade 10 metres
American beech moist loam partial shade to full shade 25 metres
Blue beech moist loam, sandy-loam full shade to partial sun 8 metres
Ironwood dry-moist clay, sand, loam full shade to full sun 10 metres
Pin oak well-drained clay, loam, sandy full sun 23 metres
Red oak dry-moist sand to loamy-clay full sun to partial shade 25 metres
White oak dry-moist sand, sandy-loam full sun to partial shade 35 metres
Bur oak dry-wet loam, clay full sun to partial shade 15 metres
Black oak dry-moist sand full sun to partial shade 20 metres
American chestnut well-drained sand, loam full sun to partial shade 23 metres
Bitternut hickory moist sand, loam full sun to partial shade 25 metres
Butternut dry-moist loam full sun 25 metres
Black cherry dry-moist sand, loam full sun to partial shade 22 metres
Red mulberry well-drained loam full sun 20 metres
Chokecherry moist, well-drained sandy loam, clay full sun 12 metes
Pin cherry dry sand, loam full sun 12 metres
Serviceberry dry-moist loam, sandy loam full sun to partial shade 10 metres
Sycamore moist-wet sand, loam clay full sun to partial shade 30 metres
Tamarack moist peat, wet sandy loam full sun 25 metres
Eastern white cedar dry-wet sand, loam, clay full sun to partial shade 35 metres
White birch dry-moist-wet sand, loam, gravel loam full sun 25 metres
Yellow birch moist loam, sandy loam full sun to partial shade 25 metres

The Emerald Ash Borer

Of the more than 10,000 trees in the TreesPlease inventory of Annex trees, 263 or 3% belong to ash species. They are currently threatened by the emerald ash borer that is spreading throughout the city. It is estimated that the epidemic will kill nearly all the ash trees in Toronto in the next 5 years.

What is the Emerald Ash Borer?

The emerald ash borer is an invasive insect from Asia that inhabits and feeds on all species of ash. Emerald ash borers kill ash trees by tunneling and feeding underneath their bark, disrupting the flow of nutrients and water within the tree. Infected trees usually die within 2-3 years. The City of Toronto has been removing dead ash trees from city streets and parks, and injecting healthier trees to prevent infestation. But ash trees on private property do not fall under city jurisdiction, and the financial responsibility for treatment or removal of such trees lies with the home owner.

Do You Have an Ash Tree in Your Yard?

Here are some tips on how to identify ash trees in your backyard:

1. Bark – mature trees will have tight diamond-shaped ridge patterns.

2. Leaves – they contain 5 to 11 leaflets with smooth or toothed margins that are arranged opposite to each other.

3. Seeds – the seeds hang in clusters, are smooth, and oar-shaped.

4. Branches – they are arranged opposite to each other.

Signs of Infestation by Emerald Ash Borer

  • thinning or yellowing leaves
  • vertical cracks along the bark
  • tunneling under the bark
  • D-shaped holes in the trunk where the emerald ash borer has exited, about 3.5-4 mm across
  • dead branches and crowns
  • tree death

Get a Free Tree from the City of Toronto

The City of Toronto’s Urban Forestry Department will plant a tree free of charge on city-owned land in front of any residential, commercial, and industrial property. To order your FREE tree for your front yard click here for information about the Street Tree Planting program.

Let us know how it worked for you by emailing us at [email protected]

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