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May 24, 2023

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    Fast-growing trees can become as tall as 90 feet high, maturing in 20 to 30 years. These trees, which gain considerable height yearly, can provide you with privacy, beauty, and shade quickly. However, fast-growing trees tend to decline once they reach maturity, and they have a limited life span compared to other trees.

    My goal in this article is to help you understand the different types of fast-growing trees and whether or not they’re the right choice for your yard.

    What Are the Fastest-Growing Trees?

    Fast-growing trees grow much more quickly than other trees, gaining about 1 foot or more of height each year until they reach maturity. As a lawn care expert, I frequently come across many of these fast growers, such as dawn redwoods and weeping willows. These trees are popular in subdivisions and suburban neighborhoods because they can quickly provide shade and privacy in only a few years. 

    Some variables that affect the growth of fast-growing trees include the rainfall you get per year, the amount of sunlight that hits the tree, nutrients in your soil, and your topographic location. In addition, the growth rate can be affected if you don’t prune the trees, causing them to grow slower.

    12 of the Fastest-Growing Trees

    Here is a breakdown of some of my favorite popular and well-known fast-growing trees.

    Type of Tree: Leyland cypress

    Scientific Name: Cupressocyparis leylandii

    Height: 60–70 feet

    Width: 12–20 feet

    Growth Rate: 1–2 feet per year

    Hardiness Zones: 6–10

    Sun: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Can tolerate most types of soil.

    Special Features: Forms a graceful pyramid with dense branches.

    Image Source: Canva
    Leyland Cypress tree

    Type of Tree: Weeping willow 

    Scientific Name: Salix babylonica

    Height: 30–50 feet

    Width: 30–40 feet

    Growth Rate: 2 feet per year

    Hardiness Zones: 6–8

    Sun: Full sun and partial shade.

    Soil Needs: Acidic, alkaline, moist, loamy, sandy, clay soil.

    Special Features: Grows especially well near water and features long, narrow leaves that are light green with yellow flowers in the spring.

    Image Source: Canva
    Weeping willow tree

    Type of Tree: Hybrid poplar  

    Scientific Name: Populus x canadensis

    Height: 40–50 feet

    Width: 20–30 feet

    Growth Rate: 5–8 feet per year

    Hardiness Zones: 3–8

    Sun: Full sun to partial shade.

    Soil Needs: Alkaline and wet soils.

    Special Features: Tall, straight trunk with a narrow, oval crown, and silvery leaves.

    Image Source: Canva
    Hybrid poplar tree

    Type of Tree: Dawn redwood

    Scientific Name: Metasequoia glyptostroboides

    Height: 50–60 feet

    Width: 7 feet

    Growth Rate: 2 feet per year

    Hardiness Zones: 5–8

    Sun: Full sun.

    Soil Needs: Well-drained or deep soils.

    Special Features: Has a pyramid shape during its youth, maturing into a more rounded crown over time. Its needles turn red and brown in the fall and come off, with new needles returning in the spring.

    Image Source: Canva
    Dawn redwood tree

    Type of Tree: Koa

    Scientific Name: Acacia koa

    Height: 50–80 feet

    Width: 10–30 feet 

    Growth Rate: 5 feet per year for the first five years.

    Hardiness Zones: 10–11

    Sun: Full sun.

    Soil Needs: Strongly acidic soil.

    Special Features: Evergreen tree from the Hawaiian Islands.

    Image Source: Canva
    Acacia koa tree

    Type of Tree: Quaking aspen

    Scientific Name: Populus tremuloides

    Height: 40–50 feet

    Width: 20–30 feet

    Growth Rate: 2 feet per year

    Hardiness Zones: 1–6

    Sun: Full sun and partial shade.

    Soil Needs: Rich, moist, and well-drained soil.

    Special Features: White bark tree with dark green leaves, turning golden in the fall.

    Image Source: Canva
    Quaking aspen tree

    Type of Tree: Royal poinciana

    Scientific Name: Delonix regia

    Height: 20–40 feet 

    Width: 40–70 feet 

    Growth Rate: 5 feet per year

    Hardiness Zones: 9B–11

    Sun: Full sun.

    Soil Needs: Tolerant of most soil types.

    Special Features: Popular in tropical and subtropical regions, containing vivid red-orange flowers in the summer.

    Image Source: Canva
    Royal poinciana tree

    Type of Tree: Japanese pagoda

    Scientific Name: Sophora japonica

    Height: 50–75 feet 

    Width: 50–75 feet

    Growth Rate: 1–1.5 feet per year

    Hardiness Zones: 4–8

    Sun: Full sun.

    Soil Needs: Loamy, well-drained soils.

    Special Features: Medium to large-size flowering tree with fragrant summer flowers.

    Image Source: Canva
    Japanese pagoda tree

    Type of Tree: Red maple

    Scientific Name: Acer rubrum

    Height: 60–90 feet

    Width: 25–40 feet

    Growth Rate: 1–2 feet per year

    Hardiness Zones: 9

    Sun: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Acidic, moist, loamy, sandy, well-drained, or clay soils.

    Special Features: The red maple tree is named for its red flowers, red fruit, red twigs, and bright red fall foliage.

    Image Source: Canva
    Red maple tree

    Type of Tree: Eastern white pine

    Scientific Name: Pinus White Pines

    Height: 50–80 feet

    Width: 20–40 feet

    Growth Rate: 1–1.5 feet per year

    Hardiness Zones: 3–8

    Sun: Full sun and partial shade

    Soil Needs: Acidic, moist, and well-drained soils.

    Special Features: Famous for their elegant appearance, with long and slender blue-green needles and brown pine cones.

    Image Source: Canva
    Eastern white pine tree

    Type of Tree: River birch

    Scientific Name: Betula nigra

    Height: 40–50 feet

    Width: 25–40 feet

    Growth Rate: 1–2.5 feet per year

    Hardiness Zones: 4–9

    Sun: Full sun or partial shade.

    Soil Needs: Acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, clay, or wet soils.

    Special Features: A medium to tall tree with diamond-shaped leaves that are part of a spreading, upright canopy.

    Image Source: Canva
    River birch tree

    Type of Tree: Silver maple

    Scientific Name: Acer saccharinum

    Height: 50–80 feet 

    Width: 35–50 feet

    Growth Rate: 4–6 feet per year

    Hardiness Zones: 3–9

    Sun: Full to partial sun.

    Soil Needs: Grows best in acidic soil but can adapt to dry, alkaline soil.

    Special Features: A silver maple tree has a vase shape, producing yellow, red, and silver flower clusters in the spring.

    Image Source: Canva
    Silver maple tree

    Bonus List of 5 More Fast-Growing Trees

    Here’s a handful of fast-growing trees that didn’t make it into my “favorite” list but might work for your needs.

    • American arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)
    • Autumn blaze maple (Acer x freemanii)
    • Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)
    • Southern magnolia tree (Magnolia grandiflora)
    • Tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)

    How To Choose the Best Fast-Growing Trees for Your Needs

    Various factors go into determining which fast-growing tree is best for you. For example, you might want a fast-growing tree for shade, or you want the tree to attract wildlife or produce food. You might even want a tree that provides value to your property. 

    When looking for the best fast-growing tree for your yard, following my tips and considerations can help you choose.

    • Know what hardiness zone you’re in so your tree will appropriately grow.
    • Know your soil type so your tree can grow appropriately.
    • Consider the size and shape of your space.
    • If the tree needs full sun, ensure you don’t have too much shade in your yard.
    • Understand the maintenance and care requirements for the tree, such as pruning and watering.
    • Consider potential drawbacks, such as invasiveness, disease susceptibility, or brittleness.

    Advantages of Fast-Growing Trees

    Extra Privacy

    Some families I’ve worked with chose to plant fast-growing trees for privacy. The family in the following video chose to plant hybrid willow trees for privacy fencing to help create a “privacy fence” to separate their property from the road. You can also choose many other types of trees for privacy, like leyland cypresses, traditional weeping willow trees, or dawn redwood trees.

    Adds Beauty to the Home

    While some homeowners choose to use a fast-growing tree to add privacy, others may want to grow a fast-growing tree to make their property more beautiful. The couple in the video below chose to plant a red maple tree to add beauty and a splash of fall color to their new home, and they have plans to plant more fast-growing trees over time. 

    Adds Shade to Your Property

    Many homeowners plant fast-growing trees, hoping to add more shade to their property. Some grow dawn redwood trees to add value to their property, but it’s also a great shade tree. Many of these trees are container grown, so you can simply plant the tree on your lawn upon arrival. 

    Certain Trees Help Increase a Farmer’s Income

    Farmers often plant fast-growing trees to help increase their income. For example, farmers in Central Oklahoma and Northern Texas have been planting pecan trees to help increase their profits. 

    Attracts Wildlife

    Many homeowners choose to plant red maple trees because they attract wildlife. These trees produce red maple fruits, also known as samaras, which look different from the typical fruits we eat. Red maple fruit has an enclosed seed at one end and a winglike, dry projection on the other. These seeds are often consumed by small mammals, like chipmunks or squirrels.

    How Should You Plant and Care For Fast-Growing Trees?

    I always tell homeowners that one of the most important things you can do for a fast-growing tree is to ensure that the area where you’re planting it is properly prepared and ready to support the growth.

    Here are all the things I recommend:  

    Choose the Right Location 

    Consider the space required for the tree’s mature size and the soil conditions. Ensure the area receives adequate sunlight and has well-draining soil. Avoid planting near buildings, power lines, or other obstacles. Planting trees on a slope can be difficult, so it’s essential to do it correctly.

    Prepare the Hole

    Dig a hole wide and deep enough to accommodate the tree’s root ball. The width should be at least two to three times the diameter of the root ball. Roughen up the sides of the hole to help roots penetrate the surrounding soil easily.

    Don’t Overwater

    You mustn’t overwater the tree in the beginning while it’s trying to establish its roots. During this time, you must let the soil settle and return to its natural state. I would recommend watering the tree twice a week for the first month.

    Use Mulch

    Mulch is very important for growing a new tree, especially a fast-growing one. Organic mulch helps the soil retain moisture without requiring you to waterlog it. It suppresses weeds and improves soil structure. Just ensure you don’t allow the mulch to touch the new tree trunk because it can cause it to rot. 

    So, What Are the Fastest-Growing Trees? 

    The leyland cypress is the tree I recommend for homeowners seeking privacy and shade. It’s easy to care for, can grow almost anywhere, and provides a nice dense growth perfect for property lines. If you have a lawn care company, it can also help you identify the best trees to plant in your yard.

    Ultimately, I find fast-growing trees to have the highest impact in suburban areas and subdevelopment where builders are trying to create privacy between homes quickly. Many of the fast-growing trees in this guide can reach 15–20 feet after only a few years. This allows you to create the privacy and shade you want without waiting until retirement.

    Editorial Contributors
    Coty Perry

    Coty Perry


    Coty Perry is a lawn and garden writer for Today’s Homeowner. He focuses on providing homeowners with actionable tips that relate to the “Average Joe” who is looking to achieve a healthier and greener lawn. When he isn’t writing he can almost always be found coaching youth football or on some trail in Pennsylvania in search of the next greatest fishing hole.

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    Lora Novak

    Senior Editor

    Lora Novak meticulously proofreads and edits all commercial content for Today’s Homeowner to guarantee that it contains the most up-to-date information. Lora brings over 12 years of writing, editing, and digital marketing expertise. She’s worked on thousands of articles related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofing, plumbing, lawn/garden, pest control, insurance, and other general homeownership topics.

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