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The Top Eight Fastest Growing Shade Trees

One of the hardest things for a homeowner is choosing just the perfect trees for landscaping, then waiting for them to grow into beautiful, tall shade trees. Fortunately, some trees grow rather quickly, especially some hybrids that have been developed. We’ll take a look at eight of the fast-growing trees that flourish in our area with proper care and maintenance.

Shade Tree

1. Hybrid Poplars 

These trees have a growth rate of up to 5-8 feet per year, with a height increase of up to two feet annually. They eventually grow to a height of 40-50 feet, with a branch spread of 30 feet. Unlike some other poplars, this variety produces no cotton. The leaves are attractive, featuring dark green tops with lighter green underneath. They like at least six hours of direct sun per day and grow in Hardiness Zones 3-9 with no problems. They grow in wet soils, acidic or alkaline. They cost about $12-$16 for 3-4′ trees.

2. Weeping Willows  

Weeping willows are favored for their graceful, drooping branches that either reach to the ground or gently sway in the wind. They grow in Hardiness Zones 6-8, preferring at least four hours of direct sunlight per day. These trees can increase in height by more than two feet per year, eventually growing to 30-40 feet in height with a spread of up to 35 feet. They can tolerate various kinds of soils, including acidic or alkaline, rich, loamy, or sandy, both well-drained and clay soils. While they love growing near water, they do feature some tolerance to drought. They produce yellow catkins which eventually form small brown fruit but don’t leave a bunch of litter to clean up. A 3-4′ tree can cost between $14-$19.

3. Quaking Aspen 

This tree is another in the poplar family. It naturally has the widest range of any North American tree, growing in Hardiness Zones 1-7. It increases in height up to two feet per year, topping out at 40-50 feet with a spread of 20-30 feet. It doesn’t require as much sun as some other trees, requiring only four hours per day. Like the willow, it can grow in a variety of soils, but does prefer acidic soils, both well-drained and clay, and likes abundant moisture. In spring, these trees are decorated with long, silvery catkins. In fall, it provides a stunning display of golden shades. The cost range is around $12-$16 per 3-4′ tree.

4. Dawn Redwood

This particular tree is a conifer that is deciduous and has been around since prehistoric times. It is hardy in Zones 5-8 but should be planted early in the fall to avoid frost damage before roots take hold. It grows over two feet in height annually, eventually reaching a whopping height of 70-100 feet with a 25-foot spread. It likes at least six hours of sun per day. It grows in many types of soils, and does have some drought tolerance, and can withstand some flooding and pollution. It sports feathery, small green fronds and small, rounded cones. Two-foot trees can cost around $20-$27.

5. Red Maples

Red Maples are another tree species that provide a great show in the fall. One cultivar, October Glory, is especially fast-growing, boasting a height increase of 13-24 inches annually. It eventually grows to a majestic 40-50 feet tall, spreading 35 feet. It does fine in Hardiness Zones 4-9, only requiring four hours of full sun per day. It prefers acidic soil but grows in a variety of soils, including loamy, sandy, silty loam, clay, well-drained or wet. In spring, it is one of the earliest bloomers, producing small red blooms that form seeds with the famous maple “wings”. These trees are famous for their brilliant fall foliage which ranges from flaming orange to red. Prices start a $6 for a 1-2′ tree.

6. Green Giant

This is one out of a variety of arborvitae trees that is a fast-growing evergreen featuring soft, fan-like foliage. They grow in Hardiness Zones 5-7. Unlike fruit trees that They grow up to two feet taller each year, reaching 40-50 feet and a spread of 12-20 feet. It likes at least four hours of daily sun. It tolerates many soil types but does not do well in wet or poorly drained soils. It is also very sensitive to salt. It produces small, green cones that eventually turn brown. These trees cost around $6-$12 for a 1′ tree.

7. Paper Birch

These are famous for their lovely white bark and bright yellow fall colors. They grow in Zones 2-7 at a rate of 13-24″ in height annually. They eventually reach a height of 50-70 feet, spreading up to 35 feet. They like a minimum of four hours direct sun daily and tolerates several soil types. While it prefers normal moisture, it does have some drought tolerance. Brown or green catkins in spring eventually form small seeds between two wings. Pricing ranges from $11-$15 for a 2-4′ tree.

8. Majestic Pin Oaks

They increase their height over two feet per year, reaching 60-70 feet tall and spreading 25-40 feet. They can be grown in Zones 4-8, preferring at least six hours of full sun per day. They can tolerate a variety of soils but do prefer acidic soils. It can tolerate wet soil, including some flooding. The leaves are deeply lobed with tiny pins on the points and produce small acorns that attract turkey, deer, and squirrels. They take well to transplanting and are priced around $9-$14 for a 3-4′ tree.

A surprising number of tree varieties boast a fast growth rate, including hardwoods and conifers. If you’re looking for a shade tree but are a bit impatient, one of these trees may be just what you need!

Note: While fruit trees are not usually thought of as shade trees there are some that grow fast and can get the job done on a smaller scale, plus they produce delicious fruits. 

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