8 Fast-Growing Trees for Your Yard

By: Beth Krietsch Gardening guide

Unlike most trees that may take years to grow, fast-growing trees spread their roots more quickly, allowing them to grow faster. Because fast-growing trees tend to be shade-providing trees, they can increase property value and even create space for a shade garden.

What are fast-growing trees?

Fast-growing trees come in many varieties and tend to grow between 1.5 and 2 feet per year, often reaching a height that’s tall enough to produce substantial shade within six years. Nutritious soil and proper care are crucial for encouraging fast growth and overall health.

Fast-growing trees are often much more weak, brittle, and disease-prone than their slower-growing relatives and often live for a shorter time period. Some varieties also have roots that spread far and wide, making it difficult to tend to soil underneath.

Left Sweetgum

Right Ginkgo

8 fast-growing trees

1. Gingko (Ginkgo biloba)

Ginkgo trees grow between 13 and 24 inches per year and reach higher than 75 feet when fully grown. Easy to care for, ginkgo trees are a fairly popular option among people looking for a shade tree. Though they grow best with full or partial sun and well-drained soil, they’re intolerant to extreme dryness or drought.

Growing zones: 3–8

2. Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)

Drought tolerant and fast growing, sweetgum is native to the southeastern United States and can reach upwards of 75 feet tall. With full sun and moist, well-drained soil, sweetgum can grow between 12 and 24 inches each year. Note that they do require a lot of space for root expansion and development.

Growing zones: 5–9

Leftt River birch

Right Paper birch

3. Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)

Dawn Redwood trees grow at an extremely fast rate, often exceeding growth of two feet per year. These fast-growing trees can reach between 90 and 100 feet tall. One Dawn Redwood tree is known to have grown to a height of 120 feet in just 30 years. Dawn Redwoods prefer moist soil and full sunlight but can grow in a range of conditions, tolerating both drought and minimal flooding. They’re resistant to heat and pests.

Growing zones: 5–8

4. Paper birch (Betula papyrifera)

With bark similar to a thick piece of paper, paper birch trees can grow up to 75 feet tall. They flourish in areas with partial or full sunlight and usually grow somewhere between 13 and 24 inches per year. Depending on the region, these fast-growing trees usually live between 30 and 100 years, with hotter regions contributing to shorter lifespans.

Growing zones: 2–7

5. River birch (Betula nigra)

River birch trees can grow up to 50 feet tall. Highly drought tolerant, these trees prefer partial or full sunlight and wet soil, often growing in wetland regions and along riverbanks. They are more short-lived in hot, southern regions.

Growing zones: 3–9

6. Zelkova (Zelkova serrata)

Zelkova trees are part of the elm family and usually grow to be 50 to 60 feet tall, with some reaching as high as 80 feet. Most Zelkova trees grow at a rate of about 13 to 24 inches per year. They prefer full sunlight, don’t require much maintenance, and are resistant to disease and pests.

Growing zones: 5–8

7. Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus)

White pines are fast-growing evergreens that grow between 50 and 80 feet tall. Some will grow up to three feet each year, with the quickest growth occurring in areas with full sunlight. Avoid planting these fast-growing trees in moist or wetland conditions, as they grow best in dry soil.

Growing zones: 3–7

8. Weeping willow (Salix babylonica)

Weeping willows are a popular tree for their long, lush branches and drooping leaves. They grow at an exceedingly fast pace, sometimes up to eight or 10 feet per year, and can reach up to 70 feet tall. Their height, unique shape, and beauty make weeping willows a particularly wonderful shade tree.

Growing zones: 6–9


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