Fast Growing Trees for Your Yard | Almanac.com

Fast Growing Trees for Your Yard

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You don’t have to wait a lifetime for a newly planted tree to grow big enough to hold a bird feeder or shade the backyard patio.

By choosing quick-growing varieties and giving them the proper care, you can have it made in the shade in a surprisingly short time.

The white willow, a cousin of the familiar weeping willow, is an upright grower that soars 20 to 30 feet in just 5 to 6 years and eventually grows as tall as 100 feet with a 50-foot spread.


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Poplars are also known for their rapid growth. The eastern poplar, better known as cottonwood in many areas, shoots skyward at 4 to 5 feet a year. In Mississippi, a cottonwood growing on rich bottomland was reported to have obtained a height of 98 feet in just 11 years.

Photo credit: Wsiegmund/Wikimedia

Another speedy shade-maker is the silver maple, a magnificent low-branching tree that grows 2 to 3 feet in height each season. Its light-green leaves have a silvery underside and turn golden yellow in the fall.

Photo credit: Darkone/Wikimedia

The thornless honeylocust casts a delicate shade through its tropical-looking, fernlike foliage and rapidly grows to its mature height of 45 feet.

Photo credit: Kevmin/Wikimedia

Unfortunately, fast growth comes with a price. Quick trees tend to be brittle and are more likely to be damaged by high winds and ice storms than are slow-growing varieties such as sugar maple and beech.

Trees with medium growth rates may be the best choice for growing a durable tree in a relatively short time. Red maple is such a tree. It looks a lot like a sugar maple but grows at twice the rate, or about 2 feet per year. Its brilliant, fiery fall foliage is considered by many to be the best of any tree.

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Oaks have a reputation for growing painstakingly slow, but two that are exceptions to the rule are the red oak, with an average yearly growth rate of 2 feet, and the pin oak, which often grows 3 feet or more in one season. Both of these muscular trees will eventually reach 70 feet or more.

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Regular feeding and watering will keep trees growing at their maximum rate; even slow-growing varieties, given some encouragement, can rise to the occasion.

About The Author

George and Becky Lohmiller

George and Becky Lohmiller shared their gardening knowledge and enthusiasm with Almanac readers for more than 15 years, writing Farmer’s Calendar essays and gardening articles in previous editions of The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Read More from George and Becky Lohmiller

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