Fast Growing Trees

Liven up your yard and add shade quickly with these fast growing trees.
By: Paul Cox
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Crape Myrtle

Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) comes in numerous cultivars, which feature flowers in lavender, pink, purple, red or white. The crape myrtles that bloom in mid to late summer are especially valuable for the landscape’s “dog days,” but there are also some that bloom in early summer. Crape myrtles can grow to a height of 35 feet with a spread just as wide, depending on the cultivar.

Leyland Cypress

Leyland cypress is a bright green conifer widely used for screens because it is fast growing. It also can be disease prone, especially when planted too close together.


Hardy in zones 5b - 9b, the sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) can grow to a height of 75 feet. This native to North America is drought tolerant and produces fruit in the form of spiky green balls.

Dawn Redwood

This fast-growing tree is hardy in zones 5a - 8b. It can reach a height of 90 feet, and appreciates full sun and wet soil. Metasequoia glyptostroboides also is pest and drought tolerant.


The Gingko (Ginkgo biloba) is popular for its vibrant foliage. It's a fast-grower that appreciates partial to full sun, and is hardy in zones 4a-8a. It can grow up to 75 feet and spread up to 50 feet. The male variety is favored as it does not produce smelly fruit.

Princess Tree

Paulownia tomentosa can grow up to 50 feet tall, and is hardy in zones 6a - 9a. It does best in partial to full sun, and appreciates moist soil. Princess tree displays lovely purple blooms in early to late spring, and is drought tolerant.

Paper Birch

The fast-growing Betula papyrifera features smooth white bark and can grow up to 75 feet. It appreciates partial to full sun, and is drought tolerant. It also attracts birds.

Lombardy Poplar

Populus nigra 'Italica' is hardy in zones 3a - 9a, and appreciates full sun. The Lombardy poplar is drought tolerant, and will reach heights of up to 50 feet and spread up to 10 feet. Plant this poplar in moist, well-drained soil.

River Birch

This fast grower works well in a woodland garden and can grow up to 50 feet tall. Betula nigra is hardy in zones 3b-9a and appreciates partial to full sun. Use this native to North America tree to attract birds and butterflies to your garden.

Japanese Zelkova

Consider using Zelkova serrata as a specimen tree in areas of your yard that receive full sun. It's pest and drought tolerant, and can reach 80 feet tall and spread up to 60 feet. Also known as sawleaf zelkova, this tree is hardy in zones 5a-8a.

Weeping Willow

Salix babylonica, familiar due to its weeping form, is a very fast grower. It loves wet soil and partial to full sun. It's hardy in zones 6a-9a. Use as a specimen tree and for erosion control, but avoid planting near water and sewer lines.

Quaking Aspen

Populus tremuloides is well known for its brilliant, golden fall color. These natives of North America appreciate full sun and are hardy in zones 2a-5b. They can reach up to 60 feet tall. Interesting aspen fact: There’s a stand of quaking aspens in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah that spreads over 106 acres and weighs 6,000 tons. The trees are connected underground by a genetically-identical stem, which essentially means the stand is one huge plant.

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