Are you looking for a fast-growing tree to add to your backyard? We all know that trees take forever to grow! That said, some species grow faster than others, and if you choose the right one, you’ll have a tall tree in no time.
Are you ready to learn more about these large, fast-growing trees so that you can choose the right one for your yard? Let’s go!
What Are The Most Common Large Tree Varieties?
The most common large tree varieties for backyards include:
- Hybrid poplar
- Weeping willow
- Green giant arborvitae
- Dawn redwood
- Pin oak
- River birch
- American sycamore
- Northern red oak
- Silver maple
There are many great reasons to plant a tree in your backyard. Hedge trees provide incredible privacy, large trees will shade you on a hot summer day, and besides looking nice on your property, planting trees is an excellent way to help the environment.
But although you might dream of having a beautiful, towering tree in your backyard, it’s more complex than just plopping a tree into the ground.
Consider Everything Before Planting A Tree
When planting a tree, there are many factors to consider, such as soil type, potential pests, amount of sun, water lines, sidewalks, and more.
Additionally, most baby trees don’t do well with lazy gardeners—you can’t just plant a tree and forget about it! Most trees will need a lot of tender love and care, especially during their first years, and you’ll probably have to invest in an irrigation system.
Although they sound complicated, you’ll be up and running in no time if you use an irrigation kit like this Rain Bird Drip Irrigation Landscape & Garden Watering Kit.
Sometimes you find yourself looking out of a window and thinking—man, I wish there was a tree there! But since you really can’t plant a fully grown tree, it could take years for that daydream to become a reality.
But we’re here to help!
Below we talk about the fastest-growing backyard trees, how big they get, planting recommendations for each one, and much more! So, what are you waiting for—let’s learn about some trees!
Fastest Growing Large Trees Ranked: Complete Growth Chart
We’re going to throw a lot at you below, so here’s a quick chart to help you summarize the differences! Keep reading on to view the full tree by tree detailed breakdown.
Fastest Growing Large Trees Ranked
|BEST HARDINESS ZONE
|Giant green arborvitae
|Northern red oak
1. Hybrid Poplars Are Popular Fast Growing Trees
Poplar is the colloquial term for trees in the Populus genus, including cottonwoods and aspens. They’re native to cold and temperate regions of the northern hemisphere.
A hybrid poplar can quickly produce shade on your property while creating a privacy screen or windbreak. Plus, civic and environmental engineers commonly plant hybrid poplars along rivers and streams to create buffers, shade, and support.
The Natural Resources Research Institute of the University of Minnesota-Duluth is on the cutting edge of developing swiftly-growing poplars that are disease-resistant and easily root from cuttings.
They’re crossing the European black poplar and Minnesota cottonwood trees to develop these hybrids. And while these specific hybrids aren’t available to the general public yet, there are plenty that are!
Growing Information For Hybrid Poplars
Depending on the species, hybrid poplars grow quickly. In fact, according to the University of Idaho, Idaho hybrid poplars can grow as much as 10 feet a year in well-irrigated conditions!
Additionally, the trees can reach anywhere from 50 to 150 feet high with trunks up to 8 feet in diameter—so make sure you have the room!
Hybrid Poplar trees like warm weather and moist soil; they require full sunlight and grow best in areas with a high water line. Their roots can cause trouble to structures such as your home, driveway, and road, so make sure you consider that when choosing a spot to plant your new tree.
To learn more about poplars, check out our article explaining why poplar trees are invasive and what you can do about it!
2. Weeping Willows Are Beautiful And Grow Quickly
Weeping willows are depicted in many paintings across multiple artistic eras for a reason—they’re beautiful and provide fantastic shade! To add even more beauty to your yard, read our article on plants you can plant under a weeping willow!
Interestingly, Native Americans used to chew on the willows young twigs to relieve headaches, which makes sense because they contain salicylic acid, the main ingredient in Aspirin.
Although native to China, they’re prevalent in North America. Today, you can find them anywhere, from Ontario to central Florida and as far west as Missouri.
Growing Information For Weeping Willows
Willows do best in large backyards that are next to the water. They like moist—even wet—conditions and tend to grow best in cooler environments. If you want to grow them somewhere drier, be ready to invest in some irrigation!
The trees grow up to 60 feet tall with a broad, cascading canopy (hence the name weeping) and lose their leaves in the wintertime. They prefer cooler areas but can grow as far south as Zone 9B.
Willows will quickly grow to be 30 to 40 feet, with a width of up to 40 feet. Some species even grow as tall as 75 feet! They typically grow between 6-10 feet each year.
Things You Should Know Before Planting Willow Trees
Due to how quickly willows grow, the wood is not particularly strong and can crack easily. Likewise, heavy winter snow can cause damage. Willows also litter leaves, branches, and twigs, quite a bit, so be ready to do some backyard work!
A good rake, like this Ansgery Aluminum Landscape Rake, can help you clean up leaves in a jiffy.
Additionally, willows are susceptible to plenty of diseases, including:
- Leaf spots
- Powdery mildew
All in all, the beauty of this magnificent tree is well worth the trouble. Just be sure to plant your willow at least 20 feet from your home and 12 feet from walkways and driveways. And make sure the roots won’t hit any water lines.
3. Green Giant Arborvitae Are Popular Fast Growing Landscaping Trees
Green giant arborvitae is a large evergreen conifer, a hybrid between the Japanese arborvitae and Western red cedar. They were initially developed in Denmark in the 1930s, arriving in the US in the late 1960s when the US National Arboretum was given a specimen.
As it became available in nurseries across the country, it started to gain a reputation as a landscaping tree. This tree is popular because its needles keep their deep green, glossy sheen throughout the year, even in the winter.
The green giant arborvitae is easy to maintain because it’s hardy and grows uniformly, meaning it doesn’t require much—if any—pruning.
Growing Information For Green Giant Arborvitae
The green giant arborvitae is hardy in zones 5-8 and most popular in the Southeastern states. It’s mostly resistant to diseases, occasional drought, insects, and deer but doesn’t tolerate salty soils or sprays well.
Overall, these trees get lofty, growing up to 60 feet tall with a width of 18 feet. They thrive in moist locations with full sun and some afternoon shade and can grow in many different soil types. When placed smartly, it can grow around 4 feet each year!
4. If You Want A Fast Growing Deciduous Tree, Check Out The Dawn Redwood
The dawn redwood is famous for its perfect pyramid shape and towering heights up to 200 feet tall! While it looks like an evergreen, its needles are actually deciduous, meaning they shed in the winter.
One of the things that stands out most about this tree is its deep red trunk. Also, the top parts of its roots are visible, a trait mostly reserved for tropical trees.
Pro tip: Dawn redwoods make great climbing trees!
Growing Information For Dawn Redwoods
Although these trees don’t grow as fast as some of the other trees on the list, they grow quickly and increase in height by two to three feet each year. In fact, they can reach 25 feet in ten years or less.
When planting a redwood, be sure to choose a site that gets full sun. You don’t have to worry as much about soil with these tree as they can tolerate a range of soil types—so long as it’s not alkaline.
Its drought tolerance is moderate, with an aerosol salt tolerance of low.
5. The Pin Oak Is An Excellent Large, Fast Growing Tree
The pin oak is a quick-growing deciduous red oak known for being more graceful and slender than some other oak varieties. They’re native to Southeastern Canada and the Northeastern and North-central US. They’re usually found in zones 4-8.
Pin oaks are commonly used as shade or street trees in private yards and parks. Want to know exactly how long a pin oak will take to grow? Check out our article detailing the full pin oak tree lifespan!
Growing Information For Pin Oaks
Like most oak trees, pin oaks are large trees with broad diameters. This species of oak can grow up to 90 feet tall, with some trees having been observed reaching heights of 125 feet. On average, you can expect a pin oak to grow about two feet each year.
They thrive in full sun and like moist, loamy, and acidic soils. They do well in soils that don’t drain quickly and can tolerate moderate flooding. That said, they can also adapt to dry urban conditions.
Due to its shallow roots, waterlines cause less concern than other backyard trees. However, pin oaks must be planted at least 20 feet away from buildings, driveways, and roads.
6. River Birch Grow Quite Tall When Grown Near Water
The river birch is the most popular of all birches and grows in zones 4-9.
One of the reasons it’s so widely grown is because of its beautiful, peeling, multicolored bark. Young trees have pinkish bark, while older trees develop red-grey bark.
The river birch grows (you guessed it) near water in the wild. However, you can plant them almost anywhere in the United States for landscaping purposes.
Growing Information For River Birch Trees
One of the unique things about river birch trees is that they grow nearly as wide as they are tall. For example, a mature river birch can grow 60 feet tall and up to 50 feet wide! Plus, there are tons of great places to plant river birch trees. To learn more, check our our birch tree planting guide with nine great suggestions.
Although their growth depends on the nearby conditions, they have been known to grow two feet per year.
That said, they do best with the following:
- Moist soil
- Fertile soil
- Well-draining soil
- Full sun or moderate shade
The river birch has no particularly harmful pests. They can sometimes acquire aphids, but natural predators tend to take care of that!
7. American Sycamore Are One Of The Largest Fast Growing Trees
The American sycamore can grow up to 100 feet tall—125 feet under ideal conditions—and its impressive trunk can reach diameters larger than 10 feet. While young, it has a pyramidal shape but grows up to be more rounded with an irregular crown.
The American sycamore is native to Central and Eastern US and Southeastern Canada. It grows to be its largest in flood plains or along rivers or streams.
Growing Information For American Sycamores
This tree likes full sun and soil that is fertile and moist. It can tolerate loam, clay, sand, and alkaline soil. It can also tolerate drought to a degree.
The American sycamore has a quick growth rate—otherwise, it wouldn’t have made it onto this list— and adds around two feet to its height each year. Because they’re so big these trees need a lot of backyard space, so make sure to consider its full size when choosing a location.
If you’re looking for a more detailed guide, take a peak at our full sycamore tree growth rate timeline!
8. Northern Red Oak Is A Hardy Quick Growing Tree
The Northern red oak is one of the fastest-growing oak trees. Their trunks tend to be very straight, with thick bark ridges that almost appear cracked and leaves as large as 9 inches long! They’re similar to white oak trees, but many people often prefer the look of red oaks (you can view the major differences between red and white oak trees here.)
Northern red oak acorns were traditionally a vital food source for Native Americans. The acorns were leached with ashes to get rid of bitter tannins and then prepared in various recipes.
Although similar to scarlet oak, Northern red oak prefers damper soil. Additionally, it can thrive in shaded areas where the scarlet oak would struggle.
Growing Information For Northern Red Oak
Red oaks like to grow in acidic, moist, well-draining sandy or loam soil. However, they’ll still do okay in alkaline, dry, clay soil. In ideal conditions, Northern red oak trees can grow to 75 feet tall and 45 feet wide. Like many of the trees on this list, they add about two feet per year to their height.
The northern red oak is a great shade tree used in lawns and parks. Their acorns provide vital winter food for wildlife such as squirrels, wild turkeys, deer, and songbirds.
Pro tip: if oak wilt is prevalent in your area, it’s best to choose a different tree to plant, just in case.
9. Silver Maple Are A Beautiful Quick Growing Tree For Every Yard
The silver maple tree is the fastest-growing American maple species. Because of how quickly it grows, the wood is pretty weak and susceptible to storm damage. It’s also a big target for wooly alder aphids.
Even though its extensive root system is prone to damaging sidewalks and water pipes, it’s still an incredibly popular, often-planted tree because of how quickly and easily it grows.
The silver maple gets its name from the silver tones on the underbellies of its leaves, which look particularly beautiful in the wind.
Growing Information For Silver Maple Trees
The silver maple tree is one of the taller trees on the list and can reach up to 100 feet into the sky. Additionally, it can grow to be up to 50 feet wide. But it’s not the only maple tree species to grow big! For a better guide on maple trees and their pros and cons, check out our article on the 9 best varieties to plant.
These trees like to grow in moist soils and are often found deep in the woods or next to streams. They don’t do well in dry soil, so they often aren’t a good choice for dryer climates.
In the right conditions, though, you can expect your silver maple to grow about two feet each year!
Which Fast Growing Large Tree Should I Plant In My Yard?
Before we can answer which large tree you should plant in your yard, we need to consider why you want to grow a tree in the first place.
Best Large Tree To Grow As A Sound Barrier
The hybrid poplar is your best option as a sound barrier. Environmental engineers often use them along highways and roads as a barrier during civic planning!
Hybrid poplars do well in rows to create a wall of protection against you and the road. They grow massive, so make sure you have room for them!
Best Fast Growing Tree To Plant For Beauty
If you’re looking for a quick-growing tree that’s also absolutely gorgeous, you’ll want to go with a weeping willow.
Weeping willows are famous worldwide for their cascading branches along picturesque watersides. There’s almost nothing more magical than sitting underneath a weeping willow to read your favorite book.
Of course, you’ll need a good hammock to relax in while you enjoy your book, and this Vivere Double Cotton Hammock is perfect for a summer nap in the shade!
Best Large Backyard Tree To Plant For Your Family
If you’re planting a tree for your kids, the dawn redwood is your best choice! These beautiful trees have much stronger wood than most of the other quick-growing trees on our list.
The roots of the dawn redwood will be a lot of fun for your kids to run around on. Likewise, its low branches make it the perfect climbing tree. Who doesn’t like climbing trees?
Best Large Tree To Plant For Shade
Because it grows tall and has outward stretching branches, the hybrid poplar is the best quick-growing large tree to plant for shade.
These massive trees can shade your home and garden in the summer, helping you reduce the amount of electricity you use by running an air conditioner and saving a sun-scorched garden.
Although the dawn redwood can grow to be around 50 feet taller than the hybrid poplar, it has a pyramid shape rather than outward branches, allowing it to provide lovely targeted shade but making it less likely to provide sweeping shade.
Best Fast-Growing Tree To Plant Along A Pond Or Stream
Weeping willows are the most apparent tree of choice if you’re planting along a pond or stream. That said, the river birch is a strong competitor!
Weeping willows naturally grow in wet conditions in the wild, which is why you’ll frequently find them growing wildly near rivers and streams. Additionally, environmental engineers will sometimes use them as support for riverbeds and runoffs.
River birch also grows well in wet conditions and will impress anyone with its beautiful bark. Young trees especially turn heads with their pink tones. One truly unique thing about the river birch is that it often grows more than one trunk, giving them a clustered appearance. So you get two trees for the price of one!
Tips For Planting And Growing Large Trees
Believe it or not, planting a tree takes a lot of planning and effort. But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered!
Let’s plant some trees!
When Should You Plant A Large Tree?
Although you could plant a tree any time during the year, some species do best when transplanted during certain seasons. For example, most balled or burlapped trees grow best when planted in the fall after their leaves have dropped.
Why plant in the fall? Good question! The answer is simple—with no leaves to focus on, your new tree will put all of its energy into developing a solid root system, allowing it to survive better in the heat and drought that summer brings.
However, some species of tree do good (even better) when planted in the spring or summer, so be sure to consider the best time to plant a tree species when shopping for your new backyard addition!
You will most definitely need to prune whatever tree you end up planting, so make sure to bookmark our guide on how to prune large trees for once your tree is full grown!
Test Your Soil A Week Or Two Before Planting
If you want your new tree to flourish, it must have the correct pH, nutrients, and soil drainage. And the last thing you want to do is find out you put the tree in the wrong spot after you planted it!
To avoid transplanting, choose a couple of suitable locations in your yard and test the soil a few weeks before planting. Testing in advance allows you time to adjust the earth or choose a new spot.
That said, if you’re going to disrupt the ground during final grading or plan to use new soil during planting, test after those changes occur.
Ornamental trees typically prefer soil that’s pH ranges from 5.8 to 6.5. Soil that is more acidic or alkaline than this can result in nutrient deficiencies.
To raise the pH, you can add dolomitic lime. Conversely, you can use sulfur or aluminum sulfate to lower the pH. Only attempt to raise or lower your pH once you have a soil test and are sure of what you need to do!
Adding Organic Matter
Organic amendments like compost are added to soil to improve soil tilth—soil nutrient and water-holding capacity.
It’s best to incorporate organic matter throughout the rooting zone rather than just in the planting hole. Otherwise, the roots may stay where the nutrients are instead of spreading out.
Organic matter should make up about 10-20% of the soil. Before adding it to clay soils, consider improving the drainage via deep tilling.
Oh, and did you know you could save money by creating your own mulch? It’s true, and we can tell you how. Just check out our article explaining why pine needles make great mulch and how to make your own!
How Deep Should You Plant Your Tree?
Depth is another essential factor to consider when planting a tree. If you plant too deeply (or not deep enough), your tree may be damaged and its growth stunted.
Your planting hole shouldn’t be deeper than your root ball’s height in well-draining soil. Don’t disturb the earth at the bottom of the pit; otherwise, the tree might sink deeper.
In addition, make sure there isn’t an extra layer of soil covering the root ball. The only thing that should be put over the root ball is mulch. Even just half an inch of excess soil over the root ball can stop water from reaching it!
How To Prepare And Set The Root Ball
Trees grown in containers can be removed and put straight into the hole. Cut off any circling roots, so they don’t strangle your tree!
If it’s rootbound, use a pair of pruning shears to make slices in the root ball from top to bottom in three or four spots. Then, pull the outside roots away from the root ball.
When preparing a hole for a bare-root tree, make sure you dig it wide enough to spread out the roots. You don’t want to have to bend roots for them to fit!
Also, ensure you’re using natural burlap rather than synthetic when covering up the soil around your baby tree.
How To Fill The Planting Hole
The soil you use to fill in around the root ball is known as backfill. Use the original soil along with 10-20% compost. Place your tree into the hole at the right depth, then backfill half of the space surrounding the root ball.
Tamp the soil gently—don’t fully compact the ground, though. Finish up with loose and unamended soil, with another tamping.
Because the roots haven’t had time to spread, you’ll need to water the root ball directly. To do this, create a 3-inch-tall water ring around the edge of the ball.
Mulching Can Help Or Hinder A Trees Growth
Believe it or not, proper mulching is one of the keys to ensuring your tree grows as quickly as possible. Not only does it help keeps weeds to a minimum, but it helps retain soil moisture, regulate soil temperature, and eliminate damage from landscaping tools.
But, when done improperly, mulch can become a new tree’s worst enemy!
You should add a layer of mulch around your tree that measures 2-4 inches deep and up to 6 feet wide. Leave a 3-6 inch gap between the mulch and the tree’s trunk.
Don’t heap piles of mulch up against the tree, as the wet mulch can rot the bark, damaging the tree’s growth. Also, don’t use the volcano method, as water will collect in the hole and rot the trunk. Finally, don’t make the mulch any deeper than 4 inches, as this can rob the soil of oxygen.
Watering Is Vital During The First Few Months
As mentioned before, you’ll need to water the root ball directly at first—the raised ring you’ve built with soil will help keep the water around the root ball.
Water the tree deeply after mulching. Be sure to adjust how much you water based on whether your soil is draining or poorly draining.
Keep constant moisture, but not saturation, for the first few months after you transplant. Pay attention to how quickly your soil dries out so you can water sufficiently!
That’s A Wrap!
Whether you’re aiming for a little extra shade or want a shining beauty to take center stage, one of the trees on this list is sure to tickle your fancy.
To quickly recap, some of the most popular fast-growing large tree varieties include:
- Hybrid poplars
- Weeping willows
- Green giant arborvitae
- Dawn redwood
- Pin oak
- River birch
- American sycamore
- Northern red oak
- Silver maple
Before planting, consider what kind of soil you have, your goal, and how large of a tree your backyard can handle. Additionally, following the planting techniques we shared will help your tree thrive.
Hopefully, this article helped you find the perfect quick-growing tree for your space! To learn more, check out our list of the 19 fastest-growing shade trees for your yard.
Calvo-Alvarado, J. C., Arias, D., & Richter, D. D. (2007). Early growth performance of native and introduced fast-growing tree species in wet to sub-humid climates of the Southern region of Costa Rica. Forest Ecology and Management, 242(2-3), 227-235.
Duryea, M. L., & Malavasi, M. M. (1993). How trees grow in the urban environment. Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.
Fitzpatrick, D. (1994). Money trees on your property: profit gained through trees and how to grow them. Inkata Press Pty, Butterworth-Heinemann.
Thomas, A., Priault, P., Piutti, S., Dallé, E., & Marron, N. (2021). Growth dynamics of fast-growing tree species in mixed forestry and agroforestry plantations. Forest Ecology and Management, 480, 118672.
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