15 Best Fast-Growing Trees

Weeping willow

Richard Hamilton Smith / Getty Images

Some trees can take decades to mature whereas fast-growing trees can gain considerable height each year. If you want shade or privacy for your landscape quickly, a fast-growing tree might be the right choice for you. Plus, such a tree will add considerable ornamental value to the landscape soon after you plant it.

Warning

Some fast-growing trees aren't as strong as the species that take a long time to mature, and limbs might be prone to breaking. Consider a planting site away from where limbs could drop onto structures. In addition, their growth rate can mean more extensive pruning if you want to keep their size and shape in check.

Here are 15 fast-growing trees that might be the perfect fit for your landscape.

  • 01 of 15

    Japanese Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata)

    Japanese flowering cherry tree branches with pink blossom clusters with yellow leaves

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Japanese flowering cherry trees grow quickly, gaining up to 2 feet per year and topping out at around 15 to 25 feet in height and spread. The showy white to pink flowers bloom in the spring, giving way to small blackish fruits in the summertime. This species is susceptible to several pest and disease issues, including powdery mildew and aphids. So it’s important to closely monitor your tree and treat it appropriately at the first sign of a problem.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, well-drained
  • 02 of 15

    Japanese Angelica Tree (Aralia elata)

    Japanese angelica tree branches with yellow flower panicles and bipinnate leaves

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    The Japanese angelica tree is a small deciduous tree, losing its leaves over the winter. It grows to roughly 12 to 18 feet tall and 6 to 10 feet wide and can appear more like a large shrub than a tree. In the fall, the medium green leaves turn yellow to reddish purple. Due to this fast-growing tree’s large seed production it can quickly spread throughout the landscape. So be sure to remove new trees promptly to prevent unwanted growth.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-drained
  • 03 of 15

    Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)

    Weeping willow tree with drooping branches in middle of wooden area

    The Spruce / Erica Lang

    Weeping willows are fast-growing trees, gaining more than 2 feet per year. They generally top out at around 30 to 50 feet in height and spread. The tree’s branches gracefully arch downward, and in the late winter or early spring small yellow flowers appear. The wood of weeping willows is notoriously weak, so this is not a tree to have hanging over structures. Pruning should occur in the late winter or early spring.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, moist, slightly acidic, well-drained
  • 04 of 15

    Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)

    Honey locust tree branch with yellow leaves against blue sky

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    Honey locust trees have a rapid growth rate, gaining more than 2 feet per year. And they require ample space in the landscape. They generally mature at around 60 to 80 feet in height and spread, though they can grow up to 120 feet tall. These trees are tolerant of various soil types, as well as heat, drought, and wind. However, the main species plant does have a lot of thorns. So if you plan to plant one, look for a variety that is thornless. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained
    Continue to 5 of 15 below.
  • 05 of 15

    Koa (Acacia koa)

    acacia koa tree

    Scot Nelson / Flickr

    Koa is a fast-growing, evergreen Acacia tree species from the Hawaiian Islands. It averages around 50 to 80 feet tall and 20 to 40 feet wide, though in its natural habitat it can grow up to 100 feet high. Rather than typical leaves, the trees have stiff green phyllodes, which are modified leaf stems. Koa trees are fairly low-maintenance. Make sure the soil stays evenly moist but not soggy, especially for young trees.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 10 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Acidic, well-drained
  • 06 of 15

    Royal Poinciana (Delonix regia)

    Royal poinciana tree with bright red flower clusters on extending branches

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    The royal poinciana tops out at around 30 to 40 feet high with a 40- to 70-foot spread. These evergreen trees are popular in tropical and subtropical regions, especially for their vivid, red-orange, five-petal flowers that show up in the summertime. These trees provide excellent shade. However, their robust root system can end up cracking pavement if they don’t have enough space. Also, the branches are rather brittle, so it’s important to prune them back in the spring to encourage stronger growth.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 10 to 12
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained
  • 07 of 15

    Leyland Cypress (Cupressocyparis Leylandii)

    Leyland cypress tree with dense pyramidal branches in sunlight

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    The Leyland cypress is an evergreen that reaches around 60 to 70 feet tall with a 10- to 15-foot spread on average. This fast-growing tree gains up to 3 feet per year with gray-green needled foliage on branches that point upward. The bark on this tree is a reddish-brown color. It’s a hardy and low-maintenance tree. However, be sure not to overwater it, as this can cause root rot.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 10
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained
  • 08 of 15

    Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)

    Pin oak tree branches with bright orange leaves against blue sky

    Simon McGill / Getty Images

    The pin oak is a deciduous tree that grows to around 50 to 70 feet tall and 40 to 60 feet wide on average. It has a pyramidal shape with shiny dark green leaves and gray-brown bark that develops ridges as it matures. It’s a popular landscape tree due to its fast growth rate and medium size. Plus, it tolerates a variety of growing conditions. However, make sure it’s not in alkaline soil, which can cause yellowing of the leaves. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, moist, well-drained
    Continue to 9 of 15 below.
  • 09 of 15

    Green Giant Arborvitae (Thuja 'Green Giant')

    Green giant arborvitae tree top in a pyramidal shape against blue sky

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    ‘Green Giant’ is an arborvitae cultivar with a fast growth rate, gaining up to 5 feet per year. This needled evergreen tree can mature at around 40 to 60 feet tall and 12 to 18 feet wide. It’s often used as a privacy hedge. Adding a layer of mulch around the tree can help to keep the roots cool and retain adequate soil moisture. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained
  • 10 of 15

    River Birch (Betula Nigra)

    River birch tree with salmon-red peeling bark surrounded by bright green leaves

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    The river birch is a fast-growing tree that’s native to floodplains and other wet areas in the United States. It can handle heavy clay soil, poor drainage, and even semi-aquatic conditions, but it also can tolerate drier soil. However, it’s still best to mulch around the tree to shade the roots and retain soil moisture.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, acidic, moist
  • 11 of 15

    Freeman Maple (Acer x Freemanii 'Autumn Blaze')

    Freeman maple tree red leaf in front of yellow leaves closeup

    Brian North / Getty Images

    Freeman maples are a hybrid of red and silver maples. They’re solid and attractive trees with a fast growth rate. They reach around 40 to 55 feet tall and 30 to 40 feet wide on average. And the medium green leaves turn a vibrant red in the fall. Be sure to water young trees frequently, as they like moist but not soggy soil. Mature trees have some drought tolerance.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, acidic, well-drained
  • 12 of 15

    Tulip tree (Liriodendron Tulipifera)

    Tulip tree with wide-spreading branches and yellow-green leaves against blue sky

    Katja Schulz / Getty Images

    The tulip tree, also known as the yellow poplar, is a show-stopping tree with a broad pyramidal shape. It can mature around 60 to 90 feet tall with a 30- to 50-foot spread. And the trunk can reach roughly 6 feet in diameter. These fast-growing trees are known for having weak branches and shallow roots. Ideally they should be planted somewhere that’s sheltered from strong winds.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, moist, well-drained
    Continue to 13 of 15 below.
  • 13 of 15

    Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)

    Silver maple tree trunk and spreading branches with bright green leaves from below

    asmithers / Getty Images

    The silver maple gets its common name because its leaves are a silver hue on their undersides. This large, fast-growing tree has a broad, rounded shape. It matures at around 50 to 80 feet high with a 35- to 70-foot spread. And it can gain more than 2 feet in height per year. However, its weak wood is known to break in ice and strong winds. So it should be planted away from structures.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium to wet, well-drained
  • 14 of 15

    Red Maple (Acer Rubrum)

    Red maple tree with bright orange-yellow leaves

    The Spruce / Autumn Wood

    Native to eastern and central North America, red maples are fast-growing trees with a rounded or oval shape. They can gain around 2 feet per year, maturing at roughly 40 to 70 feet tall with a 30- to 50-foot spread. They’re also very tolerant to cold weather. However, they do have shallow roots that can push up pavement. So they should be planted where they have some space to grow. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium to wet, well-drained
  • 15 of 15

    Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides)

    Quaking aspen tree with white bark and yellow leaves

    Scott T. Smith / Getty Images

    Also known as the American aspen, the quaking aspen sports trademark white bark and dark green leaves that turn golden in the fall. It reaches around 20 to 50 feet high and 10 to 30 feet wide with an oval shape. Heat and humidity, as well as pollution, all can damage this tree. A layer of mulch is ideal to help keep the roots cool and maintain adequate soil moisture. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 1 to 6
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained