Top 10 Fast-Growing Trees for Your Landscape

Try planting one of these fast-growing trees in your yard for beauty, shade and wildlife benefits.

Zelkova treeMARK TURNER/ TURNER PHOTOGRAPHICS

Zelkova

The vase-shaped growth habit may remind you of an elm, but the smooth gray bark and lovely red to purple fall color will take you by surprise. This adaptable tree tolerates a wide range of conditions, including wind and drought, once established.

Why we love it: Zelkova, a member of the elm family, is relatively resistant to the deadly Dutch elm disease.

Sweet Bay MagnoliaBailey Nursery, Inc.

Sweet Bay Magnolia

Magnolia Virginiana, Zones 5 to 9, Size: 10 to 20 feet in the north and 60 feet in the south

Lemon-scented flowers, dark green leaves and its evergreen nature in southern gardens make this a good patio or specimen plant. Watch as the wind rustles the leaves exposing their silvery undersides. Provide proper care for faster growth.

Why we love it: It’s more tolerant of shade and wet areas than other magnolias.

White pine treeCourtesy of the Arbor Day Foundation

White Pine

Pinus strobus, Zones 3 to 7, Size: 50 to 80 feet

Pyramidal in youth and picturesque with age makes this a delightful evergreen throughout its lifetime. Some gardeners shear it into hedges while others give it room to grow into an elegant specimen. Avoid high winds, air pollution and salt to extend its lifespan. Learn about the types of Christmas trees you can grow.

Crape MyrtleVia Bailey Nursery, Inc.

Crape Myrtle

Lagerstroemia indica, Zones 7 to 9, Size: 15 to 25 feet

There is a reason crape myrtles fill southern yards. The exfoliating bark exposes shades of brown and gray, adding year-round interest to any space. A long season of white, pink, purple or deep red blooms and outstanding fall color add beauty to every season in your landscape. Here’s more trees with pink and white spring blooms.

Why we love it: This nimble grower is beautiful alone, in small groups or added to the mixed border.

Top 10 Fast-Growing Trees | Birds & Blooms MagazineMARK TURNER/ TURNER PHOTOGRAPHICS

Red Maple

Acer rubrum, Zones 3 to 9, Size: 40 to 60 feet

This native tree’s red flower buds and blooms add subtle color to the early spring landscape. They finish off the season when the green leaves turn a brilliant red in fall. Select a cultivar with good branch structure and reliable fall color such as Red Sunset or Northwoods.

Why we love it: Acidic soil is a must, but the hybrid Freeman maple (red maple crossed with silver) has both the red maple’s fall color and the silver maple’s alkaline soil tolerance.

Top 10 Fast-Growing Trees | Birds & Blooms MagazineDavid Cavagnaro

Pin Oak

Quercus palustris, Zones 4 to 8, Size: 60 to 70 feet 

A fast-growing oak? You bet! The pin oak’s pyramidal shape and fine branches provide a year-round silhouette in the backyard. The glossy green leaves turn russet, bronze or red in the fall. Though tolerant of most growing conditions, acidic soil is a must.

Why we love it: The pin oak attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, and provides food for the gray hairstreak butterfly and squirrels. Plant these trees to attract more birds to your yard.

Top 10 Fast-Growing Trees | Birds & Blooms MagazineCourtesy of the Arbor Day Foundation

River Birch

Betula nigra, Zones 3 to 9, Size: 40 to 70 feet 

The exfoliating bark reveals shades of white, salmon, and brown making this a standout in the landscape. This beauty tolerates both wet and dry soil and is resistant to the bronze birch borer. Look for cultivars like Dura Heat and Heritage; they have more white in their bark and are more heat-tolerant. Grow it in slightly acidic soil for long-lasting results.

Why we love it: The smaller cultivar, Fox Valley (also known as Little King), only grows to 10 to 12 feet and is suitable for smaller landscapes.

Top 10 Fast-Growing Trees | Birds & Blooms MagazineIMAGEBROKER/ALAMY

Larch

Larix decidua, Zones 2 to 4, Size: 50 feet or more

Don’t fret when the needles of this conifer turn a dazzling yellow-gold in fall. The colorful fall needles will be replaced with fresh new needles each spring. Grow alone or in groups and enjoy the seasonal changes this native tree provides.

Why we love it: The European and Japanese larches allow gardeners with slightly different growing conditions to still enjoy the beauty of this tree.

Top 10 Fast-Growing Trees | Birds & Blooms MagazineMARK TURNER/ TURNER PHOTOGRAPHICS

Japanese Pagoda Tree

Styphnolobium japonicum (formerly Sophora japonica), Zones 4 to 7, Size: Up to 50 feet

Also known as scholar-tree, this tree’s bright green foliage and summer bloom make it a nice addition to any landscape. Grow in a mulch bed or mixed border, so the flower petals and ornamental pods will drop out of sight.

Why we love it: The large creamy white flowers are fragrant and brighten the landscape in mid to late summer.

Top 10 Fast-Growing Trees | Birds & Blooms MagazineBAILEY NURSERY, INC.

Korean Mountain Ash

Sorbus alnifolia, Zones 4 to 7, Size: 40 to 50 feet

Beautiful white flowers in spring are followed by small pinkish-red to scarlet fruit in the fall. The fruit persists and adds to the fall display as the leaves turn from green to yellow-orange in the fall. Grow in moist, well-drained soil for faster growth and longevity.

Why we love it: Birds love the berries, just like with other mountain ash trees, but this type is more pest-resistant.

More Fast Growing Trees

And the list goes on! Here are a few more fast-growing trees. Make sure the trees you select are hardy in your area, suited to the growing conditions and will fit the available space once mature.

  • American linden (Tilia americana)
  • Red oak (Quercus rubra)
  • Freeman maple (Acer x freemanii)
  • Sargent cherry (Prunus sargentii)
  • Chinese pistache (Pistacia chinensis)
  • Dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)
  • American sweetgum (Liquidamber styraciflua)
  • Fruitless sweetgum (Liquidamber styraciflua ‘Rotundifolia’)
  • Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera)