Here are 10 of the fastest growing trees commonly used in home landscaping, according to Penelope O’Sullivan, author of “The Homeowner’s Complete Tree and Shrub Handbook.”
Carolina hemlock (tsuga caroliniana)
This evergreen pine grows quickly up to 60 feet tall and 25 feet wide. It is hardy in zones 4 to 7, and grows best in moist, well-drained soils. It is prone to damage from the wooly adelgid bug, but tree service professionals can stop the attack before it kills the tree.
Cimmaron green ash (fraxinus pennsylvanica)
This member of the olive family grows about three feet per year, reaching 50 feet tall and 30 feet wide. The leaves turn several nice shades of red in the fall. It grows in a wide variety of soils in gardening zones 3 to 9. The branches are strong and wind-resistant. It can succumb to a range of diseases, but seedless cultivars are hardier.
European Beech (fagus sylvatica)
These trees can grow to 70 feet tall, though many smaller cultivars are available, including the 10-foot Tortuosa and the 15-foot Rotundifolia. They do best with full or partial shade and well-drained soils, and are hardy in zones 5 to 7.
Golden weeping willow (salix sepulcralis)
These big round trees can grow up to 10 feet a year, and reach 50 feet tall and wide. They are beautiful year-round, and are hardy in zones 4 to 9. They will thrive in deep, moist and fertile soil, but there are drought-tolerant cultivars. They may not live as long as some other trees.
Hop hornbeam (ostrya virginiana)
This deciduous filbert tree, also known as the ironwood, only grows up to about 25 feet tall and wide. Its nuts may attract wildlife to the yard. The tree is hardy in zones 4 to 9, and tolerates a variety of shade conditions in loamy, well-drained soils. It resists most pests and diseases, but may be damaged by salty or polluted air. It can be hard to transplant, so settle on a site when it is small.
Leyland cypress (cupressocyparis leylandii)
The Leyland cypress grows at least three feet per year, up to 70 feet tall and a narrow 15 feet wide. It is widely used for privacy hedges throughout the Southeast, and it is hardy in zones 6 to 10. It is a beautiful tree, but it is susceptible to plenty of insects and diseases. It does well in a variety of shade situations, but thrives in moist, well-drained soil.
Northern red oak (quercus rubra)
This tree, the state tree of New Jersey, grows all over the eastern United States, and is hardy in zones 3 to 8. Some cultivars can grow very large, up to 90 feet tall and 70 feet wide. It grows up to 2 feet a year in full sun and well-drained soil. The tree is easy to transplant and can handle the smog and abuse of urban gardens.
Silver maple (acer saccharinum)
Silver maple trees can quickly grow to 80 feet tall and 50 feet wide. In fact, they grow so big, so take care, and grow the trees away from driveways or foundations, where the surface roots can cause damage. They grow all over the country, and are hardy in zones 3 to 9. Keep an eye on them, as they are susceptible to diseases and insects.
Swamp oak (quercus palustris)
This pyramidal oak can grow up to 70 feet tall and 50 feet wide. It is hardy in zones 4 to 8, and grows in full sun and moist to swampy soil. Though they drop a lot of leaves each year (and acorns every couple of years), but they tend to stay in place rather than blowing into neighbors’ yards.
Yuapon holly (ilex vomitoria)
This small, broad-leaf evergreen grows throughout the Southeast, and is hardy in zones 7 to 10. It can grow to about 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide. If you grow both male and female plants, it will grow bright red berries through winter. It tolerates most soils and shade conditions, and is fairly drought-tolerant. However, watch small children around the plant, as the leaves can cause vomiting.