Arbor day is approaching, which makes it the perfect time to plant trees. After all, we know that trees are essential for a healthy ecosystem and they bring joy and healthy benefits to us as well.

In fact, trees serve all sorts of purposes in nature and in our yards. From shade to hedges, trees are always a welcome addition to the landscape design. Sometimes, a slow-growing tree is just the right thing for the space, but fast-growing trees have become popular for several reasons. Mostly though, it’s because when a homeowner wants a tree for any reason, they want it to mature quickly to enjoy the benefits it provides. If you’re ready for quick shade or a tall attraction, consider the following list of quick-growing trees to plant this Arbor day.


Poplar trees have a made a name for themselves over the past decade for their quick growth. This makes for a crop for farmers since they can be harvested in years instead of decades. For the homeowner, the poplar will pop up at a rate of five to eight feet per year, making it a great natural tool to keep your home cool during the hot summer months.

These trees are versatile enough to grow in a wide range of soils, though their ideal conditions will mimic the best soil for most tree species, soil that is moist with good drainage with slight acidity. Poplar saplings are most commonly available in 10-inch sizes, if you're planting in area prone to deers and other pests opt for a larger sapling if possible. Giving your poplar that small head start can have it grow out of deer territory and be vulnerable for a shorter period.


weeping willow tree draped over water

The weeping willow, along with other varieties of the tree, can grow up to 12 feet in the first year. This makes a great tree if you’re establishing your yard or are looking to create a mature landscape in a short amount of time. Willows make an excellent privacy screen along the border of your property and are tolerant of most soil types and growing environments.


Field of Golden Aspen Trees

The aspen is a staple in many American landscapes with its impressive fall color display. The quaking aspen is one of the fastest growing as a relative of the poplar. Sprouting 2-3 feet per year, the aspen reaches heights of 40-50 feet tall and can be 25 feet wide, so make sure to allow room for growth.

River Birch

There are a few types of birch that are relatively fast growing, but the river birch is a great choice if you have a soggy yard. Often found alongside rivers, the river birch tolerates wet feet so they will thrive in areas that receive a lot of rain, and survive fine through the drought periods too. They can be planted right next to each other for a fuller effect, although even a single tree branches out nicely, creating dappled shade. The leaves of the river birch make a calming rustling sound throughout the soft breezes of summer. The river birch typically grows 1-2 feet per year and a mature tree can reach 40-70 feet in height.


European Ash Trees

Actually considerate a moderately-fast growing tree, the ash is versatile in growing zones 2-9. The ash will grow 1-2 feet per year, netting around 18-25 feet per decade. Use the ash tree for its shade canopy and for visual interest. This is another good choice for wet areas, but it is somewhat more sensitive to drought than the river birch.

Red Maple

Maple trees have been a popular landscaping choice for centuries because of their shade-providing abilities, but also due to the spectacular color. As an example, the October Glory Maple begins with shiny green leaves in the spring that evolve into a deep red in the fall. Ideal for hardiness zones 4-9, the maple tree will grow 1-2 feet per year, maxing out around 40-50 feet in height.


Chinese Arborvitae

The trademark property border of suburban or more rural households, the arborvitae is a fast-growing option to help you achieve your privacy goals quickly. A single tree will top out at about 50-60 feet, gaining three feet per year in ideal growing conditions. Most commonly, though, arborvitae are grown in rows, planted closely together to create a security screen or hedge. Arborvitae forgive most pruning so you can sheer it for your preferred look.


Once established, the redwood is a hearty, long-living tree that majestically towers over many in the forest. There’s a reason the redwood forests in California are such a draw. For the backyard garden, however, make sure to consider that the redwood will reach impressive 70-100 foot heights so it might not be the best choice for every yard. This is another candidate for wet areas that receive a lot of rain. They will need extra water during the summer in nearly all locations. However, in the right conditions, this conifer will grow at a rate of around two feet per year.


Cypress Branch and Needles

Another evergreen, the cypress, has fine needles that change color slightly through the seasons. Mature height is 60-70 feet with a span of around 15-25 feet. This is achieved at a growth rate of about two feet per year. Most cypress will be successful in hardiness zones 5-10 if planted in full sun, and they are forgiving of most soil types.