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Top 10 Fast-Growing Trees

Try one of these trees for good looks and quick results.

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sunlight through tree sunny dayArtsiom Malashenko/Getty Images

What You Need To Know About Fast-Growing Trees

Do you love mature landscapes, but not the wait it takes to get there? Don’t worry — there are plenty of great fast-growing trees to choose from. You need to be careful with this type of tree, because quick growth often leads to weak wood and a short life. However, choose wisely and you’ll be rewarded with speedy results and long-lasting beauty. Here are some great space-saving trees for today’s home landscapes.

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Zelkova tree birds and bloomsMARK TURNER/ TURNER PHOTOGRAPHICS

Zelkova Tree

Zelkova serrate, best in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5 to 8. Size: 50 to 60 feet

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. Once established this adaptable tree tolerates a wide range of conditions, including wind and drought. See more trees to plant, including trees with yellow leaves in fall.

Why we love it: This member of the elm family generally resists the deadly Dutch elm disease.

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Sweet Bay Magnolia tree flowerralucahphotography.ro/Getty Images

Sweet Bay Magnolia Tree

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. Meet these 10 great tree species you may want to plant in your yard.

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

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eastern white pine treeDouglas Sacha/Getty Images

White Pine Tree

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.

Why we love it: The many cultivars include upright, contorted and dwarf forms. One is suited to just about any landscape.

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Crape Myrtle flowering treeTony Nguyen/Getty Images

Crape Myrtle Tree

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

There’s a reason crape myrtles fill southern yards. The exfoliating bark exposes shades of brown and gray, adding year-round interest to any space. The long season of white, pink, purple or deep red blooms and outstanding fall color add beauty to every season in your landscape. Check out these 10 great trees to consider planting in your yard this spring.

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

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red maple treeKhanh Ngo Photography/Getty Images

Red Maple Tree

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. Here are some tips for trouble-free tree planting.

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

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pin oak tree birds and bloomsDAVID CAVAGNARO

Pin Oak Tree

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. Here’s how to correct soil PH.

Why we love it: The pin oak attracts butterflies and hummingbirds while providing food for the gray hairstreak butterfly and squirrels.

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river birch tree birds and bloomsPHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARBOR DAY FOUNDATION

River Birch Tree

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 wet and dry soil and resists the bronze birch borer. Look for cultivars like Dura Heat and Heritage; they show more white in their bark and are more heat-tolerant. Grow it in slightly acidic soil for long-lasting results. If you need to buy firewood, check out these helpful tips.

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.

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larch tree birds and bloomsIMAGEBROKER/ALAMY

Larch Tree

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 needles will be replaced with fresh new needles each spring. Grow alone or in groups and enjoy the seasonal changes this native tree provides. Here are some helpful tips for landscaping around a tree.

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

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Japanese Pagoda Tree birds and bloomsMARK 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, fragrant white flowers brighten the landscape in mid-to-late summer.

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Korean Mountain Ash tree birds and bloomsBAILEY NURSERY, INC.

Korean Mountain Ash Tree

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

Beautiful white flowers in spring give way to 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. Beware of the trees that are the worst for your home’s plumbing.

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

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red oak treeZen Rial/Getty Images

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)

Plus, make sure you know these tree pruning techniques to keep your trees healthy.