16 Fastest Growing Trees for More Shade in Your Yard

June 14, 2024

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Dreaming of a shady oasis in your backyard? Fast-growing shade trees can transform your landscape quickly, providing relief from the sun and improving your outdoor space.

Discover our top picks for fast-growing trees that offer instant shade and beauty. Please note that all trees thrive in specific zones and regions of the country, so do your due diligence before planting.

If you’re unsure about which tree to choose for your property, make sure to reach out to a landscape designer for recommendations.

16 Fastest Growing Trees for Shade

1. Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides)

These trees are famous for their shimmering leaves that flutter in the slightest breeze, creating a dynamic visual effect. They prefer cool climates and well-drained soils.

  • Description: Quaking aspen is known for its vibrant foliage and unique bark.
  • Growth Rate: Rapid growth, making it ideal for quickly establishing shade.
  • Best Zones: Suitable for Zones 1-7.
  • Tips: Plant in well-drained soil and ample sunlight for best results.

2. Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra)

oak tree

Northern red oaks are sturdy trees that can live for centuries, providing excellent shade and habitat for birds and squirrels. They require moderate watering and benefit from occasional pruning to maintain their shape.

  • Description: Majestic tree prized for its autumn colors and wildlife habitat.
  • Growth Rate: Fast-growing and adaptable to various settings.
  • Best Zones: Thrives in Zones 3-8.
  • Tips: Requires full sun and moderate watering to flourish.

3. Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera)

fastest growing birch tree

Paper birches are beloved for their peeling bark that reveals layers of white and salmon-colored inner bark. They thrive in cool climates and add a unique visual texture to landscapes.

  • Description: Iconic white bark and stunning yellow fall foliage.
  • Growth Rate: Fast growth, tolerant of diverse soil conditions.
  • Best Zones: Thrives in Zones 2-7.
  • Tips: Prefers cool, moist areas and benefits from occasional pruning.

4. Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)

Hackberries are tough trees that can tolerate urban environments and various soil conditions. They attract birds and butterflies with their small, sweet fruits and provide reliable shade throughout the year.

  • Description: Hardy and adaptable tree with significant environmental benefits.
  • Growth Rate: Fast growth, tolerates various soil types.
  • Best Zones: Zones 3-9.
  • Tips: Low-maintenance once established; suitable for urban landscapes.

5. Red Sunset Maple (Acer rubrum ‘Franksred’)

maple tree grows fast

Red sunset maples are known for their stunning display of red and orange foliage in the fall, making them a focal point in any landscape. They require regular watering and should be planted in well-drained soil.

  • Description: Brilliant red hues in fall and ornamental features year-round.
  • Growth Rate: Fast-growing maple.
  • Best Zones: Zones 4-8.
  • Tips: Plant in well-drained soil and full sun for optimal coloration.

6. Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)

Pin oaks are known for their distinctive pyramidal shape and glossy green foliage. They adapt well to compacted soil and urban settings, making them popular in parks and along streets.

  • Description: Provides dense shade and aesthetic appeal year-round.
  • Growth Rate: Rapid growth rate.
  • Best Zones: Zones 4-8.
  • Tips: Adaptable to different soil conditions; prune to maintain shape.

7. River Birch (Betula nigra)

River birches thrive in moist soil and are prized for their exfoliating bark that adds winter interest to landscapes. They are excellent choices for naturalizing wet areas and providing habitat for wildlife.

  • Description: Features attractive curling bark and yellow fall foliage.
  • Growth Rate: Fast growth.
  • Best Zones: Zones 4-9.
  • Tips: Plant in moist, well-drained soil; ideal for adding texture to landscapes.

8. Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)

redwood tree

Dawn redwoods are deciduous conifers that are a living fossil, known for their feathery leaves and rapid growth rate. They thrive in moist soils and add a unique touch to botanical gardens and large landscapes.

  • Description: Prehistoric tree with feathery leaves and rapid growth.
  • Growth Rate: Fast-growing.
  • Best Zones: Zones 5-8.
  • Tips: Thrives in moist soils and enjoys full sun; perfect for large gardens.

9. Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa)

Northern catalpas are known for their large, heart-shaped leaves and clusters of white flowers that attract pollinators. They require ample space to spread out and are ideal for large properties or parks.

  • Description: Showy flowers and large leaves make it a standout choice.
  • Growth Rate: Fast-growing, attracts wildlife.
  • Best Zones: Zones 4-8.
  • Tips: Requires ample space and occasional pruning; perfect for parks.

10. American Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)

American sweetgums are prized for their unique star-shaped leaves that turn shades of yellow, orange, and red in the fall. They thrive in moist, well-drained soil and are excellent for adding seasonal color to landscapes.

  • Description: Star-shaped leaves and vibrant fall colors.
  • Growth Rate: Fast growth, suitable for large yards.
  • Best Zones: Zones 5-9.
  • Tips: Plant in full sun for best foliage coloration; water regularly.

11. Sycamore (Platanus spp.)

sycamore tree

Sycamores are large, shade-providing trees with mottled bark that adds visual interest year-round. They are excellent choices for urban environments and can tolerate various soil conditions.

  • Growth Rate: Fast-growing in diverse conditions; excellent for urban landscapes.
  • Description: Mottled bark and expansive canopy.
  • Best Zones: Varies by species, generally Zones 4-9.
  • Tips: Requires regular pruning to manage size; ideal for larger properties.

12. Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Tuliptrees are one of the tallest native trees in North America, known for their tulip-shaped flowers and bright green foliage. They prefer moist, well-drained soil and are excellent shade providers for large landscapes.

  • Description: Tall stature and tulip-shaped flowers in spring.
  • Growth Rate: Rapid growth, excellent for shade.
  • Best Zones: Zones 4-9.
  • Tips: Requires moist, well-draining soil; prune to maintain shape.

13. Sun Valley Maple (Acer rubrum ‘Sun Valley’)

Sun Valley maples are prized for their symmetrical crown and brilliant red fall foliage. They are low-maintenance and ideal for residential landscapes where minimal seed production is desired.

  • Description: Symmetrical crown and stunning fall foliage.
  • Growth Rate: Fast growth, low-maintenance.
  • Best Zones: Zones 4-7.
  • Tips: Plant in well-drained soil; provides shade without producing seeds.

14. Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)

weeping willow

Weeping willows are known for their elegant, cascading branches that provide a serene landscape ambiance. They prefer moist soils and are often planted near water bodies.

  • Growth Rate: Fast growth, prefers very moist soils.
  • Description: Graceful, weeping branches create a tranquil atmosphere.
  • Best Zones: Zones 4-10.
  • Tips: Plant near water sources; prune to maintain desired shape and size.

15. Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)

Bald cypresses are unique conifers that shed their needles in the fall, providing a striking landscape feature. They thrive in wet or swampy soils and are excellent choices for naturalizing wet areas.

  • Description: Deciduous conifer known for shedding needles in fall.
  • Growth Rate: Fast growth, tolerant of wet and dry soils.
  • Best Zones: Zones 4-10.
  • Tips: Plant in full sun for optimal growth; provides unique foliage.

16. Palo Verde (Parkinsonia spp.)

Palo verdes are desert natives known for their green trunks and yellow spring blooms. They thrive in arid climates and are drought-tolerant once established, making them ideal for xeriscapes.

  • Description: Desert native with yellow blooms and lush green leaves.
  • Growth Rate: Fast-growing, drought-tolerant.
  • Best Zones: Zones 8-10.
  • Tips: Thrives in full sun and well-draining soil; ideal for arid climates.

Understanding the Zones

Understanding your plant hardiness zone is key for selecting the right trees for your landscape. Each tree species has specific zone preferences where it thrives best. Factors such as temperature extremes and frost dates can significantly impact tree growth and survival.

Check your local zone to make sure your chosen trees will grow well in your area. Check your Zone HERE.


Transform your outdoor space with these fast-growing shade trees that provide instant relief from the sun while enhancing your landscape’s beauty. Choose trees based on your climate and space requirements for the best results.

Ready to create your dream landscape with fast-growing shade trees? Contact Sarasota Landscaping & Design today for expert advice and personalized landscaping services. With our professional assistance, you can transform your yard into a cool, inviting oasis.

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