Fast Growing Trees for Instant Privacy

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Fast-Growing Trees for Instant Privacy

You can quickly create beauty, shade,
backyard privacy, and more.

Most trees take a decade or more to reach their mature size, but you can select fast-growing species so that you don’t have to wait so long to create focal points, backyard privacy screens, windbreaks, and living walls in your landscape. For shade in a hurry or instant privacy, select varieties that are fast growing, pamper them with consistent water and adequate fertilization, and they will repay you with rapid progress!

You will find an abundance of information and sources for fast-growing trees. Make your selections wisely. Avoid species that are fast growing but develop weak trunks or have other problems, for example, empress tree (Palownia tomentosa), Chinaberry (Melia azedarach), and mimosa (Albizia julibrissin). For a more complete list of fast-growers to pass on, see our Top 8 to Avoid list. Remember you're selecting trees that will be a part of your landscape for a long time to come!

The best performing, highest quality, fast-growing trees have already been selected for you and are available from Park’s Landscapes, a division of the Park family of companies. Park’s has built its reputation for dependable service for over 135 years by maintaining the highest standards of excellence in all the products that it offers.

Selecting your fast-growing trees
To reap the benefits of fast-growing shade trees and fast-growing evergreen trees, follow these guidelines for the best success:

  1. Know the Mature Size of the Trees. Find out the mature heights and widths of the trees that you plan to plant and leave sufficient space for them to reach their ultimate size. Fast-growing trees can be divided into two categories: long-lived and short-lived. Use the short-lived types to provide shade or a windbreak quickly but temporarily and the long-lived ones for your permanent shade or windbreak trees.

  2. Know the Conditions of the Planting Site.
    Seasonal extremes in temperature, humidity, sunlight (exposure), rain, and adverse weather can influence the tree’s health. How well the tree performs also depends on soil texture, structure, and fertility, moisture extremes, and underground obstacles to root growth. Examine the soil at the planting site and have a soil test done. This will aid in selecting the best-suited quick-growing tree for your site and help avoid future problems. You can have a low-cost soil test done through your county extension office.

  3. Choose a Species that Matches Site Conditions.
    Each species has certain environmental conditions for optimum growth. Trees that are matched closely to their site will established more quickly and will grow faster.

  4. Place the Tree.
    Many fast-growing trees have aggressive root systems with a dense network of surface roots. Avoid planting too close to underground water or sewer lines. Plant them an adequate distance from overhead utility lines so that they will not grow into the lines as they mature. Space large shade trees one-half the distance of their spread from any overhead obstruction and the full width of the mature tree from the trunk of any other large tree. For smaller trees, allow at least half the mature spread of the existing tree plus half the spread of the proposed tree.

Getting shade in a hurry
Fast-growing shade trees are excellent for providing shade on the western and southern sides of your home or outdoor living space. If it gets very hot by midday in your region, you might want to plant a tree to provide shade on the southeastern exposure. In addition, the density of shade depends on the size of the leaves. For instance, tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) gives maximum reduction in the sun’s intensity and should be used to shade homes. Others, such as dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), or river birch (Betula nigra) provide lightly filtered sunlight that plants such as camellias and azaleas need to perform best.

Creating a wind barrier
Since shade trees lose their leaves during colder months, you will want to select fast-growing evergreen trees to use as wind breaks. These trees are well branched and provide coverage right down to the ground. Use a variety of fast-growing evergreen trees and plant them in a line that is perpendicular to the prevailing winter wind.

Giving trees their best start
Remove any existing vegetation from the planting area. Dig a hole three times the size of the root ball. Loosen and work the soil that you dug out of the hole. It is best not to mix amendments or fertilizer into the backfill. If you do add compost or other organic material, it should be no more than 1/3 of the amount of soil and should be well-mixed. Research has shown that the best use of organic material such as compost, ground bark, etc. is as mulch once the tree is planted. Keep the mulch 4 to 5 inches from the trunk and apply no deeper than 3 inches. If the roots are pot bound (circling on each other), disturb the root ball just prior to planting. Keep all types of trees (especially bare-root) moist at all times prior to planting.

Other important reminders:

  1. Plant at the proper depth, avoid excessive packing of the fill-soil.
  2. Construct a water basin to hold water initially and water the tree in after planting.
  3. Mulch with 2 to 3 inches of an organic material such as ground aged pine bark or pine straw.
  4. In the first season, apply 2 tablespoons of a 21% to 16% nitrogen fertilizer (12-4-8 or 16-4-8) per 10 square feet of root area. Apply in March and July or whatever experts recommend in your area. More is not better. In future years, have a soil test done to determine fertilizer needs.

One of the very best fast-growing trees is Thuja Green Giant, an evergreen clothed right to the ground in dense, fragrant foliage, and capable of 3 to 5 feet of growth per year under optimal conditions. Park’s Landscapes best-selling tree of all time, Thuja Green Giant is dependable in a wide range of climates. If you’re looking for something smaller, consider the splendid Coral Embers Willow. Though not evergreen, its best color is in winter, when its leaves fall to reveal brilliant orange-red branching!