Discover the 10 Fastest Growing Shade Trees

Written by Serena Morris
Published: November 8, 2022
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Are you looking for a fast-growing shade tree to plant in your yard? Or are you simply curious about fast growing shade trees? No need to look further! In this article we detail 10 of the fastest growing shade trees and point out fun facts as well as care and maintenance tips for each tree.

Red Maple

The red maple is one of the fastest growing trees, as well as one of the tallest. It can grow 13 to 24 inches a year for a full, eventual height of 60 to 90 feet. There have been some known cases in which red maple trees have reached heights of 120 feet with the proper care.

This tree is indigenous to the eastern deciduous forest in the United States. It is found in vast numbers, maybe more than any other tree in this area. They have spread as far north as Maine, as far east as Florida, as far south as Texas, and as far west as Minnesota.

The red maple is a versatile tree that does well in many different environments and areas. It seems to be able to thrive in both the shade and the sun, in low or high elevation, and in wet or dry soil. However, moist, acidic, deep soil generally grows the healthiest red maple trees.

Red leaves of Japanese maple Acer palmatum

The red maple tree is known for its vibrant autumn color.


Tulip Poplar

The tulip poplar tree gets its name from its green, brightly colored leaves that look like tulip flowers. These trees can grow up to 36 inches per year. Once fully grown, they can reach a height of 70 to 90 feet. Like the red maple, it is also indigenous to the eastern deciduous forest in the United States. It thrives in full sun and moist soil, though it is susceptible to drought.

When European explorers came across this tree in North America, they were impressed with the size and shape of it. They would use the wood from the tulip poplar in building their cabins. It was popular enough that some of these trees were sent back to Europe. Now, the tulip poplar is one of the most commonly grown American trees found in England and France.

Tulip Poplar Tree

The tulip poplar tree is one of the most commonly grown American trees in England and France.


Weeping Willow

Out of the 10 fastest growing shade trees on this list, the weeping willow grows the quickest. It can grow up to 120 inches, or 10 feet, every year. It reaches a maximum height of 30 to 40 feet with a similar width. Because it grows so fast, the wood of the weeping willow is often weaker than other, slower-growing trees.

Originally indigenous to eastern Asia, the weeping willow has managed to naturalize throughout parts of North America. It thrives in full sun and moist, acidic soil. However, in general, the weeping willow tree is not recommended to be planted near the home. Its invasive roots can damage pipes, it attracts many bugs, and its wood breaks very easily, dropping debris on the ground.

black willow vs weeping willow

The weeping willow tree can grow up to 10 feet every year.

©Axel Bueckert/

Nuttall Oak

The nuttall oak grows up to 48 inches every year. When fully grown it can be anywhere from 40 feet to 80 feet tall. It thrives in heavy, wet soil. It is indigenous to the forests along the gulf coasts of North America and the basin of the Mississippi River. This wide tree is drought tolerant and deciduous, which means that it loses its leaves in the fall and winter.

While the nuttall oak does well in cities, the young leaves and acorns do pose a mild threat to humans if they are eaten, as they are slightly poisonous.

Oak tree from below

The nuttall oak tree can be anywhere from 40 to 80 feet at its tallest.


Silver Maple

The silver maple tree grows at least 24 inches per year and can eventually reach a height of 60 feet or more with the proper care. These trees are known for their bark, where they get their name. The bark on these trees is a smooth, soft gray color when it is young. As it ages it tends to flake. The silver maple is versatile and is tolerant of many different soil conditions.

The fruit of the silver maple tree is the largest out of all of the maple trees, however, the amount of sap it produces is less than other maples.

Bark of silver maple tree

The bark on the silver maple is a smooth, soft gray color when it is young.

© Denisenko


The sycamore tree is one of the tallest growing deciduous trees in North America. It grows about 24 inches every year and, when fully grown, can reach anywhere from 75 to 100 feet. This makes it one of the tallest 10 fastest growing shade trees on this list. Like the silver maple, these trees are also known for their bark. The outer layer is a brown color that, when peeled back, gives way to a lighter brown color. These trees thrive in moist, rich, deep soil and are tolerant against drought, wet soil, wind, and even pollution.

Sometimes, the large width of these trees can pose a problem, as their far-reaching roots have been known to cause damage to pipes, pavements, and more.

Sycamore from afar

The sycamore is one of the tallest trees in North America.


Japanese Zelkova

The Japanese zelkova tree can grow up to 12 to 24 inches per year, until it reaches its full height of 50 to 80 feet. It is indigenous to eastern Asia, specifically Japan, and is known for being durable and tough, as it is tolerant of drought and wind.

It thrives in full sun, grows well in most mountainous and coastal regions, and makes a great shade tree.

Japanese zelkova

Japanese zelkova trees are known for being tough and durable.


Dawn Redwood

The dawn redwood is an ancient tree that has been around for millions of years. Out of the 10 fastest growing shade trees on this list, the dawn redwood is the oldest. Like other species of redwood trees, the dawn redwood grows tall. Every year it grows up to 40 to 42 inches and eventually reaches a full height of 75 to even 100 feet.

In its early stages of growth, this tree can be susceptible to freezing and cold snaps; to avoid damage, make sure to plant it in the early fall so its roots can grow and establish before the weather turns cold. It thrives best in moist, acidic soil.

dawn redwood path

Dawn redwood trees have been around for millions of years.


Autumn Blaze Maple

The autumn blaze maple tree grows up to 36 inches per year and can eventually reach a full height of 40 to 55 feet. Like most maple trees, its leaves turn vivid colors, like red, orange and yellow, in the fall season, which makes this tree a popular one.

It is pollution-tolerant and can adapt to different types of soil, as well as temperatures both freezing and hot. This tree prefers full sun but does just as well in areas with partial sun. As this tree grows, it requires less and less water, attention, and maintenance, but proper care in the early stages is necessary. It needs a lot of water when it is young to keep its roots moist.

Autumn, Falling, Leaf, Backgrounds, Autumn Leaf Color

Autumn blaze maple trees are known for their vivid autumn colors.


American Sweetgum

The American sweetgum tree can eventually reach a mature height of 80 feet tall, growing anywhere from 13 inches to more than 24 inches a year. It does best in conditions and areas with full sun and is very tolerant of heat and humidity but not cold temperatures. Because of its shallow roots, it is best to avoid planting near sidewalks.

The American sweetgum is a deciduous tree, so its leaves change colors in the autumn season. The leaves on this tree turn into a number of colors like red, orange, yellow, and even purple.

American Sweetgum

The leaves of an American sweetgum tree turn into a number of colors like red, orange, yellow, and even purple.

© photography

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