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The Fastest Growing Trees for Shade

Posted on September 10 2018

When you need some tranquil shade, rejuvenating greenery, and cool beauty—and you need it yesterday...

A shade tree is a giving tree. Sitting under a shade tree provides the equivalent of SPF10 sunblock; it keeps you cool and helps to protect you from harmful UV rays. A shade tree’s foliage can block sunbeams from reaching your home, street, and the surrounding territory, cutting down on energy usage and slashing your electric bill. This environment-friendly approach has the added bonus of clean filtered air since trees absorb pollutants. Trees that provide shade are also aesthetically pleasing and calm the senses, furthermore allowing creative minds to flourish. Fast-growing shade trees are an easy way to provide privacy, block wind and noise, and increase your property’s value—it’s been proven that folks are willing to pay more for homes with attractive mature trees. You and your family are also more likely to venture outdoors under the protective cover of a shade tree’s solace.

Ready for that shade? Check out ten of our best small yard trees below and pick your favorites!



  • Northern Red Oak. Heralded as one of the handsomest, cleanest, and stateliest specimens, the massive Northern Red Oak is a priceless fast-growing shade tree and national treasure with breathtaking fall colors. Quercus rubra is tremendously resilient and is said to grow in even the worst conditions, including poor soil and compact space. In optimal conditions, this splendid species can survive for over 500 years and can grow up to 75 ft. It’s best distinguished by the pattern of gleaming silvery stripes along its ridged bark and by its autumn foliage of gorgeous russet brown and brilliant scarlet, rendering it a very handsome fast-growing shade tree. Shop Northern Red Oak. 




  • Yellow Poplar. The gorgeous “Juno of our Groves” (as described by Thomas Jefferson) is uniquely fast-growing and long-living, boasting uncharacteristically strong wood, splendid fall colors, and a lush canopy. Thriving with plenty of water and sunlight, the mighty Liriodendron tupilifera’s large height ranges 60-150 ft. with a 30-50 ft. berth. It’s easily distinguished by its elegant tulip-shaped flowers and vibrant golden autumn foliage, and has long been popularly prized as a dependable and colorful fast-growing shade tree. Shop Yellow Poplar.




  • Eastern White Pine. Distinguished as the tallest tree of eastern North America, the easily maintained Eastern White Pine can function as an extremely impressive specimen for parks and lawns, coveted as a spectacular fast-growing shade tree. Its greatest growth spurt (roughly 3 ft. per year) occurs between Pinus strobus’ 15th and 45th years. In pre-colonial stands, some specimens of this “Tree of Peace” (as it was known among the Iroquois tribes) were reported to grow up to a skyscraping 230 ft.! The tallest current champion, as recorded by the Native Tree Society, stands at a remarkable 188 ft. Its typical height, however, ranges 50 to 80 ft. Shop Eastern White Pine. 




  • Green Giant Arborvitae. Aristocratic, low-maintenance, and sturdy, the Arborvitea Green Giant is a tried-and-tested trouble-free favorite when it comes to choosing a resilient and fast-growing shade tree. While this gentle giant is a non-flowering type of tree—characterized instead by its cinnamon-colored bark, flattened lateral branchlets, and woody seed cones—its needled foliage and pyramidal structure enable it to serve as either a handsome hedge or a stand-alone specimen. Reminiscent of classic Christmas trees, the vigorous evergreen Thuja standishii x plicata “Green Giant”’s cheery green and luxuriously thick foliage also render it as a fantastic privacy-promoting living wall. Shop Green Giant Arborvitae. 




  • Red Maple. Due to its sophisticated oval-to-rounded shape and its bewitching fall colors, the Red Maple is a very popular choice as an ornamental and fast-growing shade tree. Particularly colorful in the autumn due to its long-lasting vibrant leaves, Acer rubrum reaches an approximate height of 40-70 ft. with a 30-50 ft. spread and is commendably drought tolerant. The Red Maple’s seeds, twigs, and petioles are also colored various hues of red; the tree is indubitably best known for its brilliant autumnal foliage with gorgeous shades of scarlet and gold. Shop Red Maple. 




  • Lacebark (Chinese) Elm. Extremely fast-growing, adaptable, handsome, and winter-hardy, Ulmus parvifolia makes for an exquisite shade tree. It is distinguished by its curvy, rounded structure, rearing up to 40-50 ft. with a 25-40 ft. spread, and by radiant leathery foliage that complements its richly-hued exfoliating bark. This sun-loving shade tree is highly resistant to the Dutch elm disease, major pests, and drought; its resilience and shape also render it an excellent bonsai species. 




  • Sawtooth Oak. The Sawtooth Oak is extremely functional as a resilient and fast-growing shade tree, providing both abundant cover and bursts of enchanting fall color. Quercus acutissima is distinguished by its valuable durability and adaptability, which allow this species to thrive in various climates and soil conditions, its Visual appeal and colorful foliage,  its production of plentiful acorns that attract great amounts of wildlife, and its wonderfully fast growth rate. Shop Sawtooth Oak. 




  • Japanese Zelkova. As majestic and exotic as its name seems to imply, Zelkova serrata is distinguished by its glorious rounded silhouette and its rich seasonally hued foliage, rendering it a spectacular fast-growing shade tree and ornamental tree. Its attractive structure is decorated liberally with resplendent green foliage which transition into fiery fall colors of gold, maroon red, and orange-bronze; the tree’s smooth gray bark exfoliates intriguingly over time, revealing a coppery brown interior. This low-maintenance beauty is drought-tolerant, resilient against air pollution and urban conditions, and is resistant to most major insect and pest problems. Shop Japanese Zelkova. 




  • River Birch. In Celtic legend, Betula nigra symbolizes purification and renewal. Scotland’s Beltane fires were often lit with birch and oak wood, and Maypoles were commonly fashioned from birch trees. In folklore, the River Birch is often associated with beauty, tolerance, and inception. Yet this gorgeous tree is also distinguished as its dependability as a fast-growing shade tree and its unique beauty, characterized by exfoliating bark that is pale and papery. With a shape ranging from rounded to irregular, the River Birch peaks at an average of 40-70 ft. and spreads at 40-60ft. Shop River Birch. 




  • Sycamore. Known as the “Tree of Life” in Egyptian mythology, the pyramidal Sycamore is a magnificent and fast-growing shade tree best known for its hardiness, exfoliating bark, and incredible longevity. This species is characterized best by its formidable size (the height and spread of a sycamore generally extends 75-100 feet), its preference to exfoliate (the smooth speckled bark sheds to reveal a pale mottled trunk), and the sticky green buds nestled in the axils of its leaves. Platanus occidentalis doesn’t require much maintenance to thrive; it can be planted any time of the year and can grow in nearly every type of soil. Shop Sycamore. 


Hot, humid summer days are upon us. And even if they aren’t—and you’re reading this during another season—rest assured that they will be back soon enough. The solution? Investing in Mother Nature’s most beautiful and natural form of sunscreen: reliable, magnificent, fast-growing shade trees. Within our lush nursery, we cultivate and provide a healthy and vigorous array of dependable and gorgeous fast-growing shade trees that are most optimal for your property; we’re here to help you tailor your selection to your exact needs.