7 fast-growing trees for shade and privacy

Weeping willow tree
Weeping willow tree (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you want to upgrade your bare-looking yard, or create more shade from the elements, trees can instantly transform your outdoor space.

Much like these 7 plants to create more privacy in your backyard, there are certain fast-growing trees that can add appeal and color to your yard. What’s more, these will provide the adequate shade needed for those sunny days, and offer more privacy from prying eyes. Whether you’re gardening, hosting barbecues, or even relaxing in one of the best hot tubs, your backyard is your personal haven. And if you’re not shielded by high fences or walls, there are certain fast-growing trees to create more backyard privacy. 

Fast-growing trees can reach up to 50 feet tall and once planted and established, these trees will grow several feet per year. In addition, these are handy if you don’t want to wait years for a mature tree. The only downside to their rapid growth is that they have a limited life space, and often start declining after they reach maturity.  

Other things to consider when growing trees include its height and spread when full-grown. You don’t want it to spill into your neighbor's gardens, blocking out their natural light too! Also, think about the location in your yard, distance from other trees or plants, preferred soil type and weather conditions.  

Of course, this will depend on your region and climate, so it’s always best to check your USDA Hardiness zone, to find out which tree types are best suited for your yard. 

In any case, if you want to ensure your personal time outdoors, these fast-growing trees will offer shade and privacy.

Before you plant any outdoor trees however, just be sure to avoid these backyard plants that could damage your home. If noise is a problem, here are the 7 best trees and shrubs to soundproof your yard

1. Leyland Cypress 

Leyland cypress tree

Leyland cypress tree (Image credit: Shutterstock)

The Leyland Cypress are exceptionally fast-growing trees. These hybrid evergreens are quite hardy, and can tolerate any soil condition. Generally, they can grow between 3-4 ft a year until maturity, even in poor soil conditions. It can also thrive in moist or well drained soil, and can tolerate full or partial sun.

It has an iconic columnar silhouette with fern-like foliage that makes the ideal dense, living wall. Since this grows quickly with dense foliage, this particular cypress tree is commonly used as a garden hedging plant to create a lush privacy screen and shade. If you do choose to grow a hedge, it’s recommended to space trees at least 10 feet apart. 

2. Red and Silver Maple 

Red maple tree

Red maple tree (Image credit: Shutterstock)

With their vibrant leaves, the red and silver maple are another species of fast-growing tree that usually reaches 60 to 90 feet in height. In fact, the largest ones can grow more than 120 feet tall. 

Once planted and established, maple trees tend to grow two to three feet a year. Ensure you plant red maples in well-drained, sandy, loamy acidic soil, and it usually requires at least six hours daily, or partial sun for up to six hours. In addition, the red maple does best in cooler climates, and doesn't require much pruning. 

Native to the eastern deciduous forest, red maple trees can add instant color, beauty, warmth, and shade to any backyard, 

3. Cider Gum 

Cider Gum tree

Cider Gum tree (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Also known as the Eucalyptus Gunnii, the cider gum tree is a hardy evergreen that can be grown as a lush privacy screen. Known for their distinct, oval shaped, silvery-green leaves, the cider gum has a fast growth of around 1.5-2.0 metres per year.

The cider gum thrives well in moisture and requires an ample amount of water. During the initial stages of plant growth, irrigation is particularly important, but even established plants need water regularly. It’s advised to water your cider gum deeply and allow the top layer of soil to dry out before watering again. It also grows best in full or dappled sun, and requires minimal pruning.

You can also expect to see pretty white flowers appearing in the leaves from June to August to spruce up your yard.

4. Weeping Willow 

Weeping willow tree

Weeping willow tree (Image credit: Shutterstock)

With their dangling arching stems, and leaves, the weeping willow is another fast-growing tree that can grow up to 35–50 feet tall and 5–50 feet wide. 

Typically, they grow best in moist climates, in acidic to alkaline soil. In addition, they thrive well in full sun exposure and temperatures between minus 20 degrees and 80 degrees. Interestingly, they can also tolerate summer desert heat providing there is water nearby. 

Once the tree blooms in late winter or spring, yellow catkins (flowers) appear, adding warmth and bold color to any yard. 

Bear in mind that the weeping willow tree is an invasive plant, with aggressive root systems that can stretch wider than the tree itself. So avoid growing near the house, sewer drains, septic systems, or water lines to avoid damage to your home.  

5. Lemon Bottlebrush 

Lemon bottlebrush tree

Lemon bottlebrush tree (Image credit: Shutterstock)

The Lemon bottlebrush tree, known as Callistemon Lanceolatus, is hardy to most climates, from sub-zero temperatures to dry summers. It’s also a popular fast-growing tree and can reach between 2-4 metres high and a few metres wide, but this can easily be maintained with pruning. Once established, these plants only need periodic deep watering throughout the summer and fall.

With their eye-catching crimson blooms, the Lemon bottlebrush not only adds vibrant color, but will also attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard.  

6. Paper Birch 

Paper birch tree

Paper birch tree (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Another fast-growing tree, the paper birch is known to grow up 50-70 feet tall, with a growth rate of 24 inches taller each year. It copes well in sandy, loamy, moist environments and prefers partial sun exposure. Paper birch also thrives best in cooler climates and cool soil temperatures. It will also benefit from a thick layer of mulch to ensure the soil is kept moist and cool.

With its distinctive ‘peeling’ bark and green foliage, paper birch trees make a stunning feature to any yard. 

7. Hybrid Poplar 

Hybrid Poplar tree

Hybrid Poplar tree (Image credit: Shutterstock)

The Hybrid Poplar are extremely fast-growing trees, and can make excellent privacy screens. Typically, these trees can reach 40-50 feet tall and 30 feet wide. In fact, these rapidly grow 5-8 feet each year.

Hybrid poplar trees are also incredibly versatile, and can thrive in either acidic or alkaline wet soils. They also prefer full sun to partial shade, and are very low-maintenance — only requiring about an inch of water per week, with frequent watering during the summer.  

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Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!