Some of the most popular trees today are considered to be “fast growing trees”. Fast growing trees are trees that grow several feet per year (1.5 feet to 8 feet depending on the species). On the other side of this spectrum are slow growing trees. There is a white cedar in Canada that at 155 years old is still only about 4 inches tall (roughly 10.2 centimeters).
Fast growing trees are known to be perfect for privacy. However, these trees can also be good for firewood, wind breaks, fall colors, landscape design and shade. Some trees that fall in this category are the following:
Hybrid Poplar: Grows 5 to 8 feet per year, can be used as a shade tree and is often planted in rows for firewood.
Weeping Willow: Can grow 3 to 8 feet per year. Great for shade.
Quaking Aspen: Member of the same family as the Hybrid Poplar. Averages growth of 2 to 3 feet per year, has wonderful fall color.
October Glory Red Maple: Bred for its brilliant fall foliage, the red maple is also fast growing with height increases of anywhere from 13″ to more than 24″ per year.
Arborvitae Green Giant: Can grow up to 3 feet per year. Known to be a great landscape tree; good for use as a screen, hedge, windbreak, or single specimen.
River Birch: Can grow 1.5 to 2 feet per year (in ideal conditions). This specimen is known for unique bark, preventing erosion in wet areas and is a nice bird habitat.
Dawn Redwood: Can be extremely fast growing in the right conditions. There is a specimen in Virginia that grew to 120 feet in 30 years (about 4 feet per year).
Paper Birch: Known to grow 1.5 to 2 feet a year. This tree is extremely popular and has an exceptional aesthetic.
Pin Oak: Averaging about 2.5 feet of growth a year, this tree is perfect for shade as it quickly reaches its full height of about 70 feet.
On the opposite side of fast growing trees you have slow growing trees. Many slow growing trees are great ornamental trees and work well in landscape design. Their colorful flowers and/or their fall colors, as well as their unique shapes and features, increase the appeal of these trees over the more popular fast growing and tall trees. These types of trees also do not overwhelm other plants in your landscape and help maintain the border.
“Don Egolf” Redbud: Takes about 15 years to reach its full height of 9 to 10 feet tall. This tree has branches covered in pinkish red flowers before its leaves appear.
Purple Lily Magnolia: This tree is considered a border tree. This slow growing tree at its full height it will be 6 to 10 feet tall and 4 to 8 feet wide.
Japanese Snowbell: This slow-growing tree reaches 20 to 30 feet tall and wide.
Japanese Stewartia: This tree slowly reaches its roughly 60 feet tall stature and spreads 25 feet wide in a proper environment.
“Sky Trails” Serbian Spruce: Grows about 30 to 35 feet tall spreading 8 to 10 feet wide. This species will slowly produce new growth during the summer.
Japanese Maple: This species is known for its beautiful fall-colors. It reaches 12 to 15 feet tall and spreads 8 to 10 feet wide.
Weeping Katsura: This species will reach 15 to 25 feet and 10 to 15 feet wide. It is known for its fall colors.
Paperbark Maple: This tree will eventually reach 25 feet tall and 15 to 20 feet wide.