Trees add year-round interest to gardens while providing shade and privacy. They’re also great habitats for wildlife. But some take decades to mature, which can test every gardener’s patience.
Flowers may bloom at the first sight of sunlight, but certain trees take time to grow at their own pace. If you don’t want to wait around and want to enjoy your tree as soon as possible, this is where fast-growing trees come in.
Fast-growing evergreen trees are great options if you want to see results faster. But choosing a variety isn’t as simple as choosing garden plants. You should consider various factors, including whether the tree suits the British climate.
Luckily for you, our team has compiled a list of the UK’s fastest-growing trees.
UK’s Fastest Growing Trees
Weeping Willow and Silver Birch have been listed as one of the UK’s fast-growing trees. Having an idea about these and other varieties will also help you avoid those trees that can cause havoc on your shed.
Trees have lots of important roles to play in the garden. And those that grow quickly can bring interest to your garden in years (rather than decades).
On top of the added interest and shade, trees also provide natural garden privacy. And if you want to encourage more wildlife in your outdoor space, trees can offer them an ideal habitat.
1. Weeping Willow
The Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica) is famous for its unique lush, curved appearance. It is often found on the banks of lakes and rivers.
The low branches form beautiful canopies, creating lots of shade. This beautiful tree grows between 1.2 metres and 2.4 metres per year and will reach around 15 metres high.
The Weeping Willow has that mysterious yet magical vibe. It could be the perfect tree for your cottage garden, adding a touch of charm to the space.
You’ll need to be aware of a few things, though. For one, Willows like standing water and they tend to grow near ponds, streams and lakes. Their roots are aggressive and will tunnel far away from the tree itself.
Thus, it’s important to not plant a Willow closer than 50 feet away from water, gas lines, and wire cables. Moreover, they are susceptible to powdery mildew, bacterial blight, and tar spot fungus.
But with the right care, a Weeping Willow can make a perfect addition to your garden. It will take about three years for a youthful tree to become well-situated.
2. Lombardy Poplar
The Lombardy Poplar (Populus nigra ‘Italica’) grows dramatically upright, dominating the landscape. It has an extremely quick growth rate of 3.6 metres a year and reaches around 20 metres (66 feet tall).
It is capable of growing up to 6 feet in a year and grows best in well-drained soil, clay soils or sandy soil with a pH level of 4.5 to 8.5. You’ll often find this towering tree planted in tight rows to form a screen.
Featuring a columnar shape, its diamond-shaped leaves change from bright green to blazing golden yellow, then they fall. You should be aware that it also has naturally weak branches and they can be triggered in strong winds.
Lombardy Poplar grows rapidly tall yet it has a very short lifespan of around fifteen years.
3. Dawn Redwood
Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) grow at an extremely fast rate, often exceeding growth of two feet per year. This tree, which originates from China, can grow up to 30 metres (90 feet tall) and seven metres wide.
It grows well in most soils and weather conditions and can often be found in parks and large open spaces. One Dawn Redwood tree is known to have grown to a height of 120 feet tall in just 30 years.
As for the appearance, it is a deciduous conifer that produces small, round 1/2″ to 1″ cones. It has a neat pyramidal shape in youth, maturing into a more rounded crown. The bright green, feathery leaves turn orange-brown or reddish-brown in the fall.
Eucalyptus are among the fastest-growing tree species. Even a 30 cm root sapling of this tree species planted in spring could reach head height by the following summer.
You’ve likely smelled its leaves in flower arrangements or in potpourri before. The dusty blue-green leaves are refreshingly aromatic. You’ll surely enjoy walking around your backyard just to smell and look at it.
You can start your own seed and have the tree tall enough to give you lots of shade. It can also sit under in five years or so.
This evergreen tree gives your garden a year-round burst of colour and grows up to 2.4 metres a year. When left untrimmed, a Eucalyptus tree can grow to 20 metres (66 feet tall).
5. Silver Birch
Native to the UK, this hardy tree is easy to spot by its white peeling bark, triangular leaves and catkins. Also known as Betula pendula, it reaches a height of 30 metres and grows around 40 cm per year.
Like the Weeping Willow, Birch trees have wide-spreading roots. This tree can be used to enrich the soil around it and help encourage the growth of other plants in your garden.
Further, Silver Birch is a versatile tree. It can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions. You can find this tree species in places as disparate as Spain and Lapland.
Birch trees are also a great addition to British wildlife gardens. For one, Woodpeckers love the trunk, while small birds eat the seeds it produces. One threat to be aware of is the Birch dieback. It’s a disease caused by fungal pathogens.
6. River Birch
A durable tree that can grow almost anywhere and grows by up to a metre every year. Dwarf varieties may grow a bit slower, which could take up to 10 years or so to reach 10 feet.
Plus, it requires a lot of water to grow effectively – up to 90 litres a week as root saplings. But the result is promising as it grows up to a metre a year, reaching 27 metres.
River birches are not particularly long-lived trees as well. As for the appearance, it has smooth fuzzy twigs and unique buds among Betula trees.
It’s a type of clumping birch tree with reddish-brown bark, glossy green diamond-shaped leaves, and a pyramidal crown.
7. Italian Cypress
This evergreen tree grows up to 3 feet per year, offering privacy and property dividers. Italian Cypress looks like a column, can reach 12 metres (39 feet tall), and is drought tolerant.
You can control the height by pruning the top. They require little water, adapt to most soil types, and are heat tolerant.
Also known as Cupressus sempervirens, you can identify one by examining the foliage of a Cypress tree. It resembles scales and has an intricate pattern of overlapping pairs on the stem.
If you want a slender, elegant addition to your landscape, this tree is your best bet!
8. Red maple
If you want to speed up the process of your garden, opt for Red maple (Aces ribrum). Red maple is praised for its brilliant autumn colouration and ability to adapt to a wide range of habitats.
Native to North America, it grows up to an impressive 24 inches in height each year. The largest ones can grow more than 36.5 metres (120 feet tall).
There are also lots of maples to choose from and they all grow quickly, apart from the Japanese maples or Acers. These grow to 24 metres (79 feet tall), around 60 cm a year.
9. Tulip Poplar
Tulip Poplar is a leafy tree that has a fast to medium rate of growth. It can grow rapidly when it’s young, but its growth slows to a medium rate as its gets older.
A fast growth rate means more than 25 metres (82 feet tall) a year. A medium growth rate means 13 to 24 metres a year.
It’s a perfect tree for gardens as it provides enough shade due to its wide leaves. Moreover, it has cup-shaped fragrant golden-yellow and green flowers.
Six rounded petals form the flower’s shape, and it looks remarkably like a tulip flower. This tree would look amazing to your garden aesthetic!
10. Golden False Acacia
A popular fast-growing tree that can complement gardens with its beautiful summer foliage. False Acacia achieves all year round with its pinnate leaves and gorgeous white flowers.
The tree is bushy in appearance with leaves emerging as golden-yellow in the spring. It then turns a greenish-yellow in summer followed by orange-yellow in autumn.
All varieties can grow well in poor soil and can tolerate dry conditions. Moreover, this Acacia species approximately grows 32 metres or 105 feet tall in 20 years.
The False Acacia’s wood can endure for up to a hundred years. Its high concentration of flavonoid pigments makes it resistant to rot. What’s more, the tree is disease and pest free, but it may be susceptible to Frisia dieback.
UK’s Fastest Growing Trees: Round-up
These UK’s fastest-growing trees could be the key to achieving your dream garden. The great benefit of fast-growing trees is that in just a short time, you could be sitting under their shade. You can enjoy your favourite book or admire your garden and tree’s natural beauty.
But be sure to consider the challenges you might face looking after them. Prune them while the trees are still young. Otherwise, it will be a challenge to properly manage them once they become high enough.
Research how deep their roots grow and the difficulties they may pose. Lookup any diseases or problems they may encounter, as you don’t want your hard work to be in vain.