Fast Growing Trees
A Cautionary Overview
Fast growing trees have been used by my local council for many years as part of their beautification scheme. Originally this area was fairly low lying, and crossed by several small streams which eventually find their way into the young River Thames, but after houses were built, there was a lot of raw, piled earth.
When I was young, the council began planting fast growing trees and shrubs on virtually every verge and stretch of undeveloped land that could sustain them so that now there are many small areas of woodland that look as if they have been there forever. They are interspersed with older trees such as large oaks and willows that were never removed, and are natural wildlife habitats.
Of course, you do need to give careful consideration to planting fast growing trees, especially in a garden environment or anywhere their growth has to be kept in-check with their surroundings. The famous Laylandii tree is a good example to mention here, a fur tree that grows many feet per year and is also the best tree in the world to absorb air pollution (several times more than a regular oak tree). However, it’s also considered a nusiance tree to many, and the cause of irritation or even wars breaking out between neighbours where the owners fail to keep their Laylandii trees under control! It’s also a very difficult tree to get rid of as the roots go down so deep. It’s also prone to certain bugs.
These are things well worth taking into consideration before engaging with the planting of fast growing trees. All I can say is ‘do your homework’ and be absolutely certain that you need fast growing trees, or you could regret the decision in just a few years.
Trees that grow fast…
Here’s a list of some of the more popular fast growing trees that you might want to add to your list to investigate:
- American Sycamore (up to 6 feet per year)
- Aspen Quakening
- Autumn Blaze® Red Maple
- Autumn Olive
- Autumn Purple Ash
- Bald Cypress
- Bird’s Nest Spruce
- Black Cherry
- Black Walnut
- Cottonwood – Siouxland
- Cleveland Flowering Pear
- Dawn Redwood
- Eastern White Pine
- Fallgold Ash
- Green Ash
- Hybrid Poplar (up to 8 feet per year)
- Leylandii (3-4 feet per year)
- Lombardy Poplar (up to 6 feet per year)
- Mimosa Tree
- Newport Plum
- Osage Orange
- Patmore Ash
- Pin Oak
- Red Maple
- Red Mulberry
- River Birch
- Royal Empress Trees (up to 12 feet per year!)
- Sawtooth Oak
- Shumard Oak
- Siberian Elm
- Silver Maple
- Summit Ash
- Sweet Gum
- Thuja Green Giant
- Theves Poplar
- Tulip Poplar (up to 6 feet per year)
- Weeping Cherry
- Weeping Willow
- Willow Hybrid (up to 6feet per year)
- White Ash
- White Mulberry
This list is not exhaustive and some of the trees grow faster than others, but these are the ones most considered as the fast growers.
People plant trees that grow quickly for many reasons varying from decorative to practical. We all know trees oxygenate the environment, and when I take a trip out to Savernake Forest, once a hunting ground for kings, you can definitely feel that the air is fresher. We are also told every-one should plant at least one tree in their lifetime, but some species can take a very long time to grow. While house-sitting in the summer, I noticed one enormous horse chestnut that was perhaps three hundred years old, and a massive, ancient yew which was said to be more than six hundred. However, you do not have to wait that long to enjoy a tree in your garden.
Friends of mine live near a stream whose verges have been left to grow naturally, and are dotted with fast growing trees which shed their seeds yearly. About fifty feet away from their house is a large green alder, and three years ago they noticed a sapling had taken route in their small garden. They left it, as both like trees, and now it is almost as tall as the house. The green alder is native to the cooler northern hemisphere, and is often used as an aforestation tree on poor soils. The alder is just one type, others include, Aspens, poplars, Rowans, Willows, Silver Maple, varieties of Ash, and Eucalyptus. For evergreens, you can look at the Colorado Blue Spruce, Canadian Hemlock, Dawn Redwood, Douglas Fir and the majestic Scots Pine.
Some people may have new houses with sun-trap gardens and want shade, screening, or live in a windy position where a natural windbreak would be beneficial. Others may need to have trees taken down due to age and/or disease, but want to replace them with something that will grow quickly (3-6 feet a year on average.)
Do your Homework!
I can’t stress enough the importance of doing your homework and making sure you make the right choice when buying a tree. As I’ve already mentioned, some trees just don’t know where to stop. They will need pruning and tending to stop them undermining walls and taking over your garden. This is something that can become a nightmare in just a few short years if you don’t make good choices to begin with.
Take time to get to know the characteristics of the species you are considering. Rowans (Mountain Ash) and birches, both beautiful trees that speak of the North, are good choices for smaller gardens, as rowans stay compact, and birches are lacy, airy, but not overwhelming.
The Paulownia, also called the Foxglove tree, is native to regions of China, but also grows well elsewhere, and is extremely decorative, with purplish blossoms and large, velvety leaves.
Trees can make a huge difference to all gardens from small to very large. They are good for the planet, are visited by birds, give shade, colour and protection as windbreaks, screens and even act as dampeners to loud noises.
If you plants fast growing trees you can add all this to your garden within a few short years, just make sure you choose wisely.
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