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Our Guide to the Fastest Growing Trees for Your Garden

Posted on: 16 February 2024

Have you ever dreamt of enhancing your garden’s privacy, adding a cool shade for summer days, or simply increasing its lush green appeal? Fast-growing trees may be just the answer you’re looking for. These trees, known for their rapid growth rates, are a gardener’s secret weapon to quickly transforming outdoor spaces.

This guide will uncover the world of fast-growing trees in the UK, from screening trees that boost privacy to shade trees and unique fast-growing varieties. We’ll also explore the fastest-growing plants and shrubs and provide insights into tree care to ensure your garden thrives.

Whether you have a small garden or are just curious about the fastest-growing plant, this guide is designed to help you make the best choice for your green space. Let’s dive into the world of fast-growing trees and discover how they can transform your garden into a lush, private oasis.

A Guide to the Fastest Growing Trees for Your UK Garden

Why Choose Fast-Growing Trees?

Fast-growing trees are a practical and time-efficient solution for gardeners seeking to transform their outdoor spaces quickly. But their appeal extends beyond their growth speed. Let’s explore why you might consider planting fast-growing trees in your garden.

Quick Results

The primary appeal of fast-growing trees is, of course, their speedy growth. Unlike slower-growing trees, which may take several years to reach a desirable size, fast-growing trees can provide substantial growth in just one growing season. This means you’ll see your garden transform much faster, which is particularly beneficial if you’re seeking quick privacy, fast shade, or a rapid green revamp.

Privacy and Screening

Fast-growing trees are ideal for creating a natural privacy screen. Fast-growing trees offer a natural solution whether you’re looking to shield your garden from prying eyes, block out an undesirable view, or reduce noise pollution. With the right selection of trees, you can create a living privacy fence that is functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Shade and Climate Control

Fast-growing shade trees can quickly provide a much-needed respite from the summer sun. By casting a wide canopy, these trees can significantly reduce the temperature in your garden, making it a more comfortable place to relax. Additionally, trees play a crucial role in reducing your home’s energy consumption by providing natural cooling.

Aesthetic Appeal

Fast-growing trees can add a significant aesthetic appeal to your garden. From the lush green of fast-growing conifers to the vibrant colours of fast-growing flowers, these plants can quickly transform a bland garden into a beautiful, peaceful oasis.

Environmental Impact

Planting trees is one of the simplest ways to impact the environment positively. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, improving air quality. Due to their rapid growth, trees can sequester carbon faster than slower-growing species.

However, while fast-growing trees offer many benefits, making an informed choice before planting is essential. Factors such as tree root size, tree structure, maintenance requirements, and suitability to your local climate should be considered. This guide aims to provide you with all the necessary information to make the best choice for your garden.

A Guide to the Fastest Growing Trees for Your UK Garden

Best Fast-Growing Trees for Privacy

If you’re seeking a natural barrier to increase your garden’s privacy, look no further than fast-growing trees. They can act as a living screen, blocking out undesirable views and creating a secluded haven. Here are some of the best fast-growing trees for privacy that are well-suited to UK gardens.

Leylandii (Cupressocyparis leylandii)

One of the fastest-growing conifers in the UK, the Leylandii can add as much as one metre to its height each year. It’s an excellent choice for a tall, dense hedge or screen. However, it does require regular trimming to keep it under control.

Silver Birch (Betula pendula)

The Silver Birch is a fast-growing tree known for its beautiful white bark. It can provide a semi-transparent screen that filters the view rather than completely blocking it. This tree also attracts a variety of wildlife, adding a touch of nature to your garden.

Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)

The Cherry Laurel is an evergreen shrub that can be grown as a tree. It’s fast-growing and has large, glossy leaves that form a dense screen. In the spring, it produces spikes of white flowers, adding to its aesthetic appeal.

Bamboo (Phyllostachys)

While not technically a tree, Bamboo is an extremely fast-growing plant that can provide a dense screen quickly. It’s an excellent choice for modern or exotic garden styles. However, Bamboo can be invasive, so choosing a clump-forming variety is essential or installing a root barrier to prevent it from spreading too much.

Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)

The Hornbeam is a popular choice for privacy screens due to its fast growth and dense, attractive foliage. It can be grown as a standalone tree or pruned into a hedge. In autumn, its leaves turn a beautiful golden yellow, adding seasonal interest to your garden.

Fastigiate Oak (Quercus robur ‘Fastigiata’)

This variety of oak has a tall, narrow shape, making it an excellent choice for privacy in smaller gardens. It’s a relatively fast-growing tree and provides a home for various wildlife.

When choosing a tree for privacy, it’s essential to consider the size of your garden, the tree’s maintenance needs, and the level of privacy you want. Always check the potential root size to ensure it won’t disrupt your garden or nearby structures. You can enjoy a beautiful, private garden in no time with the right choice.

A Guide to the Fastest Growing Trees for Your UK Garden

Top Fast-Growing Shade Trees

Shade trees are a gardener’s best friend, especially during the warm summer months. They provide a cooling effect and enhance your garden’s overall comfort and beauty. Here are some of the best fast-growing trees for shade that thrive in UK conditions.

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

Red Maples are known for their stunning fall colour and swift growth. They can provide a broad canopy of shade, making them an excellent choice for sun-soaked gardens.

Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus)

Sycamores are large, robust trees that can offer ample shade. They’re one of the fastest-growing hardwood trees and are resilient, able to withstand challenging weather conditions.

Hybrid Poplar (Populus)

Hybrid Poplars are some of the fastest-growing trees in the world, capable of growing up to 2 metres per year. They quickly develop a large, leafy canopy that provides ample shade.

Silver Birch (Betula pendula)

Already mentioned as a privacy tree, the Silver Birch is also an excellent choice for shade. Its delicate, drooping branches form a light, dappled shade rather than a dense shadow, making it perfect for gardens where you still want sunlight to filter through.

Willow (Salix)

Willows are incredibly fast-growing trees, with some varieties able to add more than 2 metres to their height in a year. They’re particularly effective at providing shade near water features or in damp areas of the garden.

Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus gunnii)

Though not a traditional choice for UK gardens, Eucalyptus trees are becoming increasingly popular due to their fast growth and unique, silvery foliage. They can provide a large shade area and add an exotic touch to your garden.

When choosing a shade tree, consider the mature tree’s size and ensure it’s appropriate for your garden size. The growth rate, hardiness, and soil requirements should also influence your decision. Remember, the best shade tree for your garden depends on your needs, local climate, and personal preference.

A Guide to the Fastest Growing Trees for Your UK Garden

Fast-Growing Trees for Small Gardens

While smaller gardens may pose a challenge, many fast-growing trees are suitable for limited spaces. These trees provide the benefits of larger trees—shade, privacy, and aesthetic appeal—without taking up too much room. Here are some top choices for small UK gardens.

Amelanchier lamarckii (Juneberry)

The Juneberry is a compact tree that provides year-round interest. Its rapid growth, and small size make it perfect for smaller gardens. It produces beautiful white flowers in spring, followed by edible berries in the summer and vibrant foliage in autumn.

Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple)

Japanese Maples are small, fast-growing trees that are ideal for small gardens. They have stunning foliage ranging from deep reds to bright yellows, providing a vibrant focal point.

Salix caprea ‘Kilmarnock’ (Kilmarnock Willow)

This weeping variety of willow remains relatively small, making it an excellent choice for smaller gardens. It grows quickly and features lovely yellow catkins in the spring.

Prunus ‘Amanogawa’ (Flagpole Cherry)

This is a fast-growing, columnar variety of cherry trees, perfect for smaller spaces. It produces beautiful, fragrant pink flowers in the spring.

Sorbus ‘Joseph Rock’ (Mountain Ash)

This is a compact tree with a fast growth rate. It features lovely white flowers in spring, followed by clusters of yellow berries in the autumn. Its small size makes it ideal for a small garden.

Malus ‘Evereste’ (Crab Apple)

Crab Apples are small, fast-growing trees with a lot to offer. ‘Evereste’ is a popular variety that features attractive flowers in spring and colourful fruit in autumn.

Remember, when choosing a tree for a small garden, it’s crucial to consider the mature size of the tree and how it will fit within your space. Also, consider the tree’s growth habit—some grow tall and thin, others short and wide. With the right choice, even the most miniature garden can benefit from the beauty of a fast-growing tree.

A Guide to the Fastest Growing Trees for Your UK Garden

The Fastest Growing Plants and Shrubs

While trees can add height and structure to your garden, plants and shrubs, fill in the gaps and add colour and texture. Here are some of the fastest-growing plants and shrubs that can quickly transform your UK garden.


Forsythia is one of the fastest-growing shrubs, capable of adding up to 60cm to its height in a single year. It’s also one of the first shrubs to flower in spring, covering its branches in vibrant yellow flowers before the leaves appear.

Bamboo (Phyllostachys)

As mentioned earlier, Bamboo is an incredibly fast-growing plant. Some species can grow up to a metre in a single year. They make great screening plants but remember to control their spread to prevent them from taking over your garden.

Buddleia (Butterfly Bush)

Buddleia is a fast-growing shrub known for attracting butterflies and bees to the garden. It can grow up to 5 metres tall but can be pruned back hard each year to keep it manageable.

Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’

This variety of Hydrangea is known for its large, spherical white flowers and its rapid growth. It can reach its full height of about 1.5 metres in just two years.


Clematis is a fast-growing climber that’s perfect for covering fences or trellises. With a wide range of colours and flower shapes to choose from, there’s a Clematis to suit every garden.

Lonicera (Honeysuckle)

Honeysuckles are fast-growing climbers with highly fragrant flowers. They’re perfect for creating a living screen or adding vertical interest to your garden.

Ceanothus (California Lilac)

Ceanothus is a fast-growing evergreen shrub that produces clusters of beautiful blue flowers in the spring. It’s a great choice for adding year-round interest to your garden.

Remember to consider your specific garden conditions, such as soil type, light levels, and space, when choosing plants and shrubs. Even the fastest-growing plant won’t thrive in unsuitable conditions. With the right care, these fast-growing plants and shrubs can help you create a lush and vibrant garden in no time.

A Guide to the Fastest Growing Trees for Your UK Garden

Easy-to-Grow and Low-Maintenance Fast-Growing Trees

Not all of us have the time or inclination to be full-time gardeners. Fortunately, several fast-growing trees are also low maintenance and easy to grow. These trees are resilient, require minimal care, and still provide the benefits of faster-growing varieties.

Thuja Green Giant (Thuja ‘Green Giant’)

This fast-growing coniferous tree is easy to grow and requires little maintenance. It’s resistant to pests and diseases and tolerates various soil types.

Leyland Cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii)

This is another fast-growing conifer that’s easy to care for. It’s a popular choice for privacy hedges in the UK and can handle pruning well, so you can keep it at your desired height.

Silver Birch (Betula pendula)

As mentioned earlier, Silver Birch is fast-growing and very easy to care for. It’s resilient, tolerates poor soil conditions, and requires little pruning.

Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)

Rowan trees are easy to grow and require little maintenance. They also tolerate various soil conditions and produce beautiful red berries in the autumn.

Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus gunnii)

Eucalyptus trees are fast-growing and require little care once established. They can be pruned hard each year to keep them manageable or allowed to grow into large, impressive trees.

Ash (Fraxinus excelsior)

Ash trees are incredibly easy to grow and require little maintenance. They’re tolerant of various soil conditions and are one of the fastest-growing hardwood trees.

Remember, while these trees are easy to care for, they still require some basic care, especially when young. Water them during dry periods, mulch around the base to retain moisture and suppress weeds, and prune them if necessary to maintain their shape and health. With minimal effort, these trees can provide a fast return on your investment and become a valuable part of your garden landscape.

A Guide to the Fastest Growing Trees for Your UK Garden

Unique Fast-Growing Trees

For those looking to make a statement in their garden, several fast-growing trees with unique attributes can provide a real talking point. These trees offer something different: unusual foliage, striking bark, or eye-catching flowers. Here are some unique, fast-growing trees for your UK garden.

Acer Griseum (Paper Bark Maple)

This fast-growing tree is known for its unique, cinnamon-coloured peeling bark. It also has beautiful autumn foliage, making it a standout choice for any garden.

Betula utilis var. jacquemontii (Himalayan Birch)

This variety of Birch is known for its striking white bark, providing a unique aesthetic appeal. It’s also a fast grower, quickly establishing itself in your garden.

Albizia julibrissin (Silk Tree)

Also known as the Persian Silk Tree, this fast-growing tree has unique, delicate pink flowers and fern-like leaves that can bring an exotic touch to any garden.

Davidia involucrata (Handkerchief Tree)

This fast-growing tree is known for its unusual, large white bracts hanging from the branches and resembling handkerchiefs. It’s a true spectacle when in bloom.

Salix babylonica (Weeping Willow)

While it’s a common tree, the Weeping Willow’s unique, drooping branch structure makes it a standout feature in any garden. It grows quickly and can provide a dramatic focal point near a pond or water feature.

Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair Tree)

This is a unique, fast-growing tree that’s also a living fossil with a lineage dating back to the age of the dinosaurs. It has distinctive fan-shaped leaves that turn a beautiful golden yellow in the autumn.

Remember, while these trees are unique and eye-catching, they still require the right conditions to grow and thrive. Ensure you can provide the necessary care and a suitable environment for each tree before planting. With the right conditions, these unique, fast-growing trees can quickly become the centrepiece of your garden.

A Guide to the Fastest Growing Trees for Your UK Garden

How to Plant and Care for Your Fast-Growing Trees

Planting and caring for your fast-growing trees correctly is crucial to ensure they grow well and enhance your garden. Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started and some essential care tips to keep your trees healthy and thriving.

Choosing the Right Spot

Firstly, you need to pick the right location for your tree. Consider the tree’s mature size, the amount of sunlight required, and its preferred soil conditions. Remember to avoid planting large trees too close to buildings or power lines.

Planting Your Tree

  • Dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the tree’s root ball.
  • Place the tree in the hole, ensuring that the top of the root ball is level with the ground surface.
  • Backfill the hole with the original soil, gently firming it down.
  • Water the tree thoroughly after planting.

Ongoing Care

  • Watering: Young trees need regular watering until they’re established. After that, water during dry periods or when the tree shows signs of stress.
  • Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the tree. This will help retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and protect the tree’s roots.
  • Pruning: Some trees may require pruning to maintain their shape, remove dead or damaged wood, or control their size. It’s usually best to prune when the tree is dormant in late winter or early spring.
  • Fertilising: Most trees don’t require regular fertilising. However, if your soil is poor or your tree is growing slowly, you may want to apply a slow-release fertiliser in the spring.
  • Protecting: Protect young trees from wildlife, such as rabbits or deer, by using tree guards or fencing.

By choosing the right tree for your site, planting it correctly, and providing primary care, your fast-growing trees will be well on their way to delivering the benefits you’re looking for, whether that’s privacy, shade, or simply a beautiful addition to your garden.

A Guide to the Fastest Growing Trees for Your UK Garden

Growing Into the Future: Your Fast-Growing Tree Garden Awaits

Fast-growing trees are a fantastic way to rapidly enhance your garden’s beauty, privacy, and shade, from the popular Silver Birch and Leyland Cypress to the unique Paper Bark Maple and Silk Tree. This fast-growing tree suits every UK garden. Whether you have a small garden space or a large one, there are suitable options that can quickly transform your landscape.

However, selecting the right tree is just the beginning. Proper planting and care ensure your trees grow well and stay healthy. With the right choices and care, you can enjoy the benefits of these trees in a relatively short amount of time.

We hope this guide has given you the information and inspiration to choose and grow fast-growing trees in your garden. Remember, the secret to a beautiful garden is selecting the right plants and providing the proper care.

If you need help with trees on or around your property, call the team here at Tree Wise Men! We offer tree services in HertfordshireBedfordshire & Buckinghamshire and surrounding areas! You can complete the form below or contact us on Facebook! Looking for more tree care advice? Then check out some of our other helpful blog posts!

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