Fastest growing tree

lawnsanityJuly 8, 2013

Hey There,

I'm looking for a very very fast growing tree that doesn't have any messy fruits to clean up or anything.

We cut down a wild cherry tree that was about 40 - 50 feet tall and now there is no privacy/shade in the back yard.

We need something that grows big and fast. This is about 30 feet from the house so no silver maples lol.

People have recommended northern catalpas and manitoba maples...the only issue with the manitoba maple is too many keys, im not dealing with that on my newly sodded lawn...that's why we cut the cherry tree down.

Someone also recommended a locust, my only concern is the tiny leaves getting caught in the deck...the keys from another manitoba maple in the area already get caught.

Any suggestions? The northern catalpa looks pretty cool but I hope it grows super fast.

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Most trees will shed some sort of debris (keys, seeds, flowers, etc)..Catalpas are cool but litter flowers and string bean like seed pods.. What is your zone?


    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 3:42PM
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Quercus rubra - Fast growing and relatively strong wooded. The acorns that drop can be easily swept up once a year.

No tree is litter free, so...

However, locust would actually be close to litter free but I am not sure how they grow in your climate. If you are worried about those tiny insignificant leaves clogging up your deck, you may be better served with a row of fastigiate conifers along the property line (on your side by several feet of course).

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 3:53PM
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Don't know if it cold hardy to Toronto, but have never seen anything grow faster than the Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia. Cold hardy it would be in the dead of your winter (it's deciduous), but prone to late frost damage if your springs are mild enough to trigger it into growth but cold enough to get last frost damage subsequently. They are eventually massive trees though.

My goal in life is to create a grove of them in the back of the property so I can retire to my very own Jurassic park.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 4:32PM
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Dawn Redwood is perfectly hardy in Toronto...but it's rarely planted in moist locations and as such, grows relatively slowly.

Manitoba Maple is a horrible choice due to it's short life and very weak wood, among other reasons.
Tree of Heaven is super fast in Toronto but you'll be ostracized by your neighbours.
American Elm will put on 8'+ a year but will die at 30 years old.
Try Eastern Cottonwood, Silver Maple, American Sycamore, Black Locust, or Tulip Tree. All are very fast but not as undesirable as the previous suggestions. They are not perfect growing trees rarely are.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 5:09PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

If you are trying to get quick shade you need an architectural solution such as a gazebo or lath house as even a tree that grows very fast is going to take years to produce a useable pool of shade. And the same problems with the cherry (or worse) will be replicated by the replacement tree, if you plant a fast-growing, large-growing kind.

And you do not want to plant a fast-growing, tall tree 30' from your house. Any tree can drop a branch or blow entirely over any time, even when you hire an arborist or consultant to assess a tree all you are getting is their informed opinion and not an airtight guarantee that the tree is not going to fail in the next few years or so. Especially if it is taken out by a tornado or lightning, the kinds of occurrences that result in the failure of trees that would otherwise not be coming apart or down - at that time.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 6:08PM
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Autumn Blaze maple seems to be popular around here. Not sure 30' away is far enough, but they see to grow fairly upright.
You might want something fairly columnar - aspen/poplar? You could also do birch. As someone suggested, Dawn Redwood is always a great choice! There are also DED-resistant American Elms which I am a fan of, but now Elm Yellows are coming!

Catalpas are messy as heck, weak wooded, and are not fully cold tolerant here (zone 4 - you might be ok there though - lol - go to Canada where it is warmer!). On up side, they have a really cool late flower show.
Never plant manitoba maples (boxelder) unless nothing else will grow! They are a messy weed - best planted in - wait for it - MANITOBA!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 9:00PM
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I'm surprised to see cottonwood/poplar (aside from 'Tulip/Yellow Poplar) mentioned mentioned for a large tree to be grown near a house.

I like the red oak idea, assuming they do well in your area.

I don't the truly 'super-fast' (by tree standards) trees are going to be a good match.

I like the previously offered idea of using a structure for 'patio shade,' and giving a well-chosen tree time to grow.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 11:11PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Metasequoia in zone 6 or 7 has to be a good choice. Its structure makes it relatively safe for nearby houses. The sixty year old ones at MOBOT might not have a branch that could puncture my roof falling. They just do not get that big of branches.

Now a tornado could blow it over into your home, but man, the shape when less than 100 years old is just right to make them a tough as anything.

Metasequoia also has them fine compound needles / leaves but they mow uo so readily and the cones are small as well.

It is slower growing and a picky transplant, but I think nyssa sylvatica is a very polite typically shaped shade tree. Small flowers and fruit.

Pin oak was a popular choice here a few decades back. Not to the metasequoia extreme, but the branching is polite especially when under forty and they grow reasonably fast.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 11:29PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

DUH! Kinda a poison pill, but what about weeping willow? Plant one, let it grow and die while getting another tree going a bit away if you have room.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 11:35PM
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Thank you for all of your answers guys! I like the American Elm the most. I fear it might get tooooo big though.

It is beautiful though. Is it strong? I won't be there though to see it reach it's 30 year life. I probably will only be at the house for another 3 - 4 years or so..that's why the american elm seems like a good idea.

smivies said it grows 8'+ per year! That's perfect. I've read online though that it's more like 3' per year so is there a specific breed I should be looking at for this tree for the 8' growth?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 12:35PM
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Maybe try one of the smaller hybrid elms, but elms have litter just like other trees, they will have a bunch of seed falling and germinate all over. The best idea was bboy's suggestion since you aren't going to be there much longer.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 1:19PM
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Seeds falling is ok. As long as I can mow over them. It's just cherry pits get caught in the grass and make all the way into the dirt. Anything with leaves can be raked and then mowed if needed.

Is there anything I have to worry about with the Elms? I read something about dutch disease?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 3:50PM
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Dutch disease is more worrisome for the economy. Dutch ELM disease is a problem for American Elm, often killing them by about 20-30 years of age. That's why DED resistant varieties have been developed.

As for the 8'/yr growth rate....there needs to be a chainlink fence or house foundation involved before it achieves those rates. Planted in the middle of the lawn, 3'/yr is more common.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 6:28PM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)

You don't live in a warm enough climate for it, but Sequoia sempervirens has minimal litter and grows very rapidly when supplied with adequate water. Of course, you have to make sure it REMAINS supplied with adequate water, either through nature or irrigation. I am personally not a fan of irrigation so I would only plant it where it could thrive on its own... which means the southeastern US and the immediate West Coast.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 11:02PM
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Well I went to Sheridan Nursies in Mississauga here and found a sugar maple for $420 + tax. The great thing is is they are very big already in their baskets...maybe like 18 feet.

I took a look at the faster growing honey locust but it does not provide much privacy vs the maple at planting time.

Problem is my neighbour (where the tree is being planted) has a lot of garden beds and she does not want to pull mini maple trees out every spring...I'm telling her there should be that many keys for another few years but whatever.

Any thing i should know about the Japanese zelkova ?

That seems fast growing... Also am looking not only for fast growing but privacy/shade creating

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 4:07PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

"Well I went to Sheridan Nursies in Mississauga here and found a sugar maple for $420 + tax. The great thing is is they are very big already in their baskets...maybe like 18 feet. "

Someplace in my Photobucket account I have pictures from a Harvard type study on growth rates for different size transplants. End result was the large transplants took longer to recover than smaller ones. Think of it as missed out on growing seasons.

I would venture the chance of failure also goes up.

BUT if it has a warranty that solves part of that problem.

Random thoughts:

Sugar maples are classy but not the fastest growers. I love them and if the size of the transplant helps you not have to settle on a lesser tree, go for it.

Most trees that are not "male sexed clones" are just going to produce viable seeds.

The neighbor thing is interesting. You know the dynamic of the relationship. If the gardenbeds are right on the fence line is it rude of them to want to limit what you plant? Of course it would be rude for anyone to plant bamboo on the property line and not have a plan to contain it for eternity. Maples are pretty normal though.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 6:52PM
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i live in zone 4, border 5. I planted a metasequioa glyptostroboides in full sun about 4 weeks ago and the rain we have had here has made it grow incredibly quickly. planting one of these and providing it with ample water will probably be the fastest growing, best looking tree. *personal opinion*

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 7:05PM
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metasequioa glyptostroboides - What a cool looking tree...

Well, they had a one day sale and I spoke with the neighbour and we decided on an autumn blaze. I don't like the shape of it (triangle) but whatever apparently they're really pretty in the fall.

50mm trunk and was on sale for $340 inc taxes.

I'm just happy to get a tree back there. I'll be planting it it this week.

Thanks for everyone's help! Now off to another section to ask about vines to cover fences!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 7:53PM
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If anyone is still interested. I brought back the autumn blaze...didn't like the triangle shape.

Went with a shade master honeylocust and planted it two days ago. it's about 16 feet tall for $300. Anyway to make this thing explode with growth?

Any special pruning I should be doing to make it grow wide and bushy?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 12:51AM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Hi lawnsanity.

My neighbor has some locust or other growing and he loves. It grows pretty quickly.

If it is full sun it should spread out quickly enough. In shade it might try to grow taller.

Every so often he gets a root sucker and will let it grow to about six foot before deciding it is too close to the mama tree. I guess that slows mama down a little.

First thing is getting the fella to live through transplant though so figure out how to get that rootball watered properly and then get the roots to spread out into your yard.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 2:39PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Big specimens are slow at first because they have lost a higher proportion of roots.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 4:09PM
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