7 Fast-Growing Shade Trees 7 Fast-Growing Shade Trees

During the summer, the heat from the sun can warm up our homes rather quickly. As you well know, constantly running air conditioners and fans to stay cool can result in a very expensive energy bill during those hot months. But we can help keep our homes cooler and avoid some of the effects of the heat by keeping the sun off our windows and homes. A great way to accomplish this is by planting shade trees in our yard and around our home. According to research forester Geoffrey Donovan, "A tree planted on the west side of a house can reduce net carbon emissions from summertime electricity use by 30 percent over a 100-year period."

When it comes to planting trees for shade, there are many options to choose from, but some trees can take forever to reach the full maturity needed to provide shade. Now, most of us are impatient individuals and do not want to wait years for a tree to grow and provide the shade needed—but we don't have to. Here are seven of the most popular fast-growing shade trees that will cool your home and reduce your energy bills.

1. Northern Catalpa

A northern catalpa tree with white blossoms.

Also known as the catawba or the cigar tree, the catalpa produces thick leaves that provide a canopy of shade. This fast-growing tree is great for bees with its big, beautiful flowers that bloom in the spring.

2. Red Maple

The red maple will cast plenty of shade in the summer while adding splendid color in the fall. The leaves of this fast-growing tree will turn a vibrant red before they fall. The tree reaches full maturity around 40 feet high and will grow three to five feet a year. The red maple can quickly provide shade and privacy around your home.

3. Weeping Willow

A weeping willow tree.

Not only is the weeping willow an iconic shade tree, but it's also a fast grower. Weeping willows love to grow near water, however, there are hybrids that will grow in drier climates. The growth rate for a willow is around three to eight feet per year.

4. Nuttall Oak

The nuttall oak is considered the fastest growing variety of oak trees. Often called pin oak or red oak, this tree provides an ample canopy of shade. As a bonus for animal-lovers, it produces acorns every year that attract wildlife such as squirrels and deer.

5. Paper Birch

A close-up of paper birch trees.

The paper birch will add beauty to any yard with its white bark. Aside from it's capability of growing fast, a birch syrup can be made from the tree's sap. (However, you would need to have several birch trees planted in order to make it worth the effort.)

6. Hybrid Poplar

The hybrid poplar is one of the top recommended fast-growing shade trees. The tree is capable of growing up to eight feet per year and is fully mature at 40 to 50 feet tall. The Arbor Day Foundation suggests the Populus deltoides of the Populus nigra variety, which is a cottonless hybrid that's not as messy as some others.

7. American Sycamore

An american sycamore tree.

Also known as the American plane tree, the American sycamore can grow quite large. The bark is similar to that of a paper birch, which is white and mottled. Often found growing near ponds and rivers, the American sycamore is popular in urban areas, reaching heights of over 70 feet and growing at a rate up to six feet per year.

Things to Consider

Several factors such as the type of soil, annual rainfall, frost dates, temperatures, and the length of the growing season will all play an important role in determining the type of shade trees that are most suitable to plant around your home. Contact a local expert or nursery to help you decide which fast-growing shade trees are best for your specific planting zone.

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