9 Fast-Growing Trees for Privacy

grove of arborvitae trees growing toward sunny blue sky
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We know trees are essential for a healthy ecosystem and bring joy and health benefits to us as well. But trees can also offer a natural buffer between yourself and the neighbors.

If you’re just getting started on cultivating some protective lanscaping, focusing on fast-growing trees will create the barrier you’re looking for in a shorter period of time.

Of course, you’ll need to consider the location you have available and what types of trees grow best in your region, but here are some ideas to consider.

1. Poplar

Poplar trees are ‘popular’ for their quick growth. Many farmers use it as a crop that can be harvested in years instead of decades.

For the homeowner, the poplar will pop up at a rate of five to eight feet per year, making it a great natural tool to keep your home cool during the hot summer months. They can be planted close together for privacy too.

2. Willow

beautiful large willow tree with sun coming through its leaves

The weeping willow, along with other varieties of the tree, can grow up to 12 feet in the first year. This makes a great tree if you’re establishing your yard or are looking to create a mature landscape in a short amount of time.

Willows make an excellent privacy screen along the border of your property and are tolerant of most soil types and growing environments.

3. Aspen

The aspen is a staple in many American landscapes with its impressive fall color display. The quaking aspen, a relative of the poplar, is one of the fastest growing.

Sprouting two to three feet per year, aspens can reach heights of 40-50 feet tall and can be 25 feet wide, so make sure to allow room for them to grow.

4. River Birch

grove of beautiful birch trees by a river

There are a few types of birch that are relatively fast growing, but the river birch is a great choice if you have a soggy yard.

Often found alongside rivers, the river birch tolerates wet feet so they will thrive in areas that receive a lot of rain, and survive fine through the drought periods too.

They can be planted right next to each other for a fuller effect, although even a single tree branches out nicely, creating dappled shade.

The leaves of the river birch make a calming rustling sound throughout the soft breezes of summer. The river birch typically grows one to two feet per year and a mature tree can reach 40-70 feet in height.

5. Ash

Actually considered a moderately-fast growing tree, the ash is versatile in growing zones two through nine. The ash will grow one to two feet per year, netting around 18-25 feet per decade.

Use the ash tree for its shade canopy and for visual interest while creating separation in your yard. This is another good choice for wet areas, but it is somewhat more sensitive to drought than the river birch.

6. Red Maple

small red japanese maple with lots of leaves

Maple trees have been a popular landscaping choice for centuries because of their shade-providing abilities, but also due to their spectacular color.

As an example, the October Glory Maple begins with shiny green leaves in the spring that evolve into a deep red in the fall.

Ideal for hardiness zones four through nine, the maple tree will grow one to two feet per year, maxing out around 40-50 feet in height.

7. Arborvitae

The trademark property border of suburban or more rural households, the arborvitae is a fast-growing option to help you achieve your privacy goals quickly.

A single tree will top out at about 50-60 feet, gaining three feet per year in ideal growing conditions. Most commonly, though, arborvitae are grown in rows, planted closely together to create a security screen or hedge.

Arborvitae forgives most pruning, so you can shape it for your preferred look.

8. Redwood

grove of tall redwood trees growing tall

Once established, the redwood is a hearty, long-living tree that majestically towers over many in the forest. There’s a reason the redwood forests in California are such a draw.

For the backyard garden, however, make sure to consider that the redwood can reach impressive 70-100 foot heights so it might not be the best choice for every yard.

This is another candidate for wet areas that receive a lot of rain. They will need extra water during the summer in nearly all locations. However, in the right conditions, this conifer will grow at a rate of around two feet per year.

9. Cypress

Another evergreen, the cypress, has fine needles that change color slightly through the seasons. Mature height is 60-70 feet with a span of around 15-25 feet.

This is achieved at a growth rate of about two feet per year. Most cypress trees will be successful in hardiness zones five to 10 if planted in full sun, and they are forgiving of most soil types.