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9 Fast Growing Trees for Idaho Gardens & Landscapes


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Idaho is a diverse state whose weather is dictated by the Pacific ocean. Generally, the north of the state is cooler and experiences more rainfall than the south. Growing trees in Idaho can be challenging because of the short growing season.

Being a mountainous state, the elevation of where you are will greatly affect what you can successfully cultivate. Even in the high desert of the southwest which experiences strong winds, with intelligent design, there are plenty of trees that’ll thrive in your garden or landscape.

Idaho stretches from zones 3b-7. Regardless of whether you’re in the Basin and Ridge Region, Columbia Plateau, or the Rocky Mountains, there’s a fast-growing tree suitable for your yard.

Fast-growing trees are desirable for the home landscape as they can serve to block out unwanted sights and noises and provide privacy.

Be sure to check the hardiness map of Idaho before choosing a fast growing tree to plant in your area.

9 Fast Growing Trees for Idaho Gardens & Landscapes

1. Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides ‘Quaking’)

Quaking Aspen Trees
Image by Wesley Carr via Flickr

The Quaking Aspen grows in a gorgeous pyramidal shape and features heart-shaped leaves that flutter in the breeze, lending a wonderful sense of dynamism to the landscape. They are fast-growing native pioneer species, being one of the first to colonize grasslands, prairies, or disturbed landscapes.

With age, Quaking Aspens develop a more rounded shape. The leaves are dark green on top and lighter underneath. The foliage is deciduous, typically turning bright yellow in the fall before being shed, although some trees may turn red or orange. The bark of mature trees is smooth and white.

Quaking Aspens can be planted alone as specimen trees, for shade, or in groups for a natural look. They are extremely hard, capable of withstanding harsh winters, aren’t fussy about soil type, and can grow in dry rocky soils, although they prefer humus-rich, moist soils.

Other Common Names: Trembling Aspen, Common Aspen, Eurasian Aspen, and European Aspen

Growing Zones: 2-6

Average Size at Maturity: 40-50 ft tall and 20-30 ft wide

Flowering Season: April – May

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

2. Thundercloud Plum (Prunus cerasifera ‘Thundercloud’)

thundercloud plum
Image via Nature Hills

The Thundercloud Plum provides interest throughout the seasons, so is favored as a focal point for many different styles of gardens.

It features a neat and tidy form with an upright spreading branch structure and a broad spreading canopy. The bark is light colored which provides a contrast in the landscape during the winter months when the deciduous leaves have been shed.

Light pink and white blossoms grace the tree in the spring, which stands out against the silver/grey branches. The mature foliage has a ruby red and purple tone and remains so until it’s shed.

The Thundercloud Plum is an ornamental plum, but the fruit is edible. They are small and can be eaten fresh, made into a preserve, or simply left for the local birds to feast on. Plant in well-draining, slightly acidic soil for best results.

Other Common Names: Thundercloud Ornamental Plum

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 ft tall and wide

Flowering Season: Early spring

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

3. Niobe Weeping Willow (Salix alba tristis ‘Niobe’)

Niobe weeping willow
Image via Nature Hills

The Niobe Weeping Willow is a hardy willow, favored for the yellow hue of its foliage. Weeping willows are much admired for their drooping branches which arch upwards, before bending gracefully back down to the earth.

The slender branches dance with the wind, and the leaves are narrow and finely toothed, greenish-white above and silvery below.

Whilst the Niobe Weeping Willow will grow best in most soils, it has some drought tolerance once established. Left unpruned, the pendulous branches will reach right down to the ground, but it responds well to pruning. Flowers are catkins that appear on separate male and female trees.

Other Common Names: Golden Weeping Willow, White Willow

Growing Zones: 4-8

Average Size at Maturity: 50-60 ft tall and 20-30 ft wide

Flowering Season: Spring

Available at: Nature Hills

4. River Birch (Betula nigra)

river birch
Image by F. D. Richards via Flickr

The River Birch offers something to the home gardener throughout every season. Its most renowned feature is the smooth tan peeling bark that exfoliates to reveal tones of salmon pink and cinnamon.

The leaves are light green in the spring and appear with erect female catkins on the branch tips. Leaves turn dark green in the summer and a rich shade of yellow in the fall.

River Birches can be grown as single specimen trees or in groups. They are the hardiest of all River Birches and can be grown as a fast-growing living fence. They can be grown alongside water or in drier upland areas and prefer slightly acidic soil. They’ll tolerate almost any moist soil including some clay.

Other Common Names: Black Birch, Red Birch

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 25-50 ft tall and 25-35 ft wide

Flowering Season: May – June

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

5. Corkscrew Willow (Salix matsudana)

corkscrew willow
Image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr

The Corkscrew Willow features intriguing twists and turns in the branching structure that makes it stand out in the landscape.

It provides interest throughout the seasons; with spring seeing the sprouting of the delicate buds on the branches followed by the shade providing leaves for the warm summer months. Autumn sees the leaves turn a bright shade of yellow which draws in the eye.

The Corkscrew Willow will grow best in moist locations.

Other Common Names: Curly Willow, and Peking Willow

Growing Zones: 4-8

Average Size at Maturity: 20-30 ft tall and 15-30 ft wide

Flowering Season: May

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

6. Shademaster Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis ‘Shademaster‘)

Honey Locust Shademaster
Image via Fast-Growing-Trees

The Shademaster Honeylocust is an immensely adaptable shade tree with a rounded shape that allows dappled light to filter through. The leaves are small and delicate, bright green in the spring, turning golden yellow in the fall. This variety is also thornless and seedless, meaning less worry and hassle for you.

The Shademaster Honeylocust will grow in wet, dry, or poor soils, tolerates urban pollution, clay, sand, and salt. In short, they are highly adaptable trees that require very little maintenance to thrive.

Other Common Names: Thornless Honeylocust

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 30-70 ft tall and wide

Flowering Season: Spring

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

7. Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)

Magnolia virginiana
Image by Sonnia Hill via Flickr

The Sweetbay Magnolia is a fast to moderate-growing flowering tree loved throughout the country. They are semi-evergreen, retaining their leaves in mild winter areas.

Even when the leaves are shed in cooler parts of ID, you can admire the metallic-looking trunk. All parts of this American classic emit a sweet aroma, reminiscent of vanilla; from the roots to the leaves as well as the blooms. The leaves emit their sweet fragrance for weeks at a time from spring to summer.

The flowers measure up to 3” long with a pure white color and appear after the last frost has passed in May and throughout the summer season. They have a gentle lemon aroma to them that sweetly scents the air.

The leaves are symmetrical and dark green, with a silvery glaucous coating and a silvery white underside that look wonderful in the breeze, meaning even after the flowers are gone, the Sweetbay is still a joy to admire.

It’ll grow in sandy, wet, clay, or dry soils.

Other Common Names: Sweetbay, Laurel Magnolia, Swampbay, Swamp Magnolia, and White Bay

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 15-25 ft tall and 10-30 ft wide

Flowering Season: Spring to summer

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

8. Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)

Hackberry Tree
Image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr

The Hackberry is a fast-growing native shade tree that produces tiny edible fruit that attracts all kinds of wildlife. Whilst they’re native to rich bottomlands, they are highly adaptable, growing in all kinds of soil types, including clay, and can tolerate salt and pollution.

The canopy develops a cylindrical shape that provides dense shade, in areas where the soil is too poor for other trees to grow.

The green leaves are 5” long, alternate, and yellowish on the underside. The foliage appears alongside the tiny blossom in the spring. The small berries mature to dark purple, have a sweet flavor, and are enjoyed by many birds including Cedar Waxwings amongst others.

Other Common Names: Common Hackberry

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 50-75 ft tall and 25-40 ft wide

Flowering Season: April – May

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

9. Fruitless White Mulberry (Morus alba ‘Fruitless’)

white mulberry
Image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr

The Fruitless White Mulberry is a multipurpose tree with many functions in the landscape and will grow where many other trees would struggle.

Its rapid growth rate makes it suited as a shade tree, nursery tree or to grow biomass to feed as organic matter to other fruit trees or vegetables. The leaves of the White Mulberry are also a nutritional powerhouse and can be eaten as a spinach substitute.

The leaves are light green and deeply lobed, and turn yellow/gold in the fall. The fruitless mulberry saves you the hassle of dealing with falling fruit which are known to stain everything they come into contact with. However, if you’re after fruit trees, there are plenty of different varieties you can plant in your garden in ID.

The White Mulberry will grow in almost any soil type or environment.

Other Common Names: Silkworm Mulberry

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 30-50 ft tall and 30-40 ft wide

Flowering Season: March – April

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

Go Green Quick

Fast-growing trees are vital in sequestering atmospheric carbon and holding it underground.

Homeowners favor fast-growing trees as they can provide natural privacy screens quickly, blocking out unwanted views and sounds, and cleaning the air from busy roads.

The climate of ID varies greatly depending on where in the state you live, but regardless of the elevation of your yard, there are plenty of beautiful fast-growing trees for you to choose from.