If you’re on the hunt for fast-growing trees in Tennessee, you’ll be glad to hear you have a plethora of options.
A range of rapid growers thrives across TN’s growing zones that are great for privacy walls, shade, fruit, and landscaping.
Read on to learn about our favorite nine options for quick-growing trees perfect for your garden or landscape.
9 Fast-Growing Trees for Your TN Yard
1. Leyland Cypress (Cupressus × leylandii) – Privacy Tree
The Leyland cypress is a widely popular screening conifer across TN. Many cultivars exist to choose from with various foliage displays and color shades. It grows into a slender, conical shape.
This fast-growing cypress tree can grow more than 2 feet per year, making it an excellent selection for a privacy screen.
The Leyland cypress grows well in a variety of soil types but is not particularly drought resistant. While it prefers growing zones 6-10, it can grow in colder regions with proper winter protection such as mulching.
Average Size at Maturity: Grows to 60-70 feet high with a 15-25 foot spread
Growing Zones: 6-10 (can grow in TN’s 5b as well with some protection)
2. Nellie R. Stevens Holly (Ilex x ‘Nellie R. Stevens’) – Privacy Tree
The Nellie R. Stevens (aka Stevens holly) holly is a lovely, hardy evergreen tree perfect for use as privacy screening. It’s a best-selling tree for its rapid growth of 3 feet per year.
This conifer is notably drought, air pollution, and heat tolerant. The Stevens holly has attractive broad leaves and grows into a dense pyramid-conical shape.
Other Common Names: Stevens Holly
Average Size at Maturity: 15-30 feet tall with an 8-15 foot spread
Growing Zone: 6-10
3. Thuja Green Giant (Thuja plicata x standishii ‘Green Giant’) – Privacy Tree
The Thuja green giant is an excellent choice for a fast-growing privacy tree that will thrive across TN’s growing climates. This speedy evergreen can grow 3-5 feet per year in ideal growing conditions.
It grows into a dense conical shape with lovely, dark green foliage. Thuja green giant is particularly hardy, and once established, is resistant to drought, disease, and insect damage. It also grows in almost any soil type and is notably cold-hardy.
Average Size at Maturity: 25-60 feet tall (depending on plant spacing) with a 12-20 foot spread
Growing Zones: 5-9
Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees
4. Shademaster Honeylocust Tree (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis ‘Shademaster’) – Shade Tree
For TN gardeners looking to add a large, beautiful shade tree to their yards, the Shademaster honeylocust tree is an excellent choice.
The Shademaster is a favorite for its fast growth at 2 to 4 feet per year for the first 15 years of its life. It grows into a stunningly rounded tree with a large, symmetrical canopy.
Its fall colors are a gorgeous golden yellow and it produces lovely seed pods that dangle ornamentally. This shade tree is easy to grow and tolerant of a variety of climates and soil types.
Other Common Names: Thornless Honeylocust
Average Size at Maturity: 30-70 feet high with a spread of 30-70 feet
Growing Zones: 3-9
5. Sugar Maple (Acer A. saccharum) – Shade Tree
Native to the Eastern United States, the sugar maple is a well-loved shade tree that thrives across all of TN’s growing zones. Cold hardy, it is especially well-suited to the colder, more mountainous areas of TN.
The sugar maple produces stunning yellow to red leaves (depending on the cultivar) in the fall. With a potential 60-foot canopy spread, it provides ample shade.
The sugar maple requires ample room for root growth and does not tolerate air or salt pollution well. As such, this maple tree species does not fare well in urban settings.
Other Common Names: Northern sugar maple, Rock maple, Sweet maple, Birds-eye maple, Curly maple, Hard maple
Average Size at Maturity: 40-80 feet tall with a 30-60 foot spread
Growing Zones: 3-8
6. Weeping Willow Tree (Salix babylonica) – Shade Tree
The weeping willow tree is a stunning choice for a shade tree. With its cascading foliage that gracefully reaches toward the ground, you can enjoy full shade tucked away underneath this gorgeous plant.
This lovely tree can grow rapidly at a rate of over 2 feet per year and can grow across TN’s climates. While the weeping willow is native to East Asia, it has become naturalized to much of the Eastern US. Its ideal growing conditions are acidic, moist soil and it happily grows in soil that retains standing water.
This tree is best planted a bit further away from your home and any pipes as the roots are known to cause damage to plumbing. It’s a popular choice to plant near a water source, such as a pond, to add beauty and a shade option.
Other Common Names: Babylon willow
Average Size at Maturity: 30-40 feet tall with a 30-40 foot spread
Growing Zones: 4-9
7. Red Mulberry Tree (Morus rubra) – Fruit Tree
Mulberry trees are considered fast-growing fruit trees, and the native red mulberry tree is no exception. Hardy and tolerant of difficult soils and climates, the red mulberry is a great “set and forget” fruiting tree.
This lovely woodland tree averages a growth rate of 2 feet or more per year and reaches fruit-producing age between 6 and 8 years old.
It produces a bounty of sweet, deep red-purple fruits. Indigenous peoples of this tree’s native range have historically harvested these berries for food and parts of the tree for medicine.
Average Size at Maturity: 35-50 feet tall with a 30-40 foot spread
Growing Zones: 3-8
Fruiting Season: Mid-April through June
Available at: Nature Hills
8. Bartlett Pear (Pyrus communis ‘Bartlett’) – Fruit Tree
Bartlett pears, a European pear variety, are one of the fastest-growing cultivated fruit trees with a growth rate of more than 2 feet per year. This is a tree perfect for the colder regions of TN. It won’t tolerate warmer areas of TN above zone 7.
To thrive, the Bartlett pear requires at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day and consistent watering as it is not drought tolerant. Its soil preference is slightly acidic, well-draining, moist, and deep.
Bartlett pears are partially self-pollinating, so they will produce some fruit on their own. However, for best fruit production results, the Bartlett pear needs pollination via another European pear variety such as D’Anjou and Bosc. The pollinator tree needs to be planted within 100 feet of Bartlett pear for successful pollination.
Other Common Names: Williams pear
Average Size at Maturity: 20 feet tall with a 20-foot spread
Growing Zones: 5-7
Fruit Bearing Season: August – September
Available at: Nature Hills
9. American Paw Paw Tree (Asimina triloba) – Fruit Tree
The American paw paw tree is a lovely native, quick-growing tree that produces sweet, refreshing fruit. The taste is often described as a mix between a banana and a mango. While the tree’s name and the taste and look of its fruit may be similar to the papaya tree, it’s from a totally distinct botanical family.
You can expect the paw paw to grow an average of 2 feet per year and start producing fruit at around 4-6 years old if grown from seed. It prefers well-draining, slightly acidic, and fertile soil to thrive. It can thrive across TN’s growing zones.
The paw paw can’t self-pollinate, so to produce fruit it must be planted within 100 feet of another genetically distinct paw paw tree. People often hand pollinate paw paw trees to ensure the best fruit production results. In the Spring, this tree produces large, beautiful purple flowers.
Other Common Names: Paw paw, Paw-paw, Pawpaw
Average Size at Maturity: 15-30 feet tall with a 20-30 foot spread
Growing Zones: 5-8
Fruit Bearing Season: Mid-August through October
Enjoy These 9 Fast-Growing Trees for TN
And there you have it! From quick-growing evergreen conifers perfect for privacy to stunning weeping willows and delicious, speedy pear trees, we have your fast-growing tree needs covered.
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Cam is a forest dweller writing about animals, plants, and ecological-centered living from the hollers of Southeast Appalachia where she lives off-grid in her self-built cabin.
She shares 20 forested acres with her wonderful partners and pals, an ever-growing pack of rescue dogs, and all the plants and critters who call these woods home.
When she’s not writing, she’s probably either on a mushroom hike, working on the infinite list of to-do projects around the land, playing her viola, or bringing home yet another foster pup.