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6 Fast Growing Trees for Washington State (Shade or Hedge)


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When moving into a new home or planting a garden, fast-growing trees are often in demand as homeowners quickly want results.

Whether you’re after shade for the hot summer months or a privacy hedge, there are plenty of fast-growing trees for Washington homeowners to plant.

Read on for six fast-growing trees suitable for Washington State.

6 Fast-Growing Trees that Grow Well in Washington

1. Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)

Ginkgo Tree
Image by Dave Roberts via Flickr

Ginkgos provide unique foliage and are drought, and disease resistant. The leaves have a distinct shape and color that sets them apart from almost every other tree. They are also one of the first trees to change color in the fall when temperatures start to cool. Ginkgos are highly adaptable and can tolerate inner city environments.

Plant male trees to avoid the unpleasant smell and mess associated with the female fruit. Ginkgos can adapt to many different soil types, are drought tolerant once established and can provide delicate shade in the home landscape.

Other Common Names: Maidenhair Tree, and Ginkgo

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 40-70 ft tall and 30-40 ft wide

Flowering Season: April – May

2. Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)

Weeping Willow Tree
Image by jacinta lluch valero via Flickr

The Weeping Willow is a well-known and loved tree, famed for its low sweeping branches. It’s often one of the first trees to come into leaf in the spring when the bright green foliage emerges.

Weeping Willows grow at a fast rate of 8-10 ft a year and function well as shade trees in a matter of a few short years. They are often planted alongside rivers and streams to prevent erosion or planted in low-lying areas of the landscape to catch and store rainwater in the landscape.

Despite their preference for wet soils, Weeping Willows are also moderately drought-tolerant. They are also one of the last trees to shed their leaves each year and can grow in full sun or partial shade.

Other Common Names: Babylon Weeping Willow

Growing Zones: 5-9

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

Flowering Season: April – May

3. Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens)

Incense Cedar Tree
Image by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr

The Incense Cedar is a fast-growing evergreen tree native to the Pacific Northwest. This type of Cedar tree is a hardy tree capable of withstanding cold and extreme moisture but is happiest in areas that experience dry summers.

The foliage is dense and flows down to the ground if left uncut. They also make superb choices for hedges or screens. The bark is scaly and reddish brown, and the cones are small in size and are also covered in scales.

The Incense Cedar is great at attracting wildlife, being a native tree. Its common name comes from the pleasant aroma emitted from the foliage.

Other Common Names: California Incense Cedar

Growing Zones: 5-8

Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 ft tall and 8-12 ft wide

Flowering Season: April – May

4. Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)

Hackberry Tree
Image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr

The Hackberry is a remarkably fast-growing tree when young, is tolerant of a wide range of different soil types, and can handle urban pollution. It’s native to the Eastern and Mid-Western States.

They develop a wide cylindrical crown that provides good shade. Small edible berry-like fruit with a sweet taste are produced which are favored by local wildlife. The leaves measure up to 5”, are alternate, and appear at the same time as the small springtime flowers.

In their native range, the Hackberry grows in moist bottomlands but they’re tolerant of clay and poor soils.

Other Common Names: Western Hackberry, and Common Hackberry

Growing Zones: 3-9

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

Flowering Season: April – May

5. Cryptomeria Radicans (Cryptomeria japonica ‘Radicans’)

If you’re looking for an evergreen privacy hedge for your WA yard, then consider the Cryptomeria Radicans. It grows in a pyramidal or columnar shape when left on its own but can also be pruned into a hedge. It’s been bred specifically for its fast growth rate of 3-4 ft a year. It features a slender form and tapers off to a tip.

Cryptomeria Radicans will grow in a variety of soil types, including compacted clay, and is drought tolerant once established.

The state of WA has a varied landscape, including mountain peaks, plateaus, bottomlands, and coastal areas. Needless to say, there are corresponding differences in climactic conditions, so make sure you check the hardiness map of Washington before planting to know what is likely to grow in your area.

Other Common Names: Japanese Cedar, and Sugi

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 30-40 ft tall and 15-20 ft wide

Flowering Season: February – March

6. Red Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)

Red Japanese Maple
Image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr

The Red Japanese Maple provides year-round entertainment with its striking colors. Summer sees the leaves emerge in shades of bright red, turning burgundy for the summer and scarlet for the fall. Even the bark has tones of red interspersed with black to provide winter interest.

Red Japanese Maples are strong and hardy trees whose fast growth makes them suitable for shade. This, alongside their beauty, makes them multifunctional, and thus suitable for those with smaller areas. In the warmest areas, plant in partial shade to protect from the harsh sun. Other than that, the Red Japanese Maple requires little to no maintenance once established.

If you love all different types of maple trees, we did an article on which other maple trees grow well in WA that might be worth reading.

Other Common Names: Palmate Maple, Smooth Japanese Maple

Growing Zones: 5-8

Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 ft tall and 10-15 ft wide

Flowering Season: May – June

Rapid Green Growth

Fast-growing trees are desirable for homeowners and residential areas to provide green cover at a rapid rate.

Whether this is to provide shade, hedging for landscaping, blocking out unwanted noises and sounds, or for privacy, there are innumerable options for WA homeowners to choose from when it comes time to decide what to plant in the home.

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