9 Fast-Growing Trees for USDA Zone 9 Landscapes

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Written By Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

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Home » USDA Zone 9 » 9 Fast-Growing Trees for USDA Zone 9 Landscapes

Watching trees grow on your property can be a long, slow process. While this can be a non-issue if you have plenty of trees already, it can otherwise be a pain.

This is especially true if you’re planting new trees on a bare piece of land in USDA hardiness zone 9, or you’re trying to establish necessary landscape features such as privacy trees, shade trees, street trees, and more.

The best route to take is planting fast-growing trees that can reach heights of 10 feet or more in less than 5 years.

Take a look at these 9 fast-growing trees for zone 9 that can provide beauty or utility in a very short time.

9 Fast-Growing Trees to Plant in Zone 9

1. Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)

Weeping Willow
Image by Jean-Etienne Minh Duy Poirrier via Flickr

It’s hard to find an easier way to add an element of grace and beauty to your property than planting a Weeping Willow.

A symbol of romance and mystery, this East Asian native has been naturalized all over the US and is instantly recognizable for its bowed branches and weeping growth habit, and its narrow leaves that flutter in the slightest breeze.

But it isn’t just its looks that are impressive. The Weeping Willow is one of the fastest-growing trees that can be planted in the US, with a growth rate of around 8-10 feet per year. In just two years you’ll have a modestly-sized tree that can be used as a specimen or focal point.

It can also be planted to great effect near water features such as lakes, streams, and ponds, as it loves consistently moist soil and its extensive root system can be used to control erosion on banks. By the same logic, it should not be planted near any underground infrastructure.

  • Other Common Names: Silver Willow, Babylon Weeping Willow
  • Growing Zones: 5-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 30-50 feet tall, with a similar spread
  • Flower Season: Spring
  • Growth Rate: 5-10 ft per year*

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

2. Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)

Silver Maple Acer saccharinum trees with different colored leaves
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees and by Renee Mcgurk, CC BY 2.0 – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

One of the most widely planted US shade trees in the 20th century, the Silver Maple is not as popular as it once was, but it still has its benefits.

Namely due to its exceedingly fast growth rate of 4 to 6 feet per year, which allows gardeners to establish shade trees within just 2 years.

The rounded, open canopy and dense foliage of the Silver Maple cast effective shade, and its winged seeds are an excellent food source for birds and small mammals.

Optimal growing conditions will encourage a faster growth rate. So plant the Silver Maple in full sun and light, well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH.

Interested gardeners should be aware that this fast-growing maple has several weaknesses, most notably its shallow and often exposed root system, its spreading seedling which will need to be removed, and its shaggy, unimpressive form in maturity.

  • Other Common Names: Water Maple, Soft Maple, Creek Maple, River Maple, White Maple, Silverleaf Maple
  • Growing Zones: 3-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 50-100 feet tall, with a 35-50 foot spread
  • Flowering Season: Spring
  • Growth Rate: 4-6 ft per year*

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

3. Chinese Tallow (Triadica sebifera)

Chinese Tallow
Image by John Hayes via Flickr

This small tree is a native of China and is best known for its seeds, which are used to create seed oil and vegetable tallow. Outside of that they are used in landscape gardening for their ornamental qualities.

These trees have several trunks and an oval canopy, with bright green foliage that turns a stunning combination of red, gold, orange, and purple in fall. Its fall display is its most appealing ornamental quality.

With an annual growth rate of 3 feet per year, the Chinese Tallow is fast-growing and can be quickly established as a specimen tree or accent. It is also highly adaptable and will grow in most soil types, but for best results plant in full sun with moist, loamy, well-draining soil.

The Chinese tallow can be invasive due to its aggressive growth, so responsible gardening will include ensuring that this tree does not escape your yard.

  • Other Common Names: Chinese Tallow, Popcorn Tree, Florida Aspen, Chicken Tree, Candleberry Tree
  • Growing Zones: 8-10
  • Average Size at Maturity: 30-40 feet tall, with a similar spread
  • Fruiting Season: Spring to Summer
  • Growth Rate: 3-10 ft per year*

4. Lombardy Poplar (Populus nigra ‘Italica’)

Lombardy Poplar (Populus nigra) Tree, Leaves and Fall Color
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees, combined by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

With added heights of up to 6 feet per year, there’s no doubt the Lombardy Poplar is a popular choice for zone 9 gardeners who want to establish windbreaks, privacy screens, and street trees as quickly as possible.

This tall skinny privacy tree is beautiful too, with a tall, columnar form, a symmetrical crown, and fine foliage that turns a lovely bright yellow in fall.

But this fast-growing cultivar has its issues, which interested gardeners must be aware of. The most damning is its lifespan – Lombardy Poplars are highly susceptible to borer and canker which reduce their lifespan to an average of just 15 years.

Cottony seeds and abundant pollen can require extensive cleanup, according to the NC State Extension, and their shallow, spreading root system can become disruptive.

Gardeners are recommended to use this tall skinny hybrid poplar as a temporary landscaping solution. Plant it in full sun and sandy or loamy well-draining soil.

  • Other Common Names: Black Poplar
  • Growing Zones: 3-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 feet tall, with a 10-15 foot spread
  • Flower Season: Late Winter to Early Spring
  • Growth Rate: 3-6 ft per year*

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

5. Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Named for its unique tulip-shaped green, orange, and yellow flowers, the Tulip Poplar is a real standout species.

Native to the eastern United States, it is beloved in many states for its flowering display, impressive tall and straight form, fast growth rate, and many landscape uses.

Growing at a rate of 3 to 5 feet per year, the Tulip Poplar can grow up to 130 feet tall even in cultivation! For this reason, it won’t be suitable for every landscape. However, if you have the space for it it will make an incredible shade tree, specimen plant, or street tree.

It also provides significant value as a wildlife tree, providing nectar, edible seeds, and shelter for many pollinators and small mammals.

This versatile Poplar tree is unlikely to experience any serious pest or disease issues and can grow in many different soil conditions, though standing water and very dry conditions should be avoided.

  • Other Common Names: Tulip Poplar, Tuliptree, Yellow Poplar, Canoewood, Lyre Tree, Canary Whitehood, Western Poplar, Whitewood, North American Whitewood, Lynn-Tree, Hickory Poplar
  • Growing Zones: 4-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 70-130 feet tall, with a 30-60 foot spread
  • Flower Season: Spring
  • Growth Rate: 3-5 ft per year*

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

6. Shamel Ash (Fraxinus uhdei)

Shamel Ash
Image by Kim and Forest Starr via Flickr

Native to Central America, the Shamel Ash is one of the fastest-growing ash trees with a growth rate of 2 to 3 feet per year – in most cases, it will reach up to 30 feet tall in just 10 years.

This ash tree species is a medium to large-sized specimen with a balanced, spreading habit and bright green foliage, and is often confused for its relative the Modesto ash. It is semi-evergreen, meaning it is deciduous in cooler zones and evergreen in warmer ones.

In Mexico and some parts of the southwestern US, particularly California and Arizona, it is commonly used as a street tree. It can also be planted as a shade tree and specimen. If you want to ensure that your Shamel Ash grows as fast as possible, plant it in full sun and deep, fertile, well-draining soil.

  • Other Common Names: Tropical Ash, Mexican Evergreen Ash, Hawaiian Ash
  • Growing Zones: 8-11
  • Average Size at Maturity: 60-80 feet tall, with a similar spread
  • Fruiting Season: Fall
  • Growth Rate: 2-3 ft per year*

7. Pacific Wax Myrtle (Myrica californica)

Pacific Wax Myrtle
Image via Nature Hills

While the scientific name myrica californica will tell you where this neat evergreen grows best, you don’t have to be a Californian to reap the benefits of growing Pacific Wax Myrtle.

A native of the Pacific coast, it should grow consistently well in most warm, coastal environments. It has a natural tolerance to drought, salt spray, and poor soil.

The Pacific Wax Myrtle is a versatile shrub with dense, glossy foliage and purple summer fruits. Unlike its relative the northern bayberry, this species has less aromatic leaves, and its fruits have a lower wax content, so it is not used to create bayberry candles.

This tree can gain heights of 2 to 4 feet per year, so you’ll be able to use it as a hedge, screen, or windbreak in no time at all. It can grow in most soil types, and according to the Washington State Extension can be planted in most soil types and will even survive in full shade.

  • Other Common Names: California Wax Myrtle, Pacific Bayberry, California Bayberry
  • Growing Zones: 7-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 20-30 feet tall, with a 10-20 foot spread
  • Fruiting Season: Late Summer
  • Growth Rate: 2-4 ft per year*

Available at: Nature Hills

8. Sunburst Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis ‘Suncole)

Sunburst Honey Locust
Image by Jean Jones via Flickr

The native honeylocust is a fast-growing beauty, but it often isn’t recommended for landscaping as it is covered in thorns and produces so many seed pods it can become a weed problem. That’s where the Sunburst Honey Locust comes in!

This excellent cultivar is both thornless and seedless, so you get all of the benefits of the Honey Locust without the downsides.

This stylish tree has a lovely rounded canopy, vase-shaped form, and fine compound leaves that add a graceful element and create dappled shade. These leaves emerge bright yellow in early spring and return to a gorgeous yellow-gold color in fall.

The Sunburst Honey Locust is a top-tier lawn tree, shade tree, and street tree. Honey locust trees and their cultivars will grow anywhere between 2 to 3 feet per year. Like many trees, the better the growing conditions, the faster the growth rate.

  • Other Common Names: Thorny Locust, Thorny Honey Locust, Sweet Locust
  • Growing Zones: 4-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 35-45 feet tall, with a 30-40 foot spread
  • Flowering Season: Late Spring
  • Growth Rate: 2-3 ft per year*

Available at: Nature Hills

9. Cider Gum (Eucalyptus gunnii)

Cider Gum
Image by Wendy Cutler via Flickr

One of the most popular eucalyptus trees on the international market, this Australian native is a hardy, fast-growing, reliable tree.

The Cider Gum is a large species with lush foliage made up of silvery-green evergreen foliage, an upright conical habit, and smooth, peeling bark with shades of pink, brown, and creamy white. In summer, its branches are dotted with fluffy white flowers.

If you’re seeking a stunning yet unique tree with four seasons of interest, this one’s for you!

The Cider Gum is a natural specimen tree that will grow at a rate of 2-3 feet per year. It can also be used as a shade tree, privacy screen, or windbreak.

Eucalyptus trees are some of the highest oxygen producing trees in the world.

Plant the Cider Gum in full sun or partial shade. It will grow in a variety of soil types but prefers fertile, slightly acidic soil. Keep an eye out for signs of eucalyptus sucker, oedema, and silver leaf.

  • Other Common Names: Cider Tree, Tasmanian Cider Tree
  • Growing Zones: 8-10
  • Average Size at Maturity: 30-70 feet tall, with an 18-40 foot spread
  • Flowering Season: Summer
  • Growth Rate: 2-3 ft per year*

Fastest Growing Zone 9 Trees Compared

Tree NameGrowing ZonesAverage Size at MaturityGrowth Rate
Weeping Willow5-930-50 feet tall, similar spread5-10 ft per year
Silver Maple3-950-100 feet tall, 35-50 foot spread4-6 ft per year
Chinese Tallow8-1030-40 feet tall, similar spread3-10 ft per year
Lombardy Poplar3-940-60 feet tall, 10-15 foot spread3-6 ft per year
Tulip Poplar4-970-130 feet tall, 30-60 foot spread3-5 ft per year
Pacific Wax Myrtle7-920-30 feet tall, 10-20 foot spread2-4 ft per year
Cider Gum8-1030-70 feet tall, 18-40 foot spread2-3 ft per year
Shamel Ash8-1160-80 feet tall, similar spread2-3 ft per year
Sunburst Honey Locust4-935-45 feet tall, 30-40 foot spread2-3 ft per year
*Growth rates are approximations; actual performance varies with climate, soil, and care.

Establish Beautiful Trees Around Your Home In No Time

Fast-growing trees are a godsend for gardeners and homeowners who need useful trees planted as quickly as possible.

Just be aware that while many of these trees can reach 10 feet tall or higher in no time, they aren’t always the best choice for your gardener.

Trees like the Silver Maple and Lombardy Poplar, for example, have an impressive growth rate but are weighed down by less desirable traits.

However, as long as you do your due diligence when choosing trees, you are sure to find a fast-growing tree that fits your needs and your zone 9 landscape.

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Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

Shannon has always loved looking after trees and plants since as long as she can remember. She grew up gardening with her family in their off-grid home and looking after her neighbor's plant nursery. As a child she also participated in native tree replanting, and as an adult has volunteered in reforestation programs in northern Vietnam. Today, she puts her horticultural efforts into tending her vegetable and herb gardens, and learning about homesteading and permaculture. When she’s not reading, writing, and gardening, she’ll be out fishing and foraging for edible flora and fungi in the countryside around her home.

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