Any tree that grows more than 2 feet per year is considered a "fast growing" tree. These trees are often used for windbreaks and as shade trees because of their growth rate. To be grown in Texas, a tree must be hardy in USDA Zones 6 through 10. Beyond that, you will find a wide range of both deciduous and evergreen trees that will manage to tower over you in just a few years.
The red maple (Acer rubrum) grows about 2 to 3 feet a year until it reaches a height between 40 to 60 feet with a 25- to 45-foot spread. Its name comes from its constant display of red: red buds in the winter, red flowers in the spring, red leafstalks in the summer and red leaves in the fall. Its cultivar 'October Glory' grows even faster, about 3 to 5 feet per year. Both should be planted in full sun and are hardy in USDA Zones 3 through 9.
The tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) is also known as the yellow poplar or tulip poplar. It can grow up to 6 feet per year. and its average height at maturity is between 70 to 90 feet with a 40-foot spread. In the spring, it has attractive greenish-yellow flowers, and its tulip-shaped leaves turn a golden yellow in the fall. It should be planted in full sun in almost any type of soil. It is hardy in USDA Zones 4 through 9.
The thornless honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos inermis) is also known as the common honey locust. It grows about 2 to 3 feet each year and can grow as tall as 100 feet with a spread between 30 to 70 feet. Its average height is between 30 to 70 feet. In the spring, the thornless honeylocust produces fragrant yellow blossoms that turn into a fruit that is often eaten by cattle, deer and other wildlife. It should be planted in full sun in a moist, fertile soil. This tree has a moderate tolerance to both flooding and drought. It is considered hardy in USDA Zones 3 through 9.
The river birch (Betula nigra) grows about 2 to 3 feet per year. It will mature to a height between 40 to 70 feet with a similar spread. It can be planted in full sun to partial shade in a moist, well-draining soil. It is the most borer-resistant birch. It is hardy in USDA Zones 4 through 9.
The Leyland cypress (X Cupressocyparis leylandii) is an evergreen that grows about 3 feet per year. It eventually reaches a height between 60 to 90 feet with a 15- to 20-foot spread. It tolerates a variety of soils but should be planted in full sun. It is a good choice for a windbreak and is hardy in USDA Zones 6 through 10.
The hybrid poplar (Populus deltoides x Populus nigra) grows between 5 to 10 feet per year. It eventually reaches a height between 40 to 50 feet with a 30-foot spread. For best results, plant it in a moist soil in full sun.
The Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) grows about 2 to 3 feet per year and eventually reaches a height between 50 to 90 feet per year with a 30- to 40-foot spread. It will grow in a variety of soils in full sun and is drought tolerant. It is hardy in USDA Zones 6 through 9.