Trees add a majestic touch to a garden, providing height, shade and often flowers or fruit. Understandably, many gardeners who add a new tree to the landscape are impatient for the tree to reach its full height. There are many types of fast-growing trees that will quickly grow to become a centerpiece of the landscape.
Palm trees add a touch of the tropics to a garden. Ideal for coastal gardens, fast-growing palm trees include the fishtail palm (Caryota mitis), a hardy palm native to Southeast Asia, and the royal palm (Roystonea regia), a tall-growing tree that boasts a smooth gray trunk. Most palm species prefer well-drained, sandy soil and full sunlight, although the fishtail palm will tolerate partial sun or even shade. Species like the hardy bamboo palm (Chamaedorea microspadix) will grow in cooler climates, thriving in shady areas or dappled sunlight in USDA zones 8 to 11. Foxtail palm (Wodyetia bifurcata) is an especially striking palm species that can grow up to 30 feet high, producing thick rows of luxurious "fox tail" shaped palm fronds. This drought tolerant, hardy palm grows in USDA zones 10 and 11, preferably in full sunlight.
Ornamental trees are those grown primarily for their fantastic foliage or blooms. Fast-growing ornamental trees include the fluffy pink flowering silk tree (Albizia julibrissin), also called a mimosa tree, and the tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera). Tulip poplar trees boast tuliplike yellow blooms in addition to radiant yellow foliage in the fall. These fast-growing trees grow best in full sun locations in USDA zones 5 to 9, in well-drained soils. For those looking for even brighter blooms, the Taiwan cherry (Prunus campanulata) is a small ornamental that sports dense clusters of rich pink blossoms. An early signifier of spring, Taiwan cherry grows best in USDA zones 7B to 9, in full sunlight and well-drained soil.
Evergreen trees are those that keep their leaves year round, even through the frosts of winter. Fast-growing evergreen trees include the graceful weeping willow (Salix babylonica), an ideal plant for wet soils and pond sides, and the enormous California redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), a towering giant that can reach heights of 300 feet. A native of the Eastern United States, red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is an evergreen conifer notable for its aromatic smell and attractive, cone-shape foliage. The fast-growing plant can be cultivated in full sun or partial shade in USDA zones 3 to 9. The tree prefers loose, rocky well-drained soil. The scented tree is excellent for attracting birds to the garden.