If you're looking to add some privacy or shade to a new landscape, there are many tall, fast-growing trees from which to choose. Trees that grow 6 feet per year or more will help make a landscape look mature quickly. Most fast-growing trees have dense foliage and a wide spread, making them good shade trees. Trees that can reach 50 feet or more are considered tall.
American sycamores (Platanus occidentalis) can reach 70 feet tall and 50 feet wide when mature and grow up to 6 feet per year. Often used in home landscapes, American sycamores have dense foliage that provides lots of shade. These trees have thick trunks and slightly rounded branches. Foliage resembles maples, but leaves may reach 10 inches across, have a rough surface and are green, aging to yellow or brown in fall. Hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9, American sycamores are native to the Eastern United States. American sycamores should be planted in organic, well-draining soil and have a deep root system.
Tulip poplars (Liriodendron tulipifera) can reach 70 feet in height and 40 feet across when mature and grow at a rate of up 6 feet per year. These trees have dense foliage that starts off bright yellow, ages to green and turns yellow again in fall. Leaves may be up to 6 inches across and resemble maple leaves, with one less lobe. Tulip poplars also flower in late spring. Blooms are 2 inches across and are green-yellow with an orange base. Hardy in zones 4 to 9, tulip poplars are pyramidal. Tulip poplars require neutral or mildly acidic, well-draining soil.
Weeping willows (Salix babylonica) can reach 50 feet tall and wide when mature and grow up to 8 feet per year. This tree has drooping or weeping branches that create a curtainlike canopy. Foliage is light green and may reach 6 inches in length. Weeping willows have shallow, invasive roots and are difficult to garden under and should be used where there are few other plants or trees. Hardy in zones 4 to 9, weeping willows may be planted in any kind of soil and can tolerate poor drainage.