When you are creating your backyard patio setting, there is nothing you want more than shade quickly. Fast-growing shade trees can give you that, plus beauty and color in the fall season. Fast-growing trees that will give you quick results with the least amount of troubles can be a landscaper's best friend. Some good choices for these types of trees are Chinese elm, bald cypress, silver maple and river birch.
Chinese elm, or Ulmus parvifolia, is from the Ulmaceae, or elm, family. It is a nice choice for pretty fall foliage. This tree will get 40 to 50 feet tall with leaves that get 2 inches long. It is evergreen in mild weather and deciduous elsewhere. Fall color on this tree is in the red and purple hues. Chinese elm also has "exfoliating" bark, which peels and curls off. It requires full sun or partial shade, regular watering, and can adapt to most types of soil. Propagate via seeds or greenwood tip cuttings.
Bald cypress, or Taxodium distichum, is from the Taxodiaceae, or bald cypress, family. It has good color in the fall (shades of red) and it will be drought tolerant. This tree can reach 130 feet tall and can have a trunk around 10 feet in diameter. It will have brown to reddish gray bark that can peel off. It is a deciduous tree. Taxodium distichum prefers acidic soil and full shade, but can tolerate partial shade.
Silver maple, or Acer saccharinum, is from the Aceraceae, or maple, family. It also has good fall season color (yellow or red hues) and is good for the beginner gardener. Silver maple can get 60 to 80 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet in diameter. Silvery bark can come off in plates, by peeling. This tree prefers full sun or partial shade in moist soils. Propagate it by cuttings or by seed.
River birch, or Betula nigra, is from the Betulaceae, or birch, family. It will get to 50 to 70 feet tall. Its green glossy leaves turn yellow in the fall season. It is a very low-maintenance tree to grow and keep. River birches have unique "paperlike" bark that peels off. Betula nigra prefers full sun or partial shade and acidic moist soils. Propagate with seeds or by cuttings (softwood in spring and hardwood in summer).