Fast-growing trees are notorious for their short lives and brittle branches that break off in high winds. Examples of poor quality fast-growing trees are the willow, empress tree and most poplars. However, it is possible to find high quality fast-growing trees that can add value to your landscape.
A favorite of the south, the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) has a rusty brown fall color and can grow to 100 feet. Tolerates dry locations once established. It has light feathery foliage and is appropriate for USDA horticultural zones 4-10.
The sawtooth oak (Quercus acutissima) is a deciduous oak with large dark green leaves that grows up to 60 feet and prefers acidic soil. It has yellow foliage in fall and is appropriate for USDA horticultural zones 5-9.
The willow oak (Quercus phellos) is a deciduous tree that is native to the Southeastern United States. It has narrow willow-like leaves and can grow to 100 feet or more. The willow oak is good for planting where moisture levels fluctuate and is appropriate for USDA horticultural zones 5-9.
The Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii) is a fast growing evergreen tree often used as a Christmas tree. It is a multibranched tree tolerant of poor soil and grows to 50 feet. The Leyland cypress is useful for screens or windbreaks and is appropriate for USDA horticultural zones 6-10.
The shumard oak (Quercus shumardii) is a fast growing oak tree that has colorful red spring and fall foliage. It has a nice vase shape as it matures and is drought tolerant. The shumard oak grows to 100 feet and is appropriate for USDA horticultural zones 4-10.