Ohio gardeners in the eastern part of the state typically experience mild summers and cold winters, while those in the southern regions enjoy warmer summers and longer growing seasons. Those living around Lake Erie must tolerate very cold winter temperatures along with high winds. Falling under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hardiness Zones 5 and 6, Ohio gardeners must choose trees based on their USDA Zone as well as the tree's growth rate, mature size and vigor. Many fast-growing trees thrive in Ohio gardens.
The red maple (Acer rubrum), a tree in the Aceraceae plant family, naturally occurs in Central and Eastern North America (N.A.). Winter hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 9, this fast-growing maple variety reaches between 40 and 70 feet in height and 30 to 50 feet in width. This tree prefers slightly acidic soils in partially shady to fully sunny locations. The green leaves turn various shades of red and orange in the autumn. Red flower clusters appear in March and April, followed by red fruit. Leaf hoppers frequently feed on the foliage. Ohio gardeners often plant the cold-tolerant red maple as a street tree or a lawn tree.
Sweet Bay Magnolia
Sweet bay magnolia trees (Magnolia virginiana) belong to the Magnoliaceae plant family. Indigenous to the eastern regions of the United States, these quick-growing trees typically thrive in USDA Zones 5 to 10. Mature sweet bay magnolias range from 10 to 35 feet in both height and spread. This magnolia variety prefers moist soils in partly shady to fully sunny locations. Ohio gardeners should plant this tree in a location that protects it from winter weather. Lemon-scented, white flowers appear in May and June. The green leaves feature silvery undersides, while the showy, red fruits ripen in the fall. The sweet bay magnolia often suffers from chlorisis when planted in alkaline soils. Gardeners often use this tree in borders, parks and foundation plantings.
The river birch (Betula nigra), a member of the Betulaceae family, is a fast-growing tree variety that reaches between 40 and 70 feet in height with slightly smaller spreads. Native to eastern areas of the U.S., this tree typically performs well in USDA Zones 4 to 9. Non-showy flowers bloom in April and May. Male trees display brown flowers, while the females bear green flowers. The river birch tree prefers wet, acidic soils in full sun to part shade positions. The green leaves turn yellow tones in the autumn. Weakened river birch trees are susceptible to bronze birch borers. Ohio gardeners often use river birch trees along streams and ponds.
The Norway maple (Acer platanoides) is a member of the Aceraceae plant family that thrives in USDA Zones 3 to 7. Ranging from 40 to 50 feet in height with slightly smaller widths, this tree prefers moist, well-drained soils in full sun positions. This fast-growing maple variety tolerates various types of soils, urban pollutants and drought conditions. The dark green leaves turn yellow in the autumn, while green-yellow flowers bloom in the spring. Norway maples sometimes suffer from verticillium wilt and leaf hopper infestations. This tree works well as a shade tree in Ohio gardens and lawns.
Silver lindens (Tilia tomentosa), fast-growing trees in the Tiliaceae family, reach up to 70 feet in height and 50 feet in width. Indigenous to Asia and Europe, this tree does well in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 7. Fragrant, light yellow flowers bloom in June and July. The silver linden tree prefers moist, loamy soils in partly shady to fully sunny locations. The leaves feature green upper surfaces and silvery-white undersides. Potential problems include Japanese beetles, mites and verticillium wilt. Ohio gardeners often use silver lindens as street, lawn and shade trees.