The Best Fast-Growing Evergreen Trees
Evergreens, or trees that keep most or all of their foliage year-round, can provide height, texture, color, shade and screening to a landscape. Fast-growing species are especially effective when creating a privacy hedge or sound barrier, or blocking unwanted views. Most evergreens prefer full-sun conditions. For the best results, plant evergreen trees according to their water requirements, and supply regular irrigation at least until the trees are well-established.
Eastern White Pine
The Eastern white pine reaches heights from 50 to 80 feet and spreads up to 20 feet. This columnar tree requires very well-drained soil and grows 16 to 54 inches a year. Trees older than 8 years grow more rapidly. They produce blue-green, narrow needles that stay on boughs for as long as two years. Eastern white pines are susceptible to damage from the white pine weevil and white pine blister rust.
'Blue Select' Colorado Spruce
The 'Blue Select' Colorado spruce grows up to 60 feet tall and 20 feet wide. A narrow, columnar-shaped tree, this spruce has blue-green foliage and grows up to 12 inches per year. One of the fastest-growing varieties is the 'Blue Select," which features a uniform shape and blue foliage. The 'Hoto' also grows rapidly and has cone-shape and grayish-blue needles. 'Koster' grows quickly and features a conical shape and blue needles. Colorado blue spruce thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 3 through 7 and is susceptible to disfiguring canker diseases.
The deodar cedar reaches heights to 50 feet and spreads to 40 feet. It's a hardy tree that has fine, blue-green foliage and prefers sun to partial shade. An especially fast-growing variety, the 'Kashmir" can grow up to 36 inches per year. Mature trees display pendulous branches and a flat top. Cones are blue-green when young and light brown at maturity. 'Kashmir' deodar cedars are pest resistant and cold hardy.
The Douglas fir grows up to 60 feet tall with a 20-foot spread. Douglas fir tends to grow at a moderate rate during its first five years, then accelerate until reaching a peak of 24 inches per year between the ages of 20 and 30. Trees have a conical shape, blue-green needles and long cones with round scales. These cold-hardy trees prefer deep, well-drained soils and cannot tolerate compacted soil. Douglas fir are susceptible to damage from the Douglas fir tussock moth and the Western spruce budworm.
The leyland cypress reaches heights up to 40 feet and spreads up to 20 feet, making this feathery evergreen a good choice for privacy screens. Leyland cypress grows up to 18 inches per year. The tree is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 6 through 10 and grows fastest in full sun and well-drained soil. Cultivars include 'Castlewellian Gold,' which features golden foliage, and 'Naylor's Blue,' which has blue needles.
The Norway spruce grows up to 50 feet tall with a 25-foot spread. It grows in a pyramid shape and has small green, needle-like foliage. Norway spruce hybrids include dwarf and weeping varieties. Norway spruce can grow up to 18 inches per year. Mature trees have drooping branches and shiny, deep-green foliage, and produce large cones.
- University of Tennessee; Evergreen Trees for Screens and Hedges in the Landscape; Donna Fare; et al.
- Ohio State University; Evergreen Trees for Ohio; Jane C. Martin
- University of Minnesota Extension; Native Trees for Landscape Use; Deborah L. Brown et al.; 2011
- University of California: Managing Pests in Gardens and Landscapes Cedar; 2009