5 Fast-Growing Evergreen Trees That Will Quickly Transform Your Landscape
Although evergreens aren't going to win a race when it comes to fast growth, there are some species you can plant that grow faster than others. These top picks can quickly screen a view or define a lot line for you.
Adding a few evergreen trees to your landscape is an easy way to guarantee color in your garden all year long. But if you've got a big space in your yard that you want to fill up quickly without breaking your budget on a large tree, fast-growing evergreens may be the answer. They can make an impressive impact on your landscape in just a year or two. The best time to plant these evergreen trees in your yard would be in spring or early fall (summer is too hot, and the ground's usually frozen in winter). These five fast-growing evergreen trees are some of the best for adding color, shade, and privacy to your yard.
One of the most versatile evergreens in the landscape, arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) can be sheared into a hedge or allowed to form a handsome, pyramidal tree. Variety 'Emerald' is a popular choice that's prized for its bright green foliage that looks good all year long. It can grow 15 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide, though young plants also thrive in containers. When they're young, the trees will grow at a rate of eight to 12 inches per year. Most varieties are hardy from Zones 4-8.
The national tree of Japan, Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) can grow 50 feet tall, but you can find shorter varieties, like 'Black Dragon', that will form a dense 10- to 12-foot-tall screen (ideal if you want to use fast-growing evergreen trees for privacy). Most varieties grow about one foot per year, and as it grows, Japanese cedar develops a tiered horizontal branching habit that gives the plants a loose, pyramidal shape. On some varieties, the needles darken to a black-green color as they mature, and the fast-growing trees are hardy from Zones 5-9.
Heat- and drought-resistant, Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica) is a Southwestern native that can be pruned into a fast-growing evergreen hedge or allowed to mature into a pyramidal tree that can grow more than 20 feet tall. Arizona cypress will grow more slowly if the soil is dry, but under the right conditions, it can grow up to three feet per year. It develops gray-green needles and is an ideal choice for low-water landscapes. It's hardy from Zones 7-9, making it especially good for Southern landscapes.
The graceful form of Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) has an elegant impact on any landscape, and can usually grow one or two feet per year. It has dense, blue-green foliage that holds its shape without pruning. It's also tolerant of ocean breezes, making it a top pick for seaside gardens. Italian cypress can grow 25 feet tall and 3 feet wide, and it's hardy from Zones 7-10.
Blue Point Juniper
A low-maintenance option for your landscape, 'Blue Point' juniper (Juniperus chinensis) tolerates winter cold and summer heat and has almost no insect or disease problems. The plants grow a bit slower than other evergreens (you can usually count on 15 to 18 inches of growth per year, just over one foot) but will eventually reach 12 feet in height and 4 feet wide. 'Blue Point' juniper has powdery blue foliage and rich blue berries, and is hardy from Zones 4-9.
How to Keep Evergreen Trees Healthy
When your trees are healthy, they'll grow faster. Most evergreen conifers require full sun, so plant them where they can receive at least six to eight hours of direct sun a day. Newly planted trees will need regular watering during their first year, and a layer of mulch will help them maintain consistent soil moisture during dry spells. Feed your evergreens in the early spring with a slow-release granular fertilizer designed just for them, like Vigoro Evergreen Fertilizer ($5.98, The Home Depot). In cold climates, water evergreens thoroughly before the soil freezes in late fall or winter. Because evergreens never go completely dormant, their roots will continue to draw water to counter drying winter winds.
Don't expect your evergreens to go through a growth spurt right away, but if you give them what they need to thrive, most of these varieties should grow by at least a foot each year. Eventually, even fast-growing evergreens will start to reach their full potential, so if you keep them in your yard for many years, you'll notice their growth slowing down over time. If your trees reach a height that you're happy with but keep growing, you can also prune them back each year so they don't continue getting taller and wider.