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7 Fast Growing Shade Trees to Slash Your Electric Bill

7 Fast Growing Shade Trees to Slash Your Electric Bill

Written by Derek Markham

The free solar energy that hits the Earth each day can keep us warm, light our homes, grow our food and generate clean renewable electricity, so we often invite it into our lives, but when the weather heats up in the summer, the sun can actually cause us to use more energy, because we then need to run air conditioners to cool us back down.

Keeping the sun off of our homes and windows during the summer can end up saving us both money and energy, because we can avoid some of the heating effects and keep our homes cooler to begin with, so less energy is required to keep them comfortable. And one of the best ways to do that is by planting shade trees in the right location around our home, where they can block the sun from streaming in our windows and heating our walls and roofs during certain times of the day.

“A tree planted on the west side of a house can reduce net carbon emissions from summertime electricity use by 30 percent over a 100-year period.” - Geoffrey Donovan, research forester

Trees that can serve to cast shade come in all shapes and sizes, and for many different climates and planting zones, so there are plenty of options to choose from. However, because most of us are very impatient, one of the most common requirements that people have in choosing varieties is that they be fast growing shade trees.

Here are 7 of the most popular fast growing varieties of trees that can add shade to your property:

1. Hybrid Poplar: One of the most recommended fast growing shade trees is the hybrid poplar, which can grow up to 8 feet per year, and mature at about 40′ to 50′ high. There are various types of hybrid poplars, but the Arbor Day Foundation recommends the Populus deltoides x Populus nigra variety, which is a “cottonless hybrid” and a little less messy in the yard than some other varieties.

2. Nuttall Oak: This fast growing shade tree, also called red oak or pin oak, is said to be the fastest growing variety of oak, and can provide not only a leafy canopy, but a steady supply of acorns each year, which are devoured by squirrels, deer and turkeys.

3. Northern Catalpa: The large showy flowers of the catalpa, also known as the cigar tree or the catawba, are an added attraction to having this fast growing shade tree in your yard (and great for bees), but the real magic comes from its thick canopy of large leaves.

4. Red Maple: Along with casting shade, the red maple also adds a burst of color in the fall, with the leaves turning a vibrant red before dropping. The growth rate of the red maple is about 3 to 5 feet per year, topping out at about 40′ high, and based on the pictures from this grower, it can rapidly create privacy and shade for your home or yard.

5. Weeping Willow: This iconic shade tree also happens to be a fast grower, with growth rates of anywhere from 3 feet to 8 feet per year. While weeping willows will grow especially well near water, there are a variety of hybrids available that can be better suited to drier conditions.

6. Paper Birch: The paper birch, aside from being a fast growing shade tree, also features a white bark that can add to the look of any yard, especially in winter when the leaves have dropped. Birches can also be tapped for their sap, which can be made into birch syrup (although you’d need quite a few trees to make it worth your while).

7. American Sycamore: This fast growing tree, sometimes referred to as the American planetree, also has a whitish mottled bark, and can grow to be quite large. While sycamores are often found near rivers and ponds, they can also be grown in an urban yard, and may grow as much as 6 feet per year and reach heights of 70 feet or more.

Not all of these shade trees will be well suited to your yard, as the length of the growing season, the frost dates, the temperatures, the annual rainfall, and the type of soil in your yard will all vary by location. The best way to find the fast growing shade trees that are best for your specific region is by asking a local expert, such as at a nursery or through the county Cooperative Extension office, as they can steer you toward proven varieties and away from nuisance, invasive or exotic varieties of trees.

This post originally appeared on TreeHugger

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Photo Credit: Beau Considine via Flickr

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142 comments

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11:11AM PDT on Jun 29, 2014

Remember fast growing trees are usually "soft" wood and tend to become damaged more easily in increment weather.

3:52AM PDT on Apr 16, 2014

thanks

8:04AM PDT on Apr 9, 2014

I love trees, and if I ever get a large garden again, will get busy planting.

6:12AM PDT on Apr 9, 2014

merci Joseph pour vos commentaires

1:14AM PDT on Apr 9, 2014

I give up!

PLEASE install some limit flags so we don't waste time on editing what is already difficult enough!

1:13AM PDT on Apr 9, 2014

90% of readers live in urban or suburban environments w/strict guidelines for urban forestry [now there's a concept fer ya!]. At any rate, none of the trees listed in the article are allowed, unless the lot is large enough to support one or two small varieties. As most lots are now under 8,000 sq ft, we need to look at trees more in scale w/such mini-kingdoms for our castles.

Here are some that are surpassingly beautiful in more than one season, and under 25 X 25 ft, or grow so slowly that they'll not be a problem in most owner's lifetimes.

1. Perhaps the finest of all small trees, Japanese Maples now have 250 varieties to drive you happily mad. They can scorch in very hot climates subject to wind, so in that situation plant them in an Eastern or Northern site. If you want the very best red Fall colouring tree, get Osakazuki; Shisigashira is an extraordinary sight at all times and has superb Fall colour; Plant Seriyu if you have a narrow space and want a wonderful butter-gold Fall display. If you have the room for a spreading, elegant red-laceleaf type, get Suminagashi.

2. Japanese styrax or white snowbell tree now is available in pink as well; both are elegant trees w/filtered shade and golden Fall colour.

3. Japanese flowering cherries are magnificent, but most become too large for the urban garden. However, Akebono and Amanogawa are slender ones, and may work out for you.

4. Although usually grown as shrubs, w/some careful pruning the hardy hibi

1:12AM PDT on Apr 9, 2014

90% of readers live in urban or suburban environments w/strict guidelines for urban forestry [now there's a concept fer ya!]. At any rate, none of the trees listed in the article are allowed, unless the lot is large enough to support one or two small varieties. As most lots are now under 8,000 sq ft, we need to look at trees more in scale w/such mini-kingdoms for our castles.

Here are some that are surpassingly beautiful in more than one season, and under 25 X 25 ft, or grow so slowly that they'll not be a problem in most owner's lifetimes.

1. Perhaps the finest of all small trees, Japanese Maples now have 250 varieties to drive you happily mad. They can scorch in very hot climates subject to wind, so in that situation plant them in an Eastern or Northern site. If you want the very best red Fall colouring tree, get Osakazuki; Shisigashira is an extraordinary sight at all times and has superb Fall colour; Plant Seriyu if you have a narrow space and want a wonderful butter-gold Fall display. If you have the room for a spreading, elegant red-laceleaf type, get Suminagashi.

2. Japanese styrax or white snowbell tree now is available in pink as well; both are elegant trees w/filtered shade and golden Fall colour.

3. Avoid fruit trees as they attract insects, including bees, and the fruits can become a mess if not looked after.

4. Japanese flowering cherries are magnificent, but most become too large for the urban garden. However, Akebono and Amanogawa ar

1:06AM PDT on Apr 9, 2014

Here we go again, w/the real skivvy on urban trees.

90% of readers live in urban or suburban environments w/strict guidelines for urban forestry [now there's a concept fer ya!]. At any rate, all of the trees listed in the article are not allowed, unless the lot is large enough to support one or two varieties. As most lots are now under 8,000 sq ft, we need to look at trees more in scale w/such mini-kingdoms for our castles.

Here are some that are surpassingly beautiful in more than one season, and under 25 X 25 ft, or grow so slowly that they'll not be a problem in most owner's lifetimes.

1. Perhaps the finest of all small trees, Japanese Maples now have 250 varieties to drive you happily mad. They can scorch in very hot climates subject to wind, so in that situation plant them in an Eastern or Northern site. If you want the very best red Fall colouring tree, get Osakazuki; Shisigashira is an extraordinary sight at all times and has superb Fall colour; Plant Seriyu if you have a narrow space and want a wonderful butter-gold Fall display. If you have the room for a spreading, elegant red-laceleaf type, get Suminagashi.

2. Japanese styrax or white snowbell tree now is available in pink as well; both are elegant trees w/filtered shade and golden Fall colour.

3. Avoid fruit trees as they attract insects, including bees, and the fruits can become a mess if not looked after.

4. Japanese flowering cherries are magnificent, but most become too large for

10:21PM PDT on Apr 8, 2014

Shared on my Tree Lovers co-managed page

10:39AM PDT on Apr 8, 2014

Dear Susan B:

Do the following to promote faster growth:

1. First, remove all the lawn for a 4' diamter circle around the tree.
2. Then mulch it 3 to 5 deeply w/fish mulch or a GOOD compost material.
3. 6 weeks before blooming add 1 lb/1" of trunk 0-10-10 or similary fertiliser mixed into the mulch.
4. As soon as it's bloomed use 10-20-10, 21-7-14, 10-20-20, or 20-20-20 applied every month for three months. Water deeply each time.

Cease feeding by September 01st.

Next Spring, as soon as it's done blooming, cut all the branches back 1/3rd their length; look for outward-facing buds and make a 45 degree cut no closer than 1/4" above it.

STAND BACK as it explodes into glory!!

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