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Heard in the Garden Center: " I need a fast growing tree!"

"What are the fastest growing shade trees?" Emerald Ash Borer, has led to the removal of thousands of infected Ash trees in our area. Many homeowners have lost mature shade trees that have provided shade to their homes and beauty to their yard for years. Mature shade trees provide valuable shade to homes and patios, produce oxygen, reduce carbon dioxide and most importantly, provide a beautiful backdrop to your life.  If you have lost a tree that was a focal point of your landscape, it is difficult to accept a smaller replacement.

Many of the trees listed below can reach mature heights within a few years, quickly working to replace the majesty of the trees that have been removed from pest, disease or weather damage. The shade trees listed below are fast growers and have long term sustainability, offering both disease and pest resistance.


  1. Autumn Blaze Maple - The Autumn Blaze Maple may be the ideal tree for Northern Illinois and the local clay soil. The Autumn Blaze is a hybrid, combining the best aspects of the silver and red maples. This makes it both disease and pest resistant, fast growing and incredibly adaptable to our soil conditions. Incredibly fast growing, but its real claim to fame is the bold red fall color. Other fast growing maples include the Marmo Maple, Celebration, and Autumn Fantasy. A more narrow maple to consider is the Armstrong. Click here to learn more about maple varieties available through The Barn Nursery.autumnblaze
  2. Emerald Sunshine Elm - The Elm tree is making a comeback. Subject to devastation from Dutch Elm Disease in the past, todays new varieties of Elm are resistant, tough and hardy, allowing the beauty of the Elm to again become an integral part of the local landscape. The Emerald Sunshine Elm is grown locally, at our nursery in Harvard. This locally grown, heat resistant and fast growing tree is part of our Barn Premium Select line of trees. It delivers on its reputation for being tough, making it a great option for a parkway tree. All the new hybrid American Elms are quick growers. Others to consider are the New Horizon, Triumph, and Accolade.emerald_sunshine_elm
  3. Tuliptree - If you are looking for some real height, look no further than the Tuliptree, which can reach upwards of 90 feet tall. This is a tree that requires a lot of space and room to grow but is a lovely shade tree in the right space. It prefers moist soil conditions.tuliptree
  4. Catalpa - The Catalpa will reach about 60-90 feet tall at maturity placing it in the medium shade tree category. It will make a unique addition to any landscape and features white late spring blooms. The Catalpa can handle some moisture and can be a good option for wet areas. This is also a native tree and very tolerant of pollution. catalpa_shade_tree
  5. Swamp White Oak - Contrary to popular belief, oaks are not necessarily slow growing. Under the right conditions, a swamp white oak can put on up to 14-16" a year. The swamp white oak is the fastest growing in our area because it is the oak most tolerant of our wet clay conditions. If you want a hardwood tree but don't want to wait for growth, try the Swamp White Oak. Alternative options are the English Oak and the Hills Oak. swampwhiteoak
  6. Weeping Willow - Our Niobe Weeping Willow is a beautiful specimen tree and is slow grown at our local nursery. Weeping Willows are gigantic trees and should not be planted close to your home. If you have the space for them, they can be a great addition to the landscape. Unique, lovely and fast growing.

These trees are just a handful of the shade trees available from The Barn Nursery. Other fast growing trees include Clump River Birch, Skyline & Shademaster Honeylocust, Hackberry, Linden and London Planetreee. At The Barn Nursery & Garden Center, we dedicate ourselves to helping you choose the right tree for your landscape. All our plant material is carefully chosen for beauty, sustainability, health and longevity. Read more about our selection of trees for Northern Illinois here.

Our garden center nursery also carries a large variety of flowering ornamental trees which might be a good fit for your needs. Read about the 16 Best Ornamental Trees for the Landscape here.

What are your landscaping goals? If you need assistance with landscape design or selection, let us help.  Click below to contact us today and get started on your next outdoor living project.

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