Fast growing trees

Asked July 3, 2019, 4:02 PM EDT

Hi! I would like to plant a tree with a broad canopy that grows tall 30 to 50 feet, is fast growing and doesn’t need a lot of water once established. It Would be best if it could handle global warming, so it should probably be good in the California zone as well as ours. Thx Much!

Multnomah County Oregon trees and shrubs

1 Response

There are many trees to choose from that meet your criteria - fast growing, drought tolerant, 30-50 ft tall, and resilient to climate change. Most trees are drought tolerant once established, so that is easy. Looking forward for a tree that can handle the effects of climate change is good, but since little is yet known about how it may affect urban trees on the micro scale, it is best to simply avoid planting trees that are already at the southern edge of their range.
Fast growth in a tree is something many people want, but there is a caution - a fast growing tree usually also has weak wood compared to one that grows slowly, and can drop branches, and sometimes has a shorter lifespan too.
An excellent place to start in choosing a tree is Portland Trees, the curated list of good urban trees that the City of Portland publishes. This link is to the list of trees that are recommended for large spaces without overhead power lines:
Trees from this list that you might consider are Ginkgo, Hackberry, Sassafras, Yellowwood, and Zelkova. Catalpa is especially wide-spreading and fast growing, but does have fairly weak wood, and seed pods that can be messy, if that is a concern.
Some additional things to think about as you choose your tree are what season of interest you would like - flowers, fall color, etc - and giving it enough space to grow to its full size without radical pruning.
When you plant it, please make sure to remove ALL burlap, wire, or other containment material from the root ball. If the roots are crowded, take the time to unwind and loosen them. If there are girdling roots, cut them out. Then plant the tree so the root flare (where the trunk widens into the roots) is a couple of inches above ground level. If you do these things your tree will avoid the fate of many badly planted urban trees, an early death caused by poor planting practices.