Fast Growing Shade Tree

Asked May 28, 2020, 7:05 PM EDT


What would you recommend as a fast growing non-poisonous to dogs and chickens for a shade tree?

Adams County Colorado

1 Response

Hello, and thanks for reaching out! We have a ton of great resources on trees for all areas of Colorado. Before jumping directly into a few options, here are a few more questions/items to consider when selecting a tree.

  • “Fast-growing” often means thirsty, do you have easy access to water for this tree? It will need consistent watering for the first few years, so make sure it’s convenient to get water to it.

  • Speaking of water, is this a heavily irrigated area? If so, make sure to choose a tree that enjoys that environment. Do not plant low water trees in a too-wet environment.

  • “Fast-growing” also means a more brittle tree, keep this in mind when weighing the pros and cons of getting a quicker shade, and the inconvenient possibility of needing to replant again in the future (as well as removal plans, etc.), or the increased likelihood of branches breaking due to heavy snow or wind.

  • Area of the yard will the tree be planted (directional exposure)? Is there a lot of wind? Does it get full sun (6+ hours per day)? Does snow or other debris tend to migrate to this area?

  • How much space do you have? If choosing a large tree (30+ ft), do you have the proper space to ensure it’s far enough away from houses, fences, and other structures? O are you looking for a smaller tree (25ft or less) with lots of leafing and branches to provide shade to a smaller area?

  • How will adding a tree to this area impact the growth of other things nearby? Will it shade them out or compete?

  • Deciduous or conifer?

Since you are inquiring specifically about chickens, what about a crabapple tree? Gorgeous flowers in the spring, medium to fast growth rate, and delicious snacks for the chickens. Look for a variety resistant to fire blight. Or maybe chokecherry? Also, fast-growing and provides fruit to the chickens. Here is a more extensive list for further options for a small deciduous:

And if you are looking for a large deciduous (30+ft), here are more options:

When looking to add a new tree member to your family, we recommend choosing trees native to Colorado. I see you are inquiring specifically to Adams County, which has varying climates; choosing a tree that is from here will aid in its success of acclimating to your landscape. Here is a list of recommended native trees:

Also, check with your municipality to see if they have a city forestry program--in many places around the Denver metro area, they offer programs to help residents add more trees to their landscapes by offering recommended trees for the area at discounted prices. Some areas even have rebate programs for water bills when you add certain trees to your landscape. Your city forester can be another resource to help you narrow down what kind of a tree with their own recommendations (I started with the Parks Department’s telephone number in my own area to track this down).

As far as the toxicity of trees, the Buckeye (commonly called Horse Chestnut) is toxic to animals as a quick answer. But as you answer the above questions and start to consider specific trees, do more research and/or let us help you identify toxicity.

Don’t forget trees need water in the winter in Colorado, and check out this guide to help you plant your new tree. Please come back if you have more questions, and we hope this is helpful in getting you started!