Fast growing shade trees #743309 - Ask Extension

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Fast growing shade trees #743309

Asked April 08, 2021, 3:10 PM EDT

I lost a beautiful Norway maple in my back yard and I want to replace it with a shade tree that is relatively fast growing. My house is on a typical urban lot and the neighbor on one side of me has planted a river birch that is taking over her lot and is aggressively encroaching on the bottom half of my lot and killing my lovely flowering crab tree. In other words, the tree would have to be fairly close to my house. I am now elderly and I'd like a tree that would give me some shade while I still can live in my house and if possible, I'd like the tree to be native to Minnesota. Would a hackberry be a good choice? Or a swamp white oak? Do you have any other suggestions? Thank you for your response. Mary Ann Jackson

Ramsey County Minnesota

Expert Response

Ms. Jackson, 
Thank you for writing. I share your pain. My wife and I have lived in our home for 38 years when two years ago, a majestic oak was hit by lightning. We mourned the loss of the tree more than the hole in the roof and I went on an aggressive search for fast growing trees.

Balsam Poplar will grow 3-5 feet per year.

Elms that are resistant (not immune) to Dutch Elm disease (Princeton and St. Croix) will grow 3-5.  Ours does.

Hackberry 1-2 feet/yr

Silver maple more than 2 feet
Red maple 1-2 feet

Pin oak 2 feet

The all time speed record is the hybrid poplar at 5+ feet per year. https://extension.umn.edu/natural-resources-news/hard-working-hybrid-poplars

A couple comments.  The bigger the plant the faster it will grow. Meanwhile, bacteria are eating the roots of your Norway maple and they consume a huge amount of nutrients as they do so.  Double or triple fertilize for three years so that they do not starve your new tree.  Ask the planter to dig out as much of the root of your old tree as possible.

I hope this is helpful.  

Steve Miles Replied April 08, 2021, 3:31 PM EDT

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