My town recently took down a large 80 year old maple tree that sat on the south side of my house. Unfortunately that tree provided much-needed shade and now I have already noticed very high temperatures in my house.

I would like to plant a replacement tree - but of course it will take a while to grow. I have been contemplating a tulip tree, but perhaps there is a better, fast growing tree.

I spoke with the town arborist - he said they would replace it - but likely with a tree that would grow no more than 12 feet high. He scoffed at my mention of a Tulip tree - but his priorities are not the same as mine - he is concerned for the road asphalt and the power lines - whereas I want my cooling effect. (I would not plant this on the town right-of-way where the other tree was removed - it would be further on my property away form power and the road)


I did find this but am not sure what they mean by "fast". I do have a tulip tree in another part of my property that grows fast, but nothing to compare it to.

This site seems to be good - I might go with a pecan because it has value other than shade.

  • 1
    Whatever you do, don't put a Paulownia there. It's certainly fast growing, but you'll come to loath its messiness very quickly.
    – Niall C.
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 18:54
  • Yes, I have no desire for invasive trees. It's bad enough around here with all the Norway Maples.
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 19:01
  • 1
    The problem with fast growing trees is that they don't usually live very long...and many of them are invasive.
    – Shane
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 19:28
  • What did you end up planting?
    – ashes999
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 10:09
  • @ashes999 The town planted some pseudo fruit tree. that does not grow tall. I'll probably plant a pear, apple and witch hazel on my property. Just recently my neighbor cut down a huge beautiful healthy hickory tree. So sad. Yet more sun and lack of shade in summer
    – Tim
    Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 17:15

5 Answers 5


You may want to go with a two-phase approach:

  1. Very fast-growing things like bamboo. You can buy these at some height already from the nursery.

  2. At the same time, plant something slower-growing. Prune the bamboo so the tree (maple would probably work) outcompetes the bamboo.

You may also get some mileage out of a shrub rather than a tree--I'm not sure how tall you need, but things like rhododendrons can get quite tall.

edit: more fast-growing trees for NY:

  • Willow
  • Poplar
  • Royal Empress - but seems to be an invasive species
  • Sycamore
  • 2
    Yikes - I have no desire for bamboo. Those things will take over my yard. I also do not think the bamboo has any value for shading the house - this is not just for shading the lawn - but the house. This has to be at least 30+ feet tall to offer any shade worth noting.
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 19:00
  • 1
    Ugh. Trying to get to 30' quickly is VERY difficult, or very expensive. You might also look at evergreens, then, or poplar, bought from a nursery at 20-30' height. Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 20:02
  • Thanks - evergreens won't do it - I want light in the winter. Shade in summer. I realize it is a tough situation - but my world was pretty much flipped upside-down when they took away my shade. My Hydrangeas are dying, but the worst is the 90F+ heat in my second story of my house. I can wait, but would like to get there as fast as possible and have a healthy tree.
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 20:07
  • 1
    The Royal Empress is the Paulownia that I mentioned in a comment to the question. I can't say enough bad things about this tree.
    – Niall C.
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 21:02
  • Watch out for the roots on the willow...
    – bstpierre
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 23:19

Our California Bay Area neighborhood had all of our tulip trees cut down due to some strange infestation of aphids (and juice falling off etc. etc.); as a result everyone's replanted their trees with other varieties which I think could help answer your question:

'Autumn Purple' Ash and 'Autumn Blaze' Maple

  • Others are planting Fraxinus Americana 'Autumn Purple' and 'Autumn Blaze' Maple, which both turn out to be huge trees with brilliant fall colors: they're fast growing. We have a sapling autumn purple and it's doing about 3 feet a year.

Chinese Pistache:

  • For something not too tall (30' ft at most?), most people in the neighborhood have been going with the Chinese Pistache Pistacia chinensis: it's a solid tree, although male varieties > female varieties since they don't have fruit. It grows about as fast as your average street tree maple, perhaps a bit slower. Wider than it's tall though, I think.

Our city arborists (without any power-line trouble or anything, of course) also mentioned flowering pear, Zelkova, River Birch (Betula nigra), Western Catalpa, Sycamore (which I think are ugly), a couple varieties of elm (Accolade, Frontier, Emerald Sunshine, don't know about dutch elm disease), and red oak. They may be worth a look as all are unique and different from each other.

I daresay the weather's different, don't know how much difference that would make.


You might consider a row of lombardy poplar:

Lombardy poplars are fast-growing trees, growing as much as 6 feet per year! This makes them a popular choice when people want "living wall" privacy screens or windbreaks in a hurry. To serve this function, Lombardy poplars are planted in a row, and spaced about 8' apart. However, Lombardy poplars should be considered only as a stop-gap measure for privacy screens and windbreaks, as they are short-lived, being susceptible to a number of pests and diseases (see below).

They are short lived, so you'll want the two-pronged approach that Alex Feinman mentions. Plant them in such a way that you can cut them down in 10 years or so without damaging the permanent shade tree.


This question is a little old (2 years at this writing), but it has been viewed over 1400 times and I think I can add to it.

Tulip tree is a VERY tall and straight tree. It doesn't sprawl out much and wouldn't be much of a shadetree. It is wood the native Americans used to build canoes. It can reach over 150ft tall. You don't want a tulip tree in a neighborhood.

Willow is nice, but its roots will almost certainly end up in some pipes if planted near a house.

Maples are an intermediate tree. On a bare piece of land, you have weeds and brambles growing first, then maples and the like take over, and finally the slower growing oaks and hickories catch up and define a mature forest which shades out all the maples. Oaks are top of the line in the east. For this reason, I prefer oaks as shade trees.

I would recommend willow oak. Its my standard recommendation for anyone looking for a shade tree. It is strong wood that won't break easily in a storm. It shades lightly, so the grass will still grow under it, but it keeps your house cool. It grows very fast for an oak and can put on 2ft each year in the beginning. It will have sprawling branches from which you can hang swings. It is tolerant of floods and drought. It doesn't mind root compaction. Its roots tend to stay under the ground rather than pop up like the silver maple. And it won't get 150ft tall like the Tulip tree.

The Willow oak is one of the most popular trees for horticultural planting, due to its rapid growth, hardiness, balance between axial and radial dominance, ability to withstand both sun and shade, light green leaf color and full crown.


The only downside to willow oak is the size and shape of the leaves. They're small, so they fit nicely between blades of grass, making them hard to rake or blow with a leafblower. Not an issue if you mulch mow.


For a completely different approach have you considered planting a hop (humulus lupulus) a half-hardy perennial, grows VERY rapidly to about 8metres and then dies away to nothing in fall, and then comes away again in the spring - you do have to clean up the mess, but it composts easily - you would need a frame for it to climb on but this is not difficult.

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