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  • Planting trees to add privacy

Planting for Privacy: 3 Fast-Growing Trees

Everyone always assumes that the best way to get some privacy in your backyard is to plant a tree.

This is true if you have A LOT of patience. If you don’t and still want a tree, here are the fastest growers.

Royal Paulownia. This is, by far, the fastest growing tree for several spots in Canada. Best suited to a zone 6.(Plant Hardiness Zone), the Paulownia, or Empress tree, can grow as much as three metres in a single season and reach its full height in 20 years. Originally from China, this is not a native tree and comes with a big warning label. Many experts feel that this is an invasive species and can be contributed to the destruction of many natural habitats.

River Birch. Of all the birch options, the River Birch is my personal favourite. While it may not have the whitest bark, the River Birch has shown excellent resilience to Bronze Birch Borer, an insect that has destroyed many of our non-native ornamental birch trees. The River Birch can grow up to 4’ in a season in some of the toughest growing conditions. Hardy to zone 4, this birch has a great yellow fall colour with an ornamental pinkish bark.

Weeping Willow. The Weeping Willow can be seen all across Canada even though it is not a native tree. While fast growing (6-12’ a year), the willow’s pendulous branches and aggressive rooting habits can be very damaging if planted too close to a home or a building. Willows definitely need to be at the back of the property. While beautiful in the wind, willows are notorious for making a mess and constantly dropping branches and debris.

Before you rush out to replace your shade tree, there is one thing you should know about the fast-growing varieties; fast doesn’t always mean best. Fast trees are often weaker, susceptible to heavy winds and snow loads. You may get quick privacy, but if we have another winter like the last one…you could be starting this process all over again. Consider yourself warned!