Question: What is a good fast-growing shade tree? I need shade in a hurry.

Answer: Those terms are mutually exclusive. Fast-growing trees are known for their very short life expectancies and all the associated problems. Avoid trees such as silver maples, fruitless mulberries, sycamores, cottonwoods, willows, catalpas, Arizona ash, mimosas, boxelders and Siberian elms, just because they are so very prone to insects, diseases and other environmental problems. Stick with long-term winners. Given a suitable planting site and good care, trees like oaks, cedar elms, pecans, Chinese pistachios, sweet gums, magnolias, bald cypress and others will grow two-thirds as fast as the others, but they’ll live 10 times as long.

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