Keen to see results quickly in your garden? Choose these fast-growing shrubs in your planting plans, and before you know it your garden will be full of texture, color and form.
Although gardening does requires a degree of patience, there are ways we can speed things up a little – one of which is by choosing the right plants. You might also be keen for evergreen shrubs and plants to establish quickly for reasons of privacy or shade.
Offering a range of leaf and flower form and color, and interest at different times of the year, these best fast-growing shrubs can suit a variety of spaces.
Try these fast-growing shrubs in your backyard
Like the best fast-growing trees, some of the fast-growing shrubs suggested here might require a little more attention and care than others. But, on the whole, they are fairly self-sufficient and will only need a touch of pruning or feeding now and again.
Weigela is a deciduous shrub that can reach a height of 6.5-9.8ft within two years, making it an ideal choice for quickly filling up any gaps in your garden, says Lindsay Hyland, founder of Urban Organic Yield.
It has attractive pink flowers in the spring, and is hardy in many climates. Plant in full sun or partial shade. It is a great option to plant as a low-maintenance garden border idea, as it is easy to grow.
2. Beauty Bush
The beauty bush, Kolkwitzia amabilis, is an easy-to-grow and fast-growing deciduous flowering shrub.
It is a member of the honeysuckle family and needs medium moisture and well-drained soil in full sun to grow.
Usually growing 6-10ft tall, it has an arching, vase-shaped habit. It has showy pink flowers with yellow throats in clusters that bloom in mid-spring, the exact timing of which will differ depending on the hardiness zone where you live.
This shrub also makes a great hedging plant. Generally, it is free of pests and disease and requires pruning after flowering.
3. Cherry laurel
The glossy leaved evergreen schip laurel, or cherry laurel – Prunus laurocerasus ‘Schipkaensis' – is a popular shrub that can be used for fast-growing hedges.
'This evergreen will easily grow into tall and narrow hedges, and only needs pruning once per year, with occasional shaping if necessary,' explain the experts at Instant Hedge.
It grows well in hardiness zones 6-9. It prefers dappled to full shade, but can cope with a range of soil types, so is a versatile choice for establishing a dense hedge quickly.
For added interest, 'in the spring, the schip laurel produces attractive stalks of aromatic white flowers, and red berries in winter,' the Instant Hedges experts add.
Low-maintenance evergreen photinias are one of the best fast-growing shrubs – or can be trimmed to become an attractive fast-growing tree. 'The green foliage turns red in the spring, summer or fall,' says Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love. It is therefore excellent as a shrub for leaf-changing color.
It can be used as a standout feature in a flower bed or as a hedge for privacy or to separate garden areas.
'Clusters of small white flowers in the spring or summer are then followed by red berries,' adds Jeremy.
Photinias require minimal pruning, but the occasional trim in spring or summer will help to promote dense growth and maintain a good overall shape in the shrub.
These fast-growing shrubs will grow well in full sun or partial shade, but prefer clay, sand, or loam soil that drains well. They are available to buy from Nature Hills.
'This hardy deciduous shrub has beautiful, fragrant flowers in the summer and grows 3-6ft high. Buddleja prefers moist soil in full sun or partial shade,' explains Lindsey Hyland.
Vigorous growers, buddlejas are easy to grow and maintain. They are also known as the butterfly bush, so if you want to know how to attract butterflies, planting one of these in your garden would be an excellent first step.
Do, however, be aware that buddleja are considered invasive plants in some areas, so always check before planting.
Low maintenance and growing at least one foot a year, forsythia can tolerate a wide array of growing conditions. It's one of the best fast-growing shrubs for versatility, as well as for its colorful spring blooms. Varieties are available to buy from Nature Hills.
'These yellow-flowering beauties blossom in the spring and are straightforward to care for and nurture,' explains Ellen of Outdoor Happens.
Forsythia grow up to 10 feet tall and 10 feet wide, so leave space for this colorful shrub to spread, especially if you want to use it as hedging.
'Space the shrubs at least six feet apart if possible, and prune them regularly to prevent the maze-like structure of stems from looking untidy,' adds Ellen.
Alternatively, if you prefer the wilder look, then leave them to grow as nature intended and enjoy the burst of cheery, breathtaking blooms every year.
7. Sea berry
'One of my absolute favorite fast-growing shrubs to include in almost any landscape, and good for zones 3-8, is sea buckthorn, Hippophae rhamnoides, also known as sea berry,' says Diane Kuthy, the founder of How to Grow Everything.
This deciduous shrub, which is particularly suitable for windy, coastal gardens, is both ornamental and has edible berries. 'The plant produces delicious, bright orange, vitamin-C-packed berries which are most popularly used in jams, juices, and even skin care.
'Sea buckthorn has bush-like growth, so is ideal for hedges, and can grow to 30 feet tall without pruning,' adds Diane.
If male and female plants are planted together, the shrubs should start producing fruit after four or five years.
Hydrangeas are well loved for their large, magnificent flower heads in a range of colors, making this flowering shrub a popular addition to many gardens.
It is important that you know how to prune hydrangeas to keep these fast-growing shrubs looking their best, as pruning helps to promote good shape and the forming of new flowers.
Easy to grow and quick to establish, there are many varieties of hydrangeas that produce flowers in summer and fall. You can find a good range at FastGrowingTrees.com.
Hydrangeas can be a bit choosy about their location, so one of the most important tips to remember when growing hydrangeas is to put them in the correct position that suits that particular species.
As long as their basic needs are met, they are pretty easy to care for.
9. Viburnum tinus
The evergreen Viburnum tinus can grow to a height of 13-16ft, so is one of the best fast-growing shrubs to add height to your backyard.
Using tall plants is among the many vertical garden ideas that can make a small backyard appear larger, training the eye upwards.
'It has beautiful clusters of white flowers in the winter, and is hardy in many climates. Viburnum tinus prefers moist soil and loves sun or partial shade,' says Lindsey Hyland.
It is worth learning how to grow lavender so that you can enjoy the aromatic properties and beautiful flowers of this shrubby herb.
Bearing lovely purple, blue, pink or white flowers throughout the summer, there are many different varieties of these drought-tolerant shrubs. They are also definitely a plant to include if you're investigating how to plan a dry garden.
Evocative of Mediterranean-style gardens, but also a stalwart of cottage garden ideas, lavender prefers well-drained soil, in full sun.
Elderberry is one of the best fast-growing shrubs for a backyard as it bears both edible berries and lovely blossom.
'You can grow your own elderberries and make an immune-boosting elderberry syrup at home using the berries,' explains Diane Kuthy.
'These deciduous perennial bushes are hardy in zones 4-7 and grow well in shade or sunny locations,' she adds.
They will bloom from late spring, producing masses of tiny white flowers that can be picked and used to make delicious elderflower cordial or fizz.
The berries, which are bursting with immune boosting vitamins A, C and D, come next, ripening between July and September, depending on where you live. These can then be harvested and turned into healthy treats, such as elderberry jelly, pies or preserves. Why not add them to your kitchen garden ideas?
WARNING: The berries of some varieties of elderberry are toxic when eaten raw, so to be on the safe side, always cook the elderberries before you try to eat them
'With proper pruning, elderberry plants can remain as short shrubs or grow to over 10ft tall. Elderberry plants are best purchased as young plants and will bear fruit when those plants are 2-3 years old,' explains Diane.
It's not just interest and color from flowers and foliage that you should consider when looking for the best fast-growing shrubs – stem color can make a real impact, too. Among the best winter plants for pots and borders are cornus, or dogwoods.
These fantastic, deciduous shrubs are highly versatile and loved for their vibrant displays of bare stems during winter ranging from yellow, through orange and red to deep crimson.
The stems are then clothed in white flower heads in spring and pale green leaves throughout the summer, so offer differing interest in a border throughout the year.
13. Mock orange
Mock orange, or philadelphus, is a vigorous shrub that flowers from about mid June to August, depending on the climate where you live. It's available to buy from FastGrowingTrees.com.
The wonderfully sweet scented blooms are a delight to walk past, so this is a lovely sensory garden plant to grow near an outside seating or dining area, or position where you can enjoy the fragrance to the full.
It is happy in sun or part shade in well-draining soil and requires very little maintenance.
These shrubs are valuable for their fall berry display and white summer blooms. There are lots of varieties – some deciduous and some evergreen. Some make statement specimen shrubs, while others are useful low-growing plants that form attractive mounds.
Their speed of growth can vary – but some types, mostly evergreen, are fast. Try ‘Cornubia’, Cotoneaster salicifolius, and yellow-berried ‘Rothschildianus’. Read the labels carefully before you buy and do your research, as some, such as Cotoneaster franchetii, are deemed invasive plants.
They usually do best with plenty of sun and fertile, well-drained soil. Not much maintenance is needed, although if growth is slower than expected, fertilizing them with rose food in fall and then mulching with organic matter can help give them a boost.
What is a fast-growing shade shrub?
A fast-growing shrub for shade that is a good choice to plant is Mahonia x media.
This evergreen has dark green glossy leaves and produces sprays of wonderfully fragrant yellow flowers from November to early spring, depending on the variety. Sometimes these are followed by clusters of black or purple berries.
Mahonia x media will cope well with partial or full shade, so is a good choice for a north-facing backyard. It tolerates sand, chalk, clay or loam, as long as they are well draining.
What's the fastest growing evergreen bush?
There are many fast-growing evergreen shrubs that you can plant in your garden for year-round interest. Among those listed above are the schip laurel, photinia and Viburnum tinus, but there are many other options you can plant to suit the particular conditions in your garden.
A useful method is to see what is growing well in neighbors' yards as they will probably enjoy similar soil types and conditions, and you can also get an idea of how it might look in your garden setting.
What is the fastest growing shrub for privacy?
One of the fastest growing bushes for privacy is the wax myrtle.
They can grow extremely fast – sometimes exceeding two feet per year, or potentially faster if they acclimatize well to your soil, explains Ellen of Outdoor Happens.
This evergreen also provides a habitat for wildlife. It produces abundant berries in the winter if both female and male plants are planted next to each other, so is a source of food for birds, too.
This tough shrub can tolerate most soils, including slightly salty conditions, and will withstand full sun to part shade.
When planting wax myrtle, make sure you keep them well away from barbecue areas or where you might be planning an outdoor fireplace – 'the waxy leaves are famously flammable,' advises Ellen.
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Rachel is senior content editor, and writes and commissions gardening content for homesandgardens.com, Homes & Gardens magazine, and its sister titles Period Living Magazine and Country Homes & Interiors. She has written for lifestyle magazines for many years, with a particular focus on gardening, historic houses and arts and crafts, but started out her journalism career in BBC radio, where she enjoyed reporting on and writing programme scripts for all manner of stories. Rachel then moved into regional lifestyle magazines, where the topics she wrote about, and people she interviewed, were as varied and eclectic as they were on radio. Always harboring a passion for homes and gardens, she jumped at the opportunity to work on The English Home and The English Garden magazines for a number of years, before joining the Period Living team, then the wider Homes & Gardens team, specializing in gardens.
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