There are a number of shade trees that grow quickly, but not all are suitable for the home landscape. Often a fast-growing deciduous tree is one with soft wood, a shallow root system or even an invasive quality. The best results are achieved when a tree variety is selected with a growth rate of 1 1/2 to 2 feet per year and the tree is planted where it receives optimum nutrients and moisture.
Good choices for fast-growing shade trees include the red maple, which grows 2 feet a year, attaining a final height of 40 feet. Its vibrant red leaf color in fall is an added bonus. The pin oak is one of the faster growing oak tree varieties, providing leafy shade, nice fall color and acorns each year. The northern red oak is a good tree for moist, well-drained soil and matures to 60 to 75 feet in height with a broad crown. Although soft wooded, the tulip tree is popular because of its fast growth, straight trunk, oval shape, large lobed leaves and brilliant yellow fall color.
The autumn purple ash tree is extremely hardy, grows quickly and has large leaves that turn from glossy green to red, than brilliant purple in the fall. A native shade tree in parts of the United States, the catalpa tree grows 12 to 15 inches a year and matures at 40 feet in height. With small white flowers in spring, this old-fashioned shade tree has seedpods that make it more suitable as a background tree in the landscape.