5 fast growing evergreen trees for shade

Whether you’re looking for a lush green wall to beautify your property, or simply following Frost’s age-old advice that “good fences make good neighbors,” picking the right fast-growing evergreen trees for shade is important. The right research will reward you with beautiful green boughs year round, offering privacy, curb appeal, and some sound protection from nearby roads.

While it’s logical to shop for evergreen varieties that match the look you’re going for, the growing conditions you face will have a far greater impact on results. Luckily, several shade-tolerant evergreen trees provide the picture-perfect tree line your property deserves. Here are three of the most popular evergreen tree varieties for shade.

Thuja - arborvitae

1. Arborvitae

With a name that means “living tree,” it should come as no surprise this hardy evergreen doesn’t flinch at a bit of shade. While experts recommend arborvitae get at least six hours of full sun a day, mixed shade placement won’t dull the gorgeous green hue of this fast-growing evergreen.

With an average height gain of between eight and twelve inches a year, with proper care, these trees are an excellent, hardy choice for nearly any spot in the yard. Additionally, these trees are extremely easy to source, as most gardening centers and home improvement stores will stock ready-to-plant saplings throughout the year.

Canadian hemlock

2. Canadian Hemlock

The Canadian Hemlock tree is a graceful evergreen with short, thin needles that thrives in USDA hardiness zones 3-7. These trees also have adorable tiny little pinecones!

Common to the Great Lakes, Appalachian, and Northeast regions of the United States, as well as Eastern Canada, hemlock trees average around 100 feet in height when mature.


3. Juniper

Although junipers historically thrive best in full sun, these evergreens also tolerate partial shade well, particularly in hot, dry climates.

The more sun your juniper receives, the denser its foliage will appear over time so in partial shade expect a more slender tree with wide-spaced branching. Find the right balance of sun and shade, however, and you’ll be rewarded with a beautifully vibrant, fast-growing evergreen tree that produces charming blue-hued berries for an aesthetic flourish.

You can expect roughly 6-12 inches of growth yearly for junipers planted in the shade.

White fir - abies concolor

4. White Fir

The White Fir, or concolor fir tree, is native to the higher regions of the western United States and parts of the Pacific Northwest. This evergreen thrives in USDA hardiness zones 4-7 and can grow to a height of up to 200 feet.


5. Bamboo

While the term “evergreen” typically brings trees like pine, cypress, and firs to mind, they aren’t the only options for adding green to your home. Bamboo can offer a unique alternative with year-round greenery and plenty of vertical height for privacy. This incredibly durable, shade-tolerant plant is considered an evergreen perennial, though extreme weather conditions like prolonged freezing, ice storms, and so on may damage the main plant.

If you need a tall, dense “fence” in a hurry, you’re in luck: bamboo has you literally covered and is considered extremely beginner-friendly. Varieties like golden bamboo leave other options in the dust when it comes to fast-growing evergreen trees for shade, zooming up to three feet in height a year. All that rampant growth does come with a caveat, however. Unless you’re aiming to create a full-on bamboo forest, be sure to plant your bamboo in submerged containers to prevent it from spreading too quickly.

Give your evergreens a good start

No matter which type of shade-tolerant evergreen trees you decide to add to your property, thoughtful planting and ongoing care will make a world of difference.

Be sure to review your plant hardiness zone before shopping for trees to ensure the best possible results. Remember, just because a tree variety is sold locally doesn’t mean it’s the best option for your climate, soil, or planting location: always consider the big picture.

Once you’ve found the tree or trees you’d like to plant, follow the directions for the specific variety. Keep an eye out for invasive pests, both on the tree itself and around the roots, as the weather warms up.


Which shade-tolerant evergreens are the easiest to grow?

Arborvitae is generally the easiest shade-tolerant evergreen tree to grow. If you’ve got the space for a larger variety like Green Giant, they can grow a foot or two per year in partial shade. They may grow slower in full shade but can usually tolerate low light without much extra maintenance.


Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a quintessential Canadian gardener. An engineer by trade, she tends to an ever-expanding collection of plants. In her world, laughter blooms as freely as her flowers, and every plant is raised with a dash of Canadian grit.

Mary Jane is a certified Master Gardener and also holds a Permaculture Design Certificate. She's also a proud mom of three, teaching her little sprouts the crucial difference between a garden friend and foe.

When she's not playing in the dirt, Mary Jane revels in her love for Taylor Swift, Gilmore Girls, ice hockey, and the surprisingly soothing sounds of bluegrass covers of classic hip-hop songs. She invites you to join her garden party, a place where you can share in the joy of growing and where every day is a new opportunity to find the perfect spot for yet another plant.

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