18 Fast-Growing Shrubs to Plant This Fall
There’s no need to wait years to fill out your yard: These fast-growing shrubs can provide privacy, texture, and color, whatever your hardiness zone.
Whether you just moved into a new house or you want to refresh your outdoor space in a hurry, fast-growing shrubs should be key parts of your landscaping plan. There are so many different types of shrubs that take off quickly, including fragrant flowers that make for gorgeous cuttings and edible berries that you can use to make jams (some ornamental grasses also grow like weeds!). Just the right greenery for your yard is just ahead: Some of these fast-growing shrubs are sure to be perfect for your property.
The Benefits of Planting Fast-Growing Shrubs
Fast-growing shrubs can benefit both the ecosystems in which they exist, and the homeowners who plant them. Here’s how:
- Fast-growing shrubs can quickly fill up an empty yard with decorative color
- Many fast-growing shrubs attract pollinators, enhancing the surrounding ecosystem
- These shrubs make for fast-growing privacy hedges, quickly filling in gaps so you can enjoy your outdoor space without worrying about onlookers
- Tall shrubs can provide welcome shade that you won’t have to wait too long to enjoy
- Fast-growing shrubs quickly turn into dense vegetation, offering valuable nest and food sources for wildlife
- The dense vegetation also makes many fast-growing shrubs great at reducing noise outdoor noise
- Many fast-growing shrubs are low-maintenance, offering lots of benefits without the hard work
1. Knock Out Roses (Rosa hybrida)
If the thought of maintaining rose bushes seems intimidating, then you should try Knock Out Roses. This forgiving variety grows like a shrub and takes the guesswork out of rose care.
Knock Out Roses bloom profusely all season, making them one of the best shrubs for the front of your house, and you can prune them at will—or not—without damaging the plant. They have a mild tea rose scent and are a major draw for butterflies. To keep them happy, plant them in zones 5 tp 9 and avoid watering them from above.
2. Laurel (Laurus nobilis)
While it’s often grown as a shrub, in its native habitat, bay laurel can grow up to 60 feet tall. Its wild and gold flowers bloom in the spring, providing pretty eye candy, while its edible aromatic leaves are often used in soups and pasta. Bay laurel does best when planted in well-draining soil in zones 8 to 10.
3. Privet (Ligustrum lucidum)
There are about 50 species of privet; Ligustrum lucidum is a popular choice that’s commonly used as a living privacy screen thanks to its height and density. It quickly grows to heights of 10 to 15 feet, and blooms with white fragrant flowers from late spring to late summer.
This shrub is a particularly great choice for novice gardeners because it thrives in many soil types. Plus, it’s drought-tolerant once established. On the downside, it’s susceptible to some pests, including whiteflies, Japanese and ligustrum weevils, and rust mites. Privet berries are also toxic to many animals, so this plant shouldn’t share a yard with plant-curious dogs.
4. Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus)
Burning bush is best known for its ultra-showy fall foliage, which turns from green to fiery red. In the spring and summer it boasts gorgeous blue-green leaves, so it can beautify your garden year-round. It’s quite low maintenance, but you should be on the lookout for spider mites which sometimes appear on stressed plants.
The vibrant shrub grows best in zones 4 to 8 in moist, well-draining soil. However, burning bushes are fairly drought-tolerant so it won’t be fussy about occasionally dry soil. This fast-growing shrub will also make your yard a favorite hangout for bees and songbirds.
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5. Firethorn (Pyracantha koidzumii)
Firethorn is an evergreen shrub that puts on a show with its bright orange-red berries in the fall and pretty white flowers in the spring and summer. Its dense vegetation is well suited as a privacy hedge—the shrub fills out quickly, growing up to 2 feet per year.
Firethorn gets its name from sharp thorns on its stems, which require pruning to achieve a manicured look. It’s particularly resistant to pesky deer, but birds and other small mammals love to munch on its berries. This shrub grows best in full sun in zones 8 to 10.
6. Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea)
Red twig dogwood, also called American dogwood, produces showy white flowers in summer, but its real star power comes out in autumn and winter when the leaves drop and bright red branches bring color to the chilly landscape.
This hardy drought-tolerant shrub attracts small mammals and pollinators, and it’s highly resistant to tampering from deer. It also does well in a variety of soil types. Plant red twig dogwood in zones 2 to 7 to keep it happy.
7. Laurustine (Viburnum tinus)
Laurustine is an eye-catching shrub that can grow up to 8 feet tall, so it’s ideal for adding color to your vertical garden or privacy hedges. During the winter to early spring, you’ll enjoy a colorful display of pale pink buds, which bloom into fragrant white flower clusters until the end of spring.
The drought-resistant shrub benefits from partial to full sun and grows well in zones 8 to 10. Even when it’s not in bloom, laurustine has stunning, dark leaves, and will attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators to your garden.
8. Forsythia (Forsythia)
One of the most welcome sights in early spring is the emergence of forsythia’s blazing yellow blooms. This low-maintenance shrub is equally attractive as a colorful landscape accent or, given that it can reach a height of 10 feet, when grown as a hedge.
Forsythia isn’t just a spring stunner—it has colorful fall foliage as well. In summer, it provides a lush green background for any landscape. The forgiving plant can do well even in poor soil conditions and urban environments, so it’s ideal for new gardeners who reside in zones 5 to 8.
9. Snowball Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
Although their showstopping blooms might look high maintenance, Snowball hydrangeas are relatively easy to grow and resistant to pests and diseases.
They’re happiest in partial sun, particularly if that includes some afternoon shade. Ideal for zones 6 to 9, this shrub’s round fragrant flowers look like cotton candy, featuring shades of blue, cream, and pink, and you’ll smell them the moment you walk by. Hydrangea macrophylla usually blooms from late spring throughout the summer.
10. Spirea Renaissance (Spiraea x vanhouttei)
Spirea Renaissance shrubs, also called Bridal Wreaths, are hardy, quick-growing, and low maintenance. They’re an artificial hybrid shrub that’s a cross between Spirea trilobata and Spirea cantoniensis.
These fast-growing shrubs usually reach 8 feet tall and feature cascading white flowers in late spring and early summer, adding a romantic touch to any garden. They thrive in zones 3 to 8 with partial to full sun, and they’ll attract butterflies and other pollinators to your yard.
11. Pussy Willow (Salix discolor)
The springtime emergence of branches full of fuzzy catkins is a delight for both kids and kids at heart. These shrubs thrive in moist soils, so they’re an asset in yards with poor drainage.
Pussy willow is easily propagated by sticking a fresh cutting straight into the ground. So, find a neighbor or friend with a pussy willow and ask them to share! Pussy willows are hardy in zones 2 to 7, and benefit from full sun or partial shade.
12. Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)
Elderberry is native to North America and grows easily in zones 4 to 8. Happy in both full sun and partial shade, it blooms profusely with white flowers in summer. Hummingbirds and butterflies often flock to this fast-growing shrub’s blooms.
Elderberry’s black fruit follow the flower blooms in late summer, providing a feast for birds and small mammals. And while the shrub is relatively low maintenance, high winds and heavy snow and ice can damage their branches, so take care to protect them in extreme weather.
13. Mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius)
Mock orange is in the hydrangea family. When in full bloom in the spring and summer, the plant displays showy white flowers that smell heavenly, making it ideal for planting along patios, walkways, and other areas where you can regularly enjoy its fragrance. The plant’s wide dense shape also makes it a great pick for privacy hedges.
Mock orange does well in partial shade to full sun and thrives in moist, well-draining soil in zones 4 to 8. The shrub is generally full and round, but it can get leggy unless you prune it periodically.
14. Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)
Lilac is a highly fragrant shrub that can also grow into a small tree. The fragrance is so delightful that essential oil is often extracted from the flowers to make perfume. The fast-growing evergreen shrub boasts beautiful flowers that come in lavender, cream, magenta, and white, making for a stunning outdoor accent. These flowers are also ideal for cuttings.
Lilac will attract a variety of pollinators to your yard since butterflies, hummingbirds, and long-tongued bees all flock to its flowers’ nectar. The shrub does well in zones 3 to 7 and benefits from moist, well-draining soil.
15. Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)
Also called French mulberry or Sour-bush, beautyberry features small bluish berries that encircle the stem from late summer to early fall. These berries are beautiful and edible, and while they don’t have a very strong flavor, some gardeners make jam out of the berries. Many small mammals and songbirds also enjoy the fruit.
Beautyberry is drought- and heat-resistant, thrives in zones 6 to 10, and can do well in a variety of soil types, even dry soil. During the spring and summer, this fast-growing shrub puts on showy floral displays of clustered blue, pink, or white flowers. These flowers are also a major draw for pollinators, like butterflies.
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16. Honeyberry (Lonicera caerulea)
Honeyberry shrubs are a honeysuckle species with small white flowers that form a funnel shape and bloom in the early spring. The flowers are highly fragrant, with an attractive aroma that will travel throughout the yard while attracting bumblebees.
After flowering, these shrubs produce tubular dark blue fruit that tastes much like a blueberry and is entirely safe to eat. These fruits are also high in antioxidants, so they’re particularly good for you and make for yummy jams, juices, smoothies, and syrups. Honeyberries do best in zones 2 to 6 with partial to full sun.
17. Pink Mulhy Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris)
Pink mulhy grass, also called pink hair grass or mule grass, is a vibrant ornamental grass that will paint your yard with a gorgeous pink haze thanks to its abundant flowery panicles. And while pink is most common, the showy flowers also come in cream, purple, and burgundy hues.
In addition to being beautiful, pink mulhy grass is fragrant while in bloom during the fall and grows to around four feet tall. It’s also resistant to pests and deer, while attracting butterflies. The ornamental grass does well in zones 5 to 9 and isn’t fussy about soil, so it can thrive in moist, dry, and even very dry soil conditions.
18. Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)
Ninebark is a spreading, fast-growing shrub, which makes it ideal for ground cover, borders and informal hedges. In spring and summer, it will treat you to clusters of white flowers, which will bring butterflies, bees and other pollinators to your yard. In the fall, drooping clusters of seeds will attract birds looking for a snack. Ninebark is also heat- and drought-tolerant, and it grows well in a variety of soil types. Plant it in zones 2 through 8 to see it thrive.