The Q&A Archives: accelerate shade tree growth

Question: I planted a start from a hybrid poplar tree. The farmer that provided the cutting claimed that, with proper watering and fertilizing, it could grow 6 feet per year. Is that possible? If so, how much water, how much fertilizer & when?

Answer: There are some poplars that grow rapidly, but they can cause problems in the landscape - fast growth is generally weak growth, so the trees are more susceptible to wind damage with resulting damaged and decaying limbs and branches. Poplars have invasive root systems, as well, so keep them away from drainfields, septic systems and wells. The roots sucker and can ruin lawns and garden beds. With all that said, if you have a large area or a country setting where you need a fast growing wind-break or tree line to provide shade, any of the poplars will serve your purposes. Most poplars will thrive without watering once they're established. If you regularly water your tree, it will grow that much faster.

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