Your Guide to Hardy, Fast Growing Trees in Alberta and Saskatchewan

January 23, 2019

This is a blog post about fast growing trees suitable for planting in Alberta and Saskatchewan. That’s right, fast growing trees.

You might be thinking, “wait a second, I thought Pevach clears trees, not plants them.” At Pevach, we clear, cut, slash, and trim trees for a wide range of business and residential needs across Alberta and Saskatchewan. But still, after our work is done, customers often need new trees to beautify their land and create shelterbelts to hold newly-disturbed soil in place.

Oftentimes, when soil retention is a concern, they need trees right away and ask us to recommend tree species that can grow fast but are also sufficiently hardy to endure the unforgiving winds and temperature swings of the northeast Alberta & Saskatchewan climate.

The list below provides a general answer to those requests, taking guidance from the great work done over the past ten years by the Western Nursery Growers Group’s Prairie T.R.U.S.T. project, which sought to identify species of trees particularly well-suited to growing in our region, and from the Alberta Provincial government’s list of recommended shelterbelt tree varieties.

Borrowing from those resources while throwing in some creative suggestions from our own team of arborists, here is a catalogue of the best, fast growing trees you can plant with confidence for decoration and functionality in central and northern Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Hybrid Poplar (Populus deltoides x Populus nigra)

To use an analogy, if Oilers star Connor McDavid was a hardy, fast-growing tree, he’d be hybrid poplar. This tree isn’t the largest, but it’s resilient, versatile, and lightning fast. Hybrid poplars are the first choice of arborists seeking quick growth because they shoot out of the ground at a rate of five-to-eight feet per year. Prairie T.R.U.S.T. recommends a slew of varieties of hybrid poplar for our region, including Lanceleaf, Narrow Leaf, Balsam, Skyfest, Sargent, Sundancer, Assiniboine, Byland Green, Northwest, Okanese, Prairie Sky and Tristis. (Maybe someday populus McDavidus will get added to the list, too.)

Willow Varieties (Salix family)

Several varieties of willow can stand up to our climate while growing quickly, according to Prairie T.R.U.S.T., including the Acute Leaf, Silky White, Laurel Leaf, and Prairie Reflection breeds. The Alberta Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture also suggests the Golden and Peach Leaf varietals. Willows, whichever variety you choose, have an unmatched decorative character that makes them a favourite of landscapers. They can grow several feet per year, and often thrive in wetter soil.

Quaking (or Trembling) Aspen (Populus tremuloides)

Few trees can match the quaking aspen for decorative quality and coverage of large areas, especially in fall when the leaves in a stand of these trees turn a brilliant yellow that lights up the landscape. Quaking aspens are tough trees, known to take root in some of the harshest climates in the Canadian west. They are members of the same family as hybrid poplars and feature that species’ penchant for fast growth, pushing up at a rate of two to three feet per year. Quaking aspens also send up new shoots from their wide-spreading roots, evolving over time into stands known as “clones.” In fact, they’re considered to be among the largest living organisms on Earth.

Paper (or White, Canoe) Birch (Betula papyrifera)

The paper birch, known for shedding its distinctive bark in paper-like sheets once it has reached maturity, grows one to two feet per year. Like the aspens above, it has desirable decorative characteristics, especially in the fall when its leaves turn bright yellow. White birch adapts to a wide variety of soil types, but does best when it isn’t exposed to sustained winds without protection.

Native and Siberian Larch (or Tamarack) (Larix laricina and Larix siberica)

The fastest growing boreal conifers over their first few decades of growth, native and Siberian larch trees are a go-to option in any arborist’s toolbox. Though they resemble evergreens with needle-like leaves and cones, larch trees are deciduous and turn yellow in the fall before dropping their leaves. They tolerate extreme cold and act as particularly effective field windbreaks.

Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia)

Alberta’s provincial tree, this straight, tall evergreen pushes up at a rate of one to three feet per year and endures the harshest Canadian environments. Its uniformity of shape and all-around durability makes it a great choice for creating a visual barrier and serving as protection from the elements. It also serves as an ideal habitat for wildlife, particularly birds.

American Elm (Ulmus americana)

The American elm — once widespread in North America — was decimated to near extinction in North America by a 20th-century disease.

Fortunately, new disease-resistant varieties of the American elm have now put this classic tree back on the menu for landscapers. Prairie T.R.U.S.T.’s ten-year study found this tree particularly well-suited to Alberta and Saskatchewan. It grows three to six feet per year, and when mature has a wide crown that makes it perfect as a centrepiece shade tree in front of a building or home.

Call Pevach Corp. For All of Your Tree-Related Needs in Alberta & Saskatchewan

Whether you are a pipeline company needing to clear miles and miles of terrain for a new corridor, a business, a town, or homeowner in need of trimming back limbs from buildings and roads, or a builder who needs to prepare a site for a new office complex, Pevach has all of your tree-related needs covered. We are a client-centred business with offices in Bonnyville, Alberta and Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, serving the entire north-central region of both Provinces.

At Pevach, our motto “Working With Nature to Make Nature Work” reflects our understanding of land and forest assets as a resource that require smart stewardship. To that end, we encourage clients interested in landscaping or reforesting parts of their land to work with our professional arborists to identify and plant tree species suited to the long-term uses and changes anticipated for a given site. We hope the guide above will give you some ideas along those lines and we welcome any questions you may have.

To connect with our professionals about your business and individual tree service needs, contact us today.