How Long Does It Take For A Tree To Grow?

How Long Does It Take For A Tree To Grow

Throughout their lives, trees will continue to grow. They’ll increase in width, adding growth rings to their trunks, always put out new branches and sprout leaves. However, when it comes to height, trees grow more slowly with age.

They will reach a point where the growth is so slow moving that height growth virtually stops. So, if you’re wondering how long it takes for a tree to reach its full size, this depends on a variety of factors. The rate will depend on location, type, soil nutrients, drainage, light exposure, climate and more.

It can take 10 years for the average tree to reach 18 feet tall. Trees that grow faster can reach 25 feet tall in 10 years under the proper climate and growing conditions. Organic mulch, fertilizer, careful planting, and routine maintenance can make a tree grow quickly.

If you’ve recently moved into a neighborhood or home that has been newly constructed, your yard may seem rather bare. Planting trees can add beauty, shade, interest and privacy to your property.

While trees are a natural way to add to the landscape, they are not always the fastest option. Let’s dive in further and examine the factors that influence the rate at which trees grow as well as some tips and tricks for promoting rapid tree growth.

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How Long Does It Take for a Tree to Grow?

This question can often be challenging to answer since “tree growth” can have multiple meanings. In fact, trees grow vertically and two different directions. While a tree’s roots are spreading deep into the earth and building a strong foundation, we have a much different visual above ground.

We may see a tree grow higher and wider over the years, but we often forget about all the growth that is occurring underground. Every tree has a different growth rate, growth cycle, and lifespan. Of the over 60 thousand tree species, some grow their roots all year, and their trunks and branches may only grow during certain seasons.

With that said, it’s hard to determine the exact lifespan of a particular tree. But, we can estimate how long it takes for a tree to grow by understanding what influences tree growth.

What Influences Tree Growth?

Tree size and rate of growth are directly connected to the conditions related to drainage, water, soil, light, fertility, climate and more. The time that it takes for a particular tree to reach full maturity will depend on many factors and, while they play some part, is not directly related to genetics.

How fast a tree grows also depends on the species, as there are some with very rapid growth rates and others that grow slower and persist longer. In terms of growth, trees are often designated as fast, medium, or slow-growing. Slow refers to the fact that the tree grows 12” or less per year; medium indicates 13-24” of growth per year; and fast-growing means that it grows 25” or more.

In general, the better conditions the tree is given, the faster it will grow. The first thing that you should consider is the soil’s nutrient supply. If the soil your tree is planted in is naturally infertile, you should implement a slow-release fertilizer to enhance growth.

The location where the tree is planted, as well as the climate in the area, are also important factors that influences its growth. An area that has full sun and good drainage will definitely provide good growing conditions for your tree. Every individual tree has its season where growth is more apparent. In most cases, harsh cold conditions will slow down a tree’s growth rate. For trees to reach their full growth potential, the need the right climate and enough available water.

Additionally, annual maintenance as well as supplemental watering, in the case of droughts, will directly impact the tree’s growth.

Understanding Tree Growth

In order to fully comprehend how long it takes for a tree to grow, you must have a greater understanding of the growth of a tree. The following is a breakdown of tree growth, beginning from a seed and ending in a fully-grown, mature tree.

  • The seed germination stage (1-3 weeks): This is the first step of tree growth, as most often, trees begin growing from seeds. Tree seeds are able to grow in favorable conditions and a moist environment. Over the course of 1 to 3 weeks, the hard-outer shell of the seed is softened, allowing roots to sprout and the tree to start growing.
  • Seedling and sapling stage (6 months to several years): With the seedling formed, this stage involves the tree growing and developing out of the ground. During this time, the tree needs ideal conditions and maximum protection from various environmental factors that could hinder growth.
  • Mature or fruit bearing tree (4 years and on): Once a tree has grown to be over 10 feet tall, it can be considered full-grown. When trees mature, they grow fruit. For shorter lifespans this can take between 2 and 10 years, whereas, longer lifespans can take over 10 years for fruit production to start.
  • Ancient trees (over 100 years): There are some tree species that can take over 100 years to become fully mature.

Promoting Rapid Tree Growth

Now that you understand some of the factors that impact a tree’s growth rate, let’s examine some steps you can take to ensure your tree has the opportunity to grow taller, faster.

Choosing the Right Tree

To speed the growing process along, choose a tree that is designated as a fast grower and will thrive in your particular area. In general, trees with a mature height of 50 feet will have a faster growth rate than a tree with a mature height of 15 feet.

Research and examine your tree’s particular soil and sun needs. Each tree will have different requirements for soil acidity, light, water and climate. A tree that is situated in an area that does not have the correct soil type, amount of sunlight or temperature will not be able to thrive and will grow very slowly, if at all.

Plant the Tree Correctly

Planting a new tree properly involves digging a hole that is twice the width and depth of the tree’s root ball. After placing the tree and straightening it, you’ll want to fill the hole with a 50/50 mixture of quality potting soil and soil that came from the hole.

The potting soil you choose should contain all the necessary nutrients for promoting tree growth. Once planted, you’ll begin by watering the tree every day for a week. The following week will shift to watering every other day and then as needed contingent on weather conditions.

Pay close attention to when droughts take place in your area and make sure you’re compensating for the lack of water.

Watering the Roots to Promote Growth

Simply depositing a bunch of water near the base of the tree is not always beneficial as most of it will wash away. Instead, you should water the roots directly or install a drip irrigation system or tree watering bag that will water slowly over an extended period of time.

If you choose to directly water the roots, install a root irrigation stake in the ground or dig a trench at the base of the tree (not interfering with the roots) and place piping. At about 2 or 3 feet down, you’ll install a vertical PVC pipe and then water directly into the pipe so that it reaches the roots of the tree.

Making Good Use of Fertilizer

One of the more obvious ways to make a tree grow faster is by using fertilizer. While there are fertilizers specifically formulated for trees, you can use more organic fertilizers found at your local home improvement store. However, fertilizer should be used mindfully as it is often misused and misunderstood.

Keep in mind that fertilizer should not be used to fix plants that have been improperly planted, watered or are unadapted to their environment. Fertilizer should not be viewed as “food” and should instead be used when specific minerals are absent or lacking in the soil composition.

If you notice a problem with your tree, determine the cause and correct it before considering fertilizer.

Implement Organic Mulch

In order to prevent grass and weeds from competing with your tree for water and nutrients, install a layer of organic mulch around the planted tree. Spread the mulch about 3 to 4 inches out from around the tree, leaving a slight gap between the trunk and the mulch so that it’s not sitting right beside the tree.

Over time, the mulch will slowly begin to biodegrade and deteriorate, replenish it with fresh mulch as needed.

Perform Regular Maintenance

While the existence of mulch can help keep weeds and grass away, you should keep up with other regular maintenance of your tree to promote growth. In order to avoid probable stunting effects of removing too many leaves, too early, only prune young shade trees once every two years.

When pruning, also remove any damaged, diseased or dead limbs. You should also cut off any branches that crowd each other or are growing in the opposite direction, toward the tree’s trunk.

Adhere to your specific trees pruning requirements as they will vary from tree to tree and may need more frequent maintenance. For example, fruit trees typically require more vigorous pruning and benefit from it being done often while young. 

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Wrapping It Up

Planting a tree is a wonderful investment that will grow in value (and height) as each year goes by. They can be an excellent way to enhance the natural beauty of your property, offer comfortable shading, or provide privacy from your neighbors.

In general, the overall size and rate that trees grow will depend on many factors. If you’re looking to quickly enjoy the benefits that come with a newly planted tree, consider planting one that is labeled as “fast-growing.” These include, but are not limited to the eastern white pine, hybrid poplar, dawn redwood, silver maple, river birch, weeping willow and areca palm.

However, regardless of the type of tree you choose, make sure that you are planting it correctly, following a dedicated watering schedule, fertilizing when needed, implementing mulch and performing regular maintenance.

With proper planning, extra care and a whole lot of love, your new tree will have the opportunity to reach new heights, in no time!

Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

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