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Old 03-16-2012, 08:39 AM
Jackmannii is offline
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: the extreme center
Posts: 31,602
I'd avoid anything marketed as a "fast-growing tree" (hybrid poplars, Paulownia and the like). They tend to be weak-wooded, short-lived and disease-prone.

There is a tall hedging variety of arborvitae ("Green Giant") that reputedly puts on several feet of growth a year under optimal conditions and rapidly creates a tall screen. I have a group of them that have grown OK but nowhere near the advertised rate (and deer have nibbled them here and there).

If you're not down on all conifers and like coppery-russet fall color, dawn redwood and bald cypress are tough, fairly fast-growing deciduous conifers that are hardy surprisingly far north (you could check with your local university ag dept. on this).

One good source I've found for interesting hardy trees (1-4 foot range, generally) is Oikos in Michigan. They have some oak varieties that are touted for relatively rapid growth, plus a number of other interesting nut and fruit trees.