Easy Gardening: 10 Fast-Growing Shrubs for Instant Garden Impact

Top 10 fast-growing shrubs

Fast-growing shrubs provide a hit of ‘instant’ impact in the garden, perfect for filling space while slower-growing varieties get established.

If you’re looking to plug some gaps in your existing garden, or you’re starting your garden from scratch, the following shrubs will put on plenty of vigorous growth to fill bare corners quickly with their lush leaves and beautiful flowers.

Many of them are also easy to grow in many soil types and positions, so are perfect for beginners.

Pyracantha

Top Ten Fast-Growing Shrubs

Spirea japonica
(Japanese spirea)

Spirea japonica

Spirea japonica is a bushy deciduous shrub whose stems produce clusters of delicate pink flowers in summer. Fairly unfussy, this shrub is happy in a sheltered or exposed spot, in almost any soil type, and will grow well in either full sun or partial shade. For fantastic colour changes year-round, look for the variety ‘Firelight’ which has red and bronze-tinged leaves in spring, turning green in summer and red-purple in autumn.

Hydrangea macrophylla
(Hydrangea)

Hydrangea

Hydrangeas can be deciduous shrubs, evergreen shrubs or self-clinging climbers. They put out large displays of showy flowers and bring wonderful autumn interest to a garden. Most hydrangeas prefer a sheltered spot in partial shade, but they will tolerate almost any soil type and can grow in full sun if the soil is kept moist. Look for the cultivar ‘Enziandom’, whose mop head flowers are sapphire blue in acidic soils, cerise pink in alkaline, and whose dark green leaves turn a delightful red-brown in autumn.

Ribes sanguineum
(Flowering currant)

Ribes sanguineum is a fantastic fast-growing shrub for instant impact in the garden. It’s a deciduous plant usually with hot pink tubular or bell-shaped flowers in spring that are sometimes followed by colourful berries. Grow in sheltered or exposed spots in any type of soil, ensuring the place you have chosen gets plenty of sun. I really like the variety ‘Pulborough Scarlet’ for its aromatic leaves, deep crimson flowers, and blue-black berries.

Forsythia
(Forsythia)

Forsythia

This striking fast-growing shrub has woody branches and profuse sunshine-yellow blossom in spring, borne before leaves appear in summer. Like currants, most Forsythia varieties will grow under any conditions as long as they are in a sunny location. They make for great hedging or feature plants and give your garden real colour punch when in bloom. Herald the arrival of spring with ‘Spring Glory’, which bursts into plentiful flowers alongside the daffodils in early spring.

Mahonia x Media
(Oregon Grape)

mahonia-x-media

Mahonia is generally an evergreen shrub with deep green glossy leaves and wonderfully contrasting sprays of fragrant yellow flowers in spring, occasionally followed by clusters of black or purple berries. Completely unfussy, mahonias grow happily whether sheltered or exposed, in any soil type, and in sunny or partially shaded spots. Watch out for my favourite variety ‘Charity’ which can grow up to four metres tall, with striking cup shaped flowers borne in long racemes in autumn and winter – bringing you a splash of sunny yellow over the colder months.

Buddleja davidii
(Buddleja)

Buddleja

Buddleja davidii (commonly known as ‘the butterfly bush’) is a fantastically fast-growing deciduous shrub, which is brilliant for adding masses of colour, scent and wildlife to your garden. The classic Buddleja bears long cones of purple flowers in summer that bees and butterflies love. It is delightfully easy-going, growing well whether sheltered or exposed, in any type of soil and in full sun or partial shade. While there are varieties of Buddleja available in white and gold, you can’t go wrong with the cultivar ‘Panache’, whose deep purple blossoms will charm humans and insects alike.

Photinia
(Christmas berry)

Photinia

Photinia is a quick-growing evergreen shrub that’s great for creating privacy as a hedge or serving as a standout border feature. The young leaves sprout rich red in spring, providing an amazing contrast against more mature deep green foliage. Its sparse white flowers in spring are usually followed by red berries. Photinia shrubs prefer a sheltered position but will tolerate almost any soil and grow well in full sun or partial shade. For a Photinia that performs well in UK gardens, look for ‘Red Robin’.

Cornus alba
(Dogwood)

Dogwood

Cornus alba is a fantastic fast-growing deciduous shrub that is very versatile in the garden. It is usually grown for its vibrant displays of bare stems in vibrant yellow, orange or red during winter. It has pale green leaves throughout the summer and flat white flower heads in spring. Happy under most conditions, Dogwood spurns only chalky, alkaline soils. The cultivar ‘Sibirica’ has attractive red stems year-round, turning bright crimson in winter, with white flowers and green foliage in spring and summer.

Prunus laurocerasus
(Cherry laurel)

Prunus laurocerasus

Evergreen Prunus laurocerasus is a very vigorous grower, adding around 60cm of growth per year. This makes it a great fast-growing shrub if you want to create privacy quickly. While it has small white spring flowers which turn to cherry-like fruits in autumn, laurels are chosen mainly for their brilliant green foliage. Laurels are very hardy and will grow well under almost any conditions. For a low maintenance variety that does well in UK gardens, look out for the ‘Rotundifolia’ variety.

Pyracantha
(Firethorn)

Pyracantha

Pyracantha is an evergreen shrub with unassuming cabbage-green leaves and corymbs of white flowers in the warmer months. It is often chosen for its magnificent displays of red, yellow or orange berries in autumn or winter, giving your garden real colour ‘pop’ when other plants may be dying down. An extremely hardy plant, Pyracantha flourishes whether sheltered or exposed, in full sun or partial shade, and in any soil type. Choose the variety ‘Cadange’ for a hit of sprightly orange berries in the winter months.

Want more low-maintenance plant ideas? Check out this blog:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

Spring Bulbs
Top 5 Fruit Plants
Pinterest
Pinterest Board
2018-08-22T10:35:09+00:00

20 Comments

  1. Simonne May 18, 2017 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    Hi, I would greatly value your opinion, our garden faces a golf course which has sadly been sold to storey homes and is going to be highly developed. I now need to change our very open garden to garden with some screening. Could you please recommend fast growing shrubs and shrubs which look lovely together or a main one shrub with another to integrate. Our garden is about 60ft long. I really need height. Kind regards and thank you for any comments.
    Simonne emmerson

    • Domoney Admin July 11, 2017 at 10:58 am - Reply

      David recommends some of the taller varieties of Buddleja and Philadelphus. Buddleja colvilei ‘Kewensis’ or Buddleja globosa are beautiful shrubs that will reach 5-6m in height. They would pair beautifully with something like a Philadelphus ‘Innocence’ or Philadelphus ‘Belle étoile’, which will reach around 2.5m.

  2. Margaret Bramall August 22, 2017 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    Help please. We have had our Laylandii hedge removed and now have a 6ft fence in its place.
    Unfortunately the birds are staying away as there is no foliage to feel safe in when feeding.
    Can you suggest a fast growing evergreen shrub or trellis plant whose leaves and stems will allow the birds to perch and hide in.

    Many thanks

    • Domoney Admin September 18, 2017 at 11:08 am - Reply

      David recommends pyracantha “Firethorn”. It is quite fast-growing, it has beautiful bright berries which birds love to eat, and it is one of the best shrubs for nesting too. It can be trained against walls and grown as a hedge too.

  3. Patrick Cross April 25, 2018 at 5:05 am - Reply

    A bit of advice please. Any thoughts when the best time to prune/cut back last year’s growth/flowers on my buddleja? Got a purple and pink one and they are brilliant for butterflies but also hover flies and bees too and with their height can make a very effective screen.

  4. Cazt May 5, 2018 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    Cut it back now to a foot or so from the ground – it will come again with fresh growth.

  5. Susan May 18, 2018 at 10:15 am - Reply

    I need to plant a shrub 11 inches from my driveway which is not to rooty with 12 inches in height. Which shrub would be easy to grow and maintain?

    • Domoney Admin May 18, 2018 at 3:18 pm - Reply

      Hi Susan,
      Thank you for your comment. There are loads of shrubs that fit the description of what your looking for, so you have plenty of choice. I would recommend a heather like Calluna vulgaris ‘Sir John Harrington’ or ‘Mullion’. They need little maintenance and are easy to grow providing they have a fairly acidic soil beneath them. I hope this helps!

  6. Mrs E Dillon May 22, 2018 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    Hi we have a leyandii hedge one side looks dead and the other side is green but is going thin in places
    We do not want to have to take it down and loose our privacy
    We already have some Ivy’s I between but slow growing can we do any thing eles to cover the holes

    • Domoney Admin May 23, 2018 at 9:23 am - Reply

      Hi there,
      Thanks for your comment. This is a common problem with leyandii hedging and is sometimes caused by disease, aphid infestation or, more commonly, growing conditions. Trimming your hedge can stimulate growth and fill in any holes, but this may take some time. Trimming should not be done in warm weather and branches should not be trimmed back below the young green shoots. It is also possible to tie in young shoots, so that they fill in any gaps. Planting Periwinkles is a good alternative or addition to ivy for covering any holes, as the beautiful flowers and foliage should cover any bare stems. I hope this helps!

  7. Paras May 24, 2018 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    Hello there!

    My house is on a corner property with a chain link fence, I need privacy for 145 feet. Wiill forsythia’s be too much? They would only be used to create privacy for the back facing my neighbors house and the side street. I hope I don’t sound confusing! I need something fast growing and I like color..I live in NY

    • Domoney Admin May 24, 2018 at 2:53 pm - Reply

      Hi Paras,
      Thanks for your comment! Forsythias should provide you with plenty of privacy. They are fast growing and look great when they flower. If you are looking for a tall shrub, then make sure to get one of the taller-growing varieties. If they get too big then you can just trim them back.
      I hope this helps!

  8. Sabine Percelay June 29, 2018 at 2:09 am - Reply

    We need tp plant hedges/ shrubs with our existing fence to create privacy. We are looking for something about 8 feet tall and evergreen. We do not want them to grow too wide – any tips would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

    • Will July 5, 2018 at 2:13 pm - Reply

      Hi Sabine,
      Thanks for your comment. I would recommend Darwins Barberry (Berberis darwinii) or Mexican Orange Blossom (Choisya grandiflora). These stunning evergreen shrubs both grow to around 8ft and will provide beautiful colour and plenty of privacy. Both require little pruning, but this can be done to minimise width if necessary. I hope this helps.

  9. Sam June 29, 2018 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    Hi, could you tell me how many pyracantha i’d need to plant for a 50ft hedge? Thanks!

    • Will July 5, 2018 at 11:59 am - Reply

      Hi Sam,
      Thanks for your comment. An individual Pyracantha will usually grow to about 12ft by 12ft. I would suggest planting 4 or 5 to make a 50ft hedge.
      They grow at a speed of 2ft per year, so be prepared to wait some time before it reaches the full 12ft. Good luck and I hope this helps!

  10. Kathryn harris July 10, 2018 at 11:07 pm - Reply

    Hi,
    I’m looking at planting some small shrubs at the front of my property as I’m getting fed up with people walking and riding their bikes over my little bit grass area, what can you recommend please
    Thanks

    • Will July 16, 2018 at 2:00 pm - Reply

      Hi Kathryn,
      Thanks for your comment. Planting shrubs is a great way to stop people trampling over a piece of ground. I would recommend Fuchsias, such as ‘Tom Thumb’ or ‘Mrs Popple’, Lavenders, like ‘Hidcote’ and heathers, like ‘Firefly’. These are all small shrubs, but they should do the trick and they look great too. I hope this helps!

  11. Wendy Walsh August 17, 2018 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    A few weeks ago i got an allotment, but with the drought the hedging at the back has died off. There is a fence, but its very open to people passing by (approx 4 meters wide).

    I’m looking for something that can be planted now, will grow fast, is not too expensive & wont attract things that will eat our crops.

    I initally thought buddleia, but will it attract more cabbage butterflies??

    Any suggestions? Thank you

    • Will August 22, 2018 at 12:56 pm - Reply

      Hi Wendy,
      Thanks for your comment. Buddleias are great for growing quick, effective and beautiful cover, so I would definitely recommend them! Although it will attract butterflies, it is likely that they will be too busy with the buddleia to bother the crops. Please see the RHS advice on how to deter Cabbage Butterflies for more information.
      I hope this helps!

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