Fast-growing shrubs for garden impact

fast growing shrubs
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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.

These options are fast growing and full of colour so there will be minimal waiting time between planting and enjoying their beautiful displays. Plus, many of them are really easy to grow and suit many soil types and positions, so are perfect for beginners.

Spirea japonica (Japanese spirea)

Spirea japonica is a bushy deciduous shrub whose stems produce clusters of delicate pink flowers in summer. Fairly fuss-free, it will bring some colour to your city, courtyard, cottage or coastal garden where it can grow to 1m tall.

• Sun – Full sun or partial shade
• Position – South, North, West or East facing
• Exposure – Exposed or sheltered
• Moisture – Well-drained or moist but well-drained
• Soil – Sand, chalk or loam

Hydrangea macrophylla (hydrangea)

Hydrangeas can be deciduous shrubs, evergreen shrubs, or self-clinging climbers. Their displays are full of showy flowers and bring wonderful autumn interest to a garden, many have lovely leaf shapes.

• Sun – Full sun or partial shade
• Position – North, South, East or West facing
• Exposure – Sheltered
• Moisture – Moist but well-drained
• Soil – Clay, chalk, loam or sand

Ribes sanguineum (flowering currant)

Either evergreen or deciduous shrubs, Ribes are fast-growing with vibrant flowers in spring or summer, either tubular or bell-shaped that are sometimes followed by colourful berries.

• Sun – Full sun
• Position – North, South, West or East facing
• Exposure – Exposed or sheltered
• Moisture – Moist but well-drained
• Soil – Sand, clay, chalk or loam

Forsythia (forsythia)

This striking fast-growing shrub has woody branches and profuse sunshine-yellow blossom in spring, borne before leaves appear in summer. They make for great hedging or feature plants and give your garden real colour punch when in bloom.

• Sun – Full sun or partial shade
• Position – South, West, North or East facing
• Exposure – Exposed or sheltered
• Moisture – Moist but well-drained
• Soil – Sand, clay, chalk or loam

Mahonia x media (Oregon grape hybrid)

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.

• Sun – Partial shade, full sun or full shade
• Position – South, North, West or East facing
• Exposure – Exposed or sheltered
• Moisture – Well-drained or moist but well-drained
• Soil – Sand, chalk, clay or loam

Buddleja davidii (butterfly bush)

This 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.

• Sun – Full sun or partial shade
• Position – South, West or East facing
• Exposure – Exposed or sheltered
• Moisture – Well-drained or moist but well-drained
• Soil – Sand, chalk, clay or loam

Photinia (Christmas berry)

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.

• Sun – Full sun or partial shade
• Position – South, North, West or East facing
• Exposure – Sheltered or exposed
• Moisture – Well-drained or moist but well-drained
• Soil – Sand, clay or loam

Cornus alba (dogwood)

They are fantastic fast-growing deciduous shrubs that are very versatile in the garden. Usually grown for their vibrant displays of bare stems in vibrant yellow, orange or red during winter. They have pale green leaves throughout the summer and flat white flower heads in spring.

• Sun – Full sun or partial shade
• Position – South, North, West or East facing
• Exposure – Sheltered or exposed
• Moisture – Well-drained or moist but well-drained
• Soil – Sand, clay or loam

Philadelphus (mock orange)

These scented shrubs offer a spectacle of foaming, white, cup-shaped flowers from early summer. They are usually tall, making them a beautiful choice in a border for a low-maintenance garden.

• Sun – Full sun or partial shade
• Position – South, North, West or East facing
• Exposure – Sheltered or exposed
• Moisture – Well-drained or moist but well-drained
• Soil – Sand, clay, chalk or loam

Pyracantha (firethorn)

This evergreen shrub has 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.

• Sun – Full sun or partial shade
• Position – South, North, West or East facing
• Exposure – Sheltered or exposed
• Moisture – Well-drained or moist but well-drained
• Soil – Sand, clay, chalk or loam

With these plants you’re sure to have a garden bursting with flowers, foliage and fragrance in no time. These fast-growing shrubs will brighten up your beds and borders, add some interest as hedging or screens or add some charm to your containers.

Spring is here, see my post on spring pollinators:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:


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24 comments

  1. 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

    1. 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. 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

    1. 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. 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. 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?

    1. 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!

  5. 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

    1. 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!

  6. 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

    1. 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!

  7. 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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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!

  8. 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

    1. 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!

  9. 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

    1. 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!

  10. Hi we have a horrible neighbor who keeps spying on us and causing grief. We need a very fast growing low maintenance hedge that will grow quickly please

    1. Hi Teresa,
      Thank’s for your comment and sorry to hear about your problem! I would recommend either a Prunus laurocerasus (Cherry laurel), Laurus nobilis (Bay laurel) or perhaps even a bamboo or bamboo screen. I hope this helps and good luck!

  11. Hi there,

    I’m looking for an outdoor ‘hanging’ plant that can grow up to 10 metres or so. Would you be able to advise, please?

    Many thanks in advance

    1. Hi Deborah,
      Thank’s for your comment. I would recommend a trailing ivy (Hedera helix), as these make great hanging or climbing plants and can grow to 12 metres.
      I hope this helps!

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