Wind resistant plants and living windbreaks

Wind resistant hedging and trees

If you’ve an exposed garden pocket or a blustery corridor in your landscape, you’ll know the problems wind can cause.  You could erect a costly fenced structure or semi-permeable artificial screen and limit the problem.  OR….you could choose a fully permeable, cost-effective, eye-pleasing alternative – a living windbreak made from wind-resistant trees and hedging.

Let’s explore what the world of trees and hedging plants offers you to create just that – a long-lasting, beautiful-to-look-at, great-for-wildlife living windbreak.

Wind resistant hedging and trees - windy

Why protect from wind?

Some plants don’t fare well under windy conditions (that goes for some people, too!).  A living windbreak can:

  • Reduce wind speed and smooth out extreme weather in exposed locations
  • Provide shelter for nature (and people!)
  • Reduce wind damage and wind-rock on shallow-rooted plants – where the wind literally rips them from their soil socket.
  • Give respite to pollinating insects
  • Reduce loss of moisture – both from foliage and the soil
  • Minimise soil erosion
  • Reduce salt damage in coastal areas
  • Hamper snow drifts
  • Act as a natural screen for less attractive elements
  • Reduce heat loss in garden buildings

Reasons enough to consider a hedge as a garden divider that can be planted in any formation, size and situation to suit any windy corridor or pocket.

Windbreak or shelterbelt?

Simply put, a windbreak can be a single line hedge or a single or double row of young trees, perfect for any garden situation

A shelterbelt? That’s a different beast. Formed from tall trees and/or shrubs and probably over 5 metres tall, a shelterbelt usually consists of three or four staggered rows of trees.  Best used on larger sites where wind is a larger problem site-wide.

We’re primarily talking windbreaks in this blog post, planted and created from young trees and hedging plants.  Fully permeable, filtering most of the wind and looking great, for a long time.

Right plants, right place

Hedging it is.  Choose small young plants to allow for the best chance of healthy establishment.    Consider site, size, position and topography – how the land lies.    But first, choose the right plants.

Wind-resistant trees and hedging plants from www.treesandhedging.co.uk

Our top picks for wind-resistant hedging are Hawthorn – Crataeagus monogyna and Sea Buckthorn – Hippophae rhamnoides but there are a great number of wind-resistant trees and hedging plants to be considered when planting in exposed areas, not just for creating a windbreak:

Wind-resistant Trees and Hedging

Aspen – Populus tremula Holly – Ilex aquifolium
Berberis thunbergii – Green Berberis Italian Alder – Alnus cordata
Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea – Purple Berberis Norway Maple – Acer platanoides
Blackthorn – Prunus spinosa Red Ramanas Rose – Rosa rugosa rubra
Boxleaf Honeysuckle – Lonicera nitida Rowan – Sorbus aucuparia
Common Alder – Alnus glutinosa Scarlet Willow – Salix alba britzensis
Common Dogwood – Cornus sanguinea Sea Buckthorn – Hippophae rhamnoides
Common Osier Willow – Salix viminalis Sessile Oak – Quercus petraea
Corsican Pine – Pinus nigra Maritima Small Leaved Lime – Tilia cordata
Cotoneaster franchetii Sweet Briar Rose – Rosa rubignosa
Elderberry – Sambucus nigra Sycamore – Acer pseudoplatanus
English Oak – Quercus robur Wayfaring – Viburnum lantana
Goat Willow – Salix caprea Western Red Cedar – Thuja plicata
Golden Willow – Salix alba vitellina White Poplar – Populus alba
Grey Willow – Salix cinerea White Ramanas Rose – Rosa rugosa alba
Guelder Rose – Viburnum opulus White Willow – Salix alba
Hawthorn – Crataeagus monogyna Whitebeam – Sorbus aria
Hazel – Corylus avellana

Ready to plant a living windbreak?

Wind-resistant plants sorted.  If it’s a windbreak you’re after – next step – planning, planting and maintenance.

  • Think leeward and windward sides of a hedge – the former facing away from the wind, the latter towards the wind. Winds in the UK usually come from the south-west.
  • A well-placed, healthy, dense hedge can reduce winds behind it to a distance up to 10 times its height.
  • Plant a wider hedge than the area you are protecting – winds have a habit of sneaking around the sides if you let them.
  • Choose small young plants from treesandhedging.co.uk
  • Plants should be close together – plant at intervals of 30-90cm (1-3ft) within each row.
  • Know your topography – consider hills and obstacles that could divert wind around and over your hedge.
  • Consider a additional wind-resistant hedging to prevent wind tunnels between valleys, between buildings.
  • Protect from damage with guards and shelters
  • Mulch, water and keep weed-free

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