Landscaping design for a windy location is problematic. Some types of hardscaping, such as decorative fences, and most plants suffer in too much wind, especially during the winter. The last thing a homeowner wants to see is his trellis in his neighbour's yard or a dessicated row of azaleas. Choose plants that are tolerant of wind and dry conditions. Make certain that fences, arbors and trellises are strong enough to handle the wind. As with any landscape design involving plants, available sunlight is a consideration. Windy areas are often sunny, and many plants that tolerate these conditions prefer full sun. When researching plants, consider the USDA hardiness zone you live in when making your choices.
Create a windbreak with evergreens that can tolerate the windy conditions. Evergreens, such as eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), survive in the salt and wind of coastal conditions. According to the University of Illinois, the ideal windbreak consists of three rows of trees and shrubs to provide maximum protection and should be planted at least 50 feet from the house. Some choices include an outer row of Colorado spruce (Picea); a median row of arbor vitae (Thuja); and an inner row of flowering trees, such as witch hazel (Hamamelis) and winterberry (Ilex verticillata).
Back to Nature
Let nature deal with the problem by leaving the area alone. This plan is viable if the area is away from the house and other buildings and complements adjacent terrain.
A sturdy fence can soften the wind's effects. Plant vines, such as honeysuckle (Lonicera) to cover the inner portion of the fence for aesthetics as well as insulation. Consider a strongly made pergola to create a wind-free zone. Plant tough vines that can tolerate the wind and are supple enough not to break, such as trumpet vine (Campsis) and English ivy (Hedera). For smaller areas, "Fine Gardening" magazine recommends erecting stone walls or placing large rocks to protect plants.
"Fine Gardening" magazine recommends choosing plants with flexible stems that are approximately 18 inches tall, such as dwarf zinnias. Moonbeam coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata var. Moonbeam) and dwarf varieties of Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum) are examples of wind-tolerant perennials. Shrubs such as potentilla take the wind and provide a buffer in the garden from wind. For extreme situations on the coast, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Management recommends American beach grass (Ammophila).
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