Small trees for windy conditions

Written by cheryl munson
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Small trees for windy conditions
Many small, wind-tolerant trees, such as juniper and spruce, are used for Christmas trees. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Small trees can provide dual benefits in windy environments. They can weather the wind while also protecting the landscape and grounds of a property from erosion and debris and creating a natural boundary or privacy fence. Read labels on trees prior to purchasing, and ask questions at your nursery to insure that your tree has qualities and characteristics to sustain windy habitats and conditions.

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Juniper is an evergreen shrub tree and member of the Curpessacea family. Varieties such as the ash juniper typically restrict their height to about 22 feet. Juniper is often chosen as a landscaping tree for its toughness and wind and drought tolerance. Juniper is also an attractive choice for providing shade and privacy to landscapes. It grows columnar and bushy, with branches that provide privacy and wind protection. Juniper can grow and thrive in both acidic and alkaline soils.


There are several varieties of serviceberry trees that are wind tolerant. An extra benefit is that serviceberry typically does not exceed a height of 25 feet. The varieties for these qualities include the Prince William, Apple, Autumn Brilliance, Forest Prince, Princess Diana, Robin Hill and Alleghany. The Apple, Autumn, Forest Prince, Robin Hill and Allegheny varieties also display white flowers during their respective blooming periods. Additionally, serviceberry produces red, orange or red edible or ornamental berries in the fall and winter months.

American Hornbeam, Musclewood and Ironwood

American hornbeam, musclewood and ironwood belong to the biological family of Carpinus caroliniana. These trees are exceptionally tolerant of windy conditions. The tree will also meet your needs for small stature, only reaching a height at maturity of 20 to 30 feet. Carpinus trees display a smooth grey bark and provide red-orange leaf colours in the fall for seasonal interest. In nature, the trees grow as understory trees, so this gives them the additional quality of being highly shade tolerant.


A long-standing small-tree favourite for landscapers from Maine to Florida and into interior states, westward as far as Kansas and Texas, is the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida). It is a proven survivor of the short spouts of wintering wind and springtime storms its growing areas experience. The dogwood rises victoriously each spring with blossoms of white and pink flowers, adorning landscapes of homes and public and private settings. The dogwood reaches a height of 20 to 30 feet.


The sugarberry (Celtis occidentalis) is a fast-growing wind-tolerant shade tree. Sugarberry is cold hardy in zones 4 through 9, proof that it can withstand the cold winds of winter from New Haven, Conneticut to Chicago. Sugarberry has roots that grow deep and can even be planted next to a cement sidewalk, without a bother. In the fall, sugarberry produces edible berries that taste like dates. Humans can eat them, but perhaps not faster than the birds who land on the tree and treat themselves to sugarberry fruits.

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