Plants for windy coastal areas

People love the trees that shape their property’s landscape. They make our environments warm and cosy in the winter time. Also, they provide a source of wind resistance and helps our homes retain heat in the winter. In hurricane-prone areas, they help decrease wind damage.

It may take some time and careful preparation to create a wind-resistant landscape, but the benefit is well worth it. Keep reading to find out what trees serve best as trees resistant to wind damage.

Contents

Plant Hardiness Matters: Wind Resistant Tree Zones

Plant hardiness is the ability of a plant to survive adverse growing climates such as drought, flooding, heat and cold. plant hardiness zones have been used by growers for years to simply identify the plants that are most likely to survive the winter in their areaThe science behind plant hardiness can be complicated. Plant genetics determine the ability of a plant to withstand cold temperatures without damage.

Many plants require very specific growing environments to thrive. You can adjust many things, such as soil type, moisture levels and amount of sunlight in your garden, but temperature can be hard to control. Choosing plants with hardiness levels appropriate to specific planting zones gives you the best chance of gardening and landscaping success.

A Brief Overview of Planting Zones

Knowing what wind-resistant tree zone you live in will help you make a better decision on what type of trees for blocking wind that will thrive in your yard.

In the United States, Zone 1 is mostly the state of Alaska. This environment tends to be a very harsh environment, and the types of trees that thrive there must be able to withstand extremely cold temperatures and frequent drought.

Zone 2 covers both Alaska and some areas of the continental United States.

Zone 3 covers southern Alaska and northern parts of the United States and the western mountains.

Zone 5 includes some areas in South Alaska, the North Central United States and some regions within New England.

Zone 6 covers areas known for having what is called mild climate. This zone covers a large portion of the United States.

Zone 7 covers almost 15 states in the United States. Winters in this zone will have temperatures between 0 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. You can expect to see a variety of plants in nurseries, local home and garden stores and greenhouses.

Zone 8 has mild winters with the low temperatures between 10 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit (10 and -6 C.). Most Zone 8 areas have temperate summer climates with cooler nights and a long growing season. This combination allows for lovely flowers, thriving vegetable plots and fruit trees.

The growing season in Zone 9 lasts from February to December. Magnolia, Hazelnut, Red Maple and Tulip Tree are the most popular trees for this zone.

Zones 10 & 11-12 – the warmest zones located in the deep southern half of the country and on the southern coastal margins (e.g Phoenix, San Francisco, Miami, state of Hawaii).

Wind Zone Map

Houston, Texas is the ideal place to plant any trees because Texas as almost all of the states is in Wind Zone 1 (70-mph fastest-mile wind speed), but be careful if you live in Wind Zone 2 (100-mph fastest-mile wind speed) or Wind Zone 3 (110-mph fastest-mile wind speed).

Top 25 Wind-Resistant Trees

Here is a list of highly recommended trees that block wind damage in the United States.

  1. Bald Cypress (zones 4-10): This conifer is called a swamp tree down South and often sheds needles in winter.
  2. Live Oak (zones 7-10): Another popular tree of the South, this one is very good for withstanding the hurricane weather typical in the Southeastern United States.
  3. Green Giant Arborvitae (zones 5-7): An evergreen tree that has a defined pyramid shape.
  4. Eastern White Pine (zones 3-6): A conifer grows up to three feet every year.
  5. Colorado Blue Spruce (zones 3-6): An evergreen that has a unique color.
  6. White Fir (zones 4-7): An evergreen that has become a popular tree for Christmas.
  7. Chinese Juniper (zones 4-9): An evergreen that is great for locations that have problems with deer browsing.
  8. White Cedar (zones 3-7): A popular cone-shaped conifer.
  9. Norway Spruce (zones 3-7): A sturdy evergreen that tolerates various soils.
  10. Douglas Fir (zones 4-6): A sturdy tree that’s perfect for icy and snowy environments.
  11. Eastern Redcedar (zones 2-9): An evergreen that loves to be in direct sunlight.
  12. Dawn Redwood (zones 5-8): A conifer that sheds needles during the winter.
  13. Port Orford Cedar (zones 6-10): An evergreen tree that is native to Oregon.
  14. Basswood (zones 2-8): A tree that has very fragrant flowers and influences pollination by attracting bees.
  15. Paper Bark Birch (zones 2-7): A tree with white bark that peels. This tree used to be hollowed out and made into a canoe.
  16. Cherry Birch (zones 3-8): A wintergreen oil-producing tree.
  17. Green Ash (zones 3-9): An ash tree known for its opposite branching.
  18. Sugar Maple (zones 3-8): One of the best trees to make maple syrup because it has a good concentration of sugar.
  19. American Holly (zones 5-9): A tree that loves acidic and moist soils.
  20. American Persimmon (zones 4-9): A deciduous tree that produces persimmon fruit (a fruit that tastes similar to an apricot).
  21. Southern Magnolia (zones 6-10): A popular tree in the South that has sweet-smelling flowers that bloom from May to June.
  22. Crepe Myrtle (zones 6-10): A plant that can be either a tree or a shrub that flourishes in the South. Both the shrub and tree have long-lasting blooms.
  23. Eastern Redbud (zones 3-9): A tree that has vibrant rosy-purple flowers in the spring and heart-shaped yellow leaves in the fall.
  24. Northern Bayberry (zones 4-6): A very fragrant tree native to North America that loves alkaline soil.
  25. Isanti Red-Osier Dogwood (zones 2-8): A tree that thrives in moist soil. It displays blood-red stems in the winter.

How to Plant and Space Your Trees for Blocking Wind?

Most people believe that planting trees resistant to wind damage close together maximizes the wind resistance. However, trees for blocking wind need to have ample space between them when you are planting them because they will need the space when they start to grow.

Shorter trees require about 10 feet of space between each tree and 15-to-20 feet between each row. Taller trees require about 15 feet between each tree and 25 feet of space between rows.

Another thing to consider when planting your trees for blocking wind damage is to mix the types of trees you plant on each row. If a row has the same tree planted in it, a disease or pest that destroys that type of tree will weaken the wind resistance of these trees. Therefore, it’s wise to alternate your trees by planting at least two or three types of trees on each row.

The best windy garden plants and solutions

July 15th, 2018 Posted In: Garden style & living, Gardening know how, Middlesized country

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I’ve recently been asked about plants and solutions for a windy garden.

Sue Marling and Fay Sweet’s Suffolk garden is in a windy area, but it is colourful and feels sheltered. The plants which love the conditions – the low-growing Alchemilla mollis and the tall spikes of Phlomis russeliana, along with salvias, have spread.

Even if you don’t have a windy garden, you probably have a windy spot. Our walled garden gets windy in the middle, which is quite common.

I’ve made a mistake with planting a young tree there by buying one that was too tall. We’ve secured it with several stakes. But it gets pushed over again when the wind changes direction. I actually chose the right type of tree – a Liquidambar – for a windy spot, but I should have bought a much younger, shorter tree.

Check the gardens in a windy town

And not long after being asked about plants for windy gardens, I went to the charming beach town of Southwold.

It’s always useful to look at what grows naturally – here on this windy Southwold beach, there are lots of grasses.

Southwold is a delightful former fishing village on the Suffolk coast, and it dates back hundreds of years. But Suffolk is quite flat near the coast. And all seaside towns get their fair share of wind.

The Crown Hotel at Southwold. It was a Georgian and Victorian fishing town, and is now a well-loved holiday place.

A garden in Southwold is definitely a windy garden. So as I was visiting in midsummer, I thought I would see what was flourishing in the Southwold gardens, and along the beach.

If you prefer to see a video, rather than read a post, see The Middlesized Garden YouTube channel on windy garden solutions.

I saw lots of clumps of these very low growing asters (now known as Symphotricum) everywhere in Southwold. Even though they’re a common garden centre plant, they look good in groups.

The RHS on trees and shrubs for windy gardens

One important thing to understand about wind is that it whips up a solid fence or wall, and then drops down creating turbulence on the other side. That’s why hedges and shrubs, which break up the wind rather than block it, are better than fences and walls.

And a very thick line of evergreens can act more as a fence or block rather than a filter, so the RHS recommend choosing a mix of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs.

Sue and Fay have a hedge between their garden and the fields beyond. Then there are a number of trees, many deciduous, on the perimeter of the garden and also some lower shrubs. The wind is filtered several times as it whips across the Suffolk countryside, so the heart of their garden is much more sheltered.

Trees and shrubs won’t grow as tall in windy conditions but they are so important for breaking up the wind. The RHS has a page of recommendations for trees and shrubs that do well in exposed sites. These include some pines, hawthorn, Norway spruce and holm oak, all of which I love. Good shrubs include black elder and pinus mugo (dwarf pine).

Expert advice on choosing windy garden plants

First I spoke to Rosy Hardy of Hardys Cottage Garden Plants. Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants is one of the leading plant nurseries in the UK.

Rosy had three pieces of very useful advice as well as suggestions for plants.
‘Choose shorter varieties of your favourite plants if your garden is windy,’ she suggests.

‘Or you can choose plants which are meant to blow about in the wind, such as grasses or gaura,’ advises Rosy Hardy.

Sue Marling and Fay Sweet, whose garden is featured here, have created a successful garden near Southwold. They have found that salvias, Phlomis russeliana and fennel have all done well in their garden. They are all plants that can sway in the wind.

And they also have Alchemilla mollis, which fits into Rosy Hardy’s ‘low-growing’ category, as do the asters all over Southwold beach.

Gaura ‘Rosyjane’ is one of Hardy’s Cottage Garden plants and is ideal for a windy site.

And thirdly,’ says Rosy: ‘Plant trees and shrubs dotted about the garden to break up the wind. Don’t plant in a line.’

Specific plants she recommends for a windy garden include hardy geraniums, especially the Oxonianum ‘Lace Time’. Amongst the grasses Stipa Tenuissima always looks good’, she says. And she also recommends the long slender stems of Gaura Rosyjane, which is an elegant flower with a picotee petal.

Japanese anemones are also tough enough to survive windy conditions, and Rosy suggests you try an unusual variety such as the ruffled ‘Swan’ series.’

Japanese anemones (Anenome x hybrida) do well in a windy garden, so choose a special variety such as this Ruffled Swan from Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants.

Hardys Cottage Garden plants stock all these.

If you’re interested in low maintenance shrubs and plants, see my post on Brilliant Low Maintenance Plants for Beautiful Gardens.

Roses do well in a windy garden

One thing that really surprised me as I walked round Southwold was how well roses were growing. They seemed to be blooming in every garden.

This white climbing rose seems very happy amongst the winds of Suffolk.

So I contacted Michael Marriott of David Austin Roses. He confirmed that that roses often do very well in windy places. Some original species roses came from quite inhospitable places – Rosa rugosa came from Northern Japan and Siberia, for example, and the spinossisima roses (often called ‘Scotch roses’) are basically coastal plants.

Rosa rugosa tumbling over a front garden wall onto the beachfront at Southwold.

Roses in windy gardens won’t grow as tall, he says, and you do have to pick and choose your varieties, but they are a great plant to add.

Rosa rugosa from David Austin roses – will do well in windy gardens.

This is David Austin Roses’ Dunwich Rose. Dunwich was a sea port just along the coast from Southwold, Most of it was reclaimed by the sea, so only a few houses now remain. Not surprisingly, the Dunwich Rose does well in exposed sites!

But choose your rose carefully

When choosing roses for a windy garden, Michael suggests you firstly think of the flowers – single flowered or semi-doubles will be better than big showy blooms of hybrid teas.

‘Kew Gardens’ rose from David Austin Roses is recommended for windy spots.

And think about how the plant grows – a rambling rose will create a lot of body which can be buffeted in the wind. The stiffer and more individual stems of a climbing rose will give the wind much less to blow about. And keep tying a climber in if you have a windy garden.

Roses growing over Sue and Fay’s windbreak-cum-wildlife home (see later on in this post). This is a small single-flowered rose with a few stiff stems that can be tied in. Good for a windy garden!

Break up the wind for a sheltered spot

In terms of a sheltered spot to sit in, consider a broken screen rather than a solid one. There is a terrific range of laser-cut screens around these days, such as this one from Stark & Greensmith.

This corten steel laser-cut screen from Stark & Greensmith breaks up the wind and offers privacy, but it isn’t a solid barrier.

And I’ve seen some great screening ideas at the garden shows this summer. For example, I like this slatted wooden screen inscribed with poetry from The Oak & Rope Company.

This is a slatted screen so it filters the wind. From the Oak & Rope Company.

Sue and Fay have created a wildlife-friendly screen by building a curved wall out of inexpensive roofing battens. It filters the wind, and offers a hideaway for insects. Fay built it herself, although she admits it was quite hard work.

Fay built this high semi-circular windbreak wall herself out of roof battens, laying them in a criss-cross pattern. The wall is about seven feet high, so it provides lots of shelter as well as supporting climbing plants like roses and honeysuckle.

And here is another easy DIY broken screen. These wood posts and strips of corrugated iron shield a washing line in this Australian coastal garden, while filtering the wind beside a seating area.

Corrugated iron and wood (possibly fence posts or railway sleepers) used to create a broken screen in coastal Australia.

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Shop my favourite gardening books, tools and products

I’m often being asked for recommendations, so I’ve drawn up some useful lists of the gardening books, tools and products for the Middlesized Garden Amazon store. They’re all things I use myself and rate or which have been highly recommended by someone else.

For example, if you’re new to gardening and are wondering which tools to buy, then check my list of essential garden tools. Or if you’d like your gardening to be more environmentally-friendly, then see my list of Favourite Sustainable Garden Products.

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Pin to remember windy garden ideas

I use Pinterest like a ‘filing cabinet’ for good gardening ideas – it makes it much easier to find them again!

Wind-tolerant plants and plantings

Have you ever noticed how plants growing near the coast or on windy hillsides are often small and gnarled? They look as if they’re hanging on with all their roots, trying to keep their branches low and out of the wind. The very same plant growing in a sheltered spot usually stands tall and upright.

If your garden, or even your balcony garden, is exposed to wind it’s often difficult to establish plants. On a bad day, the wind may cause broken branches or even blow poorly-established plants out of the ground.

For success in a windy location, take a two-pronged approach: choose wind-resistant plants (see our list below) and create shelter. Importantly, recognise that windy conditions are a problem and avoid planting standards, plants with large or easily-damaged leaves or lots of flowering plants.

Create shelter

My own garden is in a windy area, but it is sheltered on all sides by hedges and windbreaks courtesy of the long-ago planning and planting of previous owners. Some of the hedges are clipped, tall and formal, but others are dense windbreaks featuring a mix of evergreen shrubs and trees including viburnum, pittosporum and photinia along with some deciduous trees such as birches.

To enjoy the view to the south – where the coldest winds blow – we’ve cut into the existing hedge to make ‘windows’. We can see out without too much blowing in. Alongside the surrounding hedges and windbreaks, the garden itself has internal hedges and fences to help create sheltered growing areas. The effect is a series of garden ‘rooms’.

It you don’t have the benefit of existing hedges, you can create barriers using fences or even screens of hessian or shadecloth to help shelter an area while a living hedge or windbreak planting grows. These can extend across large areas, or you can customise them around new plantings by using stakes wrapped with plastic tree guards. Even a pile of boulders can provide shelter for plants that are growing on their lee (sheltered) side. As your shelter plants establish and grow, other less robust plants can be tucked in behind them.

On a balcony, creating a bit of a windbreak for plants may mean having a solid balcony rail or placing a screen between an open railing and the plant. Keep in mind that there are often body corporate and safety regulations about what can be done on balconies in apartment blocks. Where screening isn’t a viable option, select tough plants to act as a windbreak for less robust plant choices.

Another option for planting on a wind-exposed site is to go with the flow. Take inspiration from natural, windswept landscapes and plant low shrubs, ground covers and swathes of ornamental grasses that will bend and move in the wind.

From left to right: Bottlebrush (callistemon), Tea tree (melaleuca) and New Zealand Christmas bush (metrosideros) are all great wind-resistant shrubs.

Wind-tolerant plants

Wind-tolerant plants share certain characteristics. They are usually evergreen with small, tough often-leathery leaves and short, stout branches that withstand the wind. Most can be pruned (handy when there’s wind damage to deal with) and most have a multi-branched habit rather than a single main stem.

Those that move with the wind, such as ornamental grasses, are anchored at their base with a dense root system so their foliage may blow about but the plant itself holds firm.

Shrubs

Wind-resistant shrubs include Australian natives such bottlebrush (callistemon and melaleuca), tea tree (leptospermum), shrubby banksias and coastal rosemary (Westringia fruticosa). Non-native options include coprosma, photinia, Indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica and cultivars), New Zealand Christmas bush (Metrosideros spp. and cultivars), carissa, rosemary and viburnum along with succulents such as crassula. These plants are also salt-tolerant.

Movement and texture

Plants that go with the flow and bend in the wind include most ornamental grasses, dietes, New Zealand flax, native lilies including lomandra and dianella along with some weeping trees.

Groundcover

Cover the ground around wind-tolerant plantings with ground-hugging plants such as gazania (look for modern, non-weedy cultivars) and African daisy (Oesteospermum cultivars), succulents such as pigface, iceplant and sedum, prostrate conifers such as shore juniper, or trailing natives such as golden guinea flower (Hibbertia scandens). These types of plants act as living mulch (in high-wind areas, loose organic mulches can blow away) and help retain soil moisture.

Left to right: gazania, sedum and osteospermum (African daisies) are all great wind-resistant plant choices.

Planting tips

Once you’ve selected your plants and identified where to plant them, there are a few things you can do to help them establish and grow…

  • Give all new plantings in a wind-exposed area extra attention. They may need staking, tree guards or other barriers. Even large boulders or temporary rows of straw bales (stabilised with stakes) can provide effective protection for new plantings. Another option is to lay down mesh and plant through this.
  • Many wind-exposed sites are also dry, so provide regular water to help plants establish. In coastal areas, salt damage can also slow growth, so select salt-tolerant plants. You should also regularly hose down foliage after periods of salt-laden wind.
  • Surround plants with an inorganic mulch of small pebbles, gravel or recycled glass. These materials are heavy enough to withstand the wind, but fine enough to look attractive.

When I was younger (so much younger than today), I learned how to ride a motorcycle. Whilst discussing the effects of weather on road conditions, my instructor said, “the most dangerous effect comes from a type of weather you can’t see. What is it?”

I confidently replied “ice”, to be rapidly informed that I was wrong; although black ice is invisible, you can tell it might be an issue from the fact that it’s freezing out, something you can’t possibly miss. The correct answer was wind, because although you can generally see when it’s windy, gusts can come out of nowhere that are strong enough to send the bike flying.

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing,” or so the saying goes – and it’s as relevant to gardeners as to anyone else who ventures into the great outdoors. The only requirement in windy weather is to wrap up nice and warm. Whilst it is possible to be killed by falling tree branches in windy conditions, which is why some large gardens now close during high winds, the smaller trees found in most back gardens are unlikely to pose much of a threat.

From a personal perspective, it seems like you’re more likely to be hit by a flying plastic greenhouse. These are the lengths we had to go to, to stop my cold frame flying around last spring:


This year I used one that fitted into a raised bed, and had long ground anchors, but we still had to weigh down the plastic cover with bricks to stop it flapping around. Our neighbour’s garden is angled to the prevailing wind in such a way that their fence has had to be replaced twice in 8 years. They’ve upgraded it to one with concrete posts.

As humans we can get dressed up, prune our trees and weigh down any problematic objects, and when it’s very windy we can just stay inside. But plants, of course, can’t do any of those things – they have no way to ‘batten down the hatches’. So they have evolved to cope with wind, and actually need it. They rely on air movement to bring them fresh supplies of oxygen and carbon dioxide, to whip away the moisture they transpire out of their leaves, and to alleviate the stale air conditions that cause fungal diseases. Plants need to be buffeted a bit to promote strong, healthy growth – an effect called thigmomorphogenesis (which I talked about in The Alternative Kitchen Garden: An A to Z). Thigmomorphogenesis is why it is now recommended that saplings are planted with short stakes that allow the top of the tree to flex.


But as much as it is essential, wind also causes plenty of problems in the garden. I should have staked my edible dahlias last year, they got a bit unruly, but it wasn’t until it got windy in November that they got blown down – at which point I had to take them out. In a sense this is entirely cosmetic damage, but wind rock isn’t – it’s when wind blows a plant around to the point where there is root disturbance. Wind rock is usually mentioned in conjunction with edible plants (often winter brassicas), and it can cause large reductions in yield, and even kill plants. Staking, in advance, is the cure for wind rock.

The RHS reminds us that wind also causes leaning, tearing, breakage or abrasion. It can also be a factor in the “browning, scorching and loss of buds, flowers and leaves”. A windy garden is no place for plants that dislike strong breezes, as I discovered when I tried to grow an acer in my old garden. And an exposed site requires more watering than a sheltered location, due to higher rates of evaporation. (Salt spray is a possible additional complication, if you live within 6 miles of the coast.)


The solution to protecting your plants from the wind is to plant a shelter belt. A fence won’t do it – solid barriers create turbulence that can be more damaging than the wind itself. If you have to have a fence then a more permeable one is better; the more you can see through it, the more it reduces the wind pressure on its leeward side. But a shelter belt (and, in most gardens, this would be a hedge) offers more benefits. It still creates shelter, increasing the range of plants you can grow, and reducing moisture loss. If you’ve got light soil it helps to prevent soil erosion, and – depending on its location – could reduce the cost to heat your greenhouse or your house, by reducing the wind chill factor. A mixed species hedge provides a habitat for wildlife, as well as providing shelter for pollinating insects that will encourage them to get to work in the garden.

So far, so conventional. The unconventional path is to have a multifunctional shelter belt that not only does all these things but produces edible crops and useful products as well. The undisputed king of this approach is Martin Crawford. In Creating a Forest Garden, he says:

“Crop yields are raised by 10-30 per cent depending on the crop. A windbreak hedge usually takes much less than 10 per cent of the available area, so a hedge is never wasting productive space – overall yields are increased even without taking into account any yields from the hedge itself.”

He also offers a detailed (but accessible) explanation of wind speeds and windbreak heights, which allow you to work out exactly what you would need to shelter your particular spot. He reminds us that there are nitrogen-fixing species that make good windbreaks, and that hedges accumulate leaf litter to feed the soil, and can provide logs and poles on top of food for humans and wildlife on top of all the other benefits we’ve mentioned. There’s definitely more to hedges than Leylandii! So if you have a windy site, or are pondering planting a hedge, it’s well worth doing a bit of proper planning and putting in something that will offer multiple benefits.

Is your garden ready for winter winds?

Plant Protection From Winds & Rain

Don’t let strong autumn and winter winds and heavy rain destroy the fruits of your labour this winter. Here’s our Gardening Angels top tips to help you protect your plants from the elements.

1) Move Potted Plants

Move your potted plants to the safety of a greenhouse or close to walls or fences to minimise the risk of wind damage. Corners are perfect for extra protection from the wind on two fronts.

You can further protect any potted plants with a frost protection jacket, or by moving them to a wall mounted greenhouse which will minimise the impact of drying winds.

2) Put Away Potential Projectiles

Move garden ornaments away to avoid the wind lifting them up and carrying them away (and even knocking over your favourite plants!). Why not temporarily tie them down and if you have a free-standing birdhouse, you may want to store this away until spring.

3) Protect Your Bedded Plants

The wind can dry out the ground around your bedded plants, so make sure the plants are well hydrated before the storm hits. Check the moisture levels with a Soil Moisture Metre and ensure your plants are never over or under watered..

Give bedded plants further protection by firmly embedding a cloche around the plants. To prevent the cloche blowing away, you will ideally want to embed them around 2 inches in the ground with a set of gardening pegs.

4) Use Soft Tie Plant Supports

Strong winds can wreak havoc on your garden, but the use of a Soft Tie Plant Support could make all the difference to the condition of your plants. They’re soft, strong and super flexible, and tenderly secure your plants. Made with a galvanised steel wire core and a soft, foam coating they provide a strong tie with a cushioned body. Alternatively, you could use string but there is the chance that this could cut into your plants.

Need Further Help?

If you have any tips or questions about facing the adverse weather, feel free to call us on 0845 602 3774 or email us at [email protected] Our Gardening Angels are always happy to help

Nine plants for windy gardens

High winds aren’t just a problem for gardeners who live on the coast. Even inland there are plenty of gardens at higher altitude which will regularly get a battering from prevailing winds.

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It may sound obvious, but it’s crucial to use plants that flourish and enjoy growing in windy conditions. If you’re gardening in windy or exposed conditions, here are some suggestions for plants that are up to the challenge.

Need to protect existing plants in the garden? Read up about plants that are more susceptible to wind rock.

It’s crucial to use plants that flourish and enjoy growing in windy conditions. 1

Stipa tenuissima

Stipa tenuissima foliage

A versatile grass, Stipa tenuissima has wispy yellow-green leaves and silver-green flowers that billow gently in the breeze. It’s the perfect plant partner for alliums and grows well in sunny sites.

Ornamental grasses look fantastic combined with flowers. Discover five combinations.

2

Geranium ‘Glenluce’

Geranium ‘Glenluce’ flower

Hardy geraniums come in all shades of pink, purple and white, and are a magnet for insects. G. sanguineum ‘Glenluce’ produces large, light candyfloss-pink flowers from spring to summer.

Take a look at these 10 beautiful hardy geraniums.

3

Brachyglottis compacta ‘Sunshine’

Brachyglottis ‘Sunshine’ foliage

Brachyglottis are tough evergreen shrubs with ovate hairy grey-green leaves, producing yellow, daisy-like flowers in summer. They tolerate drought and salty winds, so are ideal for coastal gardens.

Discover more plants with silver or grey foliage.

4

Crataegus monogyna

Hawthorn flowers and foliage

Hawthorn has fragrant white flowers in May, followed by round, glossy fruits or ‘haws’. Great as hedging, it attracts a range of wildlife, including bees, moths and birds.

Browse more wildlife-friendly ideas for the garden.

5

Allium cristophii

Allium cristophii flowers

With its huge globes of tiny star-shaped flowers, Allium cristophii is one of the most dramatic looking alliums. Plant it in large drifts in sunny, exposed borders among ornamental grasses.

Discover 10 great alliums to grow.

6

Eryngium variifolium

Eryngium variifolium flowers

This variegated sea holly Eryngium variifolium, is as tough as old boots, so it’s perfect for growing in coastal gardens. It’s small, grey-blue flowers appear above rosettes of spiny, variegated leaves in July and August.

7

Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’

Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ flowers

Erysimums are perennial wallflowers blooming from early summer to autumn, continuing in mild spells. Plants are short-lived, but it’s easy to grow new ones from cuttings. A magnet to bees, butterflies and other insects.

Find more plants that are attractive to pollinators.

8

Cordyline ‘Firecracker’

Cordyline ‘Firecracker’ foliage

With narrow bronze-purple leaves and a particularly spiky habit, this is a striking cordyline. Grow it in moist, well-drained soil in full sun or part shade. It may need protecting during the winter.

9

Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’

Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ Advertisement

Catmint, Nepeta cataria, is a traditional favourite for silver borders. ‘Six Hills Giant’ is large and hardy, with grey-green foliage and lavender-like flowers that attract bees. Its leaves can be infused in hot water to make a tea.

Create a living windbreak

It’s a good idea to create a living windbreak by planting a hedge facing the prevailing wind. This will have the benefit of reducing wind speed, and so protecting other plants in the garden and providing a shelter for wildlife. Suitable hedging plants include berberis, hawthorn, oleaster and sea buckthorn.

Wind Resistant Plants For Gardens

How does wind affect plants? Wind is air in motion, and strong winds can cause plants to sway excessively, pulling and tugging on their roots. This continual movement interferes with the roots’ ability to remain grounded within the soil, which reduces the plant’s ability to absorb water, leading to severe water stress and even death.

Let’s take a look at how wind affects plant size, plant wind protection for your garden, and plants that do well in windy places.

How Does Wind Affect Plant Size?

Wind affects the growth and development of plants in many ways. Shorter growth and abnormal development results from excessive movement caused by wind. This is a common occurrence seen in plants grown in windy areas. In addition to disrupting the root-soil relationship, the combination of wind and sun affects plant size.

The amount of these two elements can quickly determine how plant surfaces dry. Thus, wind increases water loss through evaporation. As a result, wind-blown plants require more watering or they will develop water stress and could die.

Strong winds can also damage plants by breaking them, distorting their growth, and lowers the air temperature around plants, which reduces their rate of growth.

Finally, wind can spread pathogens from one place to another, especially when accompanied by rain. Windblown rain can spread spores from infected plants to healthy ones, quickly inhibiting their ability to sustain healthy growth and plant size.

Plant Wind Protection

You can help protect your garden by incorporating hardy trees and shrubs such as:

  • Mountain ash
  • Crepe myrtle
  • Redbud
  • Persimmon
  • Pindo palm
  • Cabbage palm
  • Dogwood
  • Willow
  • Bayberry
  • Japanese maple
  • Carolina silverbell
  • American holly
  • Yaupon holly
  • Viburnum

These act as wind blocks, which is one way to offer plant wind protection.

However, you may also want to consider the addition of small retaining walls or other barriers to protect plants affected by the wind. Wood fencing, mesh screens, and trellis panels can make effective wind buffers for plants.

You can also create small, protected recesses within windy slopes or other areas of the wind garden. Simply dig out pockets for the plants to grow in and surround these with built up rocks or stones. To keep the wind from drying out the soil and help retain moisture, add an extra layer of mulch as well.

Wind Resistant Plants for the Garden

Some plants are considered wind resistant, or wind tolerant. Wind-resistant plants have flexible stems, which allow them to bend and sway without breaking. For instance, palms and crepe myrtles are good wind resistant plants.

Plants that are adapted to windy conditions usually have small, narrow leaves as well, such as needle-leaved conifers and ornamental grasses. In fact, ornamental grasses are some of the most wind-tolerant plants around, and most require little watering. They can even serve as miniature windbreak plantings for less wind-tolerant plants.

From perennials like daylilies, daisies, flax, and coreopsis to annuals such as zinnias and nasturtiums, there are a variety of wind resistant plants for these conditions.

To find plants suited to your particular needs and climate, you may need to do some research through online sources or books. Your local extension office can help as well.

Hurricane Recovery: Wind-Resistant Trees for Home, Business, and Park Landscaping

Urban forests are the trees that surround our homes, streets, parking lots, schools, and parks. Urban forests can be used to help mitigate the negative effects caused by urbanization and development. While urban forests have many benefits, some of the most notable community benefits include how they can: curb air pollution, improve water quality, decrease soil erosion, provide wildlife habitat, and buffer noise pollution. After a hurricane, many communities will lose trees in residential yards, city parks, and in the right of way. This blog post seeks to share information on recommended wind-resistant trees.

Planting Wind-Resistant Species After a Hurricane

As demonstrated by hurricane Irma, hurricane-force winds can cause extreme damage to communities and urban forests. Scientists at the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) have tracked and studied major hurricanes since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. One of the purposes of this study has been to compile a list of wind-resistant tree species. If you lost trees and plan on replanting, read on to learn about which trees are most hurricane-resistant.

Most Wind-Resistant Species

It is important to note that there is no such thing as a completely “wind-proof tree.” In addition to species choice, there are important environmental factors to consider when planting trees including: soil conditions, availability of water, and yard placement as it relates to sunlight.

According to research conducted by University of Florida scientists, the most resistant species to wind-related damage are: sand live oak (Quercus germinata), southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), and live oak (Quercus virginiana). Other good species include: crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), and sabal or cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto).

Wind resistance of southeastern US coastal plain tree species which were analyzed in the UF/IFAS Publication, FR17400 (pg. 11) by Mary Duryea and Eliana Kampf.

Important Considerations

In addition to planting strong, wind-resistant trees, there are other measures you can take to help with wind resistance, including:

  • Ensure plenty of root space. The more space trees have for rooting, the more anchored and healthy they will be.
  • Properly pruning your trees is important for not only their health, but also for wind-resistance.
  • Trees that are planted and grow in groupings will be more wind-resistant than individual trees.
  • Native trees have been proven to survive better than exotic trees.

Trees to Avoid Planting

Brittle branches, weak root systems, or poor structure can cause a tree to fail during a hurricane. Some of the tree species which were determined to be the least wind-resistant include:

  • Sand pine (Pinus clausa)
  • Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia)
  • Water oak (Quercus nigra)
  • Laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia)

Wind resistance of southeastern US coastal plain tree species which were analyzed in the UF/IFAS Publication, FR17400 (pg. 11) by Mary Duryea and Eliana Kampf.

Summary

In conclusion, it would be wise to select wind-resistant trees for planting for your home, business, or city park landscaping in order to be prepared for the next hurricane or strong summer storm.

To improve your future tree’s success, plant it in an area suitable for the species with adequate root space. Trees with more root space often form healthier and stronger root systems, and therefore, healthier and more wind-resistant trees.

For more information…

For more information on wind-resistant trees or planning for a hurricane resistant urban forest, please read the UF/IFAS document, “Trees and Wind: Lessons Learned from Hurricanes.”

You can also contact the UF/IFAS Polk County Extension’s Plant Clinic:
Monday – Friday
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
(863) 519-1057
Email a Polk County Master Gardener: [email protected]

Sources:

This blog post was written by Natural Resources Extension Program Intern, Ms. Paxton Evans, under supervision by Natural Resources and Conservation Extension Agent, Mrs. Shannon Carnevale.

by Shannon Carnevale

Posted: September 21, 2017

Category: Disaster Preparation, Home Landscapes, Natural Resources

Tags: Hurricane Preparedness, Paxton Evans, Shannon Carnevale, trees, urban forests

Don’t spend your time during a storm side-eyeing the towering elm beside your driveway, worried it might fall.

These five arborist-approved trees stand sturdy through the strongest winds and drenching rains — and give your curb appeal extra oomph.

Tulip Tree

George Washington loved these towering trees (pictured above) and their (surprise!) tulip-shaped petals: The babies he planted at Mount Vernon are now 140 feet tall.

Although skinny, tulip trees are surprisingly strong, with a narrow profile and strong wood structure that resists powerful winds.

Thin leaves with slender petioles — the stalks joining leaf and stem — provide an added bad-weather bonus: Wind slides right on by, says Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist at the Tree Care Industry Association. “They just flutter.”

But keep your tulip trees svelte. “The bigger it gets, the more likely it could fail in a higher wind,” says Andersen.

Bald Cypress

Image: Mtreasure/Getty

This stately conifer was born to survive serious flooding: it thrives in the Louisiana bayous (it’s also the state tree).”They have an amazing tapered trunk that’s exceptionally thick at the base,” and an extensive root system to match, says Woody Nelson, vice president of marketing and communications at the Arbor Day Foundation. “They’re super tolerant.”

But you don’t need waterlogged land to please a bald cypress. Hardy through zone 4, these trees will happily serve as your backyard centerpiece even when it’s dry.

Eastern Redbud

Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

Beastly trees are best at surviving storms, but a yard filled only with tall trees is a dull yard indeed. Give your property a rosy hue with this small, decorative tree, whose pink buds attract butterflies and songbirds. (Coincidentally, another George Washington fave.) This small, sturdy option can fit into any yard, no matter how tiny. “We have members who will ask for 10 at a time,” says Nelson. “There’s always room.”

No tiny tree can withstand hurricane-force winds all by its lonesome, but the Eastern redbud is the best of the little guys. With a few taller trees to absorb the worst of the wind, your redbud will stand sturdy all storm season, says Andersen.

River Birch

Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

Like the bald cypress, the river birch loves water — but it will survive just fine if your yard is clay, loamy, well-drained, soaking wet or anything in between. Unlike other birches, this variety resists pesky borers, keeping trunk and branches sturdy.

But the river birch isn’t simply flood-tolerant. Strong winds won’t topple this 70-foot beast. “It has a real dainty limb structure that bends, not breaks,” says Nelson. Just keep the limbs trimmed, otherwise its gargantuan size may become a drawback.

Oak Trees

Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

“A slower-growing tree is a stronger tree,” says Andersen. “When wind blows on a small tree and the tree bends, it creates additional structures on the inside of the tree.”

No matter your style or yard needs, you’ll find an oak that suits. Live oaks feature curvaceous exposed branches, and the overcup oak is a gorgeous puff of green. As a rule, oaks tend to be slow-growing — a huge boon to storm-prone homeowners.

The result? Strong, supportive branches able to withstand serious storms. And with most oak trees topping out at around 60 feet, “the tree itself is not a giant sail,” Andersen says. To ensure sturdy oaks, buy small, not large. “If you’re transplanting a larger tree where the majority of the roots have been severed, it’s more susceptible to failure,” she says.

Hurricane Resistant Trees

July 8, 2019 1:18 pm This allée of bald cypresses shows that these strong, wetland trees also perform beautifully as street trees.

If you live in hurricane country –which encompasses just about any place in the U.S. within 100 miles of the Atlantic seaboard – the wrong tree in the wrong place can pose a major threat to life and property. This is something to keep in mind when you plan and plant your garden.

Hurricane-Resistant Tree Features

Of course, stronger hurricanes cause greater damage, all else being equal. But the potential impact of even a major hurricane can be tempered if you plant strong-rooted, wind-resistant trees in favorable positions.

Whatever trees you choose, they’ll be more hurricane-resistant if their roots have ample room. A tree’s root system typically spreads well beyond its canopy. Give it less, and it will be relatively weakly anchored and poorly nourished. A 30-foot-wide tree in a 15-foot-wide planting area is asking to become hurricane fodder.

This elm fell prematurely after a hurricane largely because it was poorly anchored in a small streetside tree lawn.

Soil depth also matters. If your soil is on the sandy or heavy side, your trees are likely to have relatively shallow roots. A yearly 1-inch mulch of Fafard® Premium Topsoil will help their roots grow denser and deeper. Be sure to mulch the whole root zone, if possible.

A tree’s crown size also influences its susceptibility to hurricane damage. Shorter trees afford the wind less leverage. Tree species and varieties of small to moderate size (15 to 30 feet) are not only less likely to topple, they also cause less damage if they do. This may seem self-evident, but it doesn’t prevent thousands of homeowners from planting large trees in potentially disastrous proximity to buildings, driveways, and other targets. Our advice: don’t.

Trees of all sizes benefit from companions. Groups of similarly sized trees – spaced at the width of their mature crowns – are relatively hurricane-resistant compared to singletons. Likewise, large trees – where appropriate – call for an underplanting of smaller, shade-tolerant trees and shrubs. In addition to being ecologically apropos, this planted understory will at least partially survive even a catastrophic hurricane.

A further factor to consider is the direction of the strongest hurricane winds – typically from the southeast or northeast. Niches sheltered from these winds (for example, to the west of a building) will suffer relatively light damage. Conversely, fully exposed sites are especially inappropriate for hurricane-susceptible trees.

Hurricane-Resistant Trees

Having chosen a good site for your tree, you’ll probably want to choose a relatively hurricane-resistant species. Studies of hurricane damage show that some tree species – including the following eastern U.S. natives – stand up particularly well to wind. Even better, some of these species come in compact forms that offer even greater hurricane resistance.

Strong-wooded musclewood trees are small to medium-sized, have unusual bark, and will withstand high winds and harsh weather.

American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana): 25 to 40 feet tall; full to part sun; USDA Cold Hardiness Zones 3 to 9. This compact tree has smooth, fluted bark and exceptional fall color. It grows in the understory in the wild, but in cultivation, it is at its best in full sun and moist, fertile, friable soil. It is also known as blue beech and musclewood.

Everyone loves the beauty of dogwoods in spring, but these trees are also surprisingly resilient to hurricane weather.

Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida): 20 feet; full to part sun; Zones 5 to 8. This common flowering tree offers white flowers in mid-spring, attractive scaly gray bark, and burgundy fall color. The many varieties of this old-time favorite include the pink-bloomed ‘Cherokee Brave’ and floriferous ‘Cloud 9’.

If you don’t mind the prickly foliage, American hollies are great native, evergreen trees that will stand up to the worst stormy weather.

American holly (Ilex opaca): 30 to 40 feet; full sun to light shade; Zones 5 to 9. This tall, conical holly has spiny evergreen leaves and red berries on female plants, when a male pollenizer is present. Notable compact varieties include the yellow-fruited ‘Helen Mitchell’, variegated ‘Steward’s Silver Crown’ (female), and large-berried ‘Satyr Hill’.

Large, bowl-shaped summer blooms and evergreen foliage are two of the most notable features of southern magnolia, but storm resistance is another.

Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora): 20 to 50 feet; full to partial sun; Zones 6 (for the hardiest cultivars) to 9. Broad lustrous evergreen leaves with fuzzy undersides and large waxy flowers in summer make this an exceptional landscape tree. Look for ‘Bracken’s Brown Beauty’, a compact, hardy form that matures at 25 to 30 feet and handles Zone 6 winters.

The native hop hornbeam is a woodland tree that also makes a good landscape tree for hurricane-prone areas.

Hop hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana): 30 to 50 feet; full to partial sun; Zones 5 to 9. Reaching 25 to 40 feet when mature, this shaggy-barked understory native forms a dense oval-crowned specimen when planted in full sun. It has good gold fall color. It is also known as “ironwood”, for its strong densely grained trunk.

Many oaks make excellent storm-resistant additions to open lawns and landscapes. The key is making sure they have enough ground to fully develop supportive root systems.

Shumard red oak (Quercus shumardii): 40 to 70 feet; sun; Zones 5 to 9. This handsome, deciduous U.S. native oak has pointy-lobed leaves that color wine-red in late fall or early winter. Its close relative, maple-leaved oak (Quercus acerifolia), features a compact habit and five-lobed, maple-like leaves. Shingle oak (Quercus imbricaria) is another good choice, offering relatively slow, compact growth (to 50 to 70 feet), shiny unlobed leaves, burgundy fall color, and Zone 4 to 8 hardiness.

Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum): 40 to 70 feet; sun to light shade; Zones 5 to 11. A strong constitution helps support this tree in high winds. It is a striking deciduous conifer with a conical habit and feathery foliage that goes burnt-orange in fall. (Read our recent bald cypress article for a description of more compact cultivars.)

About Russell Stafford

Hortiholic and plant evangelist, Russell Stafford, transplanted his first perennial at age 7 and thereby began a lifelong plant addiction. He is the founder and custodian of Odyssey Bulbs (and Odyssey Perennials), an online nursery specializing in cool and uncommon plants. Russell also works as a horticultural consultant, freelance writer (Horticulture and The American Gardener magazines), and garden editor. He formerly served as Curator and Head of Horticulture at Fernwood Botanic Garden in Niles, Michigan and as the Horticultural Program Coordinator at the Center for Plant Conservation, then located at the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. His academic degrees include a masters in forest science from Harvard University.

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I am one of those driven mad by too much wind. My thoughts become hounded, I quickly become irritable. I can’t adapt but, with time, there are plenty of plants that will.

Early on in a plant’s life, high winds loosen roots, break and twist fragile stems and scorch foliage as the plant battles to keep moisture levels up. For tender young plants, some sort of barrier until they get settled is important in exposed situations.

Plants have adapted in all sorts of ways to life in the turbulent zone: bananas have leaves like sails, till they rip themselves to shreds so as not to blow over; trees send roots in the opposite direction to the prevailing wind to anchor in; grasses bend and alpines cling. The trick is to choose the right lot, so your whole garden sways appropriately. Lush, quick growth from too much nitrogen is always weak, so treating your perennials a little mean will, in the end, result in stronger growth. For borderline floppers, staking early is everything. If you feel windswept, they will, too, so don’t gamble – stake.

The best shelter is a layer of trees and shrubs staggered to filter the wind. Hawthorn makes resilient hedging, while Scots pines, willows, sycamores and poplars are flexible enough for the toughest gales. If you don’t have space for them, windbreak material or wattle fencing will do.

The back of the border should be made up of hardy soldiers to shelter the rest. Eupatoriums are among the toughest; they have large umbels of flowers in late summer – and the butterflies adore them. Eupatorium purpureum subsp maculatum or Joe-pye weed is an American species with some lovely cultivars, including the compact ‘Purple Bush’. I’ve seen it grown without support in some tough places, but if in doubt, stake. It likes organic matter around its feet, so mulch in spring.

Vernonia also survives extremes and makes a brilliant framework. It’s a classic prairie plant, so suits being with eupatorium and robust grasses such as miscanthus. Vernonia fasciculata or ironweed has short, sturdy stems, making it very tough. Sea holly (eryngium species) is worth a look, particularly for more free-draining scree, gravel and coastal gardens. Japanese anemones are pretty undefeatable, even in dry, shady soil, particularly if – you’ve guessed it – you stake them.

Short, thick-stemmed alliums such as A. angulosum are perfect near the front of a border, and veronicas rarely need staking. V. ‘Shirley Blue’ makes undulating mounds for the front of the border and trailing V. umbrosa ‘Georgia Blue’ will drape over walls or border edges.

I like the white forms of the everlasting pea (Lathyrus latifolius): this will grow through shrubs or tumble down a windswept bank. Low-growing ground-cover geraniums, if given something to get their roots into, will take any aspect. G. macrorrhizum ‘Ingwersen’s Variety’ is good for shade and evergreen to boot.

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Planting for areas with high wind

I’d suggest using wind-tolerant trees and shrubs to make a shelter belt. Use the following trees and shrubs that withstand wind quite well and are strong enough to limit the amount of breeze entering the garden. You may still need to plant tough plants behind the windbreak, but they should develop and withstand even better!

Trees suitable for a windbreak

Arbutus unedo

Carpinus betulus

Hollies

Nothofagus

Prunus lusitanica

Umbellularia californica

Shrubs suitable for a windbreak

Berberis darwinii

Choisya

Ctonoeaster

Hyrangeas

Lavendars

Rosa clauca

Viburnum tinus

When planting your windbreak, be mindful of the fact that it can spoil the view, or cause shade where you don’t want it, so be sure to take these things into consideration when planning.

An alternative would be to build a small bank with a few shrubs planted on top, and this will help restrict wind in the lower levels of the garden.

So don’t shy away from your windy garden and use suitable plants and measures to make your breezy garden a beautiful and peaceful place to relax!

Fed up with plants that just won’t thrive? Adrienne Wild recommends some great choices that will carry on living in places which see off their weaker brethren

Tough plant: Soft shield fern Polystichum setiferum laughs at dry shade ©Alamy

If your garden has dry shade

Gloomy gardens and parched soil beneath trees often become dead zones, but this doesn’t have to be the case if you plant well – stick to a palette of fresh green evergreens with a varied and interesting outline and ground-covering herbaceous perennials.

The plants being used to create the outline of the display will need a head start on the rest to avoid being swamped, so ideally plant the borders over two consecutive seasons.

The soil must be in good heart with plenty of organic matter added before planting and mulches used to ensure better moisture retention.

Tough plants to choose

In the dry shade beneath trees, plant shrubs such as mahonia, skimmia, sambucus, rubus, ruscus and symphoricarpos, and underplant with ground-hugging ajuga, alchemilla, epimediums, bergenia, lamium, hellebores, pulmonaria and soft shield ferns.

Put the emphasis on shiny leaves and white or pale-coloured blooms to lift the garden out of gloom.

Tough plant: Lavender is great where water is scarce ©iStock.com

If your garden is home to hot, dry spots

Give your garden’s dry patches a Mediterranean-style makeover and replace vulnerable grass with paving or gravel. Typically, Mediterranean gardens don’t have lawns, as they need lots of water in summer, which is their driest time of year.

Choose materials with earthy hues such as terracotta and sandstone, which will give it an authentic ‘sun-bleached’ look, and mix in contrasting splashes of blue with glazed pots and mosaics that are reminiscent of bright skies and sparkling turquoise sea.

Plants with grey or hairy foliage and spiky leaves such as lavender, rosemary, Artemisia, dianthus and salvia and the dangerously pointed yet beautiful succulent agave have the armour to cope with extreme drought.

Scented-leaved pelargoniums and colourful oleander are also hardy, and are perfect companions for terracotta pots and shapely olive jars, which can be planted with summer bedding in pastel schemes of lavender, hot pink and purple or simply left empty for effect.

Tough plant: Pyracantha, with its wonderful red berries, is a great city plant © iStock.com

If your garden is in the city

Scorched or dropping leaves and stunted growth are just some of the signs of city-stressed plants – those that are regularly subjected to an onslaught of pollutants.

Fortunately, nature has given certain plants a few useful tricks to protect themselves against toxic gases and dust, such as thick, leathery leaves and narrow, grassy foliage.

The best survivors are shrubs such as berberis, buddleja, cotoneaster and pyracantha, which are generally undemanding and grow away quickly after being damaged.

Evergreen skimmias are great plants for year-round interest and are tolerant of difficult conditions.

The decorative sedge Carex testacea is particularly good for roadside planting, even when exposed to strong sunlight, which makes the deepening colours of its arching orange-brown leaves intensify.

Cordyline australis, which has strappy leaves creating a dramatic shape, is a survivor, even when neglected, as is Christmas box, Sarcococca humilis, which has glossy evergreen leaves and fragrant cream-coloured flowers in winter.

Tough plants: Pelargoniums are another great choice in hot spots ©iStock.com

If your garden is on a slope

A simple, short flight of steps between terraced areas will make a definite statement, telling you that you have moved from one area to another, and works best if you allow the plants to merge with the paving to soften its edges.

A very steep slope, however, is probably best left as a grassy bank, but if it’s difficult to mow – only gradients of 90cm in 3m can be mown safely – aim for a contoured look with shrubs of differing heights and ground-cover plants to create a more interesting, textured carpet.

Ground-hugging plants such as Pachysandra terminalis and Vinca major and V. minor make splendid evergreen carpets.

Prostrate or creeping junipers also offer some of the best labour-saving ground covers and are especially good for very steep slopes where access is limited.

For exposed slopes and areas where there is heavy traffic pollution, you can’t beat evergreen euonymus, which will scramble over obstacles without assistance.

If your garden is windy

While good air circulation is essential for preventing a build-up of fungal spores that lead to plant diseases, strong wind can be devastating to plants, as it causes leaves to become desiccated and die, and weak branches to break.

Wind can also weaken the roots’ grip on the soil, so that the plant is partly lifted out of the ground – this is known as ‘wind rock’. Creating a shelter belt in an exposed garden will help enormously: hedges are effective, as is netting – both filter the wind and slow it down without any unwanted side effects.

Pick plants with small leaves or with feathery or finely divided foliage rather than big leaves, which are easily torn. Heathers and callunas work well and can be selected with flowers and coloured, evergreen foliage for winter interest.

While traditionally partnered with conifers, they can be used to create ribbons of colour through borders or linked to create an unusual parterre or knot feature, which can be lightly trimmed to retain crisp lines immediately after flowering.

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