Feb 132012

by Robert Kourik, guest blogger extraordinaire!

Windbreaks add beauty as well as function to your landscape

You can control the wind to keep your house warmer in the winter by blocking the chilling effects of the wind or to cool your yard or house in the summer by scooping the prevailing breezes toward the house. The most common way to sculpt invisible air currents is to use a windbreak of trees.

Ideally, the windbreak’s height should be one-fifth to one-fifteenth the distance to be protected. An 8-foot hedge can provide a measure of protection up to 80 feet downwind.

Windbreaks work best when their length is perpendicular to the prevailing winds. One row of the right tree is much more effective than a wide, multi-row planting.

Allowing some air to pass through a windbreak reduces the wind’s speed over the greatest distance. With a permeable windbreak, some of the wind can slip through to form layers of air. This blanket of layered air helps to keep the blustery winds aloft after passing over the top of the windbreak. The most effective windbreaks are actually 50 percent permeable.

Other important considerations for windbreak designs include the following:

• Be sure to talk to a local nurseryman about the best windbreak trees for your soil and climate.

• Don’t leave any large gap in the windbreak, such as a driveway, as the wind will be funneled through the opening at a speed up to 20 percent greater than its normal velocity.

• Make sure the windbreak is far enough from the house that it won’t cast a shadow on south-facing windows during the winter.

Robert Kourik is an author and gardener.  He wrote THE most informative book on edible landscaping over 30 years ago. Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape – Naturally is available from his website: www.robertkourik.com. He has other books on irrigation, roots and soil that you don’t want to miss.  He’s funny, smart and will help you get the most out of your edible landscape. Whenever I have a question about a plant in my garden, I head to Robert’s book first.

Windbreaks are important for your own comfort as well as your plants

The windy coast can be tamed by a well grown hedge.

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