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A generally breezy area is beneficial to trees in several ways. Without any wind, there could be too much humidity, a lack of air exchange, and a static brew for disease. What would be worse is not being able to sustain a remedy for a lack of airflow!
Luckily, you have the opposite problem. For environments where winds come on too strong, there are many things we can do!
Select wind-tolerant trees for a line of defense
If there is a particular tree or group of trees you’re looking to grow well, consider designing and planting a shelterbelt for them.
There are many plants for windy areas to choose from, so why not use wind-resistant trees or shrubs to create a line of defense for everything else? Selecting appropriate tree species for your given environment is the single best way to grow a good tree in a windy area.
Fast-growing wind-resistant trees
Wind-resistant trees tolerate the forces of wind well. This doesn’t equally make them the best at breaking and slowing down wind! Especially when most of these fast-growers lose their leaves. Keep this in mind if you aren’t looking to add evergreens to your landscape!
Willow trees are gorgeous, wonderful for basket-making, and are fast-growing, wind-resistant, and make good windbreak trees. Their effectiveness for a windbreak is less when they lose their leaves but still do a decent job because of the thick truck and dense branches. They also prefer moist areas, so if the place you have for planting doesn’t retain much moisture it may not be the most suitable line of defense.
Lilacs are a popular fragrant choice for windbreaks. They also benefit from the breeze because it minimizes powdery mildew. They dislike wet areas and compact soils. Their flowers are edible too, often made into syrup.
Forsythias tolerate drought well and often recover from the damaging effects of wind because they’re such fast growers.
Sumac trees have a tropical look and produce edible lemony flavor cones. They grow very fast and have flexible limbs.
Chokecherry trees are somewhat drought tolerant, are strong against winds, and birds love their berries!
Hackberry trees are tough to a lot! Wind, drought, salt, heat, floods, and ice. Not only do they establish quickly, but the berries they produce are also edible and nutrient-dense.
Fast-growing windbreak shrubs
Nanking cherries, nannyberries, elderberries, serviceberries, amur maples, ninebark, and dogwoods such as pagoda, gray, red osier, and silky, are effective windbreak shrubs when they have their leaves.
There are also plenty of evergreen shrubs for windy areas to choose from too!
Consider growing trees from seed
The wind is like exercise for plants, it makes them grow suitably strong for the environment they’re in.
Brendon from a Facebook group has noticed that fruit trees grown from seed are hardier against inclement weather. For those looking to grow fruit trees in windy areas, you’ll want to choose trees with specific traits.
It makes sense that anything grown from seed has an advantage over transplants. Transplants come from somewhere else, with different conditions. It takes adjustment, adaptation, and establishment to the new environment. A seed-sown tree knows only one place and it knows it better than all the newcomers will.
Prune the tree in two critical ways
- Prune certain trees to stay shorter. It will help keep their lush tops from experiencing too much whiplash. Trees in general will naturally grow shorter and stalkier when they are subject to consistent swaying because they know their survival depends on their adaptation to the conditions.
- Especially for broad-leaved trees; thin out the limbs. The wind can blow through the tree rather than applying force to go around it. Reducing density diminishes the general force felt by the tree.
Choose trees with an ideal rootstock
The rootstock choice can be pretty important. Avoid dwarf rootstocks at all costs. Go with trees that are attached to vigorous-growing root systems!
For example, several fruit tree growers have reported good success with MM111 rootstock for apples and Lovell rootstock for peaches.
A liberty apple tree with an M-26 rootstock would be a bad choice!
Stake the trees properly while they are young
Even on vigorous rootstocks, young trees will benefit from temporary staking until they’re established.
The biggest mistake new tree growers make with staking is hugging the tree too tight or close to the stake. You need to train the tree to grow upright while allowing it to experience the swaying.
When planting your tree, bury the stake with it so you don’t have any risk of root damage and can ensure the stake is at a good, sturdy depth.
Delay the crop for a better yield later
Allowing young trees to establish for longer can create a more robust root system. Strong roots have a higher advantage against physical resistance and droughts. A healthier and more stable tree will yield greater amounts of food even if you miss a year or two of the first potential crops.
Some growers delay the harvest of their trees intentionally to keep them in a vegetative growth state. If our trees fruit in a year or two, we will certainly delay the harvest. Our trees have been heavily grazed by deer early in life, for this reason, delaying the harvest will produce a greater reward.
Retain water and give deep watering more frequently
Trees, especially trees that dislike droughts, need lots of water in the wind. The constant breeze not only dries the soil but the water in the leaves. If your trees don’t get consistent replenishment of water the ends of their blossoms or branches can begin to whither, dry up, and blow off.
Use nets to protect leaves from blowing off
Netting the whole tree can somewhat help leaves retain moisture and primarily help them by reducing wind speed exposure.
Put up windbreak structures to slow windspeeds
Finally, you can also put up a fence, or a rock wall, push up a soil hill or construct any kind of physical barrier to slow down windspeeds.
If you are going to create a barrier I recommend a living one. Living barriers can yield greater returns, results, and longevity. I wrote all about designing a thoughtful shelterbelt using five examples with a mix of complex and simple options.
This article was originally published on foodforestliving.com. If it is now published on any other site, it was done without permission from the copyright owner.
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