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Windbreak in a small, walled, windy garden

Hi, this is my first post here as a new member, with their own garden for the first time. I hoped my first post would be about some nice new plant but it's quickly become clear that I have a bit of a problem to solve first - wind.

It's a new-build small L-shaped garden, on a south-facing corner plot surrounded by 6' brick walls on all sides. The main garden is 30 ft across x 20ft deep and on the southwestern edge is a 30 ft x 10 ft paved area down the side of the house. The wind blows in from this side and buffets any plant more than 6" off the ground quite violently, and since I would like to plant a tree fern among other things I'm worried this is not ideal.

We would like to put a small (7 ft square) summerhouse/playhouse at the junction between the two arms of the 'L', but now I've done some reading about windbreaks and eddies, this sounds like it might make things worse wind-wise, by putting a solid barrier across the wind.

After this long scene setting (sorry), my question is how effective would 2 ft of willow screen or dense trellis on top of the wall along the south and western edges be at reducing wind across the garden, and if (as I suspect) the answer is 'not very', what else can I do?



  • ThankthecatThankthecat Posts: 421
    edited April 2018
    Hi Andy! A photo would help me picture the garden better, but it sounds as though the area down the side of the house is a bit of a wind tunnel, in which case I would plant some tough shrubs or small trees between the end of that and the main bit of garden. There are plenty that are good at filtering wind and you'll find some suggestions here: If it's any consolation, you're not alone - my garden is on the side of a south-west facing valley in North Devon and it's subject to very strong wind a lot of the year! I've planted a mixed native hedge along the boundary with hornbeam, hawthorn, blackthorn, sea buckthorn, guelder rose, dog rose, holly and yew. Alternatively you could put up some trellis (with suitably sized posts concreted in) and grow a Clematis montana through it with some Grp 3 clematis to come through when the worst of the windy weather is over?
  • Thanks Thankthecat, I'll try to sort out some photos in a minute but you've hit upon the other idea I had, to put trellis across the gap in front of where we might put the summerhouse (and I wanted loads of clematis anyway). Only trouble is it would mean digging up some of a newly-laid patio to put in support for trellis...
  • These two pictures are taken more or less from the junction between the main garden and the 'wind tunnel'. The first pic is looking down the tunnel south into the wind. A trellis barrier would have to go between the washing line and the nearest manhole cover:
    The second is facing north-east from almost the same spot. The plants you can see by the fence were bought yesterday and just sunk into the ground in their pots to stop them blowing around the garden, until I can plant them properly on Saturday 
  • FireFire Posts: 17,398
    Hi, and welcome Minus, could you say more about why there is a wind tunnel? Are you under between hills, by the sea, between estates or is it just a random thing? A six ft wall on all sides would normally seem like a pretty good protection against wind, perhaps. Thanks
  • Thanks Fire, the fact is I don't really know why it's so windy, we're in landlocked, flat south Norfolk. Across the road in front of the house is a playing field with a hedgerow in front (those are the trees of the hedgerow you can see in the background of the first pic above) but otherwise we're essentially in the middle of a modern housing estate.
  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,912
    edited April 2018
    Fire said:
    A six ft wall on all sides would normally seem like a pretty good protection against wind, perhaps. 
    A six foot trellis with about 50% free area would be good protection. Bare walls tend to create swirl and often lift, so immediately behind the wall you get a very strong up-draft which pulls plants out of the ground.

    I think there are a number of things you could do. First choice would be a trellis fence across the 'leg' at the hinge - i.e. basically where you were standing to take the photos - to stop the wind along the side of the house blowing into the main garden area. You could put a summerhouse there instead. To avoid that funnelling the wind and making matters worse, you need to break up the surfaces. The best way to do that in the long run is to grow something over it - roses or ivy or something else fairly sturdy. maybe have a sort of open pergola along the front of it and grow something over that.

    You also need to get the rest of the surrounding walls covered as much as possible with plants. This slows the wind down as it blows onto and along the walls and reduces the swirl, as will planting some tough shrubs and trees in front of the walls where there is room. Consider growing climbers up the house walls too. It can take a while to get the plants established, so you may need to wait a few years before you invest in the tree fern, to get the micro-climate established.

    If you go to visit old established walled gardens, you'll usually see the outside of the walls covered in climbers. This is the best way to stop the lifting effect behind the wall. So if you have any ability to, plant some pyracantha or the like outside your garden, against your garden walls.

    “It's still magic even if you know how it's done.” 
  • Thanks raisingirl (a fellow pratchett fan!), the trellis idea just prompted a conversation with my wife about the summerhouse, which as a result has now turned into a more open trellis gazebo that could have plants scrambling up it and would avoid another flat solid surface.

    I plan to grow Boston ivy and 'normal' ivy (hedera) against the wall on the right of the main garden, with a pergola over the gravel path I haven't quite finished, and in that second photo there are clematis armandii, passiflora, trachelospermum, lonicera henryi and wisteria ready to be planted to go up the fence and garage wall when a plant training kit arrives, so in time there should be little bare boundary on show. Maybe things like a tree fern may have to wait until then. There are several shrub loniceras planted on the other side of the wind-facing wall by the developers, maybe I might put another Boston ivy behind them to cover the wall quickly.

  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,912
    minus91ne said:
    which as a result has now turned into a more open trellis gazebo that could have plants scrambling up it and would avoid another flat solid surface.

    That's the crux of it. Hopefully you'll find it improves rapidly once your plants get growing
    “It's still magic even if you know how it's done.” 
  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,968
    Andy, how long have you been in your house (garden)?  Spring winds are not unusual.. our yard feels like a wind tunnel any time there is a bit of a spring breeze.  Summer though, the wind usually comes from a different direction and isn't much of a bother.  Have you been in the garden a year yet?  

    A pergola with with a trellis against the back towards the laundry line would look quite lovely.. both blocking wind and creating a 'room' within your garden.. visually enlarging the space, if done right.  
    Utah, USA.
  • Hi, good point, we moved in at the beginning of last June, so nearly a year ago. The wind has been worse over the winter especially but the prevailing wind is just that - it doesn't change direction here and we've had strong winds blowing about all seasons. it's only now that we've started planting things that the extent of the risk has emerged. 

    When money allows we'll put in a pergola and see how that changes things over the year. 
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