What trees are good to plant in high wind area?

summerdeanFebruary 25, 2009

I would like to plant some interesting trees in front of our house, but am not sure if the wind will affect them. I am very new to gardening, so I don't know much. For sentimental reasons I was thinking of planting a dogwood, a cherry blossom, a Japanese maple, and a few more that were relative in size. I live in the Shenandoah Valley and it can be really windy where we live. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! I was also thinking of planting some fruit trees...but that's another story!

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

define windy ....

i have to think .... you are surrounded by trees in the valley .. they dont care...

so i doubt if whatever you plant should care ... trees acclimate to it all ...

there might be some issue in proper planting and staking them for a short period to get some roots to hold them in place ...

and i would think long and hard about planting GIANT trees that will overhang your house in the future ..

but the trees you list are basically small ornamental trees.. and shouldnt really be a problem ...

being new.. i think you are going about this backwards ...

think out your project this way:

type, and then
proper planting/staking

first a tree for your zone ... then how it will grow in your soil .. then the size you want.. then the type [e.g. flowering] ... and then select and plant it properly... and you should be all set ...

wind factors dont even make that list ....

so .. next step ... are the ones you list zone appropriate.. and will they grow in your soil??

start a new post if you need help with specific planting ideas ....

good luck


    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 12:49PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Ken is right.

You can avoid Bradford Pears and Norway Maple types on your wish lists. Also like he says don't plant much that will overhang your home.

Then again none of them were on your list.

If I really think hard I can guess marginally hardy trees, those listed "only" to zone 6, might be more prone to damage from winter winds. Then again no southern magnolias were on your list.

Here is a link that might be useful: U Conn Plant Database

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 8:29PM
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Ah, maybe we are neighbors of sorts! I live about 12 miles north of Winchester on a low, airplane wing shaped ridge that accelerates the wind. Boy, the winds are something here! In the little windstorm a week ago several houses along this ridge had their siding--parts of it--ripped off. My back porch soffit/ceiling was ripped out. Sometimes it seems like the winds will never stop.

But the winds are mostly winter and early spring, which makes a big difference. I have planted about 125 varieties of trees so far, and there is nothing I would say I would not plant again because of the winds.

Even things like cottonwoods, which I love, can thrive in this windy place. In fact, in one of the most exposed places on this ridge there are several nice big old ones. Trees as they grow get adapted to the winds and build strength.

Just be sure to stake everything that could possibly blow over until the roots are firm in the ground--we can get very strong winds in thunderstorms in the summer--and plant whatever strikes your fancy. There are some trees that may bend away from the wind a bit, but that is not a big problem.

And as for fruit trees--at least the apple trees like the wind. This is big apple growing country.

Go ahead--plant away and enjoy!


    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 9:18PM
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shortleaf2002(5b 6a KCMO, USA)

The one that I know of that doesn't do well in strong winds or storms, and even less if there's a chance of snow in November, is Bradford Pear.
They hold onto their leaves in the Winter like some kind of mutant freak plant.
I don't think I could be paid to plant a Bradford Pear or any other Calleryana in a windy area.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v243/w4i0a/broken%20Bradford%20Pears/

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 11:31PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

I live in an extremely windy area and the trees native to the area are some that you would expect and some that you wouldn't. The area is full of tupelos (black gum). This wood is impossible to split so I can certainly understand it's wind resistance. I think most any tree that is cross grained and hard to split would do well in a windy area. Some other choices would be an American Elm (one of the new cultivars resistant to Dutch Elm Disease), Japanese Zelkova (related to the Elm), and Hickory. The other trees that you see in my area are Red, White, and Scarlet Oaks. All three have very strong wood. You also see the occasional sycamore in the area. As far as evergreens, norway spruce and eastern red cedar are very common although the last one is far more prevalent. Surprisingly, Eastern White Pine is very prevalent in the area, too. I'm very surprised that they stand up to the hurricane force winds that we get at times. Red maples are also well represented although these tree are not considered to have very strong wood.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 7:31AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

Eastern White Pine aka Pinus strobus ... aka Michigan weeds .. lol ...

they may take wind rather well ...

but ice storms will break the soft wood rather easily ...

they dont care about snow ... they just bend and shed it ...


    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 9:33AM
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Southern Magnolia--Magnolia grandiflora? I planted an Edith Bogue two years ago in as windy a spot as any. Still getting established, but I think in two more years I think it will be doing fine. There are a couple of nice ones in not very protected spots in Romney, WV--probably not special cultivars--doing fine, except for some browning to the foliage in harsh winters. It is just a bit colder there than here.

Go ahead--try anything you like. Now if these winds were constant in the summer, not just winter and spring, it would be a different story. But I would use some extra mulch for two or three years after planting. The ground freezes much more deeply when the temp is 15 degrees and the wind is 30 mph, gusting to 55.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 10:02AM
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Maybe Dawn Redwood? Their cousin, the Bald Cypress, performs very well down here under hurricane conditions. The wind seems to go right through the lacy foliage and the expansive root systems keep them anchored down pretty well.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 11:18AM
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I live in what's called a high-wind area, and I'll tell you what's been bothered here by three bad wind storms over the years: Poplar/Tulip, Cherry, Sassafras, and Norway Spruce (large ones). These were all established and seemingly healthy trees, and either lost their leading branches, split, or uprooted. Black locust, silver maples, norway maples, pin oaks, red oaks were all untouched.

I agree with your choice of smaller trees. Large trees are overrated, and should never be placed near a dwelling.

Proper pruning throughout the life of the tree is of huge importance to wind resistance as well.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 4:16PM
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"Shenandoah Valley"

Except for fragile stuff like Bradford Pears, wind won't be much of a problem. Valleys are sheltered places, compared to coasts and mountaintops. Look around and see what else is growing well nearby. And then head for the top of Spruce Knob, and see what is (or isn't!) growing there . . . or Assateague Island


    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 5:25PM
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Thanks so much for all of the suggestions! I should have been clearer when I said "in front of our house" I will plant fairly far away in the hopes of making the road a little less intrusive, there is rarely a car on it, but none the less I don't like to look at it. I'm thinking of something pretty, smaller and that will add character to our property (which is fairly barren, and I thought was due to the wind) Thanks again!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 5:48PM
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Native trees, especially those with wide spreading branches, low centers of gravity, strong deep root systems, and small leaf size hold up better in windy conditions (and tropical storms). This is especially true if they are growing in mixed groves of trees. Solitary trees have less wind resistance than massed trees.

The cypress trees - bald cypress or pond cypress are the premier storm resistant trees. This is largely due to their deciduous nature, fine leaf pattern, tapered and balanced central leader, minimal branch pattern, broadly balanced root system. Dawn redwood falls into the same category. Favorites for their interesting trunks and soft green needles.

You are interested in flowering trees - these are above average in wind resistance:

Carolina Silverbell - Halesia tetraptera or H. carolina - lovely flowering tree
Japanese Tree Lilac - Syringa reticulata
Pagoda Dogwood - Cornus alternifolia - very nice shape and blooms
Panicled Golden Raintree - Koelreuteria paniculata - dramatic show at least twice a year
Sargent Cherry - Prunus sargentii
Fringetree - Chionanthus virginicus - I love these trees - they take a beating and thrive where I live.
Crape Myrtles

Evergreens provide privacy from the road:

Southern Magnolia - Magnolia grandiflora - as Spurce says, is incredibly tolerant of windy conditions
Sweetbay Magnolia - Magnolia virginiana - smaller, fragrant flowers, partially evergreen species available
Red Cedar - Juniperus virginiana
American Holly - Ilex opaca - evergreen, good screen for road

Larger trees with good wind resistance:

American Hornbeam or Musclewood- Carpinus caroliniana
Hophornbeam - Ostrya virginiana
Wild Cherry - Prunus serotina
Catalpa Trees - Catalpa speciosa
River Birch - Betula nigra
Black Gum - Nyssa sylvatica (personal favorite, outstanding fall color)
Black Walnut - Juglans nigra
Black Locust - Robinia pseudoacacia

If you decide to plant a few shade trees or specimens:

Shumard Oak - Quercus shumardii
Nutall Oak - Q. nuttalli
Cherrybark Oak - Q. falcata v. pagodafolia
Swamp chestnut oak - Q. michauxii
Live oak - Q. virginiana
White oak - Q. alba
Sycamore - Platanus occidentalis
London Planetree - Platanus x acerifolia
Winged Elm - Ulmus alata

Since you are interested in flowering trees, you may want to consider 'shrubs' - many are larger than small trees and will give you more variety.

Happy planting!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 9:54PM
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Dan Staley

Pam Chesbay has an excellent list, and I'd leave out the Platanus x acerifolia as they tend to self-prune and in high winds the branches are blunt shrapnel, plus the anthracnose and allergenic leaves really bothered me and is well known as an allergenic tree.

Nyssa sylvatica is a favorite of mine as well and is very wind fast, and adaptable, and that fall color!

Quercus shumardii is proving to be an excellent tree. Dawn redwood and baldcypress are good choices as well, but the maintenance can be problematic if you are prone to procrastination, esp with lawn underneath.

I also favor the Carpinus, Chionanthus and Halesia.

The Golden raintree seeds all over the place and is a maintenance nightmare, and Robinia pseudoacacia has brittle wood and is proving to be problematic with its fat head compared to slender trunk until maturity. Catalpa are messy as well but fine sturdy trees and adaptable if you don't mind cleaning up the mess twice a year (not as bad as magnolia, though).

Zelkova were mentioned above and I studied them in California, very compelling tree, although the branch angles may yet prove to be problematic, but nothing like the pears. Japanese maple are very flexible and beautiful, use these definitely but as an understory under your larger shade tree, like you would the dogwood-azalea layering.

One last tree I haven't seen mentioned is Gingko biloba. I lived in a way windier area in WA than what has been described above, and these did well, and in CA we'd get huge occasional storms in winter and these never went down, except in mound plantings.

The next step is to go to your local trusted nurseryperson and take in this thread and ask them what they think, as well as contacting a Master Gardener in the county in your area. Don't take their word as gospel, but as wise counsel, then go from there.


    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 12:16AM
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I have said "not to worry" in an earlier post, but I looked over Pam's list, and one tree I would single out as having potential problems here is black locust. Of all the trees here around my land, this is the one that has been uprooted the most and has the most breakage. I still plant it here because I love it, but in the back of my land there are several older ones that have been uprooted, and I frequently see broken branches.

This is strange because in a post, black locust wood is as stiff and strong as any. But in a growing tree there are weak points that form. These seem to be partly from the borers that distort the growth of young stems, and partly because of some kind of fungus that gets into living trees and really weakens them. A cut post is resistant to all kinds of rot, but I frequently see fungal growths in living trees.

But, if you plant a black locust, you can prune it carefully during the first few years to see that it develops a good structure. And if there is some breakage make sure that you do some pruning of any broken stubs and/or treat any large wounds with liquid copper fungicide to see that no fungus can enter.

These trees are fast growing, have an attractive form, and produce wonderful fragrant flowers. They are also nitrogen fixing! But their potential for breakage and uprooting makes them a poor choice for anywhere near a house. In fact last year my neighbor had a really nice big one blow down, and he gave it to me for posts. I cut 7--yes, 7!--really nice heavy 8' locust posts from this one tree!

Oh, I could add to the evidence here, that my in-laws, who live about half a mile away, had a line of these across the back of their property. I swear, two or three times a year they called me to cut up and remove one or two of these trees that blew down. Finally they had a contractor come and remove them all. I was a bit sorry they did this because I loved the trees, but also because I lost a good source of locust posts!!


    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 10:04AM
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Thank you so much!! I am so excited to get this project "in the ground"!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 1:43PM
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In high wind areas I suggest that you plant pine trees. For this kind of tree is well-known in high windy areas like mountains.

Here is a link that might be useful: landscaping salt lake city utah

    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 1:03AM
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