Windbreak Trees to Plant in Your Landscape

We’ve all been somewhere that clearly doesn’t have a windbreak, standing around taking the full brunt of whatever the weather has decided to do on any given day. Sometimes that’s a light spring breeze, and other times you’re getting walloped in the face by a full-on windstorm.

This is why many people will plant rows of trees around the edges of their property. It’ll provide a bit of privacy and it’ll reduce wind and other elements.

There are a couple of different routes you can take when it comes to planning your perfect windbreak rows. The most obvious choice is to fill your border with conifer trees and evergreen trees. Since they won’t lose their foliage in the winter, they make a great reprieve from cold winter winds.

It may seem counter-intuitive to plant deciduous trees in your windbreak, given that they have no leaves in the winter when they come into the most use. However, using deciduous trees in your windbreak provides you with shade in the summer and creates a more diverse planting.

Having increased diversity helps prevent the total devastation of your windbreak should one species be impacted by disease or other natural causes, along with providing habitat for wildlife.

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At maturity, Ohio buckeye trees (Aesculus glabra) typically reach 40 to 50 feet tall and spread approximately 30 to 40 feet. As one of the first trees to leaf out in the spring, this tree will give your windbreak a push into greening up for the year.

Along with bright green leaves, yellow flowers attract pollinators and hummingbirds. They’ll flutter from flower to flower and continue on to your garden, where you can watch them while lounging on the patio!

Come fall, the foliage turns bright orange, and hard seeds develop. Thinking of putting together some family pictures? A tree line including a couple of these would make a fantastic background!.

Best planted in zones 4 - 7, Ohio buckeye is sure to provide some eye-catching color to your windbreak with very little additional maintenance required!



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Kentucky Coffeetree

Kentucky Coffeetrees (Gymnocladus dioica) are unique and exciting species to have in your tree rows and we’re not just talking about its fun name. It’ll weather strong wind and take on late spring storms like they’re nothing.

The dark, furrowed bark will provide depth and interest to your windbreak in every season, and the persisting brown seedpods create an interesting silhouette against the winter sky. In the spring the leaves emerge, reaching up to three feet in length and small white flowers contrast beautifully.

In the fall, this native’s leaves will turn a light yellow shade before dropping all at once. A once over with the rake is all it’ll take to clean up after it in the fall.

With the potential to reach 60 to 70 feet tall in ideal conditions, Kentucky coffeetree thrives in zones 3 - 8. Place it somewhere you can enjoy the shade it gives in the summer!



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Greenspire Linden

An extremely adaptable tree, Greenspire Lindens (Tilia cordata 'Greenspire') will thrive in your windbreak. It’s hardy and highly adaptable to urban environments so you can use it on the street facing borders of your landscape.

Bright yellow flowers in early summer fill the air with a pleasant scent, and the green leaves turn a similar shade of yellow in the fall. The dense foliage will provide shade in the summer, and the branches will help slow the wind in the winter.

Best planted in zones 4-7, and reaching 50 feet tall at maturity, Greenspire Linden will adapt to whatever conditions your windbreak has.



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Douglas Fir

When you think of a North American windbreak staple, fir trees, along with white pines, Norway Spruces, and often Colorado Blue Spruces, come to mind first. How could they not with their countless benefits?

Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) sports soft green needles and an overall upright, pyramidal shape that adds a regal element to your tree rows. Deer seem to leave this tree alone for the most part, meaning one less thing for you to worry about!

Try decorating this tree with lights and ornaments in the winter to create the perfect winter wonderland to match the holiday cheer.

Hardy from zones 4-6, adding a Douglas Fir to your windbreak is a no-brainer!



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Green Giant Arborvitae (Thuja standishii x plicata 'Green Giant') has become a homeowner favorite for its fast-growing nature along with its prim and proper growing habit. Many will use this as a living privacy screen but it’ll also make a delightful windbreak!

Its foliage consists of green feathery sprays that start at the base and extend upward along the entire tree.

Space them 5 - 6 feet apart trunk to trunk when planting by themselves. However, including them in your diverse windbreaker planting adds texture and can fill in potential gaps quite nicely.

Preferring moist, well-drained soils, this tree thrives best in zones 5-8. Grab a few of these before we run out for the season!



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Evergreens might be the staple, but deciduous trees provide another source of diversity for your windbreak, increasing its effectiveness in the summer and providing necessary habitat for local wildlife. Each of these trees will thrive in your windbreak, so be sure to consider them when designing.

Happy Gardening!