Top 5 Shrubs for a Windbreak
Along with planting evergreens and deciduous trees, shrubs are an essential part of windbreak design. Because they provide another layer of protection from the harsh winter winds, consider using these shrubs in your windbreak to maximize the protection available to you in every season.
Elderberry - Sambucus spp.
Prized for it's fragrant flowers and delicious fruits, elderberry serves a multitude of purposes in a windbreak. Along with providing protection from severe winter winds, elderberry is favored by pollinators and birds alike. Consider using Black Lace or Black Beauty elderberries for a little different appearance, rather than the green foliage with white flowers found in the York Elderberry, these have purple foliage with pink flowers. Best planted in zones 3-9, elderberry will provide you with tasty fruits and become an integral part of your windbreak.
Hazelnut - Corylus americana
Another shrub with edible nuts, hazelnut is an ideal addition to a windbreak. Mature height is anywhere from 8 to 15 feet tall, and will spread to approximately the same size. Male catkins dangle from the branches in the spring, pollinating the tiny purple female flowers. In the fall, the hazelnut seed can be harvested and eaten. Fall color ranges from yellow to orange to red, depending upon a multitude of environmental conditions. Known to thrive in zones 4-9, hazelnut will provide you with years of protection and edible fruits in your windbreak.
Dogwood - Cornus spp.
With branches ranging in colors from bright red to yellow to grey, dogwoods provide winter interest and color in a windbreak. Flowers appear in the spring, and in the fall can range in color from yellow to bright red. Try Cardinal Redosier dogwood for bright red stems you can use in arrangements or Bud's Yellow dogwood for yellow stems that will catch your eye. Grey dogwood boasts of beautiful white berries and grey branches. Because dogwoods are so adaptable, they are ideal for windbreak conditions; they will thrive where they are planted and provide support to the rest of the windbreak's efforts to lessen the winter weather.
Nanking cherry shrubs - Prunus tomentosa
Another edible shrub that thrives in a windbreak is Nanking Cherry. Pale white flowers dot the shrub in the spring, and become bright red fruits in the summer. These fruits can be used for jams and jellies, or left for the birds to enjoy. Nanking cherry grows between 8 - 10 feet high and 10 - 15 feet wide. Nanking cherry does require cross pollination to produce fruits, so be sure to plant more than one in your windbreak. A hardy plant that will thrive in zones 2-6, Nanking cherry makes a strong addition to your windbreak that will tolerate most conditions.
Common lilac - Syringa vulgaris
Common lilac is known for its beautiful spring flowers and the fragrance that goes along with them. Growing to approximately 10 feet tall by 8 feet wide, it is a great plant to use in your windbreaks not only because of it's beauty, but because it is hardy and adaptable. Best planted in zones 2-7, common lilac will thrive in your windbreak, providing you spring beauty and winter protection.
Shrubs in windbreaks provide another layer of protection from winter's harsh winds. Try using these shrubs in your windbreak and enjoy the added benefits: edible fruits, fragrant flowers and habitat for wildlife.