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Easy CareEasy-care basics : Choose suitable plants in a windy area

Some plants cannot tolerate wind exposure and these will be more trouble to care for and should be avoided in windy areas. Assess the level of wind exposure in the garden. Unsuitable plants will suffer severe damage, and this may create a lot of work with shelter screens and staking. If plants, such as the phormium shown, are chosen for their ability to resist wind exposure, a lot of expense, effort and repeat planting will be avoided.

Choose suitable plants in a windy area

Choose suitable plants in a windy area

Strong winds affect the growth of plants in a number of ways. Wind lowers the temperature of the air around plants and reduces their rate of growth. It causes moisture loss from the leaves during dry weather and increases the damaging effects of frost during cold spells.

Apart from these effects, wind can cause direct physical damage to leaves and stems. Young leaves are very soft and easily damaged during their expansion in springtime.

Plants that are adapted to withstand the effects of wind usually have small, often narrow waxy leaves. Heathers and needle-leaved conifers are wind-resistant, for example. Many grasses and other non-woody plants have flexible stems that bend and twist away from the wind. Trees that leaf up late in the spring like ash and sycamore are relatively wind-resistant.

Near the coast, the wind problem is more severe because of greater wind speed off the sea. Added to that is the salt spray carried by strong gales, and sometimes even sand. Some plants are well adapted to salt spray in their native habitats. They can be used near the seaside as ornamental plants in their own right, and also to protect less resistant plants.

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