[gardeners] Suggestions for Windbreak

Kelly Livezey (gardeners@globalgarden.com)
Sun, 20 Apr 2003 15:13:07 -0400

Let me join others in wishing you a Happy Easter, thanking George for 
all his service to the list, and welcoming Terry! I don't usually 
post, but I greatly enjoy the contributions of others and have 
learned a lot. Now I need some help.

I live in Alexandria, VA, USDA Zone 7, and I need some suggestions 
for a difficult corner. There is a steep drop off of about 40 feet 
just about 10 feet beyond the fence of the southwest rear corner our 
property. This land is owned by a developer who has built townhouses 
below. They've planted some shrubs on the steep slope, but have left 
a wild strip that they don't maintain in the 10 foot wide level area 
just outside our fence. I periodically climb over the fence to look 
for poison ivy and pull up unwanted tree seedlings from wild 
Cherries, Cedars, Oaks, Elms and Trees of Heaven.

In that back corner of our yard I've been building a garden under and 
around two apricot trees that provide some shade. A Sycamore in our 
yard and the taller trees beyond the fence provide additional shade. 
There are also areas in this corner that get considerable sun, so 
I've been able to grow a range of plants, including: Harry Lauder's 
Walking Stick, Variagated Hydrangea, PeeGee Hydrangea "Snow Queen", 
Astillibe, Hellebore, ass't. Ferns, Lady's Mantle, Trillium, 
Heuchera, Tiarella, Daffodil, Crocus, Spider Lily, Asiatic Lily, Hens 
and Chicks, Peony, Solomon's Seal, Joe Pye Weed, Cosmos, Lilac, 
Bleeding Heart, Lily of the Valley, Pachysandra, Cimicifuga, Daisy, 
and Daylily. I have native Wisteria, English Ivy, and Campsis Radican 
"Mme. Galen" on the fence.

I just planted a dwarf Magnolia Virginicus called "Teddy Bear" in an 
effort to screen the plastic shed our neighbor so thoughtfully placed 
in the corner : / but he's not doing too well, and I think it's 
because the prevailing winds really blow through there. Some of my 
other plants seem to suffer from the wind as well--the wind seems to 
create a microclimate that makes this corner colder than the rest of 
the property.

I'm trying to come up with something evergreen to plant outside the 
fence that would provide a windbreak. I would say the area gets about 
4 hours of direct, full midday sun, the morning is about 40% sun, and 
late afternoon is about 60% sun. We can't afford to build a solid 
fence, and since it's not our land I don't want to plant something 
expensive or that I have to maintain. I've been looking at the Sunset 
and Southern Living garden books, and I'm thinking about trying a 
Russian Olive. I think there's just enough sun in this spot, and I 
like the texture and color of the leaves--but I'm concerned about 
warnings of it being invasive. FWIW, I don't really care for Hollies, 
but I promise to keep an open mind if that's my best option : )

Any advice you all could offer would be much appreciated!
Thanks, Kelly