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GardenSMART :: Best Shrubs for Windy Gardens

Best Shrubs for Windy Gardens

By Kate Karam, Monrovia
Photographs courtesy of Monrovia

It's not only coastal gardens that have to deal with persistent winds—inland gardens at higher altitudes and those in flat, wind-prone areas also get regularly battered, too. Since there's nothing good about plants stripped of their foliage or rendered dry and desiccated by a gale force tempest, the solution might be as simple as using specimens that are just fine with it. Here are a few we recommend. But first, some advice:

  • Choose appropriate, wind-resilient species.
  • Any shrub, even these, can fail if not planted in appropriate conditions and given the care required.
  • Shrubs planted in groups tend to sustain less damage than single shrubs standing alone. Plant in groups of 5 or more.
  • Add other shrubs to ensure diversity.

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Isanti Red-Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea 'Isanti')

Spring flowers and showy blood-red stems in winter. Loves moist conditions. Partial to full sun. Up to 6′ tall and wide. Zone: 2 – 8

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Dwarf Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo 'Compacta')

Masses of white flowers yield bright, edible strawberry-like fruits. A fuss-free plant for year-round interest in western gardens. Use as a small specimen tree to anchor a border, or create an informal hedge. Tolerates drought, when established. Partial to full sun. Up to 8′ tall and wide. Zone: 7 – 9

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Purple Cow™ Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia hybrid 'GAMAD IX' PP #23,560P)

Crape myrtles are famously resilient to winds, which is probably why they're so beloved in coastal areas of the American South. This particular one is mid-size and compact, and its upright habit and plentiful blooms makes it a perfect choice as a specimen, container accent, or for mass plantings. Tolerates mild drought when established in landscapes. Full sun. Up to 10′ tall and 5′ wide. Zone: 6 – 9

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Northern Bayberry (Myrica pennsylvanica)

This North American native thrives in the worst alkaline sandy soils. Fragrant foliage can be sheared to release more scent. Popular in formal and wild gardens. A big bushy shrub, it can be used as a single specimen or ganged into a low-maintenance hedge. Partial to full sun. Up to 9′ tall and wide. Zone: 4 – 6

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Blue Gem Westringia (Westringia fruticosa 'WES03' PP #25,674)

Very warm areas where drought is also an issue have limited options, but this one is a total winner. A more compact and showier selection that produces masses of luminous bluish purple flowers in spring and often lightly year-round. Perfect in tough spots; performs in sun, harsh inland heat or rugged coastal exposures, with minimal watering or care. Great in natural form, or shear into a low formal hedge. Zone: 9 – 10

For much more about gardening, plants, solutions, and ideas, visit our very popular blog, Grow Beautifully. While you're there, be sure to sign up for our award-winning monthly newsletter, Plant Savvy.


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Photos courtesy of Suntory Flowers

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