Coastal hedging plants & Seaside trees
The purpose of this article is to try to help solve the problem of exposure and avoid wasting time and energy planting things which are frankly unsuitable and therefore an expensive mistake. There is no one right answer to what is suitable in any particular garden but there are often a great many more wrong answers. There is also the need for patience while your planting gets established and good luck in avoiding the worst of the weather in the early years after planting. So you start with a bare plot which is to be your new garden. The location is extremely exposed because it is on top of a hill or near the sea with no shelter at all. The firstthought is quite naturally for fencing to create some shelter. In many locations this is simply a waste of time and money since it will not stand up to the force of the wind and may well cause far more damage to the rest of your property if it blows out of the ground as it probably will. Wind hitting an immoveable object will nearly always win! Worse still, wind will simply bounce over a solid object like a fence and is just as strong on the other side. So your fence can actually be just a liability as far as protecting anything on the other side of it is concerned. Think for a moment about what happens in nature and you will readily see that the filtration of wind is nature's way. A new system of windbreaks has been developed what we now call LATH or slatted windbreaks. These are not permanent or particularly durable structures. They should  nstead be regarded as temporary wind filtration units so that plants in their lee can become established. Lath is therefore the best outer line of defence. Similar more robust structures are used in Scotland and the North of England to prevent snowdrifts on public roads. Modern techniques of manufacturing have replaced lath with new filtration systems made from plastic or fibre. Many greenhouses in exposed positions are now protected by large black mesh windbreaks and similar structures are used to protect fruit and vegetable crops. In gardens green mesh is more often used. However tightly woven green mesh can hold the wind and it billows so it again tends to blow away or pull over its posts.  For best results a small square meshed windbreak screen with ½-inch to 1-inch square holes has much the same result in filtering the wind as the more traditional lath windbreak.Tall growing shrubs which make more formal and dense shelter belts. Laurel – In the hurricane of 1990 some of the laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) shelter belts at Burncoose and Caerhays were completely stripped of all their leaves but they were not dead and, more importantly, they had done their job in filtering and dissipating wind while sheltering the more choice plants behind. In coastal locations laurel should be planted thickly over a large area. Do not worry if the leaves get burnt and brown initially; given time the plant will more than cope. Plant in the spring to give young plants a relatively quiet growing season and do not plant in shade. More formal shelter belt hedging There are a number of more conventional and favourite choices for garden hedges in exposed positions as well as some less well known, but perhaps equally common, hedging plants which will do the job just as well. The favourites include:- Escallonia - This type of hedge has the great advantage of having flowers. Many varieties are semi deciduous so can lose some or all of their l eaves with no ill effect. The other attraction is that, in season, the plant can be acquired cheaply and in quantity as it can be open ground grown as a hardwood cutting rather than in pots. Hawthorn/blackthorn - This may be preferable in more rural areas because it is in keeping with the type of hedgerow or shelter belt you will find on cliff fields which were originally hewn out of coastal scrub of much the same species. Prickles have their uses as cattle or burglar deterrents but they may well not be what you want if you have pets or small children. Elaeagnus – Despite their spines these make one of the toughest and more colourful hedges and provide excellent protection even in the strongest of winds. There are several different varieties to choose form with different coloured leaves. Other long-standing favourites include Fuchsia Riccartonii. This can be trimmed as a hedge or just left to grow wild. In late summer it does perhaps attract too many bees and wasps for comfort if it is situated near a patio. In the less well known and less tall growing category:- Shrubby honeysuckles such as Lonicera nitida and Lonicera pileata. These lonicera form dense thick mats of evergreen foliage which are able to withstand tremendous amounts of wind. Rosa rugosa is often thought of as the most prickly of roses best suited to deterring unwanted children, dogs or cats from your garden. However, as a deciduous plant which suckers readily into dense clumps, it is not at all a bad windbreak plant even though it grows to only about 3 feet. Another group of plants which make excellent evergreen windbreaks are the Olearias. Several species come from coastal areas of New Zealand where they are well used to wind. Olearia macrodonta is a firm favourite with its glossy grey leaves and attractive daisy like flowers. For those l ucky enough to live on the Isles of Scilly or other seaside locations in West Cornwall, Olearia traversii would be the hedging plant best suited to salt laden gales. Tamarix have the great advantage of being able to grow in sea sand with only the most minimal amounts of conventional soil. The plants grow to a great age and can develop huge gnarled trunks in seaside locations but, if clipped and trimmed from an early age, they make an excellent beach hedge.
Planting In Coastal And Windswept Locations
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