The Q&A Archives: Filling in a Windbreak

Question: I have a windbreak of white pine on the west side of my house. They are around 20 years old and have about 3 to 4 feet of dead branches on the bottom that I would like to clean up but this will leave a wide open area to the house. What can I plant under the trees to fill in the space to close up the wind break? It gets real windy here in the winter.

Answer: Unfortunately, pines do lose their lower branches as they age, so the gap will also increase over time. The pines are very strong competitors for light, moisture and nutrients and tend to acidify the soil around themselves by shedding their needles. In this situation it may be very difficult to establish anything directly under them. Instead, you might consider a fence or a line of shrubs next to them. Some shrubs frequently suggested for windy spots are the old fashioned hardy favorites such as ordinary purple lilac, forsythia and so on. These are also sturdy plants and might have a chance to establish themselves next to the trees.

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