The Q&A Archives: Using Shrubs as Windbreaks

Question: We live in Zone 4 and have sandy, clay soil. My house front faces south and gets half-day sunshine (PM). We have west winds frequently with no protection for bushes or shrubs. What shrubs will do well there? Connie Waconia, MN

Answer: Just a note - any shrub will need protection from strong wind, such as a windbreak fence, until it is established and growing vigorously. They'll get established most quickly if you can improve the soil in the area where they will be growing (not justthe planting hole) by adding compost or other organic matter, and provide it with water through the first summer. Mulch them after the soil freezes in the fall, and wrap them in burlap for the winter. Once they are growing well on their own, you can probably cease all the TLC, as I'm going to suggest tough plants. Potentilla fruticosa (Bush cinquefoil) 'Tangerine', grows 2'-4', tolerant of shade and sun. Berberis koreana (Korean barberry), grows to 6', has yellow blooms in spring, red berries in summer and orange foliage in fall. Caragana mycrophylla (Russian Bush Pea) 'Tidy', grows to 8' and has lemon yellow flowers. The first is available from Henry Field's, 415 No. Burnett St., Shenandoah, IA 51602; Ph# 605/665-4491. The lattertwo are available from Forestfarm, 990 Tetherow Rd., Williams, OR 97544-9599; Ph# 541/846-7269.

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