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Windbreak: Planting and Tree Selection

How to Grow a Windbreak

Growing a windbreak can help drought proof your garden and one of the quickest ways to achieve this result is to water the plants you’ve selected as your windbreak as much as possible. So what I’m doing is using water and in this case, rainwater to ultimately save water in my garden.

One of the things that I’ve noticed in the hotter months is that hot winds can dry out your garden a lot quicker than the sun just on its own. The way I’m going about solving this problem in my garden is to grow a hedge as a windbreak along the northern (for the southern hemisphere) boundary of my backyard.


The first important thing to consider in doing this is to select the correct plants to start off with. I’m using Callistemon salignus, aka the Willow Bottlebrush and here are the reasons why.

Firstly it won’t grow too large if you restrict the amount of water you give it after it’s achieved the desired height to block the wind. That way it won’t become a problem on a small suburban block. My mother has a 3 metre Callistemon salignus growing in her back garden amongst some other trees that are on a slope. It survives only on rainfall and as a consequence, the soil is nearly always dry which means its growth rate is now very slow, so it is possible to keep this tree at a height you’re happy with.

Secondly it is also a fairly drought tolerant tree. Last summer my hedge of Callistemon salignus withstood some fairly strong, hot, drying winds without any extra water so they’re ideal as a windbreak.

Thirdly and most importantly for me they can withstand water logging. This means that during winter and spring when you may have excess water in your rainwater tank you can direct it straight to your hedge of Callistemon salignus. 

I direct rainwater from the overflow of my rainwater tank straight to my hedge so when my tank is full, the excess rainwater doesn’t go down into the stormwater, but into the soil where it is stored for when the trees need it during spring and summer.

This means that the trees get rainwater from the sky and the overflow from my rainwater tank at the same time. This fits with what most gardeners know. Less frequent deep watering is much better than more frequent shallow watering.

Another great feature about Callistemon salignus is that it is reasonably quick growing and also very hardy. Both of these qualities are very important when growing a hedge. How many times have you seen hedges that have been grown with plants that look great but aren’t necessarily very hardy.

Quite often these types of hedges always seem to have one or two plants in them that have died. It really can detract from your hedge. Also most hedges are normally grown for a reason such as privacy or as in this case a windbreak. Therefore being able to grow fast and establish quickly is a definite requirement. 

Callistemon salignus will certainly grow fast but what I’ve discovered is that if you give them lots of water, not only during winter and spring but also during summer when rainwater is scarcer, they will also grow a lot faster as well.

This means that the more I use my stored rainwater to increase the growth of my windbreak then the faster it will protect the rest of my garden from hot drying winds during summer.

Once your drought tolerant windbreak is then established and at a height where it is shielding those hot summer winds you can then back off on the watering and start saving on your water usage on other less drought tolerant parts of your garden such as a lawn.

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