How to deal with windy gardens

Windy Gardens – and what to do about it.

miscanthus sinensis close up

Grasses look their best if allowed to jiggle in a breeze!

How to deal with windy gardens? Smaller gardens generally suffer from two types of wind.

  • Funneling effect as it speeds up between narrow spaces.
  • Turbulence;  as the wind is deflected up and over walls or structures.

Here’s the  meteorological bit, but the basic principle is this; when wind hits a solid object it goes up and over, but it doesn’t get slowed down much. Secondly if it passes through a narrow gap it gets squashed and flows faster thus creating a wind tunnel effect.

Windbreaks and shelter belts are not designed to stop the flow of the wind; just slow the wind down and disrupt the flow.

The fastest wind is shown red, the ‘broken wind’ green.

Fences and windbreaks

Solid fences don’t slow the wind down – open slatted double sided fences are better

The top image shows a fence that has open horizontal slats on either side of a post, these allow the wind to pass through, more slowly, leaving the faster wind level above the fence line.

The bottom diagram represents a normal fence or wall. The wind simply goes up and over and is only ‘calmed’ near the base of the fence, most of the plants still get a bit of a battering.

Deep windbreaks

Trees diffuse the wind speed, but you need more than one

The top diagram here shows a more traditional shelter belt. Wind is deflected up but is also allowed to pass through the windbreak, dramatically reducing the speed of the air.

In the lower diagram, the windbreak effect of a large tree is shown, airflow is reduced, but noticeably not at the base under the branches.

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A typical garden fence

tall fence windbreak

The wind is slowed near the fence, but it can create turbulence

This is more the normal scenario for most homes, a fence with a shrub behind it. The wind is slowed, but not much, most is merely deflected

To remedy this problem use a windbreak fence that allows air to flow through and add a taller structure to catch the wind flowing over the top.

windbreak with split fence

So fast flow is now slow flow – and your plants will love you for it.


Fencing can be dual purpose, attractive and a useful wind break.

Horizontal slats are by far the best, not only do they offer good privacy, but they also look nice. However you do need to ensure they are built sturdily and able to withstand the wind.


Here the slats break up the speed of the wind as well as providing much needed privacy.