Steve, the kids and I have been planting a shelter belt in the empty field below our main plot. This field is currently a large expanse of mainly rushes & Gorse and it is totally exposed to the wind. It is very boggy and wet but regardless, it has huge potential. So we’d like to start improving it by planting a wind break on the south and west perimeters.
An effective shelter belt in this region of Ireland (being coastal and very windy) should be planted at least 10 – 20 metres wide with plants spaced around 2 feet apart. Our shelter belt will be around 5 metres wide. Not ideal but still very effective.
Some good trees for this scenario with which we have used include Silver Poplar, Alder, Holly, Willow, Hawthorn, Fucshia and Monterey Cypress. In the winter months we collect more common species from wooded areas where there are plenty of small seedlings on the woodland floor. We make a habit of always bringing a backpack when we go on family walks in the woods for this purpose. I brought the lesser common things like Silver Poplar and Monterey Cypress from Future Forests(http://www.futureforests.net/), where they go for a good price, especially if you buy them in bulk.
The vegetable garden was also in need of some wind protection so we planted a nice little selection of things up on the adjacent western ditch. These include lots of white thorn, gorse, holly, sea buckthorn (which can be invasive), cotoneaster (to fall down over the ditch) and Willow. We’d like them to develop quickly so we have layered landscaping material down along the full length of the ditch to eliminate competition from any surrounding weeds. Laying plastic down over the top of these plants was a fiddly job. We had to cut a hole in the plastic for each plant and then thread it thru (not so easy with thorny bushes). We also erected wind shield netting. This is another fiddly job. We had to thread wire down along the top and bottom of the entire length of fencing. Steve then made the wire very taught using a tension device.
This fencing will be put to the test when we are hit with our next gale force winds. Hopefully it holds itself well.