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Breaking wind in suburbia
Undeniably the colder months bring with them Brussels sprouts which can make gardeners a bit gusty but it’s also the season when stormy weather plays havoc with delicate foliage exposed to the elements.
Autumn is the perfect time to design protection and in tightly-packed, urban areas people frequently reach for hammers and nails to create shelter and mark their territory.
However, creative planting can control wind, noise, tiny tots and pets with lush greenery rather than dull timber with limited aesthetic appeal.
Creating a solid barrier actually accelerates wind because the breeze flies over the structure and races towards open space.
For millennia, rural and coastal dwellers have used layers of trees, shrubs and strappy flaxes to create extensive wind and salt breaks.
The foliage flexes and flaps about in the breeze, absorbing the strength and salt from the air as well as protecting people and plants from the worst of the weather.
When there is little more than a few metres between neighbours it’s not so easy to plant broad shelter belts but it is possible to have shelter and privacy with a tidy hedge.
Of course, one should love thy neighbour and it is wise to chat with them about your plans even though gardeners can plant hedges on their side of the boundary without consultation.
There is no height restriction for hedges either, so if you really want to block out a soaring, unsightly view as well as the weather, including the sun, then plant away.
Andrew Bowman from Twining Valley Nurseries lives and breathes his unique Living Walls. He says most neighbours are happy to have botanical boundaries and he has seen developers in high density situations appease the most disgruntled locals with beautiful foliage.
“A lot of people struggle to build a decent fence but they can plant hedges,” says Andrew.
“If you need to keep people or pets in or out of the property a simple wire fence can be installed and the hedge quickly grows through it and covers it up.”
Varieties with small leaves are ideal for breaking wind because they create an absorbent fine filter whereas broad-leafed hedging plants rebound noise from roads and rowdy neighbours.
What could be better than a fruiting feijoa hedge, which feeds the neighbourhood and provides protection?
Tight spots, such as decks and patios can be effectively screened with hedging in pots and gorgeous sweet mandarins grow well in generous sized containers.
Prickly plants help with security and unsightly tagging is never a problem with a growing screen.
European forbears sadly used gorse for this purpose and the invasive, prickly pest has been a problem ever since.
Andrew says gardeners must follow the golden rule of selecting the right plant for the right place.
Soil type, rainfall, drainage, sunlight, function and aesthetics all affect plant choice but hedging varieties are generally easy going and an occasional feed will suffice.
Gardeners prepared to wait a few years can use younger and smaller plants and nurture them into a dense screen with a few trims every year.
However, if an instant solution is required Andrew’s Living Walls are sold by the metre and can be easily planted into a simply prepared trench.
The team at Twining Valley Nurseries primp and preen the hedging plants into shape over a number of years and eager gardeners can take advantage of Andrew’s patience.
Whether an instant solution is needed or the gardener is happy to watch their wind break grow, hedges are adaptable, varied and effective.
Just make sure you are alone before you let your body do what it must do. Sometimes no amount of foliage can absorb some blustery outbursts.
Contributed by Jackie Russell