Plants for wind break from Lake Simcoe west winds

(Question)

I live south of Orillia, just off the east side of Lake Simcoe. It’s the lake, a house, a small road and then me. The way our homes are situated, the winds blow between the TWO lakeside houses and up my driveway. I  built a small lattice type fence (and cover it with plastic for the winter), but it needs some plants in front of it too. The fence is seven feet long, plus two feet of grass to the driveway, and the width is flexible. I’m looking for some plant/shrub/bush suggestions with berries for the birds yet not so big that I wouldn’t be able to see out the window to the driveway please.

(Answer)

Thanks for your question and for being considerate of the hungry birds!  Choosing shrubs or hedges depends much on personal taste, as well as the characteristics of the space you want to fill.  And, in your case, the ability of the plants to survive relatively strong winds.

I think you could find some useful suggestions in our  comprehensive “Ornamental Shrubs for Various Light conditions: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide”, which not only provides many shrub suggestions, but also information about care and maintenance. “Evergreens Suitable for Hedging: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide”recommends several evergreen varieties you might want to consider as well.

The North American Native Plant Society (NANPS) has a terrific plant database – you can narrow your search by selecting “shrubs” (as opposed to “all plant types”) as well as by the lighting (sun, part sun, shade) and soil type.  This might help you find some lovely native plants that would fit the bill.

Another good resource is Penn State’s “Using trees and shrubs for privacy and wind screening“, which suggests shrubs that may be useful as windscreens, and provides information on how to strategically plant the shrubs for maximal effect.

Note also that we have responded to a number of questions similar to yours – please search on our website using search words like “shrubs” and “hedges” and I think you’ll find a lot more information that will help you select the perfect plants for your space.

Finally, it’s always a good idea to speak with experts at your local garden centre – chances are, they are familiar with shrubs and other plants that do well in your area.  They may also have terrific suggestions about annuals or perennials that you might want to tuck in amongst your shrubs.

Good luck!