by Shannon Moreau | Fort Collins Nursery
When planting in extremely windy locations, the best starting point is to look for trees that are hardy and exceptionally drought-tolerant. I recommend going for lower hardiness zones, that way you have extra protection for low temperatures that can occur in these difficult locations (for more information about your local hardiness zones, contact your closest garden center!).
Water is frequently lost in windy locations so a reliable irrigation system is a must, along with selecting trees that are adaptable and drought tolerant. You may also notice a slower growth rate at times, so be patient with your plants that are fighting against strong winds.
In difficult spots, plants will be very conservative with their resources and will be shorter than others when compared against plants in protected locations. Below are a few of my favorite trees for windy conditions.
Hawthorn. Crataegus spp.
Small but mighty, hawthorns are a great candidate for windy gardens and medians. They are especially nice for tight locations in need of color since each tree is graced with fluffy white or pink blooms in the spring.
Oak. Quercus spp.
The Bur oak and the gamble oak are my favorites. The gamble oak is a wonderful native that is a great choice for a smaller tree, while the bur oak is larger and very stately. Both hold their leaves through the winter, adding seasonal interest.
Chokecherry. Prunus virginiana
I think we are all familiar with the fragrant showy flowers that come in the spring. Both the green-leaved native and lovely ‘Canada Red’ chokecherry are dependable in difficult locations. It can be grown as either a single-stem tree or a multi-stemmed tree. The added bonus to planting this one is the food it provides for many birds.
Sensation Boxelder Maple. Acer negundo ‘Sensation’
Hardy to zone 2, this seedless selection is a reliable choice for windy spots. The other benefit to this maple is the marvelous fall color and the fast growth rate.
Hoopsii Blue Spruce. Picea pungens ‘hoopsii’
While our Native spruce is an excellent option I wanted to highlight the Hoops blue spruce. Like the true native this variety is very hardy, the powder blue needles, tight pyramidal habit, and its wind tolerance makes this one stand out.
Rocky Mountain Juniper (and cultivars!) Juniperus scopulorum
The native Rocky Mountain Juniper and its wide assortment of cultivars of this juniper are a skeleton key for many locations. ‘Woodward’ is known for its narrow habit and can be used in windy but narrow locations. If you need something wider and with a bit more color, both ‘Wichita Blue’ and ‘Moonglow’ offer hardiness with a crisp icy blue needle.