Windbreak, Japanese Garden style

Discussion in 'Japanese Gardens' started by cocobolo, May 3, 2008.

  1. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    Ruxton Island, B.C., Canada
    At the north end of my garden, I am going to have to build some sort of a fence to act as a windbreak. Unfortunately, the wind funnels in quite noticeably when from the north. I would like to make a sort of lattice style fence, along with bamboo as the planting for the windbreak.
    The windbreak will need to be about 25' long, and climbs up a bank, not too steep.
    Can you give me either your suggestions as to what you think might be the most effective, or alternatively, do you know of any websites that might have something like this?
    I just ran across the Stone Lantern site, and they have lots of nice books. I just ordered a bunch, but of course it will be a couple of weeks before they arrive.
    Anything you can think of with the appropriate Japanese flavour will be nice.
    Thank you.
     
  2. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

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    One thing to remember with windbreaks in general is that a porous barrier -- for instance a fence with little gaps between the slats -- works better than a solid wall, which causes turbulence and basically causes the cold wind to come flooding downward on the plants on the other side. Your idea of combining bamboo with some kind of barrier sounds ideal.

    For this reason, the kind of bamboo fencing that comes in long rolls -- which visually can be quite appealing -- is NOT the best choice for a serious windbreak. Ultimately a tall hedge of some kind usually works better than a fence, but of course that takes years to establish.

    I bet your books will have some good ideas. Japan is an island nation, and I'd think the issue of windbreaks has arisen at some point over the past couple thousand years.
     
  3. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    Thanks kaspian:
    Yes, I'm aware that the windbreak needs to be porous, hence the lattice fence idea. I just don't know how "Japanese" it looks.
    I just picked up some Arrow bamboo to plant with the fence. It is supposed to be a fast grower and makes a good windbreak.
    What I might be able to do is to put up a lattice fence perhaps 15 or 20' before the actual windbreak, and that would take the worst of the sting out of the wind. I have some friends over on Vancouver Island who live on the waterfront, and David put in a lattice fence with 3 1/2" square holes to protect their garden somewhat. Apparently it has been most successful.
     
  4. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

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    Hey cocobolo,

    I'm having the same kind of issue on a much smaller scale, trying to decide on some kind of visual barrier to screen off unsightly "features" of my domestic landscape, notably a huge pile of wood left over from construction that I don't want to just burn or throw away. Right now it's just got a tarp over it, and it stands near primo potential Japanese maple terrain.

    The prefab lattice that you see around does not, to my mind, look compatible with anything other than cookie-cutter suburbia. I found a really nice-looking lattice made from alder branches in a diagonal pattern, inside a rectangular frame made from thicker pieces of the same wood, at a local garden center. Very appealing and vaguely Asian in character, though you could look right through it, so I'd probably want to let some kind of vine creep over it as well. But this was expensive to use on a large scale -- US$18 for a 3x6-foot panel, of which I'd need quite a few, plus posts to hold them up.

    An inventive and industrious fellow would, I suppose, use the spare wood to manufacture something in situ. I hope to befriend such a person someday.
     
  5. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    Good morning kaspian:
    Yes, I couldn't agree more about the cookie cutter comment.
    Yesterday, while I was outside working on some clearing, I tried to pay attention to where the wind was having an effect.
    Right at the head of the very tiny bay which comes up to our property, There is a small bandsaw mill setup. Right after that I have built a small shed to service the mill, and it lends itself to being turned into a somewhat Japanese flavored potting shed. It was done intentionally like that, as I anticipated taking the mill out one day.
    The wind comes right through this area and carries on until there is quite a number of larger cedar and fir trees. Some of these reach 100' tall.
    Three of the firs have to come out due to their condition. Plus I need to remove some of the cedars to allow some light to get through. There will still be 100'+ firs on the neighbors property, which of course I cannot touch.
    At the moment the little saw shed is wide open, just a roof with four posts. I will close one end off and see how much effect that has, and then put some sort of break heading up the bank.
    I'm at the finishing stages of removing a huge arbutus root, and as soon as that is done I can attend to the wind problem.
    Fortunately, the vast majority of wind here is not from the north. But when it does blow from there it is the coldest wind.
    I think I might do a little looking on the web to see what else I can find.
     
  6. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    Hi kaspian:
    You might be interested to know that I just got all the books [11] from Stone Lantern. Wow, there are tons of fantastic pictures and unlimited ideas.
    I have the three big fir trees down, and it turns out that the tallest one was 125', more than I thought. Anyway, they are being turned into firewood.
    I also received my first issue of a new subscription I have to the Journal of Japanese Gardening.
    There is a short article in there on a small Japanese style building suited for garden use. I did some web hunting, and as a result I am building a Michai, if I have that spelled right. It will be a dedicated potting shed located on the high side of the garden.
    Just 7' by 10' 8". My inspiration came from a small shed put together for a flower show in the UK. Found it by Googling Japanese style potting sheds.
    Have the footings dug and poured, just waiting another week or so before I pull the forms off.
    Also got the cedars thinned out, and now I have at least some dappled light getting in where it was almost fully shaded previously.
    Still haven't got all the arbutus root out, the last part is being a real bear.
     
  7. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

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    Cocobolo -- thanks for the update!

    This sounds like a truly magnificent setting for making a garden.

    I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by large mature trees -- by coastal Maine standards -- but these are scarcely half the size of the ones on your site. Unfortunately, most of the trees on the south side of my property (blocking winter sun and ocean breezes) are red spruce, with a mix of northern red oak and red maple -- I don't know what's up with the "red" theme in common names here -- and a scattering of other species. I've been doing selective clearing and thinning for the past couple of years, since we began work on the new house. Now I'm filling in a new understory of Japanese maples and other smallish trees and shrubs.

    The theme is loosely Japanese -- our native landscape almost pushes you in this direction -- but right now I'm mainly trying to figure out what kind of plantings will thrive and look good here. Christopher Lloyd, the great English garden writer, distinguishes two basic types of gardener: the one who gardens by design, and the one who muddles along until things fall into some kind of agreeable order. I fear I'm clearly one of the latter -- and also prone to becoming a collector, so I want one of EVERYTHING and am always trying to figure out where to tuck another X or Y into the general hodgepodge.

    One thing I do aspire to: to grow enough of my own bamboo to supply myself with material for fencing, trellacing, staking and all the rest of it.
     
  8. Karalyn

    Karalyn Active Member

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    I'm with you...on planning my garden as well. I think planting those smaller trees are going to be really nice and I love the bamboo idea for growing even more for practical reasons. I'm a scardy cat to growing bamboo, at least the bigger type. I do finally have heavenly bamboo and some smaller type.
     
  9. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    Hi Karalyn & Kaspian:
    Finally some good news. The big arbutus root is out and this morning I got the Cedar root out. The almighty comealong is a great tool isn't it?
    The first plants are going in this afternoon, so quite a momentous occasion for me today!
     

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  10. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    The above 3 pics are the cedar root going, going, gone!
     
  11. Karalyn

    Karalyn Active Member

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    That's great! yippee! I love it when tree roots are finally removed! Now the fun part starts...right?
     
  12. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    As long as you consider yet more digging fun.
    Actually I only have about 50 square feet to go and so far the end of the pond seems to be the easiest digging, except for when I hit the big rock. The weather is not co-operating though. It's raining now, rained most of yesterday, and more forecast for the next couple of days. Good thing I have lots of inside projects!
     
  13. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

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    It's been raining endlessly here in the East as well.

    In some ways this is good, as I have many young plants struggling to establish themselves in our sandy, fast-draining soil. And perhaps it mimics the maritime climate of Japan.

    Still I'd like to see a bit of sunshine.
     
  14. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    A lot of us don't seem to realize that Japan stretches a LONG way. Their maritime climate varies very considerably from the extreme north to the extreme south. Much as it does on the eastern US seaboard.
    We have very fast draining sandy soil as you do. We are adding compost as we are able to help keep at least some of the moisture in.
    About the original topic, the windbreak.....I have been going through some of the new books I received from Stone Lantern with a view to finding fences of different kinds.
    At the north end of the garden, which faces the head of the bay, I am going to put
    two different windbreaks in. They will probably be about 30 feet apart. The first one will be about 5 feet tall, the second one taller. Not sure how much yet. Maybe 7 feet or so. Just inside the second one, there will be some bamboo which I hope will grow taller than the fence.
    We had a big storm here 3 1/2 years ago which did serious damage to the trees to the south of us toward Sand Dollar bay. We have noticed that there is some wind gets through on a blustery day, so it appears there will have to be something at the south end also.
     
  15. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    At the south end of the garden I have built a little Zen gate, the idea for which came from Sunniva Hart's book.
    Three big fir trees have just been taken out behind the gate, and when all the clearing up is done, there will need to be an additional windbreak in there somewhere.
    The wind from the south is never really bad here, as the growth over the last 3 1/2 years since the storm is starting to fill in and break the worst of the wind up quite well.
     

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  16. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

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    That just looks absolutely wonderful.

    Not to gush or anything.
     
  17. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    Thank you, that's very kind of you to say so.
    What you don't see behind the gate is a pile of fir rounds and firewood! As soon as it's cleared up I'll give you a peek inside.
     
  18. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    Hi all:
    It has been awhile since I posted here. I am putting my posts now in the starting new Japanese garden Help! thread.
    But for what it's worth, earlier this summer we were up at Coombs, where they have all sorts of interesting things garden related, and they had several different types of open bamboo lattice. As usual, we managed to fill the van up with oriental pots and more Japanese maples, so I didn't get any.
    In the meantime, as you will see if you go to the other thread, I have put in some screening at the south end of the garden.
    The way it worked out was that I started the garden from that end, hence the screening there.
    I have started on the Machiai, which will be used as the potting shed. I have an old tool shed right next to it which will have to be dismantled and disposed of.
     
  19. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    Just one quick shot of the screens at the south end of the Japanese garden. Not that much wind gets through here, but these screens filter it quite nicely.
     

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