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Fast Growing Wind Break  RSS feed

 
Joseph Johnson
Posts: 115
Location: Sierra Blanca, TX
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Hi everyone,

I have got my heating issue handled and now its time to start looking outside at the "greening" part again.

I have finally selected THE spot for the house and have started laying out some of the immediate yard area for gardening and the like. From you guys I have learned much about the things I need to have in place to keep the soil where I want it and the first things I want to tackle is the wind and shade. As some of you already know, I live in West Texas outside of Sierra Blanca in a valley that gets some pretty good wind gusts in the 30-40MPH range. I am looking for a fast growing, drought resistant wind break to get things going while my leyland cypress trees get started. To handle the shade side of things I am going with seedless cottonwoods and a few different varieties of maples as well as various fruit and nut trees. I really need to break the wind though before I can start a serious attempt at gardening. Any Thoughts?
 
Erich Sysak
Posts: 54
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Joseph Johnson wrote:Hi everyone,

I have got my heating issue handled and now its time to start looking outside at the "greening" part again.

I have finally selected THE spot for the house and have started laying out some of the immediate yard area for gardening and the like. From you guys I have learned much about the things I need to have in place to keep the soil where I want it and the first things I want to tackle is the wind and shade. As some of you already know, I live in West Texas outside of Sierra Blanca in a valley that gets some pretty good wind gusts in the 30-40MPH range. I am looking for a fast growing, drought resistant wind break to get things going while my leyland cypress trees get started. To handle the shade side of things I am going with seedless cottonwoods and a few different varieties of maples as well as various fruit and nut trees. I really need to break the wind though before I can start a serious attempt at gardening. Any Thoughts?


Bamboo, pigeon pea, leucana?
 
Casie Becker
garden master
Posts: 1468
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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forest garden urban
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Doing a little searching, both mesquite and desert willow are fast growing desert natives. According to this document https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/pg_chli2.pdf this is the right time of year to be propagating desert willow from cuttings. It's a fairly popular landscape tree right now, so it might be easy to find a source for cuttings. It doesn't take any complicated equipment or procedure.

I was all prepared so suggest you try mulberries as they grow with insane speed, then I double checked your location.  http://www.permaculture.org/permaculture-tree-mulberry/ This page does say they do well in the authors location which gets 9" of annual rain.  If I had berries right now, I'd probably offer you seed just to spread as an inexpensive experiment.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 2403
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
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hau Joseph, Casie gives good advice for locally growing wind break plants. Mulberry is quite awesome since you get soil stability, shade, wind block and fruit all from one tree. They will grow in just about any soil type but do need some water to get established.
Ours grew 7 feet their first year (from whips) and the trunks are 3 inches diameter. They love to spread their branches for a wide swath of shade and they will live a very long time. (I've seen 100 year old mulberry trees)


You might also look into Moringa, it is a very fast growing tree that is edible and one of the "Super Foods", current studies also show that it fixes nitrogen.
The leaves can be eaten as "greens" or in salads or turned into tea.
The leaves provide 14 essential amino acids along with other necessary nutrients and help to promote immune system health.
It has been found to correct malnutrition to the point that people have recovered completely and even built muscle within 3 months of adding it to their diet.
It coppices well too so it can also be a fuel source. It is deep rooting so it also loosens compacted soils. The benefits make it worth looking into by anyone that lives in an area it can grow.

You didn't mention it but you should address any water controlling earth works prior to planting your wind break(s), that way any water that comes your way can soak into the soil and keep your plantings alive.

A mix of several different species of trees, shrubs and tall growing grasses just might be a fine set up for your windbreaks since if one fails the others can take up the slack.
Any time you limit your plantings to one species or even two you run the risk of something happening that wipes out the entire stand, this is one reason nature doesn't usually do that. 

Redhawk
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3920
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
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In the winds of Wyoming I grew, Siberian or Chinese elm and box elder and caragana. I irrigated them for a couple of years until they got their roots down. Can you irrigate? 
 
Scott Tenorman
Posts: 63
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bike greening the desert trees
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I've seen a farmer around here (zone 8a desert at 3000' with winds over 50mph at times) put a bamboo looking giant reed around his property for a wind break/privacy screen.  I believe it's an invasive type, but he controls it easily having put all the reed into a moat he dug.  I only mention it because I watched him plant it a few years ago around a second parcel of his property.  He lined the perimeter of a five acre or so plot with a cut off clump of existing reed and placed them every six feet or so.  Three years later, now, it's basically a 15' tall wall of solid bamboo/reed that he personally told me is the best wind break he's seen for this area.
He did keep the moat flooded a lot of the time to get it to grow so fast here........

Other people around here have let it grow out, stop watering it so it turns brown, and then just let it fend for itself with what little water we get as rain here.  I think it stays alive, but it doesn't grow much.

I can go snap some pictures of it if you'd like.

As for the desert willows, I think they're an awesome fast growing tree for my area.  They germinate from seed easily, and before I decided to start growing only food here, I used to break the seed pods open and sprinkle them all over the yard just letting them fall where they may, and when a sprout started in a spot I liked, I'd leave it to grow out.  They grow like weeds here, and I can probably get at least four feet per year with just minimal sporadic watering on them.  I can get you pictures of a few all started from seed in my yard right now.  I never tried growing them from cuttings, so I can't say anything on that.

If you send me a self addressed stamped envelope I'm happy to send you a ton of desert willow seeds if I still have pods on the trees.  I haven't looked in a while.


Let me know if you're interested.



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desert willows winter 2015
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desert willows summer 2016
 
Cody DeBaun
Posts: 46
Location: Denton, TX United States Zone 8a
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dog forest garden toxin-ectomy
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I know you're not in quite the same situation as the Big Bend region, but the Sul Ross tree garden raises Honey Locust and black locust well.

A friend in Shafter has had a lot of success with Moringa and Desert Willow, but his property is pretty sheltered from the wind.

For fast growing, wind breaking desert plants are you set on the strategy of starting with trees? They of course stack benefits well but depending on the harshness of your conditions, there are a number of bushes and shrubs that might better perform that task for you. Catclaw or Whitehorn Acacia, Texas or Mexico Redbud, Chamiso, or Red Barberry might create the kind of initial shelter from the wind to allow the establishment of some of those larger trees (mulberry, mesquite, honey locust, black locust, moringa) to happen faster and with less stress.
 
Todd Parr
Posts: 975
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Scott, those are beautiful trees.  If I still lived in the desert, I would be planting them.
 
John Weiland
Posts: 844
Location: RRV of da Nort
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Another possible useful link(s): 

http://texasforestservice.tamu.edu/windbreaks/

http://texasforestservice.tamu.edu/WestTexasNursery/
 
Joseph Johnson
Posts: 115
Location: Sierra Blanca, TX
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Thanks for the input everyone. We got some willow cutting from the local campground up in town and they look like the will survive my sister long enough to get into the ground but I would like to try seeds as well. We also got some cuttings from a mulberry that doesn't produce any berries? That makes about as much sense as putting a screen door in a submarine so I am looking for into another variety from fastgrowingtrees but the cost is out there so while we will be using them, we will only be starting with 2 or 3. I really like the bamboo idea though. I like things that serve more than one purpose and bamboo has so many uses. I would like to see some pics if you get a chance. The willows there by the BBQ look very nice. How old are they? Any ideas on a good source for bamboo? I think that idea intrigues me the most lol. I can remember as a kid we used bamboo as the poles for our first teepee. we even cut strips to bind all the poles together and to lace the sheets and blankets to a hoop we put around the bottom. It was the funniest looking teepee with its flowery sheets and old ratty quilts but it was the hit of the neighborhood lol. Funny, I havent thought about that in years! Good times hehe. Anyway, enough with the rambling lol. Thanks again for the input and I look forward to hearing more ideas.
 
Scott Tenorman
Posts: 63
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bike greening the desert trees
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Thanks for the nice words on the desert willows.  (If you only knew the torture I put them through, staking their limbs down with old bike tires for tie downs, and the many broken limbs I had due to pushing the limits of their bending capacity.)  I have dreams about espaliering the trees into artistic shapes...........they're perfect for it, and incredibly bendy...........but I'm lazy.  lol.
The willows on the lawn were actually the only two I bought.  They are "Burgundy Rose" and they were about two feet tall when I planted them three years ago.  The smaller one is shaded by the house later in the afternoon so it doesn't get as much sun. 

I'll snap some pictures of this years seedlings, and various years of growth tomorrow from the desert willows I have growing here now.  I guess I have about ten or so.

I'll also snap some pictures of the bamboo wind break.  It'll give me an excuse to take the dogs for a walk. 

Pictures tomorrow.




 
Casie Becker
garden master
Posts: 1468
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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forest garden urban
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If you're ever around Cedar Park, I could show you two locations where you could dig bamboo. One is a neighbor who would really like it if all the black caned bamboo would disappear from the back of their property, and then there's Twin Lakes park where a different variety of bamboo is running rampant along US Hwy 183. My brother has lakeside property in Jonestown where it's crossed from the neighbor's property to his and he'd probably be glad to see some of it go, too. Notice these are all very wet locations where it has escaped and run wild. You might be able to control it in your drier circumstances, or maybe it would just fail to thrive. Contact me if you'll be in the area and want guidance to any of these stands.
 
Scott Tenorman
Posts: 63
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bike greening the desert trees
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So here are some pictures of the Giant Reed/Bamboo stuff. 
Keep in mind, this is three years growth from bunches of clumps he spaced maybe six feet apart.  There were several shoots about six feet tall in each clump, going off of my memory.

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A close up of a clump, and the ditch he planted them in.
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A living wall of reed
 
Scott Tenorman
Posts: 63
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Some more.

The sign is ten feet tall.  I'd guess the Reed to be about 15' to 20' tall.
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Scott Tenorman
Posts: 63
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Here it is on a residential lot about a half mile from the other guy.

I wanted to grow it around my property for the privacy it gives, but decided against it.

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"Normal" neighbor, next to "secretive one", lol.
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Nice gate cut into it.
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A view of his whole corner lot, I'm guessing about a half an acre lot.
 
Scott Tenorman
Posts: 63
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PM me if you want desert willow seeds.  I have no shortage of them.
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Picked this morning.
 
Scott Tenorman
Posts: 63
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Here's a video of the desert willows, and their varying sizes while growing.

 
Joy Banks
Posts: 28
Location: Southeast Arizona, USDA zone 8b, 4200 ft elevation, 12-16 in. rain annually
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chicken greening the desert urban
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Oh, the love /hate relationship with invasive species in the desert! They are so tempting when first moving to barren land devoid of anything except overgrazed creosote-bush and thorny stuff.... we did that too, 23 years ago..

The giant reed is Arundo donax, it creates highly-flammable monocultures that choke everything else out. It does grow fast esp. if irrigated and makes a tall bamboo-like dense wind-screen.. but after 20+ years of this stuff on my SE AZ property, I now regret planting it.. Every piece of root can & will create a new clump and it's very hard to get rid of. It loves being cut down, dug up, and will resprout continually... WARNING: If pieces get into natural riparian areas or washes (say, by getting uprooted and tumbling many miles downstream in a flood event) it will take over and destroy native ecosystems...

Siberian Elm sends out seeds that sprout in every moist crevice... the roots sucker like crazy... I planted 50 of them in my 'wind-break-zeal' days... 80% died but the ones that survived are beetle-infested, top-dead, and native birds don't like them. They are bad news for septic systems and water lines. I will post pictures someday of what they've done to a house we were building...

It's hard to imagine what used to grow, how the land used to be, in the spaces we are reclaiming... they are nothing like what they were before the advent of widespread cattle grazing, modern farming, roads & fences, etc... Do your homework first and find out, it will help you have more compassion for your land and for native species..

Deserts are so fragile, something that's taken me all these years to learn... Go with native plants for screening /shade which will feed native birds & insects and survive eventually on rainwater alone and stand up to local predators... get those going well and they will help protect you, your house, your fruits, nuts, veggies etc...

Planning and mapping come first.. go slow... observe.. do some earthworks and see what happens...

Velvet mesquite has the best pods for eating, see here: http://www.desertharvesters.org/native-tree-information/choosing-mesquite-trees-for-landscapes-by-greg-corman/

If I had it to do over again I'd have planted desert willows and mesquites... coyote willow..  done more earthworks... been more careful of where we put roads and how we maintained them.... Grading dirt roads is the worst thing, don't use it for maintenance or you'll have an eroded impassable riverbed someday...


 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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