Landscaping & Design/windbreak


What would be a good fast-growing windbreak for Missoula, Mt, zone 4, with clay soil?  I have a 4 acre square parcel with a gentle incline. In the past the gusts going up the hill have picked up my daughter's plastic playhouse and blown it up the hill.  More recently, it upended her heavy wooden playset (slide, swings, monkey bars, loft area, etc.).  Not sure what other info you need, but I am looking for something low maintenance as regular watering would be very difficult at the edge of the property.  I can't come much closer to the house as I have a drain field for my septic system.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.  Thank you.


Trees and shrubs will not give you an effective windbreak for 5 to 10 years after planting but you might consider windbreak fencing as a stopgap measure or for use in combination with trees. The break requires about a 50 percent porosity to be effective.

The further the windbreak is located from the area you want to protect,the taller the break has to be. When trees are used as a break,a thicker grouping of trees offers more resistance to the wind,so plant at least two rows of trees. The taller trees will have a gap at the bottom allowing wind to pass. Cover this gap with shrubs.

In general,the area of protection from wind on the leeward side is ten times the height of the break.

The following trees and shrubs are of moderate to high drought tolerance. Most are native to montana and will tolerate clay soil.


Scots Pine (to 70 feet,high drought growing)

Norway Spruce (to 60 feet tall,moderate drought tolerance,fast growing)

Colorado Blue Spruce (to 75 feet,moderate drought tolerance,slow to moderate growth rate)


Buffaloberry (edible fruit)

Red Dogwood

Chokecherry (edible fruit)

Artificial Windbreak Material



wire fencing



spaced fence boards

wattle (woven tree branches)

Mark Harshman

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Design of landscape structures and design of planting arrangements in the landscape. I usually do not answer questions of a horticultural nature or about growing plants or gardening unless they are related to design. I will answer these questions at my discretion. I will answer maintenance questions at my discretion,usually when they are related to design. I am a landscape designer. I am not a contractor or a gardener. Although I will describe how something is built I do not provide detailed installation or construction instructions. Here are example categories of problems I can help you with: Design of residential walks,low walls,low retaining walls,fences,drainage systems,arbors,plant selection,xeriscapes (low water use landscapes),rain garden design,rain water harvesting,permeable paving,sustainable drainage. No advise on an architectural or engineering level. I DO NOT PERFORM ACTUAL DESIGN WORK THROUGH THIS SITE. I only provide suggestions and advice. For more comprehensive help check out my website at:


Landscape concept plan for a 30,000 square feet housing site. Involved site recon by pace measurements and photographs and a site analysis and a site analysis report and recommendations and a preliminary cost estimate. Design elements included canopy trees,shrub cover,accent flowers,trash receptacles,benches and planters. Landscape concept plan for a 7,000 square feet site for a community center. Involved site recon by tape measurements and photographs,a site analysis and the creation of 3 conceptual designs for the site. Work was done through a local professional design center. Design elements included tree garden,playground,sitting area,lawn,cooking area,lighting and concrete and brick paving. Landscape concept plan for a 3,000 square feet housing site. Involved site recon by tape measurements and photographs and a site analysis. Concluded in 3 concept designs for the site,shown at a formal presentation,a site analysis and recommendations. Work was done through a community volunteer program. Design elements included decks,a playground and fencing. Briefly as draftsman for landscape designer/gardener. Conceptual landscape design for residence. Involved site recon by tape and pace measurements and site analysis. Design included covered patio area,ground cover and flower beds. Two years experience as draftsman for transportation department in engineering firm and for engineering consultants to phone company. Duties consisted of plotting topography. Survey crew member. General assistant to surveyor. Work was done for U.S. Army and County Highway Department. No instrument work. Duties included tape measurement,holding graduated survey rod and plumb bob for sighting and clearing brush. Marketed Landscape Design Services. Brochure writing,promotional material and marketing graphics.

Course in Computer Aided Drafting. 700 hours in AutoCad 2000. 700 hours to date on AutoCad Light 2000. Certificate in Manual Drafting. 1200 hours drafting time. Course in Civil Engineering Technology. (One Semester)

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From Civil Engineer: I am very impressed with your work and with the obvious thought you have put into the marketing of your venture. It was especially good to see a print of that job we discussed on the phone. I wish you much luck with the venture as I do with your plans for school. Im darn proud of you buddy. And by the way,when I get my license,maybe you will consider me for a consulting job down the road. I hope to get together with Rick sometime soon and I would really like to show him your stuff if its ok with you. From all these questions you ask I get the feeling that you are genuinely interested and have put alot of thought into the idea and process of landscape architecture and if you could possibly afford the cost I would urge you to take some classes in the areas you are most interested in. The subject is not so simple as it appears,mixing science and engineering with art and a certain amount of religion to create a comfortable and pleasing balance between man and nature. A thoughtful soul like yours can do this but it can be a lifes work getting it right.

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