Establishing effective windbreaks on the Swan Coastal Plain

Page last updated: Thursday, 19 October 2017 - 1:56pm

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Choosing suitable species

A wide range of species are available for windbreaks.

Local species suitable for windbreaks on the Swan Coastal Plain.
Trees/tall shrubs (>3m) Shrubs
Dry sand areas: Dry sand areas:


(Agonis flexuosa)


(Acacia saligna)

Moonah/Rottnest tea tree

(Melaleuca lanceolata)

Olive Grevillea

(Grevillia olivacea)

Woody pear

(Xylomelum occidentale)

Red eyed wattle

(Acacia cyclops)


(Kunzea glabrescens)

One sided bottlebrush

(Calothamnus quadrifidus)

Winter wet flats: Winter wet flats:

Swamp peppermint

(Agonis littoralis)

Swamp blood flower

(Calothamnus lateralis)

Swamp sheoak

(Casuarina obesa)

Mountain kunzea

(Kunzea recurva)


(Kunzea ericifolia)

Grey honey myrtle

(Melaleuca incana)


(Callistachys lanceolata)

Robin redbreast bush

(Melaleuca laterita)

Choose species that are well adapted to the site conditions. Plants which are native to the area are highly specialised and generally don’t have any pests or diseases.

Choosing the wrong species for a soil type and rainfall area can end in poor growth and premature deaths. When choosing species consider the following:

  • the tree species matches the soil type
  • mature height and lateral root growth
  • water requirements and growth rate
  • selection of species with foliage close to ground level
  • a combination of species to reduce gaps and provide biodiversity.

If suitable, deciduous trees can be considered for frost-susceptible locations to prevent cold air being trapped by the windbreak.

It is important to check with a tree supplier if any of the potential species for use as a windbreak are a risk of becoming a weed.

Establishing a windbreak

Nearly all soils benefit from ripping as it breaks up compacted soils such as those found on properties with a long history of grazing. It’s best to deep rip in late summer to early autumn when the soil is dry and to a depth of 50-80cm.

Mounding may be necessary in waterlogged areas. Mounds should be 20-30cm high by one metre wide and done on the contour.

Weed control

Before the trees are planted, control weeds to a distance of one metre outside the proposed tree row/s by cultivation and/or with herbicides. A non-residual herbicide such as glyphosate can be used.

For more effective weed control use a residual, pre-emergent herbicide such as simazine (only if no run-off can occur) and wait at least two weeks before planting the trees.

Consider irrigation and fertiliser

If you use local species and plant early after the break of season, the trees should be able to get established before the dry, hot summer. However, nearly all species will benefit from being watered once a week during the first two to three summers if possible.

Irrigation is also likely to promote a sustained growth rate and reduce root invasion into any irrigated production areas.

Fertiliser requirements will depend on the species you choose, but most trees (including natives) will benefit and grow more quickly with some additional nutrients. Check with your tree supplier for recommendations.

Control pests, disease and stock

Using local or native species will minimise pest and disease attack. Rabbits, kangaroos and ducks can find seedlings tasty, so try to control pests before planting or consider using tree guards specific to the pest/s if possible.

During establishment of a windbreak it is recommended to exclude stock, so trees can reach their maximum height without any setbacks. Temporary or permanent fencing could be erected.

Consider allowing stock to access the shade offered by the windbreak once the understorey is well developed, but remove them if damage and gaps in the trees/shrubs become apparent.

Windbreaks can be a great addition to any property. They can help prevent soil erosion, protect plants from wind damage, provide shelter for livestock, increase biodiversity and reduce evaporation from dams.

However, it is vital you take the time to plan. Consider purpose, location, design and species, so you get it right the first time and enjoy the many benefits windbreaks can provide your property.