En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - May 31, 2013

From: Gonzales, CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Lists, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Windbreaks for Monterey County, CA
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson


I am trying to find good wind breakers for Monterey County area, very windy in the valley.


Let me reference a previous Mr Smarty Plants answer that has some great references for the “what, when, where, and why” of windbreaks. These cover the basic reasons for planting windbreaks, their design, and plant selection.  As you didn't mention more than wanting a windbreak, this may help you focus in your requirements a bit.  A similar discussion was also done by Mr Smarty Plants for a “Windbreak for Eastern Kansas”.

Looking for plant lists for you to consider,  this page from Los Pilitas Nursery addresses California native Windbreak plants.  Mr Smarty Plants also has a set of recommended plants for Northern California. This list can be sorted, so you can choose trees of a good size and/or tall shrubs and get a list of plants to consider. My first choices would tend to be plants that the Wildflower Center recommends which are also on the Los Pilitas list.

Several reasonable choices appear on both lists including Amelanchier alnifolia (Saskatoon serviceberry), Arctostaphylos densiflora (Vine hill manzanita), Arctostaphylos manzanita (Whiteleaf manzanita), Ceanothus impressus (Santa barbara ceanothus), Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon), Mahonia pinnata (Wavyleaf barberry).  I noticed that few of the taller trees were on the nursery list, ones on both lists included Pinus radiata (Monterey pine) and Prunus ilicifolia (Hollyleaf cherry).  Several Oaks and even taller trees can be found on the Wildflower Center recommended list. Pay attention to the range and characteristics of the species; that will help you make choices that will do well on your property.


From the Image Gallery

Saskatoon serviceberry
Amelanchier alnifolia

Santa barbara ceanothus
Ceanothus impressus

Heteromeles arbutifolia

California live oak
Quercus agrifolia

Balsam fir
Abies concolor

California laurel
Umbellularia californica

More Trees Questions

Leaf fall from Cedar Elm planted in clay
August 17, 2008 - I saw the answer to leaves falling off a cedar elm planted in clay. However I planted a Cedar Elm in my back yard. I dug a hole in the grass then planted and put grass back on top. I water every other...
view the full question and answer

What is eating the leaves of my oak tree in Cedar Park, TX?
May 25, 2010 - This one has a couple of arborists stumped. I have clusters of small, light-colored worms on the leaves of an oak tree, but no tents or webs. They are eating the chlorophyll in the leaves, leaving th...
view the full question and answer

Reason for tree canopy dieback from Mahopac NY
May 21, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: Not a questions, just sharing, re person in Texas whose Ash Jupiter appeared to be dying "canopy very thin on top". We moved to Putnam Co. NY in 1970. Our house was shaded by...
view the full question and answer

Dying Bigelow oaks in Austin
July 30, 2010 - I have several stands of Bigelow Oak (Q.sinuata var. breviloba) in NW Austin mixed with Yaupon and Cedar Elms. Several have died each year for the past 8 years. Two now have brown, dry leaves which is...
view the full question and answer

Curling lower leaves on live oak in Cedar Park, TX
June 11, 2009 - I have noticed that one of my live oak tree, the leaves on the bottom of the tree have stared to curl. The leaves above that look fine. The trees are about 12 yrs old. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center