Fence panels for windy gardens: protection from wind and onlookers

There are areas that are particularly subject to more or less strong winds that can become very annoying.

Windbreak fence panel

Windy days do happen, but when the wind is persistent and prolonged here is that you want something that can mitigate the effects, dampening it in some way.

This is what windbreak panels are for, whose function is to moderate strong and annoying winds, transforming them (within certain limits) into pleasant breezes.

It is not that the wind has only negative effects, let's face it.

The wind, especially in our increasingly polluted cities, is welcomed as a blessing because it cleans the air of pollutants and, especially in summer, ventilation helps to eliminate that oppressive hood of sultriness, or humid heat, which is particularly odious.

However, those who have a house exposed to winds know that often you can not open a window without starting to slam violently other doors and windows left carelessly open.

Therefore, the strategic placement of windbreak panels in the area of prevailing winds has the function to dampen a little bit the air current and, in addition, also to protect our privacy, keeping away prying eyes.

Windbreak panels, it should be emphasized, must not constitute a total obstacle to the wind because, in the event of very strong winds, there is a risk that these panels will end up being literally blown away, and the risk is all the greater the more resistance the panels offer to the passage of the currents.

This is why their structure is designed to dampen and not totally stop the wind.

It goes without saying that, where possible, the best windbreaks are hedges and trees which, by their nature, weaken the wind current by filtering it through branches and leaves.

In this article, however, we are talking about artificial structures, even if they are mainly made of wood.

However, there is nothing to prevent the two things from being combined: that is, to create wooden grid structures where climbing plants can be placed, for example.

Fundamental characteristics of windbreaks

The windbreak panels respond to the principles of aerodynamics, so do not think that they are simple wooden structures, the way they are built deeply affects the result that can be obtained.

An obstacle placed between an air current can generate very different effects depending on the construction technique, it can dampen the wind or divert it, it can create strong turbulence or support the passage of air thanks to its shape.

It is obviously difficult to hypothesize futuristic and strongly aerodynamic structures for windbreak panels, however, while remaining in the wake of tradition, it is possible to have structures that respond quite differently to wind stress.

The structure of windbreak panels can be straight or curved.

Curved windbreaks (convex with respect to wind direction) deflect winds more effectively but are more difficult to integrate into a garden or terrace than straight structures.

The panels are, in most cases, made of wood, but this is not the only material available. Wood fits more or less all shapes and is relatively inexpensive.

When buying panels, however, try to aim for first-rate wood that has as straight fibers as possible and as few knots as possible.

In addition, in order to withstand the weather, it would be appropriate for the wood to be impregnated in an autoclave, this ensures weather resistance and long life.

In fact, the panels do not differ much from a common fence, what makes the difference is the arrangement of the slats on the supporting structure.

The slats have the function of diffusing the wind while reducing the pressure, contrary to what happens with a solid structure (such as a wall) which, opposing the wind, ends up generating strong air currents at points of discontinuity of the structure.

The height and width of windbreak panels have a decisive effect on the area they protect.

wind break panels

A solid windbreak, for example, completely modifies the course of the airflow for a distance equal to one and a half times its height and, to a lesser extent, for distances equal to 10-15 times its height.

The larger the area that the windbreak should protect the greater its height should be. Before designing windbreaks with heights greater than two meters, however, it is necessary to consult municipal regulations to ensure that there are no obstacles of a bureaucratic nature.

The greater the height of the windbreak, the more robust must be the structure that supports the slats. In all places in all regions, at least a few days a year, it can happen that there are very very strong winds and these structures are really at risk of being put to the test if they are not made in a workmanlike manner.

Regarding the anchoring of windbreak poles, it can be said that the underground part of the pole should be one third to one half of the part above ground.

For poles with a total length of 2.50 meters, for example, the depth of the holes should be from 80 cm to 1.25 m. This is in general, but further evaluations should be made according to the nature and consistency of the soil.

On particularly loose and sandy soils it is necessary to anchor the poles with special concrete castings because otherwise they would not withstand the impact of very strong winds.

The frame of the windbreaks is made with two square-section poles, 10x10 cm, joined together by two or three horizontal beams. The poles should be spaced 1.8 meters apart.

The first of the beams should be placed at about 20 cm from the ground, inside the two supporting poles, and fixed by metal brackets and screws.

The upper beam should be fixed with nails or screws above the support poles, obviously cut at the same height.

If desired, and to give the structure greater strength, you can also place a third beam at an intermediate height with respect to the first two.

The different types of windbreak panels

We have mentioned that the panels can be curved or straight, now let's delve a little into the possible arrangement of the roofing slats, since the supporting structure remains essentially similar.

The slats, or lamellas, can be laid in various ways in relation not only to the needs of protection from the wind but also to the lesser or greater privacy that we want to obtain.

Compared to a normal fence, in windbreak panels the slats are laid alternately, inside and outside the frame, vertically or horizontally.

This type of laying is also called "board on board" and is certainly the most common type of batten laying.

Then there are the lattice panels, screwed to the posts, which provide more privacy and ideal wind diffusion.

Shutter-type windbreaks are yet another type and, in this case, the horizontal or vertical boards are mounted on the bias, exactly as in shutters, and depending on their inclination deflect the wind sideways, to the right or left, or up or down.

windbreak shutter type

Windbreaks of the board-on-board type or those with plywood or chipboard panels diffuse the wind and are easy to construct, as already written. In addition to the two variants with boards nailed vertically or horizontally there is a third with boards nailed diagonally on some sections of the structure.

Then there are the more modern windbreak panels with curtains tied with ropes to the structure or those with transparent plastic panels, and even those wooden lattice panels, available in panels ready for assembly.

The trellis panels have an elegant and modern aesthetic and deflect the wind downwards.

Placement of windbreak panels

A windbreak barrier, in order to work, must be placed in the right location.

We have already written above how a solid barrier modifies airflow by one and a half times its height, it follows that the closer the windbreak panel is placed, the greater the benefits in terms of reducing currents.

As much as windbreak panels can be similar to a fence, it would be useless to put them in place of a fence unless the space to be fenced is really small.

To knock down the winds on large spaces it is necessary to resort to green barriers made of hedges and trees, preferably conifers.

Windbreaks, on the other hand, serve to make the space around particular garden elements more livable, such as a swimming pool, a patio or veranda, a playground, etc.

Reducing draughts and, at the same time, improving privacy, windbreak panels achieve the best results when placed at a short distance from the place they are intended to protect.

Before constructing the windbreaks, the orientation of the windbreaks must be decided and to do this, information from the local weather center must be used to identify the prevailing winds.

The information obtained from the weather center should be considered as indicative, since these currents can be easily modified by the change of seasons and the local orography, such as the presence of streams, hills and valleys.

DIY Editor
Do-it-yourself enthusiast. I started with the renovation of my flat and then I changhed this passion into my job.