Sometimes simple is better when landscaping in gusty locations.
Photos: David Croxford

Pulling up to this expansive home on a steep street on Hawaii Loa Ridge, the wind hits you the moment you get out of the car. At times howling, the gusts are consistent — even on the sunniest days. “It’s a total wind tunnel. I’d say it blew 15 to 20 miles per hour the entire time we were working on the project,” recalls landscaper Steve Dewald. “On occasion, we had 50 miles-per-hour gusts.”

Steve’s Gardening Service installed this eye-catching driveway and entryway. “The existing driveway was 14 to 18 inches thick, which was an unwelcome surprise on demo day,” laughs Dewald. 

The owner of this home came to Dewald to help him reimagine the entire landscape. “He just wasn’t happy with any of it,” he says. “Our main goal was to keep landscaping to a minimum due to the wind and then take advantage of the natural beauty here.”

“Along the side of the house, we had the opportunity to create both a screen for privacy as well as a windbreak, because the wind howls through here,” Dewald says. Plants used for the screen include podocarpus and variegated hau.

Working from designs done by award-winning landscape architect Steve Mechler, Steve’s Gardening Service got to work updating the lighting, replacing the lanai and installing low-flow irrigation to account for the high winds. Dewald also used wind-tolerant plants throughout, such as dwarf date palms above the expansive waterfalls flowing into the inviting new pool, which was installed by DeBiasi Pacific.

Built by DeBiasi Pacific, this scenic, infinity-edge pool features waterfalls and a large spa.

Dewald says the landscape takes advantage of the yard’s incredible views while accounting for the battering breezes. “I love the simplicity of this landscape,” he says. “I think you can overdo it. In areas like this, there’s no need to get overly fancy, just frame in the view and let Mother Nature speak for itself.”

Low-flow sprinkler heads were used throughout the landscape due to the area’s high winds. “I’d say Hawaii Loa Ridge ranks right up there as one of the windiest spots on Oahu,” says Dewald, who has been a landscaper in Hawaii for close to three decades. 

4 Tips for Landscaping in High-wind Areas

1. Create a windbreak.

2. Select tolerant plants.

3. Strategically place fencing/walls.

4. Add TLC — water, mulch, prune.

Categories: Landscape Design, Outdoor Living