What’s more annoying than relaxing on your balcony when a gust of wind ruins the mood, knocking things over? One minute you’re relaxing, and the next you’re trying to keep your paper from flying to the street below. What can be done to make a windy balcony less windy?
To block wind on a balcony, you need to divert as much as you can. Wind barriers you use can include permanent structures such as lattices to flexible ones such as bushes. Other options include bamboo, weatherproof fabric, living walls, and glass.
If you don’t have a wind problem with your balcony, consider yourself lucky. The following suggestions will help reduce the amount of wind on yours.
Use a Lattice to Divert Wind
Adding lattices is an excellent option—they will divert wind, are relatively easy to install, and require little maintenance or upkeep. Lattices can also provide privacy.
Lattices are constructed from cedar or similar moisture-resistant woods. Vinyl lattices are another option. Although the typical lattice is built from crisscrossing strips of wood or vinyl diagonally, square, rectangular, and other decorative patterns such as interlocking circles or fleur-de-lis are also available.
Cost is one disadvantage to a lattice, especially if you need several to divert the wind. You could opt for an expandable lattice, such as the GLANT Expandable Willow Lattice. It can be expanded to 120 inches (305cm) and be an excellent balcony option with light winds.
Turn a Lattice Into a Trellis
Although the words lattice and trellis are often used interchangeably, a trellis is a lattice-like structure supporting plants. If you attach a lattice to the balcony railing and run it along with the balcony without plants, you have a lattice.
Should you choose to use plants in your balcony, pick one that is rated for a zone or two lower than where you live if you live in Zone 6, purchase plants hardy for Zones 4 or 5. Hardiness ratings are determined by how the plant grows in the ground. On a windy balcony, the plant will experience colder conditions. Plants will also soften the trellis.
Use Bamboo Screens for a Windbreaker
Bamboo screens act as a wind blocker and provide even more privacy than a lattice. Often called bamboo fencing, it comes in various heights, from 3 to 8 feet, giving you plenty of variety. Bamboo fencing is also relatively inexpensive and more eco-friendly than a wood trellis. Bamboo installation is a two-person job and will darken a small patio.
The couple in the video below filmed themselves installing a bamboo screen. You can decide for yourself whether the bamboo aesthetic will match your balcony:
Add Hardy Plants to a Windy Balcony
When looking for plants for a windy balcony, get ones with a wide base and thin leaves that originated in drier climates, such as:
- Ornamental Grasses, such as feather grass, bluestem, gamma grass, or purple fountain grass, can all handle balcony winds and are easy to grow and require little maintenance.
- Strong, woody plants, such as holly, boxwoods, or rosemary, will make excellent wind diverters, especially as they grow tall. Your balcony needs to be strong enough to hold the large, heavy containers you need to keep the plants from tipping over. When picking containers, avoid tall, skinny ones as they are more likely to be tipped over.
- Climbers, such as star and winter jasmine, clematis, honeysuckle, and ivy are typically used in conjunction with trellises. Climbing hydrangea can handle below-freezing temperatures. Some species of climbing roses are also excellent choices. Check for cold hardiness before you grow plants on a trellis.
Add Fabric Panels
Attaching a fabric panel is a way to add interest to your balcony. However, use outdoor fabric that has been treated for water and sun exposure. Also, plan how you will secure them. Panels that run along the railing are easier to install but won’t block as much wind. Larger panels will need to be attached to a balcony above or a mounted frame.
Finally, the panels need to be perforated to let some wind through. You can get creative with Fabric panels. Check out the pictures to see some uses of fabric panels to block the wind.
Create a Living Wall
If you have enough space and your balcony can take the weight, a row of shrubs is an excellent way to deflect mild winds, redirecting it over or to the side of your balcony. Shrubs have the advantage of being portable, unlike some of the other choices.
When picking bushes, consider the following factors:
- Evergreen or deciduous. If the goal is to have bushes as a windbreaker, then avoid deciduous shrubs.
- Adult size. A 3-foot tall boxwood won’t provide much in the way of blocking wind.
- Cold resistance. Remember that your balcony will be colder than the ground. Unless you plan to bring the shrub inside, look for shrubs that can tolerate winter temperatures for a Zone below yours.
Check out the ManoMano website for some ideas for shrubs to block wind on your balcony.
Build an Arbor or Pergola on Your Balcony
Another option is an arbor or pergola over your balcony. It’s an impressive and expensive choice that works best on large balconies. Also, it will require some retrofits to the balcony, such as disassembling the railings to install the pergola. Check out this website for an idea of how a pergola could look on a balcony.
Add Glass to Your Balcony
Glass is going to be one of the best options for blocking wind and one of the most expensive. Your balcony will look sleek. If you have a great view, the glass will preserve it. Options include panels that go under the railing to systems attached to the ceiling of the balcony to create a solarium-style balcony.
Mix and Match
Who says you need to use just one method? Have a few shrubs, fill in your railing with lattice, and add a bamboo wall on one side. Be creative, and let your balcony make a statement while also protecting you from the wind.
What Causes a Balcony to be Windier Than the Ground?
Why is a balcony windier than the ground? The wind is created in several ways:
- Temperature differences. Temperature differences cause warm and cold air to collide, and these collisions create wind. When meteorologists talk about high and low pressure, they refer to warm, expanding air pushing cold air away (high pressure) or cold air (low pressure) pulling cold air in.
- Friction. Also known as surface friction, objects close to the ground, such as trees, rocks, and so forth, block some wind. At higher altitudes, wind encounters fewer obstacles to slow it. Many of the methods we discussed use this principle to help with wind reduction.
- Air density. Air is less dense at higher altitudes. The reduced density lets the force—wind—move air more easily at higher elevations. The higher your balcony, the more the air density will impact you.
Wind speeds at 30 feet high are roughly 1.5 faster (or three times as strong). At 120 feet high, wind speed will be twice as fast as ground speed, and twice as powerful as the 30 feet high speeds.
To get an idea of wind speeds on your balcony, use an anemometer to measure wind speeds. The AOPUTTRIVER Bluetooth Wind Speed Meter means you can measure the speeds from any Bluetooth device.
The handheld meter can also be mounted to a tripod. An anemometer can come in handy for sailing, hunting, flying, and climbing if you are an outdoor enthusiast.
A balcony is a fabulous place to relax, read a book, socialize with friends, and more. Strong winds can hamper those activities, so blocking and diverting it is essential for you to fully enjoy your balcony. One or more of these solutions will help you get your wind problem under control so that you don’t have to head inside every time the wind picks up.