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Farmstead Windbreak

Learn about farmstead windbreaks, including primary Field Office Technical Guide practices, primary purposes, key design elements, and tree/shrub species requirements.


A windbreak or shelterbelt of closely spaced trees and/or shrubs planted perpendicular to the prevailing troublesome winds and adjacent to the farmstead home, buildings and work areas. The "wind shadow" created to the leeward side of this barrier achieves desired purposes. The windbreak may consist of one to many rows to insure adequate density of branches, stems and leaves.

Some Primary FOTG Practices for this System

  • Windbreak/Shelterbelt Establishment (380)
  • Mulching (484)
  • Irrigation System (441), Irrigation Water Management (449)
  • Diversion (362)
  • Access Control (472)
  • Fencing (382)

Primary Purposes

Reduce wind velocity to: 1) reduce energy loss, 2) trap snow away from buildings, roads, etc., and 3) protect and improve human habitat.

Key Design Elements

60-80% density barrier (year-round) with primary buildings/area within 2-5H of the barrier but at least 100' from the windward row in snow country. Animal waste runoff needs to be diverted away from the windbreak.

Tree/Shrub Species Requirements

  • Adapted to the soil and climate of the planting site.
  • Aesthetically pleasing to increase farmstead value.
  • When utility lines are present, low to moderate root and crown spread to reduce conflicts.
  • Resistance to pests and herbicides.
  • Resistance to stem and branch breakage from high winds, ice, snow.
Includes drawings of a typical farmstead windbreak and the differences between protection from snow and wind versus wind only