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Living Snowfence

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


A planting of closely spaced trees and/or shrubs planted perpendicular to the prevailing troublesome winds and adjacent to roads, buildings and work areas. The "wind shadow" created to the leeward side of this barrier achieves desired purposes by depositing snow in deep drifts. A living snowfence 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)
  • Access Control (472)
  • Fencing (382)

Primary Purposes

Concentrate snow deposition away from roads, buildings and other areas to improve farm access or habitat.

Key Design Elements

50-100% density barrier (snow season) with windward row at 100-200 feet from road/area to be protected.

Tree/Shrub Species Requirements

  • Adapted to the soil and climate of the planting site.
  • Evergreens or densely branched trees and shrubs are
  • preferred.
  • Low to moderate root and crown spread to reduce conflicts with adjacent crops and utility lines.
  • Resistance to pests and herbicides.
  • Resistance to stem and branch breakage from high winds, ice, snow.