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Windbreaks

Solution: Windbreak

Windbreak:  Rows of trees and shrubs that protect areas from wind and act as a snow fence.

How it WorksPhoto of windbreaks.

Multiple rows of trees are planted to protect a farmstead, feedlot or open fields from wind and snow. Coniferous trees or a mix of coniferous and deciduous trees can be used, along with one or two rows of shrubs. The established trees and shrubs slow wind on the downwind side of the windbreak for a distance of 10 times the height of the trees. The windbreak reduces wind erosion, conserves energy used for heating and cooling, serves as a sound barrier, and provides wildlife food and cover.

Planning

  • Plan the windbreak for at least the north and west sides of the areas to be protected, with the rows extending 50 feet beyond the area. However, don’t plant too close to buildings, roads or driveways on north and west sides or snow may accumulate in these areas.
  • Avoid planting windbreaks on the south or east sides of roads or driveways; the trees will shade the road and prolong icy conditions.
  • Consider whether the mature windbreak will cause a vision hazard for drivers.
  • Keep plantings at least 20 to 30 feet away from phone or utility lines.
  • A mix of conifers, deciduous trees and shrubs provides the best cover for wildlife.
  • Space trees 10-12 feet apart, and shrubs 4-8 feet apart.

Maintenance

  • Control competing vegetation with tillage or herbicides before planting and for the first three years after planting.
  • Fence out livestock.
  • Inspect the windbreak regularly to control damage.

Questions?  Ask a Conservationist!