Rows of trees and shrubs that protect areas from wind and provide food and cover for wildlife.       ""

How it works

Multiple rows of coniferous trees or a combination of coniferous and deciduous trees are planted to protect a farmstead or feedlot from wind and snow. One or two rows of shrubs are also often planted. The established windbreak slows wind on the downwind side of the windbreak for a distance of 10 times the height of the trees. The tree rows also act like a snow fence, trapping snow within the windbreak. Field windbreaks can also be planted to reduce wind speed in open fields.

How it helps

A windbreak reduces wind erosion, conserves energy, reduces heating bills and beautifies a farmstead.
Trees serve as a sound barrier and muffle road noise. Trees and shrubs provide food and cover for wildlife.
Improved livestock weight gains can be expected when livestock are protected from winter winds and snow.

Planning ahead

Have you planned enough space for summer air circulation, travel lanes or gardens?
Will the mature windbreak cast a shadow over the driveway or nearby road, prolonging icy conditions?
Will trees in the windbreak attract the desired wildlife species?
Will the position of the mature windbreak cause a visibility hazard for drivers or dump snow where it's not wanted?

Tech notes

Preferred planting time is after winter thaw and before May 15. *
Plant on at least the north and west sides of the area to be protected;
extend rows 50 feet beyond that area. *
Don't plant trees on the south or east side of a road. At mature height
the trees will cast a shadow and prolong icy road conditions. *
Keep plantings 20 to 30 feet away from phone or utility lines.
Plant trees according to spacing recommendations for the species.
Do not plant over septic leach fields.


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

* Check local recommendations.