Fort Collins Conservation District

Ron Neher

Windbreak Designs Can Be Varied

By: Ron Neher, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Retired

Our world is made up of constant complaining about all kinds of things, - politics, weather, taxes, gas prices, sports, - the list is endless, - just listen. Many of us just complain and don’t really offer up any solution except our opinion, - for whatever that is worth. However, as far as the weather is concerned, we can do something to change the climate around our homes, farm buildings, livestock, and other areas which are not all that fond of this pesky weather disturbance, - specifically the wind. Many landowners have already discovered this and it is not all that big of a secret. However, new residents to our area often are not associated with our strong, unforgiving winds and blizzards.

A common practice to combat the wind and its effects is the development of a windbreak made up of both deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs. These can vary in size depending on the layout of the area to protect. Designs can vary from one-row to multi-rows of various lengths made up of various species of trees and shrubs to tailor the windbreak’s purpose. In addition to lessening the wind’s effect, a windbreak also has other beneficial attributes:

  1. Blizzards often frequent our area with large accumulations of snow. A windbreak can control this accumulation of snow by keeping the drifted snow from blocking driveways and burying buildings and livestock areas.
  2. A mature, well developed windbreak can block the cold winter winds and have a significant economic impact on energy costs in heating a house in winter.
  3. Some landowners have opted to plant shrubs witch produce various kinds of fruit. This by-product can be beneficial in providing food for wildlife as well as for personal use.
  4. In addition to controlling the drifting of snow, a well designed mature windbreak can also screen and filter blowing soil and dust particles from erosive fields and dirt roads.
  5. A benefit not to go unnoticed is the aesthetic value of a mature, well designed, multi-row windbreak. Due to the complexity of such a windbreak, this type of planting will provide value to a host of things, - from the farm house to wildlife which are either migrating through the area or who have chosen to make the windbreak their home.
  6. Lastly, a windbreak will add monetary value to one’s property and land.

Some windbreaks, due to the large area they need to protect, can be costly to develop. One thing to keep in mind when designing a complex windbreak is that windbreaks do not have to be planted all in one year. They can be added in length and width in succeeding years. Annually, a number of local landowners, - or at least on occasion, - involve themselves with projects of various tree plantings and windbreak development. These plantings can be around and near home sites or at remote sites solely for the purpose of wildlife habitat. Whatever your need or desire, a tree planting can greatly improve the environment around your home, farm, or ranch.