Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wind: It Can Cause More Problems Than Just Messing Up Your Hair

Untitled Document
Why Plant a Windbreak?

Def: A thing, such as a row of trees or a fence, wall, or screen, that provides shelter or protection from the wind

A windbreak is a tall, dense continuous wall of vegetation. The height of the windbreak determines how far the wind protection extends, and the density determines the degree of protection. Most windbreaks consist of one to three rows of trees and shrubs, depending on space limitations.

 The coldest and most damaging winds usually come from the north and west, so planting a windbreak on the north and the northwest sides of your home or property will offer benefits, including:
·         Reduced heating costs up to 10-15% in the winter months as the windbreak offers protection against the cold winter winds
·         Reduced snowdrifts as the windbreak can act as a living snow fence, keeping snowdrifts off your driveway

·         Reduced cooling costs in the summer months as the windbreak provides shade from the hot summer sun
·         Improved crop yields as the wind protection allows for less soil erosion and less moisture evaporation
·         Reduced sounds of traffic, machinery and animals and increased privacy
·         Increased wildlife as the windbreak offers both food and cover for a variety of animals
·         Possible increased property value for its benefits and aesthetics 

Planning & Designing Your Windbreak

Windbreak example
There are several factors to keep in mind when planning your windbreak. As the windbreak grows, the taller trees can create problems if they are too close to a road or a utility line. Trees should be planted 30 feet from the edge of a roadway to prevent vision obstruction, and windbreaks on the north or west side of a building or road should be planted at least 65 feet from the edge to eliminate snow drifting. Trees and tall shrubs need to be at least 20 feet from utility lines to allow maintenance vehicles to pass and to prevent branches from interfering with lines.

When designing your windbreak, it is best to plan on leaving 10-15 feet between each row so that there will continue to be room to maneuver mowing equipment; the distance required between each tree or shrub varies by species. The Spokane Conservation District's Forestry department can assist with choosing the best species for the site's conditions.

Recommended species for windbreaks, all available through the SCD Annual Tree & Shrub Seedling Sale:

Shrubs (plant 4' apart in rows and 6’apart between rows)
·         Black hawthorn
·         Caragana
·         Mockorange
·         Peking lilac
·         Redosier dogwood
·         Woods rose

Deciduous trees or large shrubs (plant 8' apart in rows and 10' apart between rows)
·         Amur chokecherry
·         Mountain ash

Conifers (plant 8' apart in rows and 10-15' apart between rows)
·         Engelmann spruce
·         Colorado blue spruce
·         Noble fir
·         Rocky Mountain juniper
·         Scots pine

Forester Tip: start with a row of deciduous trees or shrubs, and mix in a row of conifers to help fill in the windbreak as the trees mature.

For more information on windbreaks contact the Forestry department at Garth-Davis@sccd.org. Remember that the deadline for the SCD seedling sale is March 16- more information on the tree sale can be found at www.sccd.org/TreeSale.

This is the first in a series of articles on the various conservation practices you can implement on or around your home, property, and farm, to help save money, time, energy and other natural resources.

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