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Windbreak Planting Tips

A properly placed windbreak can reduce winter fuel consumption up to 33%. Following are a few tips to help in planting and caring for your newly purchased windbreak plants. For a list of windbreak plants available at Blake Nursery click here.

  • Wind speed is reduced to a downwind distance up to 15 times the height of the windbreak. Maximum protection is found at five times the height of the barrier. For example, a 25' tall windbreak provides the best protection 125' downwind. However, to reduce winter wind over a short distance, a dense windbreak of evergreens is best with maximum protection within 2 - 3 tree lengths. Evergreen windbreaks will block desired warmth from the winter sun so only plant if the prevailing winds come from the northeast, north or northwest. To reduce winds from the south, it is best to plant a deciduous windbreak.
  • When planting a deciduous windbreak, use trees and shrubs of varying height to provide foliage density at various levels.
  • Windbreaks should be taller and extend 50' wider than the home they are meant to protect because wind speed increases at the edges of the windbreak. If your property cannot accommodate this, make the windbreak as wide as possible and plant it closer to the house.
  • Do not plant windbreaks close to driveways or paths because snow will be deposited downwind of the barrier. If possible, place the windbreak at least as far away as the plants' mature height from drives and paths.
  • For a tight windbreak see the spacing suggestions in our catalog. For a loose hedge plants can be spaced at desired intervals up to their maximum spread; staggered rows work best.
  • Plants should be watered until they are well established (generally through the second season of growth). Additional irrigation during hot, dry spells throughout the plants' lifetime is optimal. The soil should be kept moist, but not saturated, throughout the entire planting area so that roots can spread. Drip irrigation is sometimes used for a windbreak, but its drawback is that it only waters a small area, and for roots to spread they need encouragement by watering beyond the drip zone. If drip is the only option, try to soak the entire area occasionally during hot, dry periods.
  • Remember to control weeds in the planting area. Aggressive weeds will out-compete your windbreak plants for water and nutrients. Existing weeds can be reduced with heavy mulch (~3" deep) or post-emergent herbicide. Weed seeds can be kept from sprouting with heavy mulch or pre-emergent herbicide.

For more information, please read Energy-efficient & Environmental Landscaping by Anne Moffat and Mark Schiler.

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