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windbreak design

 
gardener & author
Posts: 2097
Location: Manitoba, Canada
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I live in the Canadian prairies. The wind is not fun. Especially in winter when the wind makes it such that you can't see more than a few feet in front of your windshield.

Around here pretty much all of the windbreaks were planted decades ago. And they aren't being replaced. And some are being removed. It's making the problem worse. When I am driving in a snowstorm and I drive past a clump of trees, suddenly I can see! So I figure if we would do more of that, there would be less problems.

Never mind the wind erosion on all the fields.

Geoff Lawton likes to talk about how if you take a conventional field and plant 30% of it as a windbreak, the parcel will still produce the exact same amount of food PLUS whatever the windbreak produces. And then you can go for a walk in the woods - who doesn't like a walk in the woods?

Almost all of the windbreaks here are a single tree wide and are open for the bottom few feet. I once heard that the ideal windbreak is to design it such that it is shaped like an airplane wing, with a polyculture of different sized trees of different species.

I think the ideal is to start with a tall berm as a base. That way the windbreak gets even taller and has a firm barrier to shelter the bottom 5-10 feet of ground downwind of the berm.
 
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