A how-to guide for shelterbelt planting.

Shelterbelt planting isn’t as simple as it sounds. It takes a lot of planning and work. We’ve put together our best practices for planting a shelterbelt or windbreak.

Time needed: 8 minutes

4 Shelterbelt Planting Tips

  1. Determine Why You Need a Shelterbelt

    Your reasons for planting a shelterbelt can vary. First, you need to decide on your end goal. Will your shelterbelt act as a privacy fence or to reduce blowing snow? Or maybe both. Here, we’ve listed the most popular reasons to plant a shelterbelt.

    reducing wind
    acting as visual screens
    controlling blowing snow
    protecting buildings and decreasing energy consumption
    capturing atmospheric carbon
    helping control soil erosion
    providing habitat for wildlife
    beautifying farmyard
    increasing property valueshelterbelt planting surrounding farmland

  2. Decide on the Number of Shelterbelt Planting Rows Needed

    Next is to decide on how many rows your shelterbelt will need in order to provide adequate wind protection for your farmyard. Shelterbelts generally contain 3 to 5 rows depending on the amount of space you have and the level of wind protection you desire.

    An effective shelterbelt should contain a combination of shrubs, fast-growing trees, and dense long-lived trees. The outside row of your shelterbelt should be a dense shrub, such as Common Purple Lilacs, that will act to reduce wind near the ground and also trap snow. The next row should be a fast-growing tree species that gain height quickly. The third row of your shelterbelt should be long-lived trees, such as oaks, that will maintain your shelterbelt’s effectiveness for several decades. Finally, the fourth and fifth rows. These rows are the closest to your yard and should specifically contain tall, densely crowned evergreens. With a limited planting site, drop the third and fifth row and go with a three-row shelterbelt.man preparing planting site by digging a hole

  3. Determine Shelterbelt Planting Row Spacing

    Spacing between the various shelterbelt rows is your next consideration. The chart below shows recommendations on how far apart the various rows should be. The spacing shown allows for passing maintenance equipment and also provides enough room for growing trees.

    Spacing between species within rows is also important to ensure that your shelterbelt fills out nicely and becomes an effective windbreak. Therefore, the spacing between shrubs in the outside row should be about 3 feet (1m). However, Caragana is an exception. Plant your Caragana about 1 foot (0.3m) apart. Also, a spacing of about 8 feet (2.5m) between trees within the 2nd and 3rd rows is appropriate. Finally, space your trees in the 4th and 5th rows about 10 feet (3.0m) apart.shelterbelt planting row spacing

  4. Order Your Shelterbelt Trees

    One of the most important considerations in shelterbelt planting is to ensure that the roots of your seedlings stay moist and cool throughout the process. Another key point to consider before ordering your seedlings is planning enough time and labour to plant your shelterbelt. After you have established your timeline, labour, and seedling care, call or go online to TreeTime.ca. We have an extensive variety of shelterbelt trees and shrubs to suit every project. Check out our shelterbelt and windbreak species or use our shelterbelt planting species recommendation below (fig.1)seedling heights in nursery

In short, advanced planning for your shelterbelt project is especially important before you dig. Because of your efforts, you will have a shelterbelt that will be effective for many decades to come.

Common CaraganaAcute WillowBur OakBlue Spruce
Nanking CherryGolden WillowManitoba MapleWhite Spruce
Northline SaskatoonLaurel Leaf WillowGreen AshNorway spruce
Villosa LilacManitoba MaplePoplar SpeciesLodgepole Pine
Common Purple LilacAmur MapleScots Pine
Fig. 1: Shelterbelt planting species recommendations.

If you are thinking about planting a Christmas tree farm, check out our blog on Real Christmas Trees.