Windbreaks stop wind erosion and protect crops from wind damage and the drying effects of the wind. A living windbreak also protects structures from strong winds and provides wildlife habitat. An effective windbreak is made of native evergreen shrubs or trees and decreases wind speed at a distance 10 times the height of the windbreak. For example, a windbreak 10 feet high will slow wind speeds at a distance of 100 feet from the windbreak. Windbreaks work best when located on level ground.
How to Plant a Windbreak
Locate area to plant windbreak. For an effective windbreak at least two rows of trees or hedges are planted in a staggered or checkerboard pattern. Optimally, your windbreak should include five rows of shrubs or trees planted in a staggered or checkerboard pattern with rows 15 feet apart. Plan to extend windbreak at least 50 feet past each side of the area or structure to be protected. Locate the windbreak at a right angle or perpendicular to where the prevailing or damaging wind normally blows. Also, locate the windbreak no more than 100 feet from structure you want to protect.
Choose native plants to use for an effective windbreak. Tall evergreen trees such as pine and juniper that grow branches close to the ground are the best choices. If too much shade is your concern, then choose evergreen shrubs such as privet or laurel.
Plant trees or shrubs with spacing depending on number of rows. Trees and shrubs planted in windbreaks with only two rows are planted 2-8 feet apart depending on mature size and those planted in windbreaks with three to five rows are planted 3-12 feet apart depending on mature size. The most important factor is that the branches and leaves of plants in each row touch or overlap when the plants are fully grown.
Provide water and a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around the base of plants while the windbreak matures. If you use native plants or shrubs maintenance of the windbreak should become minimal over the years.