University of Illinois Extension

 

John Church,
Extension Educator, Natural Resources
Rockford Extension Center

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Windbreaks Can Help Save On Energy Costs

This winter’s cold winds and snow that started in early December should alert many rural homeowners to the fact that windbreaks are a good investment. Installing windbreaks will help ease the wind's impact and leave fewer snowdrifts to shovel. More importantly, with the increased costs of heat, windbreaks can also help reduce energy demand. Studies have shown that owners of older, poorly insulated homes could save as much as 30 percent in heating costs with a mature windbreak.

Now is a good time to plan a windbreak design and be prepared for tree planting this spring. The first step is determining the proper design and location. Since prevailing winter winds are normally from the northwest, the windbreak should usually be located on the north and west sides of the area to be protected. Usually the most effective design is an "L" shaped planting with two "legs" to the windbreak.

The most protection from the windbreak will be in a zone about as wide as 8 to 10 times the height of the tallest trees. In general, windbreaks should be located 50-100 feet from the building(s) to be protected, with 100 feet the most preferable. The most snow accumulation will occur within the first 50 feet of the innermost row of trees. Beyond 15-20 times the height of the windbreak, the wind velocity picks back up as though no windbreak was present. When possible, the legs of the windbreak should extend at least 50 feet beyond the area to be protected in both directions to provide maximum protection.

Generally, three rows of evergreen trees with the trees in the middle row alternately spaced between the trees in the outside rows are recommended. The rows should be at least 16 feet apart and the trees should be spaced about 16 feet apart on center within each row.

For more complete details regarding planting windbreaks, contact your local University of Illinois Extension office.

 

February - March 2001: Hybrids & Heirlooms | Put the Right Plant In the Right Place | Windbreaks Can Help Save On Energy Costs | Apple Scab & Black Knot

 

Past Issues

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