Establishing and Restoring Windbreaks

Mar 24, 2017


The state of Iowa is no stranger to its share of strong, gusty winds. A row of trees and shrubs can make a noticeable difference in erosion control or in reducing home heating costs. Iowa State University Extension Forrester, Jesse Randall, shares ways to plan for and establish healthy windbreaks.

His tips on how to configure a successful windbreak:

“I like to think of a windbreak as gradually increasing in height. […] What I’m trying to do is make the wind go up and over that windbreak as much as it’s going through the windbreak. So, my tallest trees I always put on the inside—like a Norway spruce, or concolor fir, or white pine.”

Randall also recommends using ISU Forestry Extension’s new windbreak application that assists in planning and establishing windbreaks in specific locations.

“[The application] will look at your soils through NRCS’ database and it will link that to the DNR’s woodlands suitability index. It will tell you what trees are going to grow—what trees, what shrubs, what conifers will grow on your site. It will lay it out, it will tell you how many of each you need, and it will give you a rough estimate on what the cost of replanting will be.”

On this Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe is joined by Randall and ISU's Extension horticulturist, Richard Jauron. They discuss windbreak strategies and answer listener’s horticulture questions.

Click here to access ISU's windbreak application.