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Shelterbelts for WildlifeShelterbelts (also known as windbreaks) are rows of strategically placed evergreens, deciduous trees, and shrubs. They became common in the 1930s in order to prevent wind erosion on American farmlands. The Food Security Act of 1985 approved shelterbelts as a cover type for areas not being farmed. Today, farmers participating in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), receive rental payments for land used to support shelterbelts and cost-sharing for planting the trees and shrubs that provide cover. Well-designed shelterbelts offer valuable wildlife habitat and offer several benefits to property owners. However, these gains are not exclusive to agricultural lands and the farmers that maintain them. Homeowners and land managers also can benefit from establishing a shelterbelt.
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Reference: Ohio State University Extension
Benefits to Property Owners
People also can benefit from the animals that share the shelterbelt. Wildlife populations can be very entertaining, and shelterbelts increase opportunities for wildlife-viewing. Unique wildlife observations and experiences can be shared with family members, neighbors, and friends. Landowners may wish to hunt on their property. Healthy and abundant wildlife in these areas can be harvested following local regulations. Additionally, insectivorous birds residing in a shelterbelt will feed on many nuisance pests, perhaps reducing your need to use costly chemical insecticides on your property.
Benefits to Wildlife
Typically, west and northwest winds are the harshest in Ohio. Consequently, evergreen trees should be planted approximately 30 feet away from the north and west sides of a building, but no more than 300 feet from the area to be protected. Deciduous trees are most beneficial on the southern and western ends of buildings. Shrubs can be planted within a few feet of a house or other structure.
The width of the shelterbelt can vary depending on the amount of space available. A shelterbelt comprised of ten or more rows is ideal, but some benefits can be realized with just a single row of trees. If possible, plant at least three rows of trees, with trees in the center row staggered with trees in the outside rows.
The structure of a shelterbelt is very important. Following certain guidelines regarding the density and arrangement of the plants will maximize the benefits to the landowner and wildlife. Conifers should be planted facing the north or west, allowing 15 to 18 feet of space between spruces. The innermost rows of a shelterbelt should consist of tall, deciduous trees. Use the smaller trees and shrubs on the leeward side. Shrubs planted in the outermost rows will catch drifting snow. The resulting vertical structure of the shelterbelt directs wind over the area to be protected.
Many different plant species can be used in the shelterbelt design. Although non-native species such as Austrian pines (Pinus nigra), red pines (Pinus resinosa), Norway spruces (Picea abies), and Canadian spruces (Picea glauca) perform well in shelterbelts, wildlife will generally benefit most from native trees. Native conifers to consider are eastern white pines (Pinus strobus), eastern redcedars (Juniperus silicicola), and eastern arborvitaes or northern white cedars (Thuja occidentalis). Firs are not recommended because of their heat sensitivity and soil requirements. For a single row windbreak, eastern arborvitae, eastern redcedar, or Norway spruce are often recommended. Also try to plant deciduous trees native to Ohio, including red oaks (Quercus rubra), pin oaks (Quercus palustris), bur oaks (Quercus macrocarpa), red maples (Acer rubrum), sugar maples (Acer saccharum), black tupelos (Nyssa sylvatica), sweetgums (Liquidambar styraciflua), eastern redbuds (Cercis canadensis), honeylocusts (Gleditsia triacanthos), and flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida).
The USDA recommends windbreak plant species suitable for local and regional planting conditions. Local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) and state forestry departments can offer advice in designing your shelterbelt and provide most of the plant species you will need.
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|Data Source: Ohio State University Extension. Articles and resource may contain pesticide recommendations that are subject to change at any time. These recommendations are provided only as a guide and it is always the pesticide applicator's responsibility, by law, to read and follow all current label directions for the specific pesticide being used.|