In Australia’s extreme climatic conditions, and as a result of extensive clearing of our native vegetation, windbreaks are an essential part of property management. Windbreaks reduce wind speed, providing protection from hot and cold winds, and reducing dust and noise for homes, gardens, crops, pasture, orchards and livestock.
As well as providing wildlife habitat, windbreaks also reduce soil erosion, increase landscape beauty, provide privacy and screening, decrease dry land salinity and provide some protection from fires.
Designing a Windbreak
When considering where to plant your windbreak it is important to take into account the topography of your land, where the prevailing wind direction is and which areas are in need of shelter.
An effective windbreak should be planted at right angles to the prevailing direction of cold winter and hot summer winds.
Species choice is important and should be chosen from local, native species. Utilise a diverse range of species of various heights to create moderately dense foliage coverage from ground level to tree tops.
Windbreaks should consist of a minimum of 2 rows, preferably 5 rows. Rows should be space between 2-4m apart. The tallest trees should be in either the centre or windward row and be planted 3-6m apart. Smaller trees and larger shrubs should be planted on the outer rows, spaced 2-4m apart. The smallest shrubs should be planted on the outer edges 1-2m apart.
The length of the windbreak should be at least 10 times the height of the tallest trees. The area protected by a windbreak is generally 15-20 times the height of the tallest trees.
Planting a Windbreak
Ground preparations should be undertaken before planting. Weed control is an essential part of ground preparation and herbicide should be applied over the planting area at least two times before planting.
Preparation could also include ripping lines to break up compacted soil and make planting easier.
If there is a risk of damage from livestock, the planting area should be fenced to protect plants.
To achieve best results, we recommend using slow-release fertiliser tablets and Watersave crystals at time of planting.Tree guards will also assist in protecting your plants from grazing wildlife, wind and frost, and also make weed control easier by reducing risk of herbicide drift.
Maintain your windbreak by replacing plant losses as soon as possible. Pruning or thinning plants can improve dense growth. Continue weed control for at least a year after planting and ensure fencing and guards are well maintained.
Steps to Creating Sustainable Windbreaks
1. Plan – windbreak size, orientation, layout and species selection according to site conditions.
2. Prepare – Ripping of soil with a single tyne ripper, construction of fencing, and undertake weed control before planting.
3. Plant – Use only quality plants along with slow release fertiliser tablets and water saving crystals and give one good watering at time of planting.
4. Protect – Plant with tree guards and protect from weeds
5. Persevere – Expect some ups and downs when working with the environment