Coniferous and Deciduous Windbreaks

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Windbreak

Windbreaks have been used extensively in Iowa since the 1930’s. Reducing wind speeds during the year, controlling snow drifts, enhancing property value, reducing energy costs, and providing a habitat for wildlife are the many benefits of planting a windbreak. While their popularity fluctuated from the 1930’s to 1970’s, you will still see them functioning for farmstead protection today.

Windbreaks should be designed properly in order to serve their maximum potential. In Iowa, protection from the cold north and winter winds is needed; therefore, windbreaks should be sited to mitigate these winds. Research suggests that a minimum of three rows is need to provide the adequate protection of wind forces that can reach eight times it’s height. The outermost row should consist of different types of deciduous shrubs, reducing the mass of snow at ground level, and thus protecting the adjacent conifers. Conifers, of multiple species, are to be placed as the main tree line in the windbreak. Several species of spruce, pine, and arborvitae maintain the density of the Iowa Arboretum north windbreak. Using a wide selection of plant species not only reduces the likelihood that a disease or pest will completely decimate a windbreak, but will also minimize the competition caused by different growth rates.

Large deciduous trees can also make up a windbreak where wind protection isn’t as imperative due to the contour of the land. Such windbreaks only account for 5-20% reduction of wind in comparison to conifers. For optimum wind lift of a deciduous planting, plant the tallest trees inside and the shortest shrubs on the upwind (north and west) side of the windbreak. Incorporating a double row of shrubs on the outside of the windbreak provides further reduction of snow accumulation.

The Iowa Arboretum’s windbreak was established in 1982 as a collection, but added on as a two-part collection with deciduous and coniferous windbreak designations several years later.

*This collection site was last updated February 14, 2018.

Accession Number Genus Species Cultivar Common Name Arboretum Collection
050002A-J Picea pungens ‘Glauca’ Colorado Blue Spruce Coniferous Windbreak
060034A-E Pinus  strobus White Pine Coniferous Windbreak
830057 Thuja occidentalis Arborvitae Coniferous Windbreak
780053 Maclura pomifera K-2 Osage Orange Deciduous Windbreak
780054 Maclura pomifera K-1 Osage Orange Deciduous Windbreak
780056 Maclura pomifera K-3 Osage Orange Deciduous Windbreak
800015 Celtis occidentalis Hackberry Deciduous Windbreak
810043 Maclura pomifera ‘Chief’ Chief Osage Orange Deciduous Windbreak
810044 Ulmus rubra X pumila Hybrid Elm Deciduous Windbreak
840044 Quercus bicolor Swamp White Oak Deciduous Windbreak
850018 Acer platanoides ‘Summershade’ Summershade Norway Maple Deciduous Windbreak
850019 Acer platanoides ‘Superform’ SuperformNorway Maple Deciduous Windbreak
830247 Acer saccharinum ‘B-2’ Silver Maple Deciduous Windbreak
810089 Tilia heterophylla Linden, Basswood, Lime Tree, Whitewood Deciduous Windbreak
800048 Juglans nigra Black Walnut Deciduous Windbreak
800049 Juglans mandshurica ‘Morden Manitoba’ Manchurian Walnut Deciduous Windbreak
800054 Maclura  pomifera ‘What Cheer’ What Cheer Osage Orange Deciduous Windbreak
800055 Maclura pomifera ‘Keokuk’ Keokuk Osage Orange Deciduous Windbreak
010103 Fraxinus hybrid ‘Northern Gem’ Northern Gem Green Ash Deciduous Windbreak
830247 Acer saccharinum ‘B-2’ Silver Maple Deciduous Windbreak
800015 Celtis occidentalis Hackberry Deciduous Windbreak
810089A-H Tilia americana var. heterophylla American Basswood Deciduous Windbreak
10103A-F Fraxinus hybrid ‘Northern Gem’ Northern Gem Green Ash Deciduous Windbreak
860078 Carya illinoinensis Hardy Pecan Deciduous Windbreak
840044A-EE Quercus bicolor Swamp White Oak Deciduous Windbreak

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