Windbreak Renovation Opportunities in Lewis and Clark NRD

Windbreak Renovation Opportunities in Lewis and Clark NRD


Windbreaks on farms, ranches, and home acreages across the country provide critical protection for homes, livestock, farmsteads, crops, soil resources, water resources and wildlife. Conservation tree plantings are valuable assets and investments for the rural landscape. A single tree planting provides numerous benefits to the owner and the local neighborhood.  However, windbreaks require management and eventual replacement just as other investments on the farm like buildings, machinery, fences, etc.

A recent study by state forestry agencies in Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota showed that only 25% of windbreaks were considered in “GOOD “condition with 75% listed in “FAIR and POOR” condition.  Of these “POOR” windbreaks many are more than 50 years old and were planted with very close spacings and have or have had tree pest issues or weather-related stress.

Signs a windbreak is not as healthy as it could be include:

  • Open gaps due to lost trees in the windbreak or are dead or dying;
  • Less than 50% density during the winter months causing snow drifting into the protected area;
  • Lack of tree and shrub diversity;
  • Little to no tree regeneration;
  • Close initial tree spacing resulting in competition stress among the trees;
  • Windbreak more than 50 years old.

If you notice any of these conditions, then your windbreak may benefit from one or more of the renovation actions listed below:

If the total windbreak is in poor condition with no good young trees growing and the belt is only 50 – 80 feet wide, then the complete windbreak may need to be taken out and a new 3 – 4 row windbreak planted.

If the windbreak is more than 80 feet wide, then possibly ½ the width can be removed and replanted with new tree rows while the other ½ is left for protection until the new trees have grown to provide the protection.
If the initial spacing is too close then some thinning and tree removal to keep the remaining trees healthy maybe required.

Cost share is available to assist landowners with certain windbreak renovation.  Assistance includes help in the cost of removing the old trees and the planting of a new windbreak in that location.  Contact the Lewis and Clark Natural Resource District at 402-254-6758, or your local county USDA NRCS office, who will work with a local Nebraska Forest Service Forester to visit your windbreak, evaluate the condition, and make recommendations on actions to take.  If your windbreak needs renovation, then an application for cost share can be initiated with the appropriate agency. A good source of information by the University of Nebraska on windbreak renovations can be found on the internet by searching for EC1777 Windbreak Renovation.