wind break
August 19, 2022

Windbreaks on farms, ranches, and home acreages 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 neighborhood.  However, windbreaks require management and eventual replacement just as other investments like buildings, machinery, and fences.

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

Some signs a windbreak is not as healthy as it could 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 to drift 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, your windbreak may benefit from a consultation with a forester to determine the best process to rehab your windbreaks.   

Cost share is available to assist landowners with certain windbreak renovations. Assistance includes help with the cost of removing the old trees and planting a new windbreak in that location. Contact the Lewis and Clark Natural Resources 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, and evaluate the windbreak condition, and make recommendations on actions. Information from the University of Nebraska on windbreak renovations can be found in EC1777 Windbreak Renovation or

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