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Living snow fences provide affordable wind barriers and offer excellent wildlife habitat [UPDATED]

Published 5:42am Monday, April 14, 2014 Updated 7:43am Monday, April 14, 2014

It’s been a long, cold winter and while we’ve recently experienced signs of spring, we haven’t forgotten the sight of unending snowdrifts in the driveway, roadways and other areas around the house or farmstead.

A living snow fence is a variation of a windbreak or shelterbelt, which are plantings of single or multiple rows of trees, shrubs and/or native grasses that protect or shelter areas prone to troublesome winds.

Living snow fences have multiple benefits. They can protect driveways and roadways, reduce wind erosion and manage soil moisture, provide a windbreak for animals and growing plants, provide an urban sound or visual barrier, and create wildlife and pollinator habitat. They are also cost-effective, have a long life and once established, require little maintenance.

Before you buy your shrubs and trees, you will want to consider the height, density, length, location and design of your planting. The combination of height and density of your living snow fence will determine how much snow is captured and how far away from the problem area you will need to plant. The taller the barrier, the more snow it will capture.

The location of your living snow fence is determined by factors such as prevailing wind direction, regional snowfall amounts and topography.

Once established, a living snow fence will provide permanent, affordable and low maintenance protection against wind and snow and can provide high-quality wildlife habitat. There are many resources available to those interested in planting a living snow fence, windbreak or shelterbelt.

By DNR Division of Forestry

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