Best Types of Trees For Windbreaks

Windbreaks are rows of trees that provide a screen or protection from the wind, as well as blowing sand or dirt. When the wind hits, a windbreak lifts the wind up and over, protecting the property.

And windbreaks can do more than just keep your hair looking good on a windy day. They can also save you as much as 25 percent on your energy bills by filtering, deflecting and slowing wind before it reaches your home. The end result is an insulated area that provides a more comfortable environment—inside and out!

trees for windbreak

While it may seem that windbreaks are as easy as choosing a sturdy tree and planting a bunch of them in a row, there is a lot more science and structure involved in creating the perfect windbreak.

Here are the best trees for a windbreak in Idaho. 

The Basics of Windbreaks

In Idaho Falls, we start with a row of cottonwoods or aspens as a windbreak. They grow fast but have a short lifespan and tend to break more easily after a period of time, so we supplement this with a second row of Colorado spruce trees, which grow more slowly.

Then, once the poplars and aspens die out in 20 to 30 years, the spruce have grown and provide that sturdy, solid windbreak. The purpose of two rows is that the first row provides instant wind protection, while the second row is meant for long-term use.

There are some rules with windbreaks. First, a windbreak is good for twice its height. For instance, a windbreak that is 20 feet high will control wind for a 40-foot radius around the trees.

Windbreaks don’t need to be planted around your entire property to block the wind. We look at where you are active in the yard, where you spend a lot of your time, and concentrate windbreaks near those areas to provide the most effective solution.

We use evergreen trees as the primary windbreak because they provide year-round control versus deciduous trees, which would only be helpful in summer. In the winter, windbreaks can help control blowing snow and decrease snow mounds and drifts on your property, so it’s important to have evergreens to provide this extra benefit.

Controlling More Than Just The Wind

A natural windbreak made of trees is a lot less expensive than building a solid wall and is also effective at controlling more than just the wind, your energy costs and blowing snow in the winter.

Windbreaks can reduce unwelcome sounds like highway noises and rush-hour traffic.

Windbreaks can also control the spread of weeds from seeds that blow in the wind, as well as that nasty pollen that might make you sneeze in the spring.

The Best Trees For A Windbreaks

As we mentioned above, there are really three main trees that make up windbreaks in Idaho Falls—Colorado blue spruce is the most popular, and then aspen and poplar trees help make up that fast growing but shorter living layer.

Let’s take a look at some of the specific characteristics of these trees.

Colorado Blue Spruce

Colorado blue spruce tree for windreak

Colorado Blue Spruce trees can reach 60 to 70 feet in height and can live more than 200 years, but their useful life as a windbreak tends to be around 60 years.

There are some species that grow only to 25 feet for smaller yards, but you still want a good amount of room to plant these trees. They grow 6 to 12 inches per year. The tree is often selected for its soft, powdery blue needle shade.

We usually plant these trees 16 feet apart for windbreaks.

Poplars, Aspen and Cottonwood

Aspen Trees for Windbreak

Poplars, aspen and cottonwood are members of the populus genus of plants. These trees grow 6 to 8 feet tall for quick results, so they are ideal for a first row in a windbreak. Cottonwoods have more triangular or heart-shaped leaves than poplars, and the edges are slightly serrated.

Poplars have oval-shaped leaves. All of the leaves have silvery undersides that appear to tremble in the breeze.

Aspens have smooth gray-green bark, whereas cottonwoods have darker, deeply furrowed bark. Ideally, we plant these trees 8 to 12 feet apart for windbreaks.

Windbreak Solutions in Idaho Falls

A windbreak is a complicated structure to plant and create, but it can provide so many amazing benefits on your Idaho Falls property.

Outback’s team can assess your property and let you know where the best places for windbreaks are and provide a planting and maintenance plan.

Contact our experts at 208-656-3220, or fill out the contact form to set up a no-obligation meeting with one of our team members.

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Image Credit: Poplar Trees, Colorado Blue Spruce, Aspen