Preparing to Plant a Shelter Belt

We are about to plant a large shelter belt around our country home.

We put our house on a hilltop so that we could have a drive-under garage and a walk-out basement, but as a result, the wind has been relentless. After four long years of being beaten by the ferocious wind, we finally began the process of planting a shelter belt.


Handsome Hubby takes Busy Toddler for a round on the tractor as he works up the ground one last time this past weekend before our trees get planted this week.

Last summer we decided how we wanted the trees to be arranged around our home — five rows forming a semi-circle protecting us from the northwest, west and southwest winds. Then we selected what varieties to plant and placed our order with the local conservation district — Rocky Mountain Junipers, Russian Olives, Ponderosa Pine, Eastern Red Cedar, and Lilacs.  Next we worked up/tilled up the ground — twice — once late in the summer and then again in the fall before the winter freeze. This was done to remove the vegetation and trap the much needed winter moisture in preparation for tree planting.

Handsome Hubby worked up the ground one more time this weekend. This morning a local conservation fellow came and marked where the trees will go with little red flags. Thankfully, I need to keep Busy Toddler away from them for just a few days. The local conservation district has received our seedling trees from the nursery, and they will come and plant them before the end of the week.

We spent a considerable amount of extra money to have fabric placed over the trees. The fabric actually cost more than twice as much as the trees alone. It is supposed to help keep the weeds down and the moisture in the ground so the trees will have a better chance at survival. The fabric should help reduce the maintenance required by the trees, as well.

Of course it will take several years for us to truly reap all the benefits the trees will offer. These include more than just wind protection. Trees offer shade from the sun and produce oxygen to breathe; our shelter belt will serve as a snow fence and will help reduce erosion. We are excited about the start, and after all the snow we received this spring, our trees should get a great one.

I must say that I find rural folks like us, and especially ranchers, to be among the best stewards of the land. After all, what better way is there to improve our environment than to plant hundreds of trees and tend to them as they grow?

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