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Good Shelterbelts Take Planning

The fastest-growing species may be the most sought after, but the process of putting in a good, attractive shelterbelt that will provide years of service takes time and effort.

Starting a year in advance gives you ample time to plan the site, determine your mix of species, and do surface preparations, according to agroforestry specialist Blair English.

Plant only as many as you can keep free of weeds and well watered until they become well established, which could take anywhere from five to 10 years.

If you haven’t already started, then it’s probably better to aim for spring of 2011. To make sure that you get what you want, send an application to the Shelterbelt Centre at Indian Head, Sask., as soon after June 1 as possible, he said.

For shelterbelts around the yard, a five-row design has been shown to be the best at reducing wind speed and trapping snow before it has a chance to pile up where it will cause aggravation.

The outer ring is typically a low-shrub species, with a gap in between the next four rows, consisting of four different species of gradually increasing height.

Weed control is critical to ensure that the trees don’t become stunted. Gaps where trees have died off should be quickly filled, or the holes could create a wind-intensifying “venturi” effect.

If you didn’t put in an order last year, it’s not too late, but the selection won’t be as varied. Priority for last-minute applications will be given to those seeking replacement trees.

In mid-May there is often a cleaning house day when people can come and pick up whatever trees are left before they go into the chipper.

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