Roadside shelterbelts trap blowing snow and reduce the possibility of blizzard-like conditions. This makes for safer winter driving and significantly reduces the burden of road maintenance. They also create some privacy in your yard and reduce dust from traffic on nearby roadways.
The amount of snow to be trapped will affect the required number of rows. If the fetch distance is short or if only moderate amounts of blowing snow occur, dense evergreens or one row of shrubs may be enough. But if more snow storage capacity is required, multiple rows of shrubs and/or conifers may be needed. Two rows planted close together store practically no more snow than one row. Therefore, plant your rows at least 15 metres (m) apart to maximize snow trapping.
Place roadside shelterbelts as close to the road as possible, yet far enough away so that snow drift edges do not touch the road. Also, shelterbelts planted too close may affect road conditions: trees planted too close may affect road-surface temperatures, resulting in icy patches. The length of the snow bank depends on the height and density of the shelterbelt. Therefore the shelterbelt should be placed parallel to the road at a distance no closer than 30 m.
In open areas with large fetch distances, you may have to increase this distance. Do not plant roadside shelterbelts where they will create visibility hazards at road intersections now or as they mature. Check with your municipal, county or district office or with the Provincial Highways Department on set back distance regulations. These specify the minimum distance between a shelterbelt and the main road or highway.
In most municipalities, setbacks range from 40-45 m from the centre of the main road and 90 m from the highway right of way.
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