Planning your shelterbelt

It is important to plan your shelterbelt. Planning involves reviewing what you have and determining what you will need. Choose plants that will grow well in your location. Decide what shelterbelt design you will need and the area available to plant it in. The design should match the equipment that you will use to prepare the site, plant the trees and most importantly, control weeds after the shelterbelt has been planted.

As you plan your shelterbelt, keep the following considerations in mind:

  • Locate the shelterbelt where it will be most effective.
  • Design the shelterbelt to fit the available space and to meet your objectives. The design must take into account proper spacing to allow for optimum tree growth and the use of maintenance equipment.
  • Select tree and shrub species that are well adapted to your soil and climatic conditions.
  • Prepare the planting site and fence areas to exclude livestock.
  • Arrange for planting labour and equipment to plant the trees.
  • Provide care and protection for young seedlings.
  • Control weeds after shelterbelt establishment.

Determine Objectives

Before you design and plant a shelterbelt, ask yourself what you want to accomplish. Initially, you may have only a general idea of the problems on your site that can be solved with a shelterbelt. This provides a starting point, but you should conduct both a site and a landscape assessment.

  • Site assessment - Identify initial areas of concern and verify needs. Also, identify other conditions that could be improved by, or limit the effectiveness of a shelterbelt at your site.
  • Landscape assessment - Identify resource conditions and problems in the surrounding area that could affect, or be affected by, a shelterbelt.

Develop Alternatives and Select One

Developing a shelterbelt design may require creating a few alternatives to consider and choosing the most suitable. A complete shelterbelt plan will indicate its location, size, and tree and shrub composition. Also include management and maintenance options.

Implement and Monitor

Small shelterbelt projects may only require minimal planning. However large or more complicated projects will require more detailed planning to organize numerous activities, people, and equipment.

After the shelterbelt has been planted, monitor how well each of your planning objectives is being met. It may take several years to achieve some of your goals. For these, regular monitoring can help you determine the progress in meeting your objectives.

Modify if Needed

The planning process is a learning process. New information often leads to better assessments of problems and limitations, changing priorities, and new or modified objectives. If monitoring suggests that the planning objectives are not being met, modify your plan.

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