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Windbreak shrubs in 3 rows shelterbelt. Problems with finding suitable

 
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Hello everyone!

The basic idea is that we want to make the windbreak shelterbelt for fields and pastures.
3 rows, 5-15-25 meters height.

We have some problems for 5 meter row of decidiuos shrubs.
Requirements:
* 4 USDA zone
* soils - heavy, moist and wet, acid
* weed potential - no.

I found these plants in https://pfaf.org/user/Default.aspx and some other sourses:
---------------------
Amelanchier alnifolia
Salix purpurea lambertiana
Salix viminalis
Salix acutifolia
Corylus avellana
Amelanchier canadensis
Crataegus laevigata
Viburnum lantana
Viburnum opulus
---------------------

However my partner tells me that only Corylus avellana and Salix purpurea lambertiana are suitable.
The rest of the plants from this list may be ice cream cone formed in their shapes, so that they won't look as proper shrubs and will have a naked trunk at the bottom part. Obviously this is inefficient for setting up as a shelterbelt. We need to have a crown (i.e. leaves) very close to the ground level.

So the point is that we don't know for sure how they will behave when planted close to each other (ca 1 meter in between plants). Maybe they will be true shrubs like we want, maybe they won't.
The ultimate goal is to find out what should be done to get from a minor-size tree a distinct shrub with massive crown. We don't know how these shrubs will grow when they are tightly planted and whether any kind of special maintanance would be required.
It's important to figure this out as we are working on a design of nearly 300 hectares of fields and pastures and it would be a devastatign mistake to make for such a big area.
Any feedback would be highly appreciate!
 
pollinator
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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I can only tell you my experience from my zone 5 extreme high wind area. #1 priority for our tree break was to plant something super hardy that would shelter the slower growing, longer lasting trees while they grew. This was accomplished with Caragana on one side and lilac on the other. Then we have 2 rows of australian pine and a row of spruce, thickly planted. Our spruce trees are very close together. They still aren't large enough to provide full wind protection but they are solid enough at this point that the loss of the caragana (for some unknown reason it's dying) isn't devastating to the wind break.

We do see people around the area with deciduous trees as their sole wind break. I don't quite understand how that works for them in winter. For me, conifers are necessary for winter wind shelter.
 
steward
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
2020
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My suggestion would be to pay attention to your neighborhood. Someone in your area is already growing a windbreak. What species did they plant?

There are shrubby trees growing wild in your area in micro-climates similar to where you want to plant. What species are they? How does the micro-climate change from place to place on your land? Are different species suitable for different locations?

Rather than  planting one species of low shrub, I'd recommend 20 or 30 species. Some will fail, but some might really thrive.

Around here, windbreaks often have several rows of plants around 2 meters tall, in addition to whatever else.



 
pollinator
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It's a small tree rather than a shrub; but it's tough as nails and tends to keep its (dried) leaves during winter - carpinus betulus (hornbeam). We used it together with willow and hazel for your purpose.
 
Crt Jakhel
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One more thing to consider while you plant your windbreak... The growth rate of young plants may be much better if you provide some mechanical protection from wind in the first 3 or so years, such as - well, any kind of fence that will take the wind force well. And water and mulch of course.

Once your bushes / trees are established, they should be able to stand their own. But without some help in the first years, growing in an exposed location is hard.

The only bushes that I admire for really laughing in the face of wind / cold / heat / drought even when very small are heptacodium (not very windbreak-y; also maybe Z4 would be a bit too much, unsure) and elaeagnus (could work well but could also be invasive).

You mentioned crataegus -- if it's a full sun, open location it may take ages to grow, in my experience; it's more of a woodland edge plant.
 
Olga Tereshenkova
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
Rather than  planting one species of low shrub, I'd recommend 20 or 30 species. Some will fail, but some might really thrive.



I'm confused.
Do you mean 20-30 species in a single row? Based on research I've done one row should consist of a single species.
We have multiple lines (each consisting of 3 rows) of windbreaks. We have planned to use multiple species in each line (however, keeping to only a single specie per row).



 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Olga Tereshenkova wrote:Do you mean 20-30 species in a single row?



Oh yes! Mixed species windbreaks more closely mimic natural ecosystems, and they are more resistant to disease, pests,  fire, predators, etc. Mixed species provide better forage and shelter for beasts and bugs.

 
Olga Tereshenkova
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:

Olga Tereshenkova wrote:Do you mean 20-30 species in a single row?



Oh yes! Mixed species windbreaks more closely mimic natural ecosystems, and they are more resistant to disease, pests,  fire, predators, etc. Mixed species provide better forage and shelter for beasts and bugs.



I think what you've suggested is how permaculture sees that. However, we have dozens of kilometers of windbreaks lines; there is no way we could possibly experiment with multiple species. We would need quite a few people to plant, monitoring, and research which is not feasible in our case. Perhaps what you suggest could work for a smaller area. Don't you think that the larger the area is, the simpler the system should be?
 
pollinator
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Olga Tereshenkova wrote:...However, we have dozens of kilometers of windbreaks lines; there is no way we could possibly experiment with multiple species. We would need quite a few people to plant, monitoring, and research which is not feasible in our case. Perhaps what you suggest could work for a smaller area. Don't you think that the larger the area is, the simpler the system should be?



Quite the contrary in my opinion.
About planting:If you have a single species, you have to plant all at the same time, probably the same way. With different species, some you sow, some you plant, some you use cuttings...
About monitoring and research: Having a sunday walk, hand in hand with ..., and checking if the plants grow is easy to do. That is also research, you don't need statistics for everything.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
2020
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I believe that the larger the area, the more complex the systems should be.

I understand your proposal as wanting to plant a monocrop of thousands of the same species of tree, perhaps even thousands of clones of the same tree, and you don't know if it's suitable for the task. That seems tremendously risky to me. I'd rather hedge my bets by planting 20 to 30 species in each row, and see what thrives. (pun intended)

The soil and aspect of the land changes over the planting area. Different species might thrive better in different micro-ecosystems. Having 20 to 30 species in each row will allow those to thrive that are best suited to the micro-ecosystems as they vary from place to place.

 
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