by Mary Lu Wells, Master Gardener, Cornell Cooperative Extension

When Jordan, my grandson, turned nine, we had a party and three friends aged 7-10 came. Somehow the topic of how much land they lived on came up. Most were from out of town: 50 acres – 20 acres – 5 acres. The youngest lived in town. “How much do we live on she asked?” To which Jordan replied, “you live in a yard!” So much for youthful tact.

Well folks, this article is not for you ‘yardies,’ but for those out in the country. Unless you live in the woods, you are aware that winter’s low temperatures were made more so by the wind. A few years back I wrote an article on windbreaks – so I thought an update might be in order.

Thirty years ago, I built my house on a hilltop with 10 acres of deciduous woods to the north and 10 acres of meadow to the south. The house was built in a sheltered “L” facing the meadow.

This was 15 years before the Cornell “boys” planted a pine and spruce edge along the west and south sides of the woods, with a short extension along the meadow on the east side. But most winds in winter roared in out of the west, so the snow would drift 12 feet deep in the spruces behind the house and 8 feet deep on the east side!

Five years later, I got around to planting a windbreak to the west that was 300 feet away from the house. It consisted of three rows of white spruce – 33 in all, spaced 10 feet apart in staggered rows.  They were three years old and only a foot high. For the next five years we mowed around them in July. It takes several years before they decide to grow, and then they move up 18 inches a year. Now they stand tall, slowing the wind to a distance of 10 times their height! At 30-40 feet, that protection now reaches the house. Yeah!

Yes, I know what you are thinking – I wish I had done this 20 years ago! Well, better late than never. DO IT NOW!