Hedges of various forms have been used for hundreds of years as a means to enclose gardens and mark landownership boundaries. And in the vast cultivated fields of the world’s agricultural lands, hedgerows surrounding the fields offer sanctuary to the constructed, multi-row hedges called shelterbelts. Shelterbelts offer sufficient benefits to the landowner so that there’s really no reason not to plant them.
Benefits of Shelterbelts
1. Shelterbelts can cut your winter heating bill by up to 30 percent by protecting barns and dwellings from winter’s cold winds.
2. Shelterbelts trap moisture in the form of snow that will help recharge soil moisture.
3. Mature shelterbelts supply firewood in the form of thinnings and windfall limbs.
4. Shelterbelt plantings significantly reduce your cooling bill in the summer when situated to shade dwellings from the late afternoon sun.
5. Properly-placed shelterbelts reduce your need to shovel or plow snow.
6. Shelterbelts provide shade for your livestock in summer and protection from the wind in winter.
7. Shelterbelts can supply nuts and fruit depending on the species you plant.
8. Shelterbelts help keep your topsoil from blowing away.
9. Shelterbelts filter dust-laden air as it wafts over your place.
My ancestors planted shelterbelts on the windswept Dakota Territory plains for survival. I plant them because that’s what Will people do. Either way, the results are compelling.
Watch the full episode! Hanks shares hints like these in each episode of Tough Grit. Visit Tough Grit online to view this episode and many more. The benefits of shelterbelts list above appeared in Episode 25, “Hedging Your Bets.”
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.