View Full Version : Please Help, Which Trees Do I Plant on the Prairie?

03-07-2005, 01:57 AM
Help! The local FSA Conservation office was unable to provide advice on trees I can use that are non-toxic to horses.

I live in an area where the soil is a heavy clay. At a 2 foot depth, the soil is a semi-solid shale. PH is 7.5 - 8.0 with Alkaline deposits everywhere. The soil cannot store water past the 2 foot depth very efficiently. In addition, after a rain storm, the soil holds the water on the surface like a teacup until most of it evaporates. Hence, I usually have to deal with drought-like conditions after the rain. There is also a moderate to high salt content.

I am attempting to build a windbreak. The winds average 15-25 mph on a typical day and 60-80 mph for an average of 2 - 3 days out of the year. Soil erosion due to the wind is extreme. As much as 4 feet of topsoil in 10 years (FSA estimates).

Trees that others have tried include Eastern Red Cedar and two toxic trees; Russian Olives and Black Locust. Generally, these trees grow no more than a foot every 2 - 5 years.

Does anyone know what trees I can plant in this environment? Traditionally the area is used for farming. Not many windbreaks have survived.

Thank you,

03-10-2005, 01:14 PM
I would go with blue spruce, for a wind break. They should grow in that type of soil. They withstand wind very well and are sure not to be harmful to horses. The ranch just north of me uses them.

03-10-2005, 07:48 PM
Thank you on the Blue Spruce suggestion. I just found out a local farmer also planted it and so far the trees are holding up quite well.


03-19-2005, 01:34 PM
Hi. Is the windbreak primarily for a summer wind or a winter wind? I have some experience with this issue in northern nevada (elev, 5800'). I would recommend hybrid poplar/cottonless cottonwood. terryenterprises mentions blue spruce. i agree it would be the best to actually stop the wind, but it has so much wind resistance that it often uproots in the conditions you descirbe. I'm havig good luck with scotch pine. Other thoughts: pinion pine, utah juniper, siberian elm, hackberry and eastern red cedar as already mentioned. Good luck!

03-21-2005, 12:19 PM
I have needs for both. The main road need winter protection from snow drifts. The pastures need protection from blowing soil and loss of snow fall. A non-evergreen tree is alright if there are enough branches to slow the wind down and trap the snow. Since windbreaks can be as thick as 5 rows deep, a lot of leaf-less branches can still be quite effective. As to your suggestions, I'll look them up and see if they might work out here. Thank you.

03-22-2005, 04:34 PM
Here is a list of tough trees for tough sites. You should also do some research on www.google.com about "planting windbreaks". Most people advise you to plant trees much too close together, but this makes the trees spindly, sick, and unable to compete. Plant them 20-30 feet apart and if you need more coverage, add rows.

Tough Trees for Tough Sites (Little care required)
** Available from www.arborday.org

Large Deciduous Trees

Bigtooth Maple
Norway Maple
Ohio Buckeye
Northern Catalpa **
Hackberry **
Black Ash
Green Ash **
Honeylocust **
Kentucky Coffeetree **
Black Walnut **
Hybrid Poplar **
Bur Oak **
Overcup Oak **
American Linden
Lacebark Elm **

Small Deciduous Trees
Amur Maple
Rocky Mountain Maple
Tatarian Maple
Corneliancherry Dogwood
Gray Dogwood
Cockspur Hawthorn
Winterberry Euonymus
Crabapple **
American Plum
Gambel Oak
Dwarf Chinkapin Oak
Staghorn Sumac
New Mexico Locust
Silver Buffaloberry
Nannyberry Vibrunum

Evergreen Trees
Concolor (White) Fir **
Arizona Cypress **
Chinese Juniper
Rocky Mountain Juniper
Eastern Redcedar **
Norway Spruce **
Blue Spruce **
Bristlecone Pine
Pinyon Pine
Limber Pine
Ponderosa Pine
Red Pine
Scotch Pine **