Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version

January 1991


Published by University of Nebraska Extension EC 9 1-1763-B. Copyright © 1991 University of Nebraska – Lincoln.


Windbreaks are barriers used to reduce and redirect wind. They usually consist of trees and shrubs, but may also be perennial or annual crops and grasses, fences, or other materials. The reduction in wind speed behind a windbreak modifies the environmental conditions or microclimate in the sheltered zone.

As wind blows against a windbreak, air pressure builds up on the windward side (the side towards the wind), and large quantities of air move up and over the top or around the ends of the windbreak. Windbreak structure – height, density, number of rows, species, composition, length, orientation, and continuity – determines the effectiveness of a windbreak in reducing wind speed and altering the microclimate.