Fig. 1: Mature shelterbelt on RR50

The Many Benefits of Shelterbelts

Long rows of stately trees add beauty to many farmsteads and acreages. These shelterbelts provide many additional services as they shelter yard sites and livestock, conserve soil, trap snow, protect water quality, bear fruit, and provide wildlife habitat.

Traditionally, shelterbelts were multiple straight rows of trees lining a driveway or bordering farm fields. Ecobuffers, established using different planting configurations, bring additional benefits for environmental conservation.

Thinking of starting a shelterbelt? Contact County Horticulturist Lorraine Taylor for information on suitable species, shelterbelt design, planting recommendations and more.

Planning and Planting

Establishing a shelterbelt can be a big investment in time and money.  Success depends on close attention to design, plant selection, site preparation, proper planting, early establishment maintenance, and long-term care.  Careful planning improves the benefits and helps avoid problems.

Placement of trees and Municipal Bylaws

When planting near a property line, trees should be set back at least a distance equal to half of the expected mature spread. Lac Ste. Anne County has the right to remove any overhanging branches from the ditch in the county owned right-of-way. Per Land Use Bylaw No. 24-2014, when planting on a corner site (e.g. where a range road and township road meet) a specific set-back applies to preserve a sight triangle at the intersection.

Click Here to view a PDF of the shelterbelt portion of  Land Use Bylaw No. 24-2014.

Fig. 2: Example of an ecobuffer (click to enlarge)
Fig. 3: 15-year-old shelterbelt (click to enlarge)

Plant Stock

For more than 100 years the federal shelterbelt program provided trees to agricultural landowners through the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA).  Counties across the province participated in the PFRA program, each spring distributing thousands of seedling trees to landowners. There are many fine examples of mature shelterbelts in Lac Ste. Anne County.

Plants used for shelterbelts includes trees and shrubs. With the closure of the PFRA program in 2013, several nurseries increased their offering of shelterbelt seedings of native and introduced species.

Shelterbelt Tree Seedlings

A partial list of private tree nurseries selling shelterbelt tree seedlings to Alberta residents is shown below. Click the various links to explore their websites where you'll find plant descriptions, planting and care information, and more.

Private Tree Nurseries Selling Shelterbelt Tree Seedlings

Boreal Horticultural Services Ltd.

Address: Box 5021 Bonnyville AB T9N 2G3
Phone: 780.826.1709

Sherwood's Forests

Address: 50042 Range Road 31, Warburg AB T0C 2T0
Phone: 780-848-2548

HELP International Shelterbelt Centre

Address: P.O. Box 181, Queen Street City Farm, Weyburn, SK S4H 2J9
Phone: 306.861.0814

Tree Time Services Inc.

Address: 3464 78 Avenue NW, Edmonton AB T6B 2X9
Phone: 1.844.873.3700
Email (Sales): Sales:
Email (Support):

Prairie Shelterbelt Program

Address: P.O. Box 1930, Sundre AB T0M 1X0
Phone: 403.507.8340
Fax: 403.507.2336

Fig. 4: Black plastic mulch (click to enlarge)

Black Plastic Mulch

Plastic mulch is a very effective way to control weeds within shelterbelt tree rows. Following thorough soil preparation, the heavy plastic mulch can be laid down by hand in small plantings or be installed with a tractor-pulled mulch applicator for large projects. The plastic mulch gives seedling trees a good chance to establish without weed competition. It also improves growth by conserving soil moisture and stimulating root growth by warming the soil.

Weed control prior to planting and in the early years after planting is key for trees to thrive.   Black plastic mulch increases the success rate of shelterbelt establishment by controlling weeds and conserving moisture. Rolls of mulch are available for purchase from the County- 2.7 ml thick x 4’ wide x 1,500’ long (whole rolls only).

Click Here to view guidelines from Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada for how to install plastic mulch.

Other Great Shelterbelt Resources

While we strive to maintain the accuracy of the information on the County website, please note that we cannot control changes to the links or content of the third-party websites shown below. We will make every effort to fix any of these instances as we find them.

Agroforestry and Woodlot Extension Society

Publications on design, ecobuffers, planting for pollinators, riparian projects and site preparation.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Shelterbelt Funding Resources

Funding for agricultural producers for some shelterbelt and eco-buffer projects is available from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) program under the Environmental Stewardship and Climate Change – Producer section. Agricultural Input and Waste Management (C)· Shelterbelts and Eco-Buffers (304)

For details on eligibility, please visit the CAP Website, call Call 310-FARM (3276)
or email

Please Note: A valid Alberta Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) is a prerequisite to this program. EFP has implemented a 10-year renewal starting 2018; therefore, an EFP completed more than 10 years before your application date will not be considered valid.