In planting for shelter use any or some of the many trees at your command, and plant them where they will produce the desired protection. For field wind-breaks the leafless trees have much value, and their judicious disposition will greatly check the cutting storms. When we come to select plants best suited to the protection of our own homes and their surroundings we find abundant material from which to make a choice. For trees and for tall screens the favorite with many is the Norway spruce, which grows rapidly, is easily transplanted and managed, and presents a welcome tint of green that is always persistent and full. The other spruces are also desirable, particularly the white and black, as they bear the knife and shears very well, and may easily be kept within due bounds when used as hedges for shelter. The majority of wind-breaks planted in the prairies are composed of deciduous trees, and are usually of the commonest species, such as the cotton-woods, box-elder, soft maples, etc.—any tree of rapid growth or that can be most cheaply procured. This practice, however, need not prevent the use of hard-wood and other trees in making shelters; but, in instances, impatience may prevail over judgment as to the more valuable species, and induce the use of trees of rapid growth to insure a speedy result. The native hemlock is particularly commended as a lawn tree standing alone, but it is also one of the very best species for forming a screen or shelter-hedge, as it may be clipped to a perfect plane, and, where necessary, can be confined to narrow limits.
The common red cedar, called the ' poor man's evergreen,' on account of its cheapness and the facility with which it may be produced in all parts of this country, as well as the certainty and rapidity of its growth, is a most useful and valuable plant for the farmer. Though not of so fine a color as some others, this tree makes a dense foliage when set as a shelter-belt and wind-break. It also makes a close hedge, and might be used to advantage as a screen and as a protective hedge for gardens and about hot-beds.
Whether a selection be made from the so-called cheap trees, such as white willows, cotton-woods, soft maples, or noble oaks, hard maples, white ash, the elms, wild cherry, walnut, or hardy evergreens be chosen, we do not recommend neglect in planting these invaluable aids to good farming.
A strip of one rod in width will be needed if it is proposed to plant but a single row, and several rods wide must be prepared if it be designed to plant a good windbreak of many rows, which is the better plan.
After harrowing the ground, a furrow is struck for every row of trees, and these furrows may be four feet apart, for then the plants may be set every four feet. This requires very little labor unless large trees are selected, and if these be large evergreens they need not be so close, but more care will be required in planting.
The young trees, when planted with reasonable care and well fixed in the soil by pressure of the foot, will be sure to grow; but so will the weeds, and the plantation must be cultivated for about two seasons, so as to keep down all intruders. With this treatment their growth is greatly enhanced and they will the sooner shade the ground, when they will suppress the weeds and take care of themselves.
In planting in situations where there are steep declivities, rocky protruding ledges, or other obstructions, it is the part of good philosophy to embrace and make the most of the conditions which happen to surround us. In all such restricted situations, as in similar difficulties everywhere, let us not be discouraged, but adopt the more expensive and less promising plans.
In such cases, the planting is done by ' notching,' for small nursery trees, that are inserted into the slit made with a heavy planting-spade, and made firm by the same instrument or with the foot.
With larger trees, the plan of 'pitting' is pursued, opening holes a foot or more in diameter, into which separate trees are inserted.
Where not supplied with stock for the production of desirable forest-trees, have furrows ploughed at close intervals, as guides to the planter of seeds or of little trees, and to facilitate cultivation by hand, to subordinate such weeds and other undesirable growths as might interfere with the trees that are intended to constitute the crop. Planted or sown in such a manner, the growth of the plants will not be so rapid as when well cultivated.
In open woods, and in accidental vacancies, the' notching' process, for the production of young oaks, ashes, and other species, has been extensively practised, and with good results.
The catalpa, white ash, black walnut, black cherry, and other valuable species will grow well enough on their congenial soils when once well established, even without the thorough preparation needed for arable lands, but they must be planted thickly, either alone or Avith nurses, and they must be kept free from the intrusion of weeds until they completely shade the surface, even if this requires double the number of years usually found necessary on the more level plantations. "With nurses, the free use of low-growing bushes would be advisable.
Of this character, even the common elder and sumac bushes would be very desirable nurse-plants, as they are readily produced by inserting bits of roots into the spade-notches, and because, when shaded by the growing trees, they will gradually be smothered and disappear, after having for a few years pretty effectually shaded the surface of the ground and yielded some profit as a subsidiary crop of berries and leaves.
The planter is particularly enjoined to beware of the effects of rank, coarse-growing, annual weeds, and also of the blue-grass of rich soils.