Snow fences or windbreaks have been used in the farming community since the first settlers arrived in the state of Iowa. The windbreaks protected the farmstead and livestock from cold temperatures and blowing and drifting snow.

Snow fences can help keep snow from blowing and drifting on the roadway and are also very helpful for improving visibility in areas where blowing snow is a problem.

Snow fences commonly found in Iowa:
  • Temporary - typically 4-foot tall, lath or plastic material fencing, placed on private land during the winter months.
  • Permanent - usually 6-foot tall, wood frame with plastic fence attached to the face.
  • Living snow fences - trees, bushes or native grasses that are natural barriers to blowing snow.
  • Standing corn snow fences - leaving 8-12 rows of standing corn after the harvest. The landowner is paid for the corn, but able to harvest the corn in the spring.


Benefits to public
  • Reduces blowing and drifting snow on roadways.
  • Stores snow at low cost.
  • Reduces the accident rate during snowy, windy conditions.
  • Creates safer travel conditions.
  • Decreases freezing and thawing effects on the roadway.
  • Lowers snow-removal cost.
  • Increases visibility.
Benefits to landowners
  • Improves access to farmsteads and rural areas.
  • Helps reduce soil erosion.
  • Provides a service to your community.
  • Conserves wildlife.
  • Can increase yield by retaining moisture and reducing drying effects of the wind.


design example of a living snow fence
  • Protect against prevailing winds to manage snow and decrease snow removal costs.
  • Enhance public safety.
  • Establish wildlife habitat.
  • Control erosion.
  • The north or west sides of lanes, roads, railroads, and public facilities.
  • Land that was cropped four out of the six years from 1996 to 2001.