Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Living Snow Fences

Control blowing and drifting snow

image of living snow fence

Save lives, save money, save time

What is a living snow fence?

Living snow fences are trees, shrubs and native grasses located along roads or around communities and farmsteads. Properly designed and placed, these living barriers trap snow as it blows across fields, piling it up before it reaches a road, waterway, farmstead or community.

How does it work?

Drift-free roads are achievable through proper road design and snow fences. A suitably designed roadway will promote snow deposition in ditches rather than on the roadway, and blowing snow that does reach the road will move across without drifting. Snow fences can also help maintain clear roadways by capturing blowing snow upwind of a problem area and storing that snow over the winter season.

What are the benefits?

  • Prevent big snow drifts that lead to stranded motorists
  • Improve driver visibility and reduce vehicle accidents
  • Reduce use of public money by reducing plow time
  • Lessen our impact on the environment with less salt use, fewer truck trips and less fuel consumption
  • Reduce shipping delays for goods and services
  • Increase crop yields by 10 percent or more
  • Control soil erosion and reduce spring flooding
  • Serve as visual clues to help drivers find their way

Help us keep snow and blowing snow off your roads

Farmer leadership and community service help keep roads open. Learn how MnDOT pays farm operators (PDF) to leave standing corn rows, hay bales or silage bags to protect selected state highways through winter with our standing corn row program (PDF).