Free Trees

We wanted to plant more evergreen trees in the pasture to add more privacy from the neighbor’s house in the winter when all of the deciduous trees have shed their leaves.  I’m also a fan of lots of trees in the pasture in general, as grass growing in the shade usually has a lower sugar content than in full sun, and I’ve noticed the horses like hang out under the trees in the summer and use the branches of the cedar trees to get rid of flies.  Trees will also help stabilize the soil on the hillside to decrease erosion. 

I wasn’t sure if the horses would destroy young vulnerable pine saplings like they often do with hardwood saplings, so before investing money in actual nursery trees I decided to run a test.  Our farm had been overgrown and neglected for years before we got it, and the fencelines had various trees growing along them.  We found a few young cedar saplings and dug them up and transplanted them to the pasture.  We would have cut them down anyway in the fenceline clearing, might as well make use of them.

So far, so good.  It has been a couple weeks and the horses haven’t bothered with them since the initial examination of the new stuff in their field.  The real test will be in the winter when all they have is hay to nibble on.

Has anyone ever planted young evergreen trees in a horse pasture, and if so, were they successful?



  1. Hi, evergreens are poisonous to horses. They won’t eat them, but when dead leaves/branches fall off the spikes can get mixed in with their grazing,. plus as the dead spikes rot into the ground it can poison the surround ground area and the poison absorbed into grazing. Symptoms of poisoning is similar to herbicide poising. Always keep out of grazing area if using for wind break.


    • Thank you! I did some research before planting the cedar trees (Eastern Red Cedar), and it seems that they are NOT toxic, and are in fact on a list of recommended trees for pastures. Other types of cedar ARE toxic (White Cedar, I think). I hadn’t gotten around to seeing what other types of evergreens would be safe yet, and it looks like many pine trees are toxic! I guess I might be sticking to just the cedars…


      • I was having a look though different science journals for other plants good to have in the pasture. We’re adding more bushes for them to eat different from the norm, but never seem to find a comprehensive list. Lots of opinions and lots of people asking can my horse eat
        Do you have any reference to the eastern red cedar??
        Mel x


      • I can’t remember the specific website that recommended the cedars, but you can check the ASPCA website among others to confirm that they are not toxic.


  2. Hi Kirrily, The Cedars should be fine and they should do well because they are natives. I haven’t had horses or cattle bother them. Not all evergreens are toxic to horses. Taxus are highly toxic to all animals. They are the dark green shrubs that you often see as foundation plantings. I have not had any problems with White pines other than horses and cattle eating them and breaking them down to scratch their bellies.Ha! I have had Ponderosa pines where horses could reach them and they weren’t bothered.The Cedars will grow fast and are really hardy. The birds (especially Bluebirds) like them in the winter. The only negative is they are a secondary host to apple rust if you plan to have an orchard. You can always google tree toxicity horses to be sure, although those sights can be a little over the top.


    • Perfect! Thank you. I was hoping you’d chime in. :)


  3. okiemags

    We spend a considerable amount of sweat, time and money to rid our pastures of the Eastern Red Cedars in OK. They are beneficial to the wildlife BUT Red Cedars rob tremendous amounts of water from the grasses. The OK State Forestry Division offers seedlings and saplings in bulk at very reasonable rates. They also have listed all the applications and beneficial info about each species they offer. You might contact your local Ag office or check your state forestry website to see if they have similar offerings. 😁


    • Haha, this will sound crazy, but I’m actually glad if they rob water from the grass! I wish I had a desert pasture, it would be so much healthier for the horses! I’ll have to look into programs though, that could be really helpful. Thanks!


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