A passing summer thunderstorm can easily cause massive damage to a landscape. Wind gusts can cause branches to fall from trees and heavy rain can pummel flowers and shrubs into an unrecognizable mess. In the peak months of summer, the occasional severe thunder storm is an expected occurrence. All homeowners should be aware of severe weather threats and the precautionary steps necessary to keep families and homes safe. But there are also various ways homeowners can safeguard their yard from severe weather damage. Being aware of the kind of damage that might occur to your landscape during a storm and how to best prevent it can keep your yard looking strong and healthy as you navigate through thunderstorm season.
Know Your Yard, Know Your Risk
Preparation is one of the best defenses against severe weather threats. It is important to prepare your yard for wind, rain, and hail before the severe weather season starts. One way to do this is to keep in mind the types of flowers, trees, and shrubs that populate your yard and do some research on the durability of those plants. For instance, some trees (magnolia, oak, cyprus, and elm-for example) have deep root systems and hardy branches that are better suited to withstand heavy winds and rain. Other trees like willow, cottonwood, and cedar have shallower branch systems and are much more likely to be uprooted or damaged by storms. If your backyard is populated with these trees, you might want to consider being extra cautious when preparing for storms: be aware that these plants are vulnerable and could perhaps create debris.
Look For Hazards
You should always periodically check your yard to make sure it’s happy, healthy, and thriving. A yard with many dead, rotting, or damaged plants is more vulnerable to severe weather. Dead or rotting branches can be easily blown off trees, and unhealthy trees have weaker root systems. Take care of your yard by watering regularly, adding nutrients to your soil, and pruning plants to remove old growth. This will give your yard the strength it needs to withstand bad weather.
Check and Prep
Plants and trees can be tested by hand for strength and durability. If you have the time, consider shaking small trees and shrubs to see how they withstand pressure. Break off branches that are weak or low-hanging and consider bracing young trees by tying them to metal stakes with nylon rope. This will limit debris. Before the storm hits, take note of yard decorations and landscape design elements. Everything that isn’t rooted should be secured in one way or another. Potted and hanging plants, yard decorations, and lighting fixtures can be moved inside. Yard furniture can also be moved or otherwise covered with a protective, weather-proof cover. If you are concerned about soil erosion, consider lining your flower beds with sand bags, extra mulch, or hay to increase durability.
Save What You Can
Are there ripe or nearly ripe fruits and veggies hanging from your produce plants? Bring them in! Harvesting produce regularly helps protect it from various hazards, whether it be severe weather or the insatiable appetites of neighborhood animals and bugs. Losing good produce to a bad storm is a real shame, so be sure to keep an eye out on your plants and always bring in what’s ready.
Design Smarter, Plan Better
If you are just beginning a landscaping plan and have not yet considered weather-proof design elements, this is the best time to do it! Building a durable yard is much easier than making a vulnerable yard more durable after the fact. Consider putting in fencing or retaining walls to block wind, sloped beds to help naturally drain water, or raised beds to help curb erosion. Chose hardy, strong-rooted plants and trees to reduce the risk of your home being damaged by debris, and always plan ahead for severe weather. It is better to be over-prepared than under-prepared!
Do you have any tried and true weather-proofing tips for yards and gardens? We would love to hear about them in a comment!