How To Storm-Proof Your Garden

Photo by Mila Young

Spring is coming in just a couple of weeks, and thoughts begin to turn to warmer weather. Unfortunately, warmer weather also means excessive rain, wind, and thunderstorms that can damage newly growing gardens and young plants. When you know a storm is approaching, there are some precautions you can take to make sure your beautiful garden comes through the storm unscathed by the extreme elements. Keep an eye on the forecast and use this helpful checklist to storm-proof your garden for those strong spring and summer storms.

Storm-proof checklist

  • Move patio furniture and barbecues inside. If inside space isn’t available for the furniture itself, move pads and umbrellas indoors and cover and secure the furniture and barbecue so high winds can’t blow them away.
  • Cover garden beds with compost. Heavy rains will help distribute it and work it into the soil.
  • If you have plants in containers or keep plant-starts outdoors, move them inside.
  • Add gutter extensions to move water away from your garden and house. Fast running water from gutter spouts can erode the soil around delicate plants and potentially drown or carry them away.
  • Fertilize at your own risk before a storm. Heavy rains can help with fertilization, or hurt it; there’s a fine line. On one hand, the rain will help work the fertilizer into the soil with little effort on your part. On the other hand, rain could wash the fertilizer away, creating health and wildlife hazards.
  • Pick up any fallen fruit from your yard as rainfall can spread harmful fungal disease. Look at your plants closely and remove any dying or diseased branches or stems before the rains hit.
  • Turn off automatic sprinklers if you use them. You won’t be needing them for a while after a big storm.
  • If you have new plants in the ground already, protect them from being uprooted by heavy rainfall with row covers.
  • Make sure you move all lawn and gardening equipment indoors where it can’t get wet.
  • Turn over any containers that can collect water as they can become breeding grounds for mosquitoes after the storm.
  • Harvest heavy, ripe fruits such as apples to keep branches from breaking and harvest anything that might rot from too much water.

After the storm

Once the storm has passed, take some time to walk around your garden. Pick up the broken tree limbs and rake the leaves that fell during the storm. Upright any decorations or furniture that’s been blown over, and remove any row covers you’ve used. Survey the damage: if any plants look to be broken or uprooted, trim their branches/stems and get them back into the ground as quickly as possible. Spring and summer storms can be brutal on a garden, but if you know early enough in advance, you can storm-proof and save yourself a lot of heartache and work before the storm hits.

In this video, you’ll learn some more tips for protecting your garden.