Protecting Your Garden from Storms
Storms happen every year, and bring rain, gusty winds, hail, snow and toads! Ok, maybe not toads, but protecting your garden from storms means being prepared.
After the St. Jude storm cut swathes through southern England and Western Europe in late October, we let out a collective sigh of relief, only to be faced with storm after storm after storm over the Christmas period, and it’s not stopping.
Though the weather has been relatively mild in terms of temperature, the wind and rain has been particularly harsh this winter, and it’s been a terrible year for tree damage.
Storms can be devastating for gardens. Hail destroys smaller plants and seedling beds, heavy rain can destroy plants and damage the roots of even the strongest, oldest trees, and cold, strong winds can chill roots.
Yes, protecting your garden from storms doesn’t need to include toads to be challenging!
What does this mean for your garden? And how can you go about protecting your garden from storms over the coming months and even years?
Protecting Garden Trees from Storms
Why do trees fall?
The main damage this year has come from fallen trees, even ancient forests in Wales are being uprooted by freak storms. This fantastic Scientific American blog by Mary Knudson explains the science, but essentially it all comes down to several elements. How big the tree is, the species of the tree, and its surrounding environment. An important factor is also the history of the tree’s environment.
If you’ve lost trees in the recent storms, or are worried about losing trees in future storms, following a few simple tips will help you protect your trees from storm damage or destruction.
Choose carefully when planting new trees.
Some species of tree are more storm-resistant than others. A sturdy oak is more likely to survive a storm than a delicate birch tree. The position of your trees in relation to other trees in your garden is also important. Trees can protect each other from winds, so placing sturdier trees around weaker trees should help lower your risk.
Keep up a tree maintenance routine
Regular and well informed tree maintenance will also help strengthen and maintain roots and stop your tree from suffering during storms. Pruning, removing heavy branches (you will probably need a tree surgeon for this), and regular fertilization will help your trees stay strong and healthy, so they’re not precarious when storms come.
Also Read : Creative Ways to Deal with Storm Water
More Garden Items to Protect from Storms
Fences which allow air flow are a brilliant way to protect your garden from wind damage, and are more effective than walls. Picket fences are ideal, but if your budget doesn’t stretch to that, bamboo fences or even firmly secured chicken wire or mesh stretched over it will prove a decent barrier between the wind and your garden.
Of course the greenest option are hedgerows which will have the same affect. Yes, they will take a while to grow and extra time to cultivate, but they are the greenest option.
Mulching your beds and the roots of your trees will protect your soil from rain erosion and encourage healthy root growth. Mulch is easy to make – it’s simply a mixture of organic plant materials, such as bark, compost, straw, manure, grass and fallen leaves. It will not only help retain moisture in the soil during ice storms, but will also protect soil from heavy rains.
Large plants and small trees and shrubs are the most vulnerable parts of your garden during storms, and if you know a strong storm is coming, it’s best to prepare by wrapping weaker plants in strong fabrics that are pegged to the ground.
Make sure they aren’t wrapped too tightly, and there is a risk that any really loose fabric will cause more damage than the storm, it’s a trial and error practice. Keep an eye on the plants during the storm, and if the fabric is waving around and damaging the plant, you may have to brave popping out and rescuing the plants.
A similar method is staking down young trees. Pushing two or three stakes into the ground around the tree or large plant (slanting them away from the tree) and then securing the branches to the stakes with twine will help prevent young branches from becoming damaged by winds. But again keep an eye on the trees and make sure they are not bound too tight.
Quick tips for protecting your garden from storms:
- Download a weather app onto your smartphone (if you have one) to keep an eye on any approaching storms
- Potted plants and flower baskets should be moved inside during storms
- Or move pots to more wind protected areas of your yard or garden
- Row covers can be very effective for seedling beds, and are cheap and easy to construct.
- If a tree does fall down in your garden, do not attempt to clear it yourself as it can be dangerous. Contact a licensed arborist (otherwise known as a tree surgeon) to quickly and safely clear the tree.
- Put your own safety first. If the weather is dangerous, don’t attempt to run out and protect your garden.
Alex is a freelance writer for Beddow Tree Surgeons, a Leicestershire based arborist.