“Chance of late afternoon thunderstorms” is a part of nearly every meteorologist’s forecast between May and October. Even on the sunniest summer day, the possibility exists for dark clouds, high winds, pounding rain—even hail—when the right combination of cool and warm air, humidity, and other triggers are present.
Humans and pets can take cover indoors, but what about that garden you’ve been working on since April? And those new shrubs and trees you planted that are still relatively unestablished? Here are a few things you can do to help protect your flowers and landscaping against the storms that summer brings.
Cover new plants.
If you’re constantly adding new plants to your garden or landscape, keep a watchful eye on them when the forecast indicates rain. Because their immature root systems may not anchor them sufficiently into the soil, either invest in some row covers or simply use a tarp to keep them from getting washed away.
Spread some mulch.
Whether your flower beds are newly planted or have been rooting in since the day after the last frost date in your area, plants are at risk of damage from water run-off after a hard rain—especially if it’s been dry. A layer of mulch will help lock in moisture to your plants’ root systems during hot, dry weather and anchor down soil during a hard downpour.
Clear dead tree limbs.
Do a regular walkabout around your outdoor space. Notice any tree limbs that are dead and barely hanging on. Clearing them in advance of the next summer storm may save you some serious damage to the space below—or perhaps even your roof. Regularly prune your trees, too—older growth is vulnerable to breaking off during high winds. If you have planted new trees, stake and tether them firmly so a gust can’t uproot them. These are just a few of the cases in which an ounce of prevention will be far less expensive than a pound of cure after the damage is done.
Maintain healthy plants.
Deadhead or prune dead flowers, shriveled stems, and dying leaves from your plants. Be especially mindful of fruit trees and bushes, being sure to keep shed fruit from the surrounding areas.
Ensure proper drainage.
Gutters and downspouts that are properly positioned will keep water away from your house. Plant your gardens in slightly sloped beds as well to keep water from pooling near your foundation, especially during torrential rains.
Planting and maintaining a beautiful yard may be fulfilling, but it is also time-consuming and expensive. Protect your investment of time, energy, and money by listening to the weather forecast or checking a weather app on your phone or tablet every day—you’ll have more time to protect your plants and gardens if you know a storm is brewing. Summer storms can be brutal on gardens and landscaping, but observing these steps can limit damage and keep your outdoor spaces looking fresh and beautiful all the way through the fall months.