When gardening, we prepare our plants for success by amending our soil, watering properly, and preventing disease and pests but, one of the most deadly pests can destroy your garden within a matter of minutes. The Colorado hail season can last from April to September, but the most dangerous month is June.
With some preparation, you can minimize and even prevent hail damage to your plants. From hail protection to caring for damaged plants, this is your guide to getting them through Colorado’s severe weather by shielding your plants from hail storms.
Hail Season Guide:
- Before Hail Season Preventative Prep
- What to do When Hail is in the Forecast
- Unexpected Storms: What to do After the Damage has Occurred
Before Hail Season Preventative Prep
1. Use Raised Beds for Your Flower and Veggie Gardens
Using raised beds in your gardening efforts is a great way to protect your delicate plants. Raised beds help prevent washed out soil that is common with severe hail storms. Soil that is held in place helps to prevent stem snapping and mitigates damage.
2. Use Soil to Protect Your Plants/ Trees/ Shrubs
This aids in reducing storm damage to your trees or shrubs as well. For all plants, add additional soil around the base of the plant. This extra soil supports plant stems and can help limit broken stems.
3. Fertilize & Care for Plants Properly
Strong plants are hardier against physical damage, including hail storms. Before summer hail storms hit, and in the early growing season, be sure to fertilize your plants properly. Along with proper watering and care, fertilizing can give your plants some extra strength.
4. Gather Any Materials You Will Need Ahead of Time
It’s very important to be proactive when it comes to protecting your garden from damaging hail storms. Gather the materials you will need to protect your plants. Hail storms can strike quickly, sometimes with little to no warning. Here are some items that work well for preventing damage:
- Shade cloth or hardware cloth along with wooden posts
- Hail netting
- Woven aluminum mesh screen
- Tarps with stakes or wooden posts
- Containers such as buckets or trash cans, depending on the size of the plants (make sure you have bricks or stones to weigh down the coverings because hail storms are typically accompanied by high winds)
- Even things such as cardboard, wood sheets, and cloth sheets can work to protect your plants from hail damage
You’ll want to set up any wooden posts or stakes ahead of time so you can quickly prepare for an oncoming storm.
5. Store Materials for Access
Store all of your plant hail-protection coverings somewhere that can be quickly and easily accessed. This is how to protect garden plants from hail when storms pop up quickly and with little warning.
What to do When Hail is in the Forecast
Keep an eye on the forecast from day to day, especially in June when Colorado receives some of its most heavy and damaging hail storms.
If hail is forecasted, place all of your potted plants and hanging baskets indoors or under cover to protect them from damage.
Put the hail covers for your plants in place and make sure that they are weighed down and sturdy enough to handle high winds.
Unexpected Storms: What to do After the Damage has Occurred
Sometimes during forecasted rain storms, hail can start unexpectedly with no time to prepare. When this happens, there are some ways you can treat and mitigate the damage done to your plants depending on the severity of the damage.
Remember, it is dangerous to go outside when a hailstorm has already begun. It’s better to risk losing your garden than to be injured by hailstones.
How to Care for Hail Damaged Plants:
- Pruning and Trimming: Remove broken branches, stems, and leaves so the plant can focus on healing.
- Give it Some Time: Give your plants that still have foliage on them a few days to recover before chalking it up to a total loss. Healthy plants can recover quickly from damage so be on the lookout for new growth. The destruction from a storm can often look more damaging than it actually has been.
- Fertilize for an Extra Boost: Fertilize your plants to give them an extra boost after a damaging hail storm. Be careful not to fertilize too late in the season. Damaged plants can be left more vulnerable to insects and diseases. Fertilizing plants can give them the strength to hopefully fight off possible infections.
- Proper Watering: Be sure to water your plants correctly after a hail storm. The melting hail will provide water for your plants and overwatering them afterward can do more harm than good.
Even though hail can be damaging to your garden, with some preparation you can be ready to mitigate the damage. The best way you can prepare for unexpected storms is by properly caring for your plants so that they are hardier. Another option is to landscape with native plants, which are typically more resistant to Colorado weather. Happy gardening!