How To Protect Your Garden From Wind, Frost + Freezes
There are many things to protect your garden from, including wildlife, pets, children, weeds, garden pests, fungus and common diseases. Unfortunately, the list does not stop there, since lots of Southern California gardeners also must contend with freezes, frost and wind that can wreak havoc on your trees, shrubs and plants in a matter of hours.
There is nothing quite as disheartening to a backyard gardener than to see the many hours you have spent tending to your garden laid to waste as an overnight freeze or an afternoon of heavy winds destroys the fruits of your labor.
It can be difficult to protect your garden from everything Mother Nature might throw your way, but there are several things you can do to make your garden wind and frost resistant or to at least limit the damage caused by forces of nature.
Read on for 11 ways you can protect your garden from frost and freezes and 10 things you can do to protect your garden from the wind.
How to Protect Your Garden from Frost and Freeze
When temperatures drop near freezing, your outdoor plants can be damaged so severely that they may not survive. Freezing temperatures occur less frequently along the coast in Southern California, but for those of you living in the inland areas of San Diego County, Riverside County or Orange County, frost and freezes may regularly threaten your garden from late fall to early spring.
Tropical plants, citrus, some succulents, avocado trees, warm-weather annuals, and warm-weather fruits and vegetables are particularly prone to frost and freeze damage, so if you have these in your garden, you will need to pay particular attention to them when the temperature drops.
Here are 11 things you can do to protect your garden from frost and freezing temperatures:
1. Plant particularly tender plants in containers that you can move inside when the temperature drops.
2. For containers that are too heavy to bring indoors, group them together closely near the house or another structure, preferably in a covered area.
3. Start seeds and young plants indoors and transplant to your garden once the threat of cold weather has passed.
4. Keep young plants in a greenhouse until mid spring or late spring.
5. If your garden is small, you may be able to purchase a portable greenhouse you can place over your garden when cold weather is expected.
6. Water plants that are not succulents thoroughly to allow the soil to better retain heat.
7. Young and low-growing plants that are susceptible to frost damage can be protected with a layer of mulch or straw that can be removed when warmer weather arrives.
8. Choose native species that are better adapted to the temperature changes in your area.
9. Cover small plants with a flower pot, bucket or similar item that can be placed upside down and used as a cloche over them without damaging them.
10. Cover large plants, citrus and avocado trees with drop cloths, old shower curtains, bed sheets, blankets, burlap or just about any other type of fabric to trap heat near the plant when freezing or near-freezing weather is expected.
11. Plants that are more prone to frost and freeze damage can be planted along the south-facing side of your house or another building so that the plants and soil receive the most sun during the day.
If all of your efforts seem to fail and you see frost damage on your plants, do not give up quite yet. Before removing the damaged plant or pruning the damaged areas, wait until the weather warms up and the rest of your garden begins to bloom. Look for new growth on your damaged plants to see if they might be worth saving.
How to Protect Your Garden from Wind
Heavy winds can dry out your soil, topple your trees, blow away your blooms and flatten your vegetable garden. Unless you grow your garden in a greenhouse, which generally does not work for hot Southern California summers, you are not going to completely protect your garden from the wind. However, you can significantly reduce the chance of gusts ruining your garden and can take steps that will help your plants, shrubs and trees survive all but the wildest wind storms.
Here are 10 things you can do to protect your garden from the wind:
1. Use tomato cages to protect mid-size and tall fruit and vegetable plants. Make sure they are securely placed in the soil and use twine to loosely attach stems to the cage for added stability.
2. Plant wind-resistant trees along your fence line or around the border of your garden to block the wind.
3. If your local government allows, increase the height of your fence with lattice to decrease wind.
4. Plant near fences and buildings so that these structures can protect your plants.
5. Use row cover fabric to protect your garden from the wind. Anchor the fabric at each end of the row with bricks, rocks, cinder blocks or sandbags. Make sure the fabric covers the plants loosely enough to not damage them.
6. Plant bamboo or tall ornamental grasses as a wind break.
7. Build semi-permeable windbreaks using lattice or windbreak fencing.
8. Prune trees to reduce the chance of wind damage.
9. Stabilize trees by tethering them to wooden stakes, and stabilize vines by attaching them to trellises.
10. Move container plants to a protected corner of your yard or patio during heavy winds.
What tried-and-true tricks do you use to protect your garden from frost and wind?
Photo Credits (in order of appearance): morgueFile, lisasolonynko; morgueFile, steinewerfer; morgueFile, Dodgerton Skillhause; morgueFile, Schick