How to Protect Your Garden From Bad Weather

No matter where you live, extreme weather can ruin your garden.  Our gardens are exposed to the elements whether you receive a thunderstorm with high winds, experience a drought, get flooding from a sudden heavy downpour, or have an early or late frost. Fluctuating weather patterns can lead to severe damage. Preparation and prevention are much better than damage repair which can be frustrating and off-putting to a beginner gardener.  Bob Vila explains 10 ways to weather-proof your garden.  I found his idea of using natural versus inorganic mulch on cool weather plants fascinating.  Winter in Florida is the time for cool weather crops like carrots and cabbage.



Obviously there is only so much you can do, but being as prepared as possible is going to be the key in handling any emergency.  When you are first setting up your garden, note the slope of the land and the drainage pattern.  Also, perform research into what the likely weather patterns are for your area. You may not be aware of  local creeks or underground water flows that are prone to rise during periods of intense rain. If you set up a garden without correct drainage, you may lose your plants when the garden is flooded and your soil eroded.





Flooding & Correct Drainage


Bad drainage can cause flooding and excess water to linger longer eroding soil and potentially killing your flowers. If your garden constantly holds water every time it rains, regardless of how light the rain may be, then you really need to consider having a new drainage system installed to help prevent long term damage. There are French drains for backyard drainage, perimeter drains for foundation flooding, and channel drains for patio floods.




Photo Lowe’s


A simple drainage system may be trenches dug out at strategic points in the garden to help water flow away from the mud and flowers when it rains. You could also install trench drains in concrete or more solid areas to also help with excess water flow. Having the right trench drain gates not only provides safe and secure coverage for your trench drains but also allows for adequate flow of excess water into them when necessary. House Beautiful has an interesting article, How to improve your garden’s drainagewhich discusses 8 ways gardeners can help their flowers beds and lawns deal with rain.  Country Living discusses 11 things to do in your garden before and after a heavy rain.


High Winds


If the wind is to pick up in a few days time, take time to stake down some of your shrubs and small trees to prevent them from being uprooted in the wind. Remember to have the stakes securely planted and the plants tied tightly. If you have climber plants such as Ivy, then consider using string or twine to fasten them to their frames securely. When you hear of a storm with high winds on the weather report, do the following if you have enough time:

  1. Move hanging baskets to shelter
  2. Remove small portable greenhouses, hoop frames, and hoop tunnels
  3. Stake tall plants
  4. Set up wind barriers around garden beds with heavy bags of soil, sand, or rock
  5. Place large buckets or planters over individual plants and use rocks to weigh them down
  6. Or wrap large plants in burlap and twine




Even before the bad weather report, most folks here in Florida have already trimmed trees and bushes at the start of summer.  Make sure there are no overhanging limbs over the roof.  High winds can cause limbs to break and damage your home. 




Protective Covers For Frost


Protective covers can really help prevent major damage to your plants and vegetables.  Some covers may be simple polythene or plastic bags that you stretch over the top and ties down at the base. For crops and vegetables, you may use smaller polythene tunnels that are more securely staked into the ground and keep them there for longer periods.  My friend Irene has coverings that totally top her porch flower bed.  Living in a warm climate with only an occasional frost, she covers her plants whenever frost is predicted.  You can encounter a late frost in the spring or an early frost in the fall in any climate.






If you have raised flower beds then it’s an ideal area for you to tie down your covers when needed. Always inspect your covers if you intend on using them repeatedly as damaged ones may be rendered useless during the worse of the weather. Heavy-duty plastic buckets and other solid covers may be used to protect some flowers from hail or frost. These may be staked into the ground of held down with heavy rocks to prevent them from moving .  Of course potted plants can be moved into the garage or shelter.



Shading For Excessive Heat


In the cases of extreme and protracted heat, installing areas of shade for your plants is the best way to help prevent them from drying out. This shaded area, depending on how solid it is, can also help with protection against rain or hail if need be. Areas such as a garage can also hold potted plants and other ornaments in the case of strong winds. Thoughtful garden design, shade cloth, sunflowers, umbrellas, and vining plants all can be used in different ways to provide shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and any other vegetable that needs some relief from the sun.  Check out Coolaroo’s How To Work With Shade Cloth.  If you live in an area known for excessive dry heat, apply mulch to the base of your plants to keep moisture near the roots. When selecting plants for your garden, try to purchase heat-tolerant varieties.



Photo Coolaroo



Grow Drought Resistant Plants


Start with good soil for your plants.  Use mulch.  If your garden is suffering from an extreme heatwave or drought, then remember that you don’t necessarily have to water them every day. In fact, it can cause the plant to stop adapting to its surroundings and to fail to survive. During prolonged exposure to high heat and low water, the plants will adapt and start to “rest”. This may come in the form of dried brown leaves falling off to conserve water usage and a slight shrinking in size for the same effect. Do not feed plants during this time.


Water wisely not more often


Water deeply once a week to encourage a good root system.  The plants will get used to having to conserve water and establish deep roots.  If you do notice plants shedding leaves, simply tidy them away and help them along by selectively pruning the dead ones away.  Better Homes and Garden has a great article, Gardening in Drought Conditions.  An eco friendly way to water during these times is with a rain barrel to save what rain that falls.  See How To Save Water in Your Yard  for more ideas.


Rain barrel is a great way to save water to use in the garden





Taking preventative measures against weather damage is the best way to look after your garden in the long run. Learn your normal weather patterns for your area and consider heat, drought, flooding, or other weather patterns that occur frequently. If you plan ahead in your garden design, you can include native plants that are adapted to your growing conditions. 



Blanket Flower



Enrich your soil, provide proper drainage, add stakes or tunnels as needed, and provide shade for the plants that can’t handle extreme heat.  Take preventive steps to help your garden thrive and grow.  Happy Gardening!


How to Save Water in the Yard






This is a collaborative post but all opinions are my own.




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I was raised in Tennessee but have lived in Florida for many years. Love my small home in the Tampa Bay area and its developing garden. My decorating style is eclectic - some vintage, some cottage, all with a modern flair. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Spent many years in social services but am happily retired.

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