Protecting Your Plants from Summer Hail Damage

When Summer arrives and we break out the grill and start entertaining friends and family in the great Colorado outdoors, it can be easy to overlook a very detrimental threat to your landscape plants and trees… Hail in Trinidad can come and go in an instant which is all it takes to destroy delicate or young plants completely. The following is a brief guide to protecting your outdoor investment, wether it be flowers or vegetables.

In Southern Colorado, the highest chance of hail comes in June although it’s not unusual to see it in May. The best way to prevent hail damage is to streamline the process you have in place to protect your plants and have everything in place and easily accessible for quick action when needed. There are several ways you can protect your plants before the hail hits.

  • Hail Netting
  • Row Cover
  • Sheets or Lightweight Blankets
  • Buckets or Trashbags

Ultimately, the key to properly protecting your plants from hail damage is putting a barrier between the plants and the impact from the hail. Row cover or sheets laid over the tops of plants is enough of a break to handle a short spurt of marble and smaller sized hail. Any bigger and space between the plant and barrier material is needed.

It can help to make some hoops out of wire than can be placed in the flower or garden bed to elevate the netting or cloth a few inches away from the plants. Depending on the location, these wire hoops could be left in the ground all season to make putting out cloth that much quicker. Once the hail has passed, the barrier material should be removed and stored in an easily accessible location.

Preventative Preparation Tips

  • Raised Beds: help keep soil in place providing more support to plant stems
  • Fertilize & TLC: healthy, well-developed plants are stronger and can bounce back faster
  • Easy Access Materials: have protective materials ready to grab and go at a moments notice
  • Use Native Plants: Native plants, especially perennials tend to handle Colorado weather better than others

Pay Attention to the Forecast!!!

It may go without saying, but knowing when the chances are high for hail can help you to properly prepare. If hail is in the forecast, be sure to bring potted and hanging plants under cover and put out your hail cover.

In Trinidad, we get a LOT of strong winds to accompany hail so make sure you use plenty of rocks or bricks to weigh down the cloth or buckets you’re using. They could very well blow away!

When Nature Strikes: What to do After Hail Damage has Occurred.

One day, you return home from a trip to Pueblo to find that your once beautiful plants are now punched full of holes. What a terrible feeling; a feeling many gardeners have felt before and many will feel again. What’s important is to remember that it’s not the end in many cases. With a little extra care, many plants can bounce back and look good as new within a few weeks.

What to do With a Hail Damaged Plant

  • Prune & Trim: Cut away any broken or damaged stems, leaves and branches so the plant can focus on healing.
  • Time Heals All Wounds: Before pulling out damaged plants that still have some foliage, give them a little time to see if they start putting out new growth. Sometimes the damage can look worse than it actually is.
  • Give It a Nudge: Fertilizing plants can give them a boost to help them heal and prevent disease and infection.
  • Water Wisely: As the hail melts, be careful not to over water plants which could cause more harm than benefit the healing process.

In Trinidad, hail is an expected nuisance to gardeners but shouldn’t discourage you from creating your dream landscape. With a little proactive thinking and beginning the season prepared, much can be done to mitigate hail damage in the landscape and garden.

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