Extreme weather changes can cause significant damage to plants. ATTRIBUTION: aivas14 (Flickr)

Extreme weather changes can cause significant damage to plants. ATTRIBUTION: aivas14 (Flickr)

Listen to the weather report to see the many ways extreme weather changes can impact your garden’s vitality. California recently experienced such changes, suffering from first a serious drought and then a heavy rainstorm that hit in early December. However, some areas of California are still experiencing extreme drought. Such radical changes in weather can greatly affect the health of your lawn and garden, whether you have to deal with a drought, rainstorm, snowstorm, tornado, or any other environmental catastrophe. Here’s a look at some things you can do to protect your outdoor plants from extreme weather damage.

Evaluate Your Water Usage

If your location is experiencing a drought, you will need to evaluate your water usage and find ways to efficiently save and use water. If there are tight restrictions on water use in your area, try various water-saving methods to collect water for your garden. Collect rainwater in barrels placed directly under the downspouts of your home. Always water your lawn and garden in the early morning or late evening hours to avoid rapid evaporation of the water from the sun.

Cover Plants Before a Freeze

If you know that your area is going to experience a frost or freeze, take the proper precautions to protect your plants. When possible, cover the plants with a frost cloth or a few old blankets when the temperature is supposed to be at its lowest. Do not use plastic to cover your plants or trees, as plastic can cause further damage. Alternatively, a frost-proof insulating spray can be applied to the plants/trees to minimize damage.

Remove Heavy Snow from Plants

While frost is known to cause significant damage to delicate plants, snow can actually have the opposite effect. Snow acts as an insulator for plants, protecting them from harsh winds and frost. However, the weight of heavy snow can cause branches, stems, and leaves to break. After a heavy snow, remove some of the weight from the plants to prevent breakage.

Spread a Thick Layer of Mulch

Mulch offers gardeners a wide range of benefits, from inhibiting weed germination and growth to moderating soil temperature fluctuations. It can also be used during the winter months to protect roots and bulbs from severe weather damage. Spread about four inches of mulch around the plants in beds and gardens containing bulbs and perennials. The thick layer of mulch will help protect the plants from fluctuating temperatures while providing the plants with much-needed moisture and nutrients.

Protect Young Trees from Wind

If your area is due for high, hurricane-type winds, it’s crucial to secure any young trees to prevent them from breaking or falling over. Arrange four stakes around the perimeter of the tree and attach nylon twine around the four stakes to form a square. When the young tree blows in any direction during the storm, the stakes and nylon twine will prevent the tree from being blown over. If the tree is extremely fragile, it can also be beneficial to wrap some burlap material around the stakes for additional protection.