When high winds are incoming, begin by taking down any sun nets over your plants—they are often torn apart by the wind. Then, remove any hanging plants and bring them into your home. To keep delicate seedlings from being destroyed by wind, cover them with a frost blanket weighted down with rocks. For larger plants, place a bucket or cloche over the plant. To protect trees from extreme winds, wrap them in cloth and support them with stakes. If high winds are common in your area, build a windbreak to protect your plants permanently.
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7 Ways to Protect Plants from High Winds
High winds can destroy a garden and wreak havoc on trees, bushes, and vines. In order to prevent damage from storms and seasonal winds, pay close attention to the weather forecast. When high winds are on the way, take these steps to keep your plants safe.
Remove Sun Shades and Frames
High winds will destroy sun netting designed to shade your plants. To prevent this, remove any shade cloth from your rows of plants before the winds arrive. Fold and store the shade cloth. You can put it back up after the rough weather passes.
- Remove shade cloths used to shield your plants from excess sun.
- Strong winds destroy shade cloth.
- Store your shade cloth so you can put it back on once the wind has calmed.
- Remove and store lightweight shade cloth frames as well, to prevent damage.
If your shade cloth was stretched over a hoop frame or any other type of light, semi-permanent frame, remove and store the frame as well. Winds that are strong enough to tear shade cloth will also uproot lightweight frames. Only permanent frames (such as metal stakes driven into the soil) should remain in place when high winds are incoming.
Bring Hanging Plants Indoors
Outdoor hanging plants are in extreme danger during windy conditions. The pots can be swung violently, fall, and even break. Even if the pots don’t fall, most small plants will have their leaves and stems damaged by strong wind. To prevent this, take these containers off their hooks and bring them indoors until the winds pass.
- Take down hanging plants and bring them indoors.
- If possible, move other potted plants indoors too.
- Put potted plants somewhere in your home where they can still receive light.
It is best to store potted plants in your home when high winds are blowing through. If possible, place them near a bright window so they can still get adequate sunlight. If you don’t have enough space in your home, store your plants in a garage or garden shed until the weather calms down.
Protect Seedlings with Blankets
Newly sprouted plants are so delicate that their leaves can be stripped away by higher-than-usual winds. To prevent this, lay a frost blanket over any rows of new sprouts. Then, place a brick or fist-sized rock every 12 inches (30 cm) along each edge of the blanket. This will create a windshield that protects new plants.
- Cover baby plants with this heavy-duty frost blanket.
- Place bricks, stones, or wood on the edges of the blanket to keep it in place.
- Use a see-through covering if your plants must remain covered for more than 1 day.
Make sure to choose a heavy-duty frost blanket for this job. Avoid thin cloth. If your seedlings will be covered for more than one day, choose a transparent blanket. If you are covering the plants overnight or for one day only, it’s fine to use a black frost blanket.
Place Buckets Over Mid-Sized Plants
Place a bucket or translucent cloche over plants that are larger than seedlings but smaller than trees. Buckets and cloches create an instant windproof barrier. Transparent cloches are great because they allow sunlight to enter. Plus, some come with stakes that keep them secured to the ground. If you are using upturned buckets to protect your plants, make sure to place a brick on top to prevent the bucket from being blown away.
- Cover vegetables and flowers with these cloches that won’t blow away.
- Instead of purchasing a cloche, you can use an upside-down bucket to shield plants from wind.
- Transparent food storage containers can work as a cloche in a pinch.
- Use a brick or rock to weigh down buckets and containers so they won’t get moved by the wind.
If you have a few small plants, or ones that grow low to the ground, you can use any transparent container as a temporary cloche. Plastic food storage containers work great for this purpose. It’s simple to place them over a plant, then weigh them down with a stone or half of a brick.
Wrap Trees and Bushes
It’s essential to wrap the foliage of trees and bushes when you are dealing with heavy winds. Otherwise, wind can strip the leaves off a young tree, which may kill it. Although you can use old-fashioned burlap and twine for this job, it’s much easier to cover your plant with a bag-like frost cover, and then tighten the drawstring to secure it.
- Strong winds can rip leaves and branches off of trees, vines, and bushes.
- Cover your larger plants with these frost-protection bags.
- Instead of specialized protective bags, you can use bedsheets secured to the central trunk with twine.
If you don’t have time to purchase frost covers for your trees and shrubs, you can use old bed sheets, blankets, or towels. Gently cover the foliage of the plant with the covering you choose, then gather and tie it in place around the main trunk. Twine is great for securing loose cloth in place.
Support Trees with Stakes
Any tree with a trunk smaller than 3 inches in diameter (7.5 cm) should be staked prior to the arrival of strong winds. Otherwise, the tree’s trunk could be snapped by the wind. Kits designed to securely stake trees make this job much faster and easier than messing around with stakes, twine, and wire.
- Use this tree staking kit to support young trees during periods of high wind.
- Construct a trellis to support vines and cane plants.
- Without trunk support, trees and vines can be killed by strong wind.
You can protect vines in a similar way by securing them to a trellis. For more information on how to build your own trellis, check out our full guide to trellising blackberries. The guidelines there can be applied to many other plants, including grape vines.
Build a Windbreak
If your plants are regularly being battered by bad weather, it’s time to build a windbreak for them. For vegetable gardens and flower beds, you can construct a low windbreak wall from stones, bricks, or wood. Even a 2-foot-tall (60 cm) wall can provide a lot of protection for smaller plants.
- In areas where high winds are common, consider a permanent windbreak.
- For small gardens, build a 24-inch (60 cm) wall from stones or wood.
- To protect trees and vines, install a fence that blocks incoming wind.
To build a windbreak for larger plants, vines, and trees, install a fence that protects plants from wind damage. Permanent windbreaks prevent you from having to protect your plants each time strong winds blow through. A good windbreak can reduce wind speeds by three-fourths. This can turn strong winter winds into a gentle freeze.
How Do You Protect Your Plants from Strong Winds?
If you are battling high winds that threaten to destroy your garden, use these techniques to provide your plants with wind protection:
- Take down sun netting and store portable frames for netting.
- Bring potted plants—especially hanging pots—indoors.
- Place a frost blanket over seedlings and weigh the edges down.
- Place a cloche or weighted bucket over plants.
- Cover bushes, vines, and young trees with frost protection bags.
- Stake trees and vines to support them against the wind.
- Build a permanent wall or fence to block the prevailing wind.
Each of these methods works best for specific types and sizes of plants. By combining the tips in this article, you can keep all your plants safe through windy days.