garden in bad weather
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When bad weather affects the garden

From Sarah's garden to yours

The perfect gardening season relies on the weather presenting nothing but ideal conditions. However, the perfect gardening season is a rarity that could even be considered a myth. As much as the seasons have clear characteristic traits, the vagaries of nature are always at play.

Most of the time, the weather we have to deal with is good enough that we can negotiate the gardening season without too many troubles, and end up with a good harvest. We get to fully enjoy the beautiful spaces we have created without too much inconvenience.

However, there are some weather events that can strike, within their season so not unexpected, but with a severity that can cause damage. Or sometimes weather events can come completely out of the blue in the wrong season, wreaking all sorts of havoc.

The good thing about a garden is that it is constantly changing and evolving so while harm and damage are not ideal, gardens recover. Plants can be replanted, and new opportunities can arise from a devastating situation.

So, what do you do if your garden is adversely affected by the weather?

flood 1


Often rain is welcome in the garden as it means the chore of watering can be set aside. The water supply gets saved for another day, and a good rain is always better than a good watering. However, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing, and a winter or summer storm can harm the garden.

If your garden become flooded, it is important not to walk on it, if you can help it. This can compact the soil and cause long term damage to the soil structure.

Most plants can cope for up to a week in flooded soil, however if their roots become starved of oxygen, they become stressed and root damage occurs. The leaves can turn yellow and drop, although often they won’t show signs of damage immediately. So if the water isn’t showing signs of receding you may need to rescue your favourite plants.

Too much rain can also wash away nutrients leaving behind an acidic soil. This can be remedied by adding lots of well-rotted organic material and compost to restore a healthy balance and improve the soil structure.

If the flood waters are contaminated, you will need to take extra precautions to keep yourself safe. Don’t eat anything from the garden and wear protective gear when working with the garden. Growing a cover crop such a mustard is said to help clean the soil.

Mower in rain


Wind is another weather event that can wreak havoc in your garden. The best you can do is accept it as inevitable, and make sure your garden is always best prepared for a strong wind.
Be in the habit of putting items away when you have finished with them, as anything can become a damaging missile if picked up by a strong wind that may come on unexpectedly, at short notice or during the night.

Make sure your structures, greenhouses and sheds are well maintained and secure, particularly checking the roofing materials. Pay close attention to supports at ground level too, making sure they haven’t rusted or rotted, which might allow the structure to collapse in a strong wind.

Make sure lightweight greenhouses are weighted down or well secured to something solid as they easily act like kites in even the mildest winds.
Protect exposed parts of your garden by planting or investing in wind breaks to slow the prevailing winds.

Check trees, particularly those close to the house, garage or other buildings for weak, diseased, and dead branches and prune to reduce the risk of damage in strong winds.

Safety first, during and after a storm or weather event. Wait until the wind dies down before trying to fix damage or protect the garden. Be safe when clearing up after the storm, especially when using power tools. Use all the appropriate protective equipment, and take precautions when working in wet or slippery conditions.

Plants in pots are the most vulnerable to even the mildest of winds, and the soil can dry out in as little as an afternoon that may be windy but not wet. Once a plant is completely dry it is difficult to rehydrate, and water poured on the top often runs down the sides and out the bottom avoiding the thirsty roots. To rehydrate a dry container, immerse it slowly in water until it is completely submerged. Allow it to sink naturally. Leave it under water until the air bubble stop rising, remove it and allow it to drain. This will revive the soil.



 In some areas, there is a risk of frost which has the potential of harming your plants, especially if gardeners push the boundaries and plant tender plants too soon in the spring or leave them in too long in the autumn.

The first thing to keep an eye on is the weather forecast. Have frost cloth at the ready, so you are prepared if the temperatures decide to take a plunge.

Avoid planting out warm loving seedlings until the risk of frost has passed. There is little advantage to starting them too soon as it won’t be warm enough for them, and they may struggle.

At the end of the season, if a frost is imminent, bring tender plants indoors or into sheltered locations and harvest what you can from the vegetable patch to avoid losing the harvest.

Protect at-risk dormant perennials in the garden with a covering of mulch, leaves or compost, but remember to clear away the covering as the plants begin to grow again.

If plants in the landscape become damaged by frost, just leave them alone until the warmer weather. Pruning off the frost damage and/or feeding the plant can encourage new growth that can also be hit by frost. The damaged plant material can act as protection from further harm.

Frost isn’t all bad though. It can kill pests and diseases, putting a dent in their populations. The freezing and thawing of the moisture in the soil throughout winter can break up clumps and lumps in the soil and help achieve a loose soil with a fine tilth. Most surprisingly, over-wintering vegetables are made sweeter with a hit of frost.

Adverse weather is never welcome, however knowing what to do before, during, and after can help the garden recover and go on giving joy.