Here are a few tips to keep that beautiful garden safe from hail damage. 

As many folks in the state experienced last week, an afternoon thunderstorm can bring a downpour of hail that will wreak havoc on property and destroy that garden you spent all summer working on. The aftermath can look like a battle scene, with the carnage from plants and trees everywhere and those delicate flowers and budding veggies bruised and ruined. 

But, it doesn't have to be a scene from a horror movie after a hailstorm. In fact, there are some precautions you can take if you know hail might be on the way. In the summer months—particularly in June and early July when hail is common—keep an eye on the weather and know that scattered thunderstorms also means a possibility of hail. Preparation can be one of the best ways to prevent hail damage in the first place. 

hail net over orchard
Hail net over an orchard, Courtesy of adege via Pixabay

Follow these guidelines to keep your garden safe from hail this year:

  • Covering your garden beds and moving any delicate potted plants to a safe space prior to a hailstorm is greatly advised in order to avoid damage from the frozen projectiles. 
  • Keep material nearby to your plants so that they're easy to grab on short notice. Setting up stakes and wooden posts to attach boards or a tarp is quite helpful when hail shows up. A shade cloth, trash bags, cardboard, netting, screen, extra fencing material, etc. will help to put a barrier between the plants and the hail. Remember to use bricks, rocks, boards, or some other weight to hold down the cover material if you don't have a permanent structure or stakes put up. 
  • If you have extra flower pots or buckets, they work very well when flipped upside down to protect plants, as do plastic bins or trash bins. 
  • Use raised beds for your vegetables and flowers. Raised beds can prevent the soil from washing away, keeping the plants in a sturdier foundation than the ground, it can also prevent plants stems from breaking during a storm. 
  • Extra soil around the base of plants, shrubs, and trees is also advisable to keep the stems strong and prevent soil from washing away in a storm. 
  • Some experienced people will build a removable cover with plastic that can be easily put over the entire garden, however, not everyone can do this. A cloth or tarp will work just as well. Creating a tent-like, triangular-shaped structure is a good idea, as it will send the extra water and ice off to the sides and not leave a big wet mess for you to deal with afterward.
  • The aftermath of the storm can be as important as the preparation. Pruning the plants back to remove damage leaves and stems will help, as well as the use of fertilizer. Add fertilizer every few days until new growth appears. 

How do you deal with and prevent hail damage to your plants in Colorado? Share your methods in the comments, and happy gardening!