Guest post: in an extract from her new Climate Change Garden book, Kim Stoddart explains how to better cope with the extremes of windy weather…
Referred to in some circles as the gardener’s foe, wind can cause much damage to plants in a very short space of time. Conversely, it provides a valuable role in smaller volumes, blowing the cobwebs and fungal diseases away. It is for good reason that ventilation (and enabling sufficient airflow) within a polytunnel or greenhouse is essential to the health and vitality of indoor-grown plants. Outside, of course, this happens naturally but its ferocity is outside of our control.
Even on a warm spring day, the temperature around your planting can be many degrees lower with the impact of wind’s strong cooling effect. As well as potentially stunting the growth of seedlings early in the year through the dip in temperature, the wind can also have a drying effect on foliage (known as wind scorch). Evergreens are most susceptible to damage, resulting in the browning of leaves. Wind can also cause branches and foliage to rip and tear, and on a more extreme level, can result in trees being uprooted, causing damage to surrounding planting and nearby buildings.
You can do several things to provide a degree of long-term wind protection for your garden or allotment, even in the most exposed of locations:
Plant hedging, shrubs and trees
Ideally, you want a windbreak, not a complete barrier. This will take the sting out of the gale, slowing it down and taming its ferocity, rather than sending it bouncing off to cause damage elsewhere (which can happen in the case of fencing).
How to Create Wind Protection for Your Garden
Such planting provides natural protection against wind with the added benefit of wider climate change garden credentials, such as the soaking up heavy rainfall through wider-ranging, deeper root structures, which help bind the soil surrounding together.
On the veg patch, taller produce such as Cardoon, sunflowers, Jerusalem artichokes or even runner beans can be used to provide a degree of protection.
Attractive planting for protection
Willow, bamboo and ornamental grasses also look rather lovely, dutifully acting as a buffer and being blown about every which way by the wind in the process. Fruit bushes also can provide useful (and edible) protection.
Other methods worth considering
There are additionally many products available that can be useful in the battle against the wind. Trellis works to slow, rather than buffer, this volatile element. Also, a pergola archway populated with climbing plants can provide an aesthetically pleasing defence.
Other more drastic measures include the creation of a wind-break bank. This is, essentially, a mound of earth which will deflect wind up and over your garden space. Plant yours with hardier perennials to make a feature.
Winter Storm SOS Check List
So, you’ve heard a severe storm is on the way, which can cause damage to even the most wind-protected of spaces. To help further shore up your defences, here’s what to do:
- Move any pots with tall plants inside or to a more sheltered spot of your garden.
- Protect taller produce on the veg patch, such as kales or sprouts, by adding some bamboo canes or stake and tie to supports.
- If you have any top-heavy plants, these can be trimmed back to provide them with a greater ability to ride out the storm.
- Take yourself inside with a nice warming drink and start to get excited about spring. It’ll be here before we know it.
About the Climate Change Garden Book
Co-written with Soil Association magazine editor, Sally Morgan, the book aims to empower you with the knowledge, skills and confidence to become a climate change savvy gardener.
Buy your copy online from Suttons.
Kim writes for a range of national publications and runs popular polytunnel growing and get climate change smart day courses. She is offering us a special 20% off all 2020 bookings made before the end of December 2019. Just mention Suttons when booking online to take advantage of the specially discounted price of £76. See www.greenrocketcourses.com for available dates and more details.