How to Protect Your Plants From Wind and Storms


When you put your plants outside in the garden, they will need protection from gusts of wind.  Otherwise, they are more susceptible to damage from cold, dehydration, or the wind itself.

So, how do you protect your plants from wind and storms?  Covering your smaller, younger plants with cloches (plastic or glass covers) is a quick and easy way to protect them from wind.  You can protect taller, more established plants by tying them to stakes or other supports.  You can also put up a wall of straw bales and weigh it down with stones to protect your plants from wind damage.

Let’s start off by looking at when your plants will need wind protection, along with how to provide it in the short and long term.  Finally, we’ll look at the best location for a garden to mitigate the threat of wind damage.

When Do Your Plants Need Wind Protection?

Your plants won’t always need wind protection, and keeping them covered too often could harm them if they get too hot.  So, when should you be wary of the danger of wind damage?  Here are a few scenarios to look out for.

Early in the Growing Season (After Transplanting Seedlings)

Whether you buy seedlings or start your own from seed, young plants will be vulnerable to excessive cold or dry conditions.  They will also be easily damaged by strong winds.

Seedlings need protection from wind, cold, and dry air as they develop.

Right after you transplant your seedlings into your garden, you might want to protect them from the elements, including wind, cold, and dry air.

Cold & Windy Nights

Depending on the last spring frost date for your area, a cold and windy night could spell the end for your seedlings, forcing you to plant all over again.  You might be able to prevent this by protecting them from the worst of the wind and cold.

frost on flower
A late spring frost can spell disaster for seedlings that have been planted early.

For more information, check out my article on how to protect your plants from cold and frost, and this guide on spring and fall frost dates from the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Dry & Windy Days

As mentioned above, seedlings are susceptible to drying out easily, since their roots are weak and they don’t have much water stored in their tissues.  So, you must protect them from dry conditions early in their lives.

wind vane
Watch the weather forecast for winds picking up – unless you have a wind sock handy!

If the weather forecast calls for dry and windy days (low humidity and sustained wind), then it is a good idea to take measures to protect your seedlings.

Strong Winds or Storms in the Weather Forecast

Finally, you should check the weather forecast at least every week (preferably daily) so that you are aware of incoming storms or high-speed winds.  That way, you can protect your plants from harsh winds.

How to Protect Plants From Wind (Short Term)

Now that you know when you need to protect your plants, it’s time to find out how.  Here are some short-term measures to protect your plants from wind damage, just in case sudden winds or storms are approaching.

Use Cloches For Young Plants

A cloche is a time-honored way of protecting young plants from wind, cold, and pests.  Originally made of glass, cloches are now more commonly made of plastic.  The word is of French origin, and means bell, since the original cloches were shaped like bells.

cloches
Your cloches don’t need to be this fancy – but I guess they could be!

You can easily make your own cloche by cutting the bottom out of a plastic gallon jug, and then putting it over a young plant.  You can even remove the cap on top to serve as a vent on hot days, if needed.  You can also cut out the top of one or more jugs and stack them up as high as you need to, if you have taller plants to protect.

Another way to make a cloche is to use a 5-gallon plastic bucket.  Simply tip it over and cover your plant with it.  This method will protect wider and taller plants than a gallon jug.  However, there are some drawbacks.

First, you will have to cut your own hole in the bottom of the bucket if you want ventilation.  Second, a white plastic bucket won’t let much (if any) light through, so your plants won’t do well if they spend a long time under 5-gallon buckets.

As mentioned earlier, cloches will protect against wind and cold, but also pests.  They can even increase the humidity near the plant, which will prevent seedlings from drying out and dying.

The only caution is that on a very hot, sunny day, the temperature under the cloche can get hot enough to kill your plants – think of it like a mini-greenhouse!

You can also use tunnel cloches to protect multiple plants at once.  This is useful if you want to keep an entire row of seedlings protected for several days as they mature and strengthen.

Use Supports for Established Plants

Later in the season, your more established plants will not fit under cloches.  Transplanting them is not a viable option, so your best bet is to use supports to help them withstand the wind.

Taller plants, such as tomatoes, are traditionally supported using stakes.  These stakes, or tall poles, are driven into the ground near the tomato plant – but not so close as to disturb the roots.

tomato stakes
Stakes can help your tomatoes to grow up straight and tall, and will protect them from wind damage.

Every so often, perhaps at 6-inch intervals as the plant grows, you will want to tie the plant’s main stem to the stake.  This will help to prevent the plant from falling over under its own weight.  It will also prevent the main stem from snapping during heavy winds and storms.

There are other support options besides stakes – for instance, you can also use:

  • cages
  • trellises
  • ropes
  • A-frames

For more information, check out my article on how to support tomato plants (you can apply the ideas to any tall plants that you want to protect from wind) and my article on why to use tomato cages.

Close Your Greenhouse or Cold Frame

If you started seedlings in a greenhouse or cold frame, now is the time to close the door and seal them up.  (Hopefully, the wind won’t blow over the greenhouse!)

greenhouse
A greenhouse can protect plants from wind, as well as cold and pests. Just make sure to open the door on a hot day!

Just remember the same caution that I gave for cloches: after the danger of wind damage has passed, be sure to open up the greenhouse or cold frame to allow ventilation.  Otherwise, it may get too hot for your plants, which can damage or kill them!

Bring Potted Plants Indoors

If you have potted plants outside, you can bring them indoors.  Make sure you have a buddy to help you move heavy pots –a clay or stone pot, filled with wet soil, can add up to a lot of weight.

Build a Windbreak or Wall

If you are pressed for time, you can put up a quick windbreak (a wall to block the wind) with some cheap and simple materials you may already have lying around.

For instance, you can build a wall from straw bales, weighted down with rocks.  You can stack the bales two or more levels high if you wish.

You can even grow some plants in straw bales. For more information, check out my article on growing potatoes in straw bales.

straw bale
A wall of straw bales can help to prevent wind damage to your plants.

If you live in a windy area, you may want to do this every year at the start of the season.  You will protect your plants from the wind, and as an added bonus, the pile can be composted at the end of the growing season for next year’s garden.

You can also create a short, makeshift wall out of plastic 5-gallon buckets.  To prevent them from blowing away, simply fill them with water (this should provide about 40 pounds of weight).  If the winds will be really strong, you can fill them with rocks, or some combination of rocks and water.

Another option is to build a wall made of wire and sticks, branches, or bamboo, with burlap or some other material stretched over the wire.  The wall doesn’t have to be perfect; in fact, it shouldn’t be.

The reason is that a wall without any spaces can increase wind turbulence and cause worse damage than what you were trying to prevent.

How to Protect Plants From Wind (Long Term)

Now that you have protected your plants from wind in the short term, it’s time to plan ahead and think about long term wind protection.  Here are a few ways you can do that.

Plant Hedgerows Around Your Garden

A hedgerow is a “living wall” consisting of thick, bushy shrubs that will naturally break the wind and protect your plants.  You can surround one or more sides of your garden with a hedgerow, but the effort and expense will increase as you add more shrubs.

Also, it will take some time for young shrubs to grow to the height and breadth that you will need to protect your plants from wind.  Hedgerows are not a perfect solution, but together with some others, you can provide good protection for your plants against wind damage.

Build Raised Beds

You can make raised beds out of wood, bricks, cinder blocks, or even stones (if you have the patience to fit them together!)  Essentially, all you do is build up walls above ground and fill them partially with soil, and then plant in the soil.

supported raised bed
A raised bed protects plants from some pests (like rabbits!) and can provide wind protection as well.

Raised beds can protect your plants from wind, and will also protect them from some pests (such as rabbits), which cannot climb or jump the walls.

If you decide to go this route, you may also want to use raised bed liners. For more information, check out my article on raised bed liners.

Build a Semi-Permeable Wall

Instead of a hedgerow, you can build a wall of stone or brick on one or more sides of your garden.  The wall should have some spaces in it, since you want to mitigate the wind while allowing some through.

Without some spaces in the wall, you can end up with even stronger winds going around or over the wall, which can cause even more damage.

Choose the Best Garden Location to Protect Plants From Wind

When choosing the location for your garden, keep a couple of things in mind.

First of all, if your yard is sloping, then put your garden on the hillside.  The plants will be exposed to less extreme winds than if they were at the “top of the hill” or “bottom of the valley”.

Also, consider planting your garden on the south side of your home, garage, shed, barn, or another structure.  This will protect your plants from harsh north winds.  Just don’t plant so close that you block out the sun!

Conclusion

Now that you have some ideas on how to protect your plants from wind damage, it’s time to get out there and do the work.

I hope this article was helpful.  If you have any questions or advice of your own about protecting plants from wind damage, please leave a comment below.

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jonathon. I’m the gardening guy (not guru!) who is encouraging everyone to spend more time in the garden. I try to help solve common gardening problems so that you can get the best harvest every year!

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