It would be a shame to lose plants due to wind damage after putting in the hard work of growing them from seeds or seedlings. Plants that are tall or bear lots of fruit are even more susceptible to wind damage.
So, how do you protect your plants from wind and storms? To protect small plants from wind and storms, cover them with cloches. To protect tall plants from wind and storms, tie them to stakes, cages, or trellises. Another option to protect plants from wind and storms is a wall of straw bales weighed down with stones.
Of course, choosing the right location for your garden will also help to avoid damage from wind and storms.
In this article, we’ll take a look at when plants need wind and cold protection. We’ll also discuss ways provide protection.
When Do Your Plants Need Protection From Wind And Storms?
Your plants won’t always need protection from wind and storms. In fact, keeping plants covered too often could harm them – for example, they might get too much heat or too little sunlight.
So, when should you prepare to protect plants from wind and storms? 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 are also more likely to suffer damage from strong winds at this stage.
Right after you transplant your seedlings into your garden, it is important 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. In that case, you would need to plant all over again.
However, some seedlings take many weeks to grow large enough for transplant. In an area with a short growing season, you might not have time to replace your seedlings.
However, you might be able to prevent this problem by protecting seedlings from the worst of the wind and cold.
For more information, check out my article on how to protect your plants from cold and frost.
Dry & Windy Days
Seedlings dry 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.
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). That way, you will be aware of incoming storms or high-speed winds.
Then you will know when to keep plants covered and when to uncover them.
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 Small Plants
A cloche is a time-honored way of protecting young plants from wind, cold, and pests. Cloches were originally made of glass, but they are now often made of plastic.
The word cloche is of French origin, and it means bell. This is fitting, since the original cloches were shaped like bells that covered plants.
You can make your own cloche with an empty clear plastic bottle.
First, cut out the bottom part of the plastic bottle. Use a knife or scissors, and be careful not to cut yourself.
Then, use the top part of the bottle to cover the plant. The cloche will act as a mini greenhouse, trapping heat from sunlight in the air and soil underneath.
You can also remove the cap on top of the bottle to serve as a vent on hot days.
Another way to make a cloche is to use a plastic 5-gallon bucket. Simply tip it over and cover your plant with it.
This method will protect wider and taller plants than a small plastic bottle. However, there are some drawbacks.
First, you will have to cut your own hole in the bottom of the bucket if you want ventilation. That means you won’t be able to carry water (or anything else) in the bucket.
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.
Cloches will protect against wind and cold, but they can also keep pests away. Of course, if there are already pests on the plant, a cloche won’t help.
A cloche can also increase the humidity near the plant by retaining water in the air and soil. This will prevent seedlings from drying out.
There is one important caution when using cloches. On a warm and sunny day, the temperature under the cloche can get hot enough to kill your plants, so keep an eye on them.
You also have the option of using a tunnel cloche to protect multiple plants at once. This is useful if you want to protect an entire row of seedlings for several days as they mature and grow stronger.
Use Supports For Established Plants
Later in the season, taller and 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.
Every so often, use twine to tie the plant’s main stem to the stake. A good rule is to tie the plant stem to the stake every 6 to 12 inches of height.
This will help to prevent the plant from falling over under its own weight. It will also prevent the main stem or branches with fruit from snapping during heavy winds and storms.
There are other support options besides stakes – for instance, you can also use:
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.
Just remember the same caution that I gave for cloches. A sealed greenhouse can get too hot for plants on a warm and sunny day.
After the danger of wind damage has passed, open up the greenhouse or cold frame to allow ventilation. On a related note, you will also need to open the greenhouse or cold frame so that pollinators can get in and do their work.
Bring Potted Plants Indoors
If you have potted plants outside, you also have the option of bringing them indoors. Make sure you ask a friend to help you move heavy pots.
A clay or stone pot, filled with wet soil, can add up to a lot of weight. Putting a potted plant on wheels will make it easier to move.
Build A Wall Or Windbreak
If you are pressed for time, you can put up a 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, weighed down with rocks. To get a taller wind barrier, stack the straw bales two or more layers high.
You can even grow some plants in straw bales. For more information, check out my article on growing potatoes in straw bales.
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 wind, and you can add the straw to a compost pile at the end of the growing season.
You can also create a short, makeshift wall out of plastic 5-gallon buckets. To prevent them from blowing away, fill them with water.
The water should provide about 40 pounds of weight in a 5 gallon bucket. You also have the option of using the water for irrigation.
For really strong winds, fill the buckets 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. A hedgerow will naturally protect your plants from wind.
You can surround one or more sides of your garden with a hedgerow to provide extra protection. However, 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 they can provide good wind protection for your plants.
As an added bonus, hedges can reduce the noise in your yard. You can learn more about plants that make a good sound barrier in my article here.
Build Raised Beds
You can make raised beds out of lots of materials, including:
- 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. Then, plant in the soil.
Raised beds will 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 may end up with 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 sloped, 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!
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 you found this article was helpful – if so, please share it with someone who can use the information.
You might also be interested in my article on how to protect trees and shrubs from heavy snow.