Hailstorms are increasingly a fact of life along the Colorado Front Range. The geographical juxtaposition of eastern plains and Front Range, with clashing wind currents from all directions, is a recipe for perfect hail-producing thunderstorms. We frequently deal with sirens, severe-weather warnings and storms producing hail of any size from pea to golf ball from May to July.
Hail is probably the most discouraging of all extreme weather because it’s completely unpredictable and hard to prepare for. It usually accompanies severe thunderstorms and rainstorms, which weather forecasters are able to predict, but forecasters can’t always predict hail accurately. In most cases, you’ll get a few hours’ notice at the most.
Hail may be inevitable, but front-range gardeners and landscapers can plan ahead to protect outdoor spaces, trees, shrubs, and vegetables during storms – read on for tips.
Maintain a healthy landscape year-round.
The biggest key factor in hail damage recovery is your garden and landscape’s overall condition – general good health will allow it to bounce back from damage much more successfully.
Keep tree branches maintained and pruned.
Falling branches are bad for liability and bad for the surrounding landscape.
Use native plants in your landscaping.
Not only are they typically drought-tolerant, they’re better adapted to Colorado’s wild weather.
You can find a list of native plant resources here at CSU Extension.
Narrow-leaved plants are better at avoiding hail damage.
There’s no hailproof plant, but those with more slender foliage tend to lose fewer leaves overall. Flowering plants, and those with broad leaves, are the first to get shredded.
Pot-grown delicate plants and veggies can be rapidly removed to shelter by use of simple, inexpensive planter caddies.
Use sheltering strategy.
Walls, fences, outbuildings, and large hardy trees can mitigate hail impact on delicate plants.
Or, build hail guards:
- several types of raised garden protector units are commercially available at local garden centers.
- mini-hoop tunnels constructed from PVC pipe and covered with translucent/transparent plastic or agricultural fabric can also protect young and small plants from predators. Added bird netting provides extra protection from large pieces of falling ice.
- larger plants such as tomatoes can be better protected by simply draping heavy cloth or tarp over the tops of cages, allowing it to fall over sides.
- a-framed, hinged protectors made from refurbished screen doors are easy and inexpensive to build, quick to deploy, and easy to store.
- browse more ideas here.