Protecting Your Plants: 5 Strategies to Disaster-Proof Your Garden

Protecting Your Plants: 5 Strategies to Disaster-Proof Your Garden

There's nothing like the taste of fresh fruit and vegetables straight from your own backyard garden – but from animals digging them up, to bad weather damaging them, to pests infesting them – there are many threats to your plants. A single hailstorm, downpour, or rascally rabbit can cause garden armageddon and wipe out all your hard work in one fell swoop.

Don’t let a disaster catch your garden off-guard. By taking a few simple steps, you can protect your plants from the elements, keep your garden flourishing against the worst Mother Nature has to offer, and cultivate your own unshakeable Eden. Below we’ll discuss 5 simple strategies to help you create a disaster-proof garden so you can enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of your labor. So roll up your sleeves and let’s dig in.

Location, Location, Location

Before you ever start planting, take into consideration the location of your garden, because the first step to cultivating a disaster-proof garden is picking the right spot. The number one consideration for a garden location is sun exposure. The ideal spot for your garden plot will get plenty of sunshine. Most garden plants require “full sun,” which means at least 6 hours of steady sunlight per day. 

Another consideration is how close you are to your water source. Make sure the hose reaches your garden plot – otherwise, you’re going to be hauling a lot of watering cans. Your garden should be in an area of your yard that drains well and is not prone to flooding. Finally, choose a spot that’s level, or you’ll have your work cut out for you flattening the ground out.  

Pick the Right Plants

It's important to choose plants that are well-suited to your area and climate, or what the USDA calls your “Plant Hardiness Zone.” Knowing your zone can help you determine what plants to include in your garden so it will be more likely to thrive. Another practical approach is to choose plants that are native to your region, i.e., no orange trees in Alaska. It’s not just about what you want to grow – it's also about what can survive in your specific area.

When choosing your plants, it’s also smart to consider what threats are specific to your area. For example, if you live in a hurricane-prone area, you’ll want to avoid plants that are easily damaged by wind or heavy rain. Veggies that like wet soil include cabbage, sweet potatoes, and arugula. If you live in an area with short summers, you’ll want to focus on fast-growing produce like lettuce, spinach, and radishes. Doing your homework before planting will help ensure a healthy garden.

Fortifying Your Garden for the Long Haul

Your garden may be an oasis, but it's not immune to outside forces. Putting a fence around your garden is an effective way to keep opportunists like deer and rabbits out.

Another long-term protection strategy, especially if you plan to garden year after year, is to either erect or plant a windbreak. Windbreaks made of fencing, netting, trees, or shrubs can help protect your crops from strong winds. They reduce wind speed and turbulence, which can damage both plant and soil.

Not only will these defenses protect your crops, but they can also contribute to an attractive and visually pleasing garden space. It’s worth considering these strategies to fortify your garden against long-term threats.

Surviving the Storm: Defend Against the Worst of the Weather

Unfortunately, no matter how well you plan, you can't always predict Mother Nature's whims. However, there are a few steps you can take to help protect your garden against the most common weather threats like heavy rain, frost, hail, and drought. For example, taking the simple step of adding a layer of insulating mulch around your plants can help protect their delicate roots from excessive heat, cold, and moisture fluctuations.

If you live in an area with heavy rains, you can place sandbags around your garden to protect your plants ahead of storms. Alternately, you may opt for raised garden beds, which provide good drainage and can protect your plants from flooding. Other gardeners decide to install rain barrels near their garden space. Not only can they help reduce the impact of heavy rainfall, but they offer a good source of water during dry spells.

For in-ground gardens, it’s a good idea to support your plants with stakes and cages to help them grow straight and also anchor them to the ground. If there’s frost in the forecast, consider using row covers or cold frames to create a mini-greenhouse effect – these tactics can also extend your growing season. Ahead of a hailstorm, you can cover your plants with hail netting, or even buckets, planters, or trashcans to protect them. Since hail’s normally accompanied by wind, put a rock or brick on top so they don’t blow over. Remember to never run outside into a hailstorm. Only take this step if you have advance notice.

Protecting Your Garden from Insect Invaders

The wrong kind of bugs can be your garden’s nemesis. Even the most well-cultivated garden can fall prey to pests like aphids, beetles, caterpillars, and slugs. To prevent them from ruining all your hard work and eating your harvest, it's important to stay vigilant and identify problems early. The first evidence is often chew holes. If you see them, it’s time to take action.

Natural pest repellents like neem oil or garlic can be highly effective at keeping insect invaders out, and a physical barrier like netting can also keep pests from directly accessing your plants.

Another useful tactic is companion planting, where certain types of plants are grown together to repel pests. For instance, interplanting your tomatoes with basil, dill, or marigolds will help keep hornworms and nematodes away. They can be tricky to spot because they’ll often blend it, but if you do see any tiny trespassers, be sure to pick them off.

Grab Your Gloves and Get Growing

By implementing these simple strategies, you can protect your garden from many of the factors that threaten your harvest. With the right planning (or aptly named “spadework”), supplies, a little bit of elbow grease, and a lot of TLC, you'll be able protect your plants and produce and grow a garden that’s healthy, productive, and disaster-proof.

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1 comment

Thanks for the garden advice! This will help me living in the PNW region!

Craig R Barthuly

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