Wind can adversely affect your plants in many ways and wind damage can take many forms. Broken branches and toppled trees are the most noteworthy effects and are often the topic of news broadcasts during windy spells. Other less noticeable types of damage include dried out soil, sprinkler overspray, and the loss of young plants. We in Southern California have a very special type of wind called the Santa Anas and as anyone who has lived here for a while knows they can be very detrimental.
Santa Ana winds are extremely dry offshore winds that usually hit Southern California in the late fall and winter. The worst part for us is that is also wildfire season, so those winds fan the flames and often take a small brush fire or even a spark and turn it into an inferno. With this in mind, it is important to remember to clear brush away from your home as early in the year as possible to reduce your risks.
There are a few things that you can do during a windy spell to keep your plants in the best shape possible.
Keep potted plants well watered, especially the small pots. They will less likely tip over or blow away if they are watered because they are heavier.
Stake new trees and shrubs properly. A row of trees or shrubs that you are growing into a screen will eventually be great protection, but while they grow to protect your landscape you need to protect them.
You can create small, protected recesses within windy areas on a slope or flat ground. Dig pockets for your plants then surround the plants with stones or rocks.
Protect the soil from drying out with a layer of mulch (another reason to mulch!)
You can also select plants that do well in the wind. Here are some suggestions that do well in Southern California.
Crape Myrtle, conifers, ornamental grasses, Lagunaria patersonii (Primrose Tree), most Melaleucas, many Pittosporums, Arbutus unedo (strawberry bush), ceanothus, dodonea (Hopseed Bush), Nandina (Heavenly Bamboo), Westringia fruiticosa (Coast Rosemary), Penstemon, Salvia, Day Lily and many more.
Take some time to assess your property because we’re getting closer to Santa Ana time, and you’ll want to be prepared!
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