Protecting Your Garden from Wind Damage

April 5, 2010
By Holly Deyo

Breezes in your garden are important for pollinating plants and circulating air keeps leaves and roots healthy. However too much wind can shred leaves, break stems and branches and in worst cases, saw off tender plants at dirt level.

For over a week now, we've dealt with hellish wind that is wearing on nerves and plants alike. One casualty: 70mph gusts blew down a newly framed apartment building (see article below) and threw heaps of dirt into the air. Normally blue skies turned an unhealthy, murky brown. You know it's bad when even "working dogs" don't want to venture outside for bathroom breaks and daily walks.

They weren't the only ones to suffer. Newly planted romaine with their long slender leaves were pummeled by this force of nature. However, damage was easily prevented with the help of a frost blanket.

This photo is of the city of Pueblo and we live in a neighboring rural community to the west. Many of our roads aren't paved and Pueblo was the unhappy recipient of our dirt.

Photo: High winds Thursday kick up dust and dirt, obscuring the landscape around Pueblo including the Comanche power plant.

Since wind in this area comes mostly from the north and west, we attached a barrier cloth on those sides only. This was easy to do since our "lettucey-type" plants are protected by hardware mesh wire. Without a wire fence, jack rabbits and cottontails would make short work of these ready-made salads. By covering only two sides, it still allowed in the sun on the south and west. The fabric literally went up in 3 minutes by clipping the material about every 8" with clothes pins.

NOTE: Doubled over landscape fabric and Sunblocker material with a tight weave (50% and smaller) also work well as wind barriers.

After the fabric was in place, I gave the lettuces a gentle overhead drink.

Excessive wind can quickly dehydrate plants and watering their leaves does two things: It more quickly re-hydrates them since water travels through both leaves and roots, and it removes suffocating dust that clogs leaf pores. Plants with dusty leaves is like breathing through a face mask. It makes them work harder when they need to put their energy into root growth and plant structure.

Normally the idea is to keep most water off leaves since it can promote disease – especially in humid areas. It can sunburn young tender leaves when water droplets act as a magnifying glass and intensify the sun's rays. At this time of year the sun is still at a low angle so it's not a problem.

If winds are prolonged, check seedlings often to see if they need more water.

A week later, the protective fabric is still in place since three more days of high wind is forecast. Plants, people and pups will all be glad to see it leave!

April 2, 2010
The Denver Post

An apartment building under construction collapsed Thursday afternoon amid wind gusts up to 70 mph.

Six workers were on the second story inside, and two suffered injuries characterized as non-life-threatening by the Pueblo Fire Department. (another article reported they had broken bones)

The building in the 3100 block of Spaulding Avenue on Pueblo's northwest side collapsed at 1:38 p.m. Thursday.

Each of the building's two floors was about 4,500 square feet, and the structure did not yet have a roof, according to the Fire Department.

The cost of the damage has not yet been estimated.

Photo: 70 mph gusts were reported before the collapse; two workers were hurt. Workers look on after high winds caused a portion of the framing of an apartment building under construction to collapse Thursday afternoon.