How to weather the storm

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As winter quickly approaches, there’s a high likelihood that El Niño will bring above normal rain to California. While I have learned over the years not to count on weather predictions until they are proven, we are receiving many inquiries about how to prepare for a windy and rainy winter, should it arrive. Here are some things you can do to prepare:

  • Assess the health of large trees and shrubs, especially those hanging over structures. If you are at all concerned about trees and shrubs, you may want to have a licensed arborist assess them.
  • Hillsides and slopes that are newly planted (or barren of plants), may need erosion control netting and mulch applied.
  • During the drought, many soils have become compacted and may repel water when rains begin. Using an aeration tool to punch small holes in the soil will allow water to percolate into the ground. This will especially help avoid puddling in low lying areas in the garden.
  • Container plants may become waterlogged if rains are persistent. You may want to consider moving them under eaves of the house or another covered area. You may also want to remove saucers from underneath pots until the spring, to avoid the plants sitting in water for long periods.
  • Taller container plants will be subject to blowing over in high winds. Place them in areas that are more protected from the prevalent winds, or loosely attach them to sturdy structures (railings, posts, fences or walls). If you display potted plants on deck railings, take them down for the winter.
  • If you have sown wildflower seed or other seed crops, you should apply a heavier layer of mulch to keep the seeds in place during heavy rains.
  • Attach corrugated tubing to downspouts to direct rain water away from your house and into the garden. You may also want to look into rain barrels or other water storage devices to capture the rain for use later next year.
  • Prune or pull weeds now, before the rains. If weeds are allowed to go to seed, heavy rains can spread the seeds throughout your garden, making for a weed-filled spring.

Regardless of what happens this winter, you can ensure that your garden has the best opportunity to “weather the storm” with these simple steps.

Thanks for choosing to garden with us.

Dave Stoner, President

Sloat Garden Center

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