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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Protect Landscapes Against El Niño

With the possibility of record-breaking precipitation this winter, experts say now is the time to take
action by preparing yards against El Niño storm damage.

Heavy rainfall has the potential to cause major devastation, run-off and even mudslides. Highly saturated soils make it hard for plants to survive. In wet soil, it is almost impossible for roots to take up all the oxygen that the plant needs, which causes the roots to decay. Deep roots are the first to rot. If the condition continues shallower roots will also be damaged.

Even plants that don't appear to be flooded may have problems during extended wet weather. And you may not see the damage until next summer. One of the best defenses for your winter landscape is to make sure you have healthy, well-drained soil.
Horticulturists suggest the following tips on how to prevent run-off and yard damage:
  • Since good drainage is extremely important to plant health, pre-storm chores should include clearing a place for the rain water to go - clearing weeds from the run-off ditches in yards as well as cleaning out rain gutters and spouts.  
  • Amend compacted soil with compost. Adding a few inches of compost to hard, dry soil will open soil, increasing water holding capacity, improving drainage and decreasing runoff.
  • Opt for six-packs of groundcover plants as they have larger, more mature roots (beneficial on sloped areas)
  • Save top-heavy plants, such as ice plants, for flat areas since they tend to become water-logged and uproot on hillsides during heavy rains
  • New landscaping may need additional care during storms
  • Rocks can prevent run-off by stopping pathways of rainwater
  • Prune trees before storms happen as strong rain storms can cause dead branches to fall and damage property
  • Plants that have fibrous roots, such as California wild lilac, are ideal to plant for controlling erosion
  • Hemp nets can help keep seeds and new grass in place on hillsides during heavy rain
  • Newly created slopes will need to be covered with plastic from top to bottom as they tend to have unstable soil

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