Hail doesn't seem to strike very often, but when it does, gardeners cringe. The thought of looking at their gardens the following day can be daunting, knowing that some plants must have suffered a bit of damage. Before a hail storm has the chance to strike in your back yard, take a few minor precautions to limit the damage. Being prepared is key, not all weather reports will know when hail is likely to strike, so be ready for impromptu work.
Remember, even the smallest hail has the ability to tear holes through plant leaves and knock new growth down.
Hail protection basics
Start by putting some new soil around the base of your plant. This will reinforce the strength of the plant's stem, allowing it to stay upright in strong winds. The extra soil will also make it less susceptible to damage from heavy rains.
Next, try and collect any large pots, buckets or pans that you are not using currently. Right before a hail storm, place these over your most delicate plants, or those you prize. Place a stone on top of the buckets so they won't fall over in the wind. Be sure that your buckets are tall enough to properly encapsulate the plant without stressing or bending any limbs. This is also a great option for any of your potted plants that you don't have time to collect and bring inside, like the Golden Glow arrangement on your doorstep.
For plants that are growing up alongside a fence, like a clematis or any other climbing flower, buckets will not suffice. Protect these delicate blooms by leaning tall sheets of wood or cardboard against the fence. This should offer all the protection you need. If these plants are not growing on a wall but on a trellis, make a tepee shape instead with two pieces of wood.
For a large and lush garden bed that is not compatible with buckets, take for instance a large bed of daisies, you will want to place stakes in the bed that are higher than the tallest blooms. Keep these stakes in the garden bed all summer long to make hail preparations all the swifter. Atop these stakes you should drape a tarp or any other large sheet. Secure the tarp with large stones atop each corner. This will protect against most hail, but if the sheet is thin, it may not be strong enough to combat larger stones.
After the storm has safely passed, remove all the protection from your plants so that they can enjoy the good weather.