Hail Protection and Excessive Drainage

Asked February 19, 2020, 4:49 PM EST

Hi. I live in Castle Pines in a new-build neighborhood; therefore native plants are gone/need to be added back in. We love to grow tomatoes and basil (historically) and are planning to build some raised flower and food garden beds in the backyard. Our backyard is full sun, but we had many hail days during last summer. I have 2 questions.
1. What is the best hail protection for plants? Is it a physical barrier like a structurally supported tarp/greenhouse type cover, or the anti-hail netting I've seen on line? 2. best bee-attracting shrub and small trees recommendation for heavy drainage areas that get lots of water 8 inches below the clay?


Douglas County Colorado

1 Response

A physical barrier is usually the best option for hail protection. If using a
anti-hail netting/"shade cloth", make sure it is rated at no more than 30% shade for most vegetable plants (supported by cages or hoops and secured). I have found this effective for most hail situations in the past. As you mentioned, structurally supported greenhouse type cover that is UV treated is an option as well. Other options include floating row covers (very light, small hail protection) and hardware cloth. Cost and longevity of materials may play a factor, so the choice is yours. Here is an excerpt from the Nebraska extension:

Hail Protection

If your garden tends to be damaged by hail, such as in central and western Nebraska, you can reduce injury to your tomato plants by covering the top of each cage with half-inch hardware cloth. Place a square of the hardware cloth on top of each cage and bend the corners down to secure it to the sides of the cage. Using both nylon netting around the cage and hardware cloth on top greatly reduces hail damage from early summer storms.

Here is a link for some native plant options for the Front Range of Colorado:

https://extension.colostate.edu/docs/pubs/native/FrontRangeSm.pdf


A nice bee attracting shrub for wet areas to consider is Mock Orange Philadelphus coronarius ‘Aureus’. You may also consider dogwoods. Small trees like willows tolerate high water areas. I have included the following links that has a chart of shrubs and trees with water needs as well as other helpful information :

https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/deciduous-shrubs-7-415/

https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/small-deciduous-trees-7-418/

There is an abundance of information at https://extension.colostate.edu/publications-2/ if you would like to peruse additional information on a variety of topics.