Keep Severe Weather from Doing a Number on Your Yard

By Bob Walsmith Jr.
2022 President
Santa Barbara Association of Realtors

Mother Nature can wallop anyone’s home and yard with severe weather. If you experience events like drought, flooding, high winds, or other uninvited elements, your yard may lose some of its curb appeal. If severe weather is persistent or paired with deficient maintenance, it can set your yard back years.

It may be time to rethink your ideas about traditional yards and landscaping. Consider new ideas that will stand up to new challenges but still leave you enough time to enjoy your yard – and your life. Here are some tips to get you started.

Counteract Drought Devastation

Continuous lack of water is a serious threat to cultivated plants. Drought slows plant growth, affects the structures of plants, makes them more susceptible to disease, and can even deep-six entire root systems.  
Unless you want to relive the Dust Bowl, understand that drought can have a negative impact on soil. If you’re in a drought situation, you’re exposing the soil to the sun. Soil will bake, dry up, and turn to dust. Pesticides in the dust will be dispersed through the air.

To thrive, grass lawns need to quaff at least one inch of water weekly. If your home is in an area gripped by frequent drought, consider installing artificial turf (AstroTurf is one type). It will help conserve water and put a damper on grass fires.

Another option: Use drought-resistant plants or mulch on the land to protect the soil and allow the soil biome to thrive. One other possibility is edible landscapes, including blueberry bushes. Blueberries can be planted from the South to far North and thrive in many different and even harsh conditions. There’s receptivity to new ideas about how to cover your land, which are old ways that predate the arrival of lawn mowers to cut your grass.

Secure Your Yard from High Winds

Gusts strong enough to propel Dorothy back to the Emerald City seem more common these days. As threatening as they may be to houses and cars, those gusts are also no friend of your landscaping. Strong sustained winds can rip smaller plants from the ground. After a windstorm, distribution of leaves, pine needles, and small branches, as well as large fallen trees, can make your yard look like a disaster zone.

Even milder winds can accelerate soil erosion. That’s destructive to landscaping and brings slower growth.

Landscape experts urge several steps. Prune trees and bushes of loose or dead branches. Before an impending storm, tie down any other loose foliage, and secure furniture or decorations, which can be blown around your lot as well. Think about planting fewer ornamental shrubs or trees and avoid trees that are easily uprooted by heavy winds. Even ponder cutting down a few trees and foliage vulnerable to high winds.

Prepare Your Yard for Extreme Heat

Statistics suggest the weather pattern most deadly for humans is extreme heat. It can be just as lethal to the yards of humans. This weather pattern can cause loss of foliage, dormant lawns, stressed shrubs and trees, and insect and disease infestations.

To keep your lawn green despite the heat, replacing some areas with water-wise plantings will make your yard more tolerant. Possibilities include Spanish lavender, African daisy, aloes, pride of Madeira, rockrose, and Juniper.

Pruning dead or infected limbs will keep plant diseases from spreading to the healthy parts of your yard. Detect infected plants by spotting abnormal growth or appearance of disease-causing organisms such as insect larvae or bacterial slime. Leaves are also visibly yellow leaves with white blotches, and the stems may become a bit mushy.

Bottom line? Make the time and money you spend on your yard a strong investment against severe weather. Preventive landscaping can help ensure your yard stays green. That could also save you some green by fixing problems that could have been avoided.

Bob Walsmith Jr. is a native to Southern California and a Realtor® with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in Santa Barbara. During his work with the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors, Bob has served on the CORE Committee, Education Committee, been Chair of the Budget & Finance Committee, and the Multiple Listing Service Committee. He also is on the Board of Directors of the Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara. Bob lives in Goleta with his beautiful wife Julie. When not working, Bob enjoys playing golf, fine wine, fine dining, and walking our beautiful coastline. Bob can be reached at 805.720.5362 and/or


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