Get your garden ready for the next big rain I Protecting plants crucial in Kaua‘i’s super-wet climate

The rain just didn’t seem to stop last week as the water build up around Kaua‘i’s homes and roads. The floods wreaked havoc on yards and gardens, turning the ground into mud and practically drowning flower beds.

If your yard or garden has proper drainage, you might get off easy. But if you don’t, Roger Peckinpaugh of Kauai Nursery and Landscaping in Puhi said there’s really nothing you can do to save it now.

What you can do is prevent severe damage from the next deluge.

“The best thing is to plan for the next incident, because it will happen again,” he said. “Think it out and fix it.”

Pooling around the roots of plants, he said, causes a lack of oxygen to the plants. The way to fix that is to prevent water flow in areas where water will damage plants and trees.

“You direct water to naturally drain by planting with sand or make mulch rolls to put in the ground,” he said.

The mulch rolls, made of mulch wrapped in netting like Tootsie Rolls, catch silt and keep it from starving or polluting plants, he said.

All this rain is a turnaround from the tail-end of last year, when Kaua‘i hit record lows of less than two inches of rain.

Last month, we saw above-average totals with rain adding up to nearly 45 inches.

Starla Landon of the Garden Ponds Nursery in Kilauea said when the rain stops and the sun dries up all the water, that’s the best time to take the opportunity to assess the damage and what can be done to prevent it next time.

“After a flood like this is a really good time to evaluate your property,” she said. “Now you can see where you have to dig ditches. I would suggest when you do any type of garden, you restructure your drainage.”

Landon said not too many people think about that when planting gardens.

“Prepare to plant by adding sand,” she said. “Anytime you add sand to any consistency of soil, it helps with the drainage, especially since there is so much clay and red dirt here.”

Another way to protect plants is to cover them.

“You can protect baby plants or any type of flower sets by putting shade material over it,” she said. “Take some bamboo and some shade material cloth. You can stretch that over the baby plants and create a barrier so the plants don’t get beat up.”

Severe weather, such as all the rain we’ve been having, causes damage to the plants. Protecting the plants with the barrier will prevent bruising in the plant’s leaves, Landon said.

“Instead of having your garden float away, protect them,” she said. “You have to make sure that the areas that are flooded are higher (than before) so that the drainage will flow lower. Build them up, work with dirt more and work with drainage to try and get it all drained off.”

Lanaly Cabalo, lifestyle writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or lcabalo@kauaipubco.com.

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