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Brandon Rushing


How to Protect Your Landscape From Extreme Weather.

Will El Niño Affect Your Landscape?

The weather has been on people’s minds this summer. Each time you turn on the news, there are reports of record-breaking heatwaves, tornadoes, hurricanes and flooding all across the country. With El Niño making an early appearance, the extreme weather conditions will only worsen. 

The best way to protect your home and landscape from extreme weather is to be prepared. 

What is El Niño?

El Niño is a natural climate pattern that occurs when the surface waters of the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean become warmer than average. This warming impacts weather patterns around the world.

In the United States, El Niño can lead to warmer and drier conditions in the northern states and wetter conditions in the southern states, including California, the Southwest, and the Gulf Coast. Some areas will experience an increased risk of drought, wildfires and heatwaves, while others could see an increased risk of flooding and heavy rainfall. 

El Niño events occur irregularly at two-to-seven-year intervals. Even though it is unpredictable, there are things you can do to help protect your property from extreme weather events.

Manage the water on your property.

Taking measures to manage the water on your property properly is one of the best ways to protect it from extreme weather events:

  • Correct drainage issues to protect against flooding — With extreme weather comes the risk of flooding. If you suspect your property has drainage issues, it’s strongly recommended that you fix them as soon as possible. Signs of possible trouble include pooling, soil erosion, soil that always seems wet and water stains on your home’s foundation. 

All of these issues can be corrected by an experienced landscaper. Drainage is the most common issue we help our clients correct, and our team can recommend many options that look as good as they work, including rain gardens, dry creek beds, French drains and more.

  • Maintain your irrigation system — If you have an older one or one in poor repair, it can be inefficient and costly to run and maintain. El Niño is unpredictable, meaning your area could be excessively wet or dry… so be prepared for both. Upgrading to a smart irrigation system is an efficient way to manage the water on your property.
  • Consider installing permeable pavers — If you plan on replacing your patio or walkways, consider permeable pavers to help water seep into the ground below instead of pouring off in sheets. If this is not feasible for your property, there are a number of ways to solve drainage issues

Keep trees, gardens and lawns healthy. 

Trees, gardens and lawns help protect your property from extreme weather events, so keeping them healthy and strong is in your best interest. All plants, including turfgrass, help stabilize the soil and prevent erosion during heavy rain or floods.

  • Choose appropriate plants for your garden. The emphasis should be on native plants since they are adapted to local conditions and better able to withstand extreme weather conditions than non-native plants.

The right plants can also provide a natural barrier against strong winds and heavy rain. Some examples include Easter red cedar, American holly, black chokeberry and switchgrass.

  • Lawns are 30ºF cooler than asphalt on hot summer days, and a healthy lawn can absorb rainfall, reducing runoff and the risk of flooding. We keep our clients’ lawns healthy by following proven lawn care basics, such as proper fertilizing, aeration, overseeding and using proper mowing techniques.
  • Healthy vegetation can absorb and store carbon dioxide, helping mitigate climate change's impacts — and the smoke from Canadian wildfires. During El Niño events, trees may be subjected to more frequent and intense storms, which can damage or uproot them. By keeping trees healthy through proper pruning, watering, and fertilization, they are better able to withstand the stress of these weather events.

If caring for your lawns and gardens is something you struggle with, we can certainly help!  

Be prepared for winter.

El Niño is responsible for some of the snowiest winters we’ve had here in Northern Virginia, so it’s fair to say this winter could have its share of snow events. Here’s a few tips to help prepare your lawn and gardens for winter.

  • Rake up leaves, sticks, and other debris from your lawn and garden beds. This will keep them from smothering the grass and eliminate the possibility of becoming airborne in heavy winds.
  • Aerate your lawn and apply a slow release fertilizer to help your lawn store nutrients for the winter. It’s also a good time to sod or seed, according to your lawn’s needs.
  • Prune any dead or damaged branches from trees and shrubs to prevent them from falling and causing damage during winter storms.
  • Apply a layer of mulch to your garden beds to help insulate the soil and protect plant roots from freezing temperatures.

If you want to safely navigate your drive and walkway when the snow hits this winter, it makes sense to consider signing up for snow and ice management too… Just in case. 

We’re here to help you weather all storms…

We’re used to unpredictable weather, and it seems it will be more unpredictable than ever this year. Even El Niño isn’t like El Niños of the past… it’s a few months earlier and stronger than “normal”. And BOTH the Pacific and Atlantic oceans are warmer than usual. 

So the best thing to do is prepare your property the best you can. If you need help with this, we can help. Our basic lawn care packages can be upgraded to help you care for all your property needs, from finding — and correcting — drainage issues to snow & ice management and installing small landscape projects.

Book a consultation with us to discuss the specific concerns you have for your yard.

Written by Brandon Rushing, Founder & President

Posted on: August 13th, 2023