Justin White, Landscaping Lessons│Post-storm landscaping checklist  – Santa Cruz Sentinel

Atmospheric river, El Nino and Low pressure systems are just a few of the triggers we hear on the news that remind us of the drainage problem, leaky roof, or dangerous tree that we haven’t addressed yet. Since the heaviest rain event of winter has just passed here in Santa Cruz, it is the ideal time to investigate the effects on your garden. Depending on the size of your property, the following checklist will only take a few minutes and could save you thousands in the long run.


These great friends can be the greatest risk to your home and safety. Failing limbs, uprooting trees, and cracking trunks can cause severe damage. After a storm, it’s important to inspect every tree on your property. First, make sure there are no hanging limbs to break and fall while you are doing your inspection. Next, examine the trunk and root system for cracks in the tree or the ground. Cracking or lifting soil around a tree can indicate a failure and should be checked by a certified arborist. Finally, do a scan of the canopy to make sure there are no cracked or hanging branches (binoculars are handy for tall and tall trees). Many tree and branch failures have warning signs, and right after a storm is an optimal time to assess likely problems.


We tend to forget about our underground water management systems until they stop working properly. After a downpour, you can see what worked and what didn’t in your sewer system. The first step is to look for any clogged or clogged drains. If you find a blockage, work on releasing the flow quickly. Next, make sure your downspouts are pointing in the right direction. Bad design can create additional problems. If drainage problems are not verified, it can lead to failed retaining walls, damaged siding on houses, erosion, and more. You may also find that there is standing water under your house. A French drain might be just what you need to clear the underground water from your structure. For more ideas and solutions, see the previous lessons on landscaping for drainage.

Plants and landscaping

Occasionally, planting areas can be flooded, which can damage delicate plants and flowers. Proper swallows and sorts are important to keep the water flowing out of your planted areas as sedentary water can kill your beautiful plants. You can use a dry creek bed to easily and effectively divert water to an area that won’t affect delicate greenery. A dry stream bed is a low-lying area or valley that is covered with cobblestones and sparsely mixed with water-loving plants such as Juncus or Carex grasses. This provides a stable place where water slows down and is absorbed by the bottom. Your intention should always be to hold back all of the rainwater on your property and allow it to enter the ground, recharge our aquifers, and prevent oils and debris from flowing into the storm sewers.

Hillside location and erosion

Similar to trees and branches, your slopes “talk” to you about their stability when you are ready to listen. There are often signals when your slope is becoming saturated and unstable. Some of these signs can include slight soil movement, cracks in the soil structure, water leaking from the hillside, and a concentration of runoff water in one area. Examine your slopes for these and other signs of possible erosion, and look closely at areas with sparse vegetation, e.g. B. recently burned or redesigned surfaces. If a slope has been reclassified, it should be classified as high risk and protected with a ground cover. This could include landscaping fabric, mulch, plants, or plastic, but never leave freshly tiered areas exposed to the elements.


This last storm brought with it high winds that we all know can disrupt and damage fencing. Fence boards can act as sails in the wind and put enormous strain on your fence posts. Go over the perimeter and look for tattered or loose sections. Shake the fence vigorously to check its stability. Don’t forget gates and entry ways too. Identifying these issues now can save you time and money in the future.

The honey-do list seems to get bigger and bigger after a big rain event. So take care of these important things before the next storm hits. As many of us found out this week, unexpected weather will steal our sleep, sanity and health, and in the worst case scenario, damage to our homes can occur.

Justin White is the CEO of K&D Landscaping, headquartered in Watsonville, California, and was named “Business of the Year 2020” by the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce. White is also the current president of the local chapter of the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) on the central coast. He is involved in several nonprofits across the community. For more information on landscaping, outdoor and gardening requirements, contact K&D Landscaping at kndlandscaping.com

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