Preparing for El Niño

Is El Niño really coming? Well, smarter minds than us have been thinking about and working on this prediction for months. A great place to get some answers is the NOAA website. Let’s say that we will have a strong El Niño season this winter (meaning extra high winds and plenty of moisture), how can we prepare?

We’ve put together a list of things that you might want to think about while planning for our coming winter months. Get ready and be prepared!

  • Have you delayed pruning trees and large shrubs? Consider getting this work done before winter. Due to this unprecedented period of dry weather, large shrubs and trees are under stress. Their roots have shrunk due to the lack of water in the ground and may not be able to withstand high winds. In addition, if we get a great deal of rain, trees might be subject to flooding and standing water around their trunk areas. Pruning, removing a buildup of compostable material around the trunks and other maintenance is a good idea before storms hit. So it’s a good time to take care of these large friends in our gardens.
  • Gutters and leaders – If you have a source for cleaning your gutters and leaders, now is the time to get them cleaned. Check them for leaks and any repair needs so that they are ready to do their job. If a gutter can’t drain, there’s a possibility that the water may leak into your home and cascade down the walls. Try a window washing or roofing company for assistance in this task.
  • Drainage – We’re trying very hard to keep up with requests for drainage projects that clients have requested. At a minimum, make sure all your surface drain covers are free of debris and not clogged (just turn on a hose – briefly – to see if the drains work). If you have a drainage system already (one type is called a “French” drain), see if you can locate the cleanout and run a hose in it to make sure that there is no silt buildup. For trench drains (usually found in front of garage doors when the driveway ascends to the street), make sure that there aren’t leaves or other debris in the trench. The covers usually pry off or you may need a screwdriver to remove them.
  • Front and garden steps – Anything loose or slippery? They’ll only get worse. For slippery surfaces, you can try brushing the surface with a little bleach and water (test a small section first) to remove built up moss in the stone or wood. We can also help you by sealing both stone and wood surfaces (and see if there are any deck boards that are loose as well).
  • Outdoor storage and materials? We’ve had so little rain that you might want to make sure they close up tight and can keep the moisture out. You can use DampRid (, or similar products to help reduce moisture.
  • You’ll want to make sure that containers can drain. For months now all of the containers have been getting less water than usual and the drainage in them may have become blocked. When your irrigation system runs check to see that there’s a bit of water draining out the bottom. Otherwise when we get rain, they may flood and the plant root systems can rot.

We’re all looking forward to getting water for our plants, for our reservoirs and for our sanity! Let’s make sure we’re ready.