Stormy weather - Kaipara Coast Plant Centre Newsletter 28th July 2008.

It has been a very wild weekend, with more bad weather forecast, so a good time to send out a newsletter covering Storms, and what to do before during and after.

I am also speaking from experience, as when I sat down to write this newsletter I happened to notice that a 15 year old Eucalyptus tree had blown down crushing one of our water tanks. My first piece of advice here is make sure you position large trees,(especially shallow rooted gums and cypresses), away from buildings, water tanks and structures. And if you do have one close, chop them down before they get too large!

Fortunately the rest of the Plant Centre avoided serious damage, mainly due to us having planted plenty of trees over the years which now help break up the wind. We also took a number of preventative measures on Friday before the storm hit.



Plant Shelter trees – ideally a couple of rows thick. Shelter trees are effective for 10x their height, so a 5m high shelter belt will provide shelter for up to 50m. The best shelter belts let around 50% wind through, as this breaks up and slows down the wind.

Make sure you have plenty of culvert pipes and drains.

Make sure excess runoff water from hills, neighbours etc is directed away from your plants, as excessive water can make the ground excessively wet. Often a shallow 5-10cm drain will make a huge difference.

Clear out Drains and culvert pipes before the storm hits. Clear out branches, roots or other obstructions that may slow down water flow before wet weather hits.

Remove, secure or lay down Garden Ornaments, pots, BBQs tables etc from Decks and outdoor areas.


Check for blockages during the storm, as often pipes can block due to leaves or debris being washed in. Be extremely careful when working around drains, rivers and culverts –a rule of thumb is that if the water is over your ankles don’t venture in!

Don’t work under or around trees when high winds are blowing.

Don’t work at the base of a hill (I narrowly missed being buried alive a few years ago cleaning out a drain at the bottom of a hill when the hill slipped!).


As soon as the weather abates check for damage, and make sure everything at your place is safe. Look up and make sure there are no branches hanging up or trees fallen over.

Clear out any culverts or drains that may be blocked.



Storms with strong winds from an unusual direction always do a lot of damage as trees grow their root structures to cope with the prevailing wind, and so aren’t as well prepared for wind from a different direction. Combine that with wet soils that are like porridge in texture and you can guarantee that there will be some trees that have stood up to many storms in the past, that just won’t make it when a storm of this magnitude comes around.’

This is all part of the natural cycle of things, but always a bit sad when a favourite tree comes down, but this also creates a good opportunity to start again.


After a storm check any plantings that you may have done in the last few years. Damage on bigger trees may have to be cleared up by a qualified arborist.

Smaller young trees may have been blown over, or have gone around and around in the soil.

If it looks like the trees may survive, The first thing to do is to cut the trees in half, leaving just a few leaves on over the tree.

The second thing to do is stand the tree upright and firm the soil around the roots. Often building up soil around the base of the tree can reduce young trees rocking in the future. You can also stake the tree at this point, however this isn’t essential. Over the years I have rescued a number of trees that have blown around in the wind by using this method.


Here at Kaipara Coast Plant Centre we have a wide range of shelterbelt trees available. We have a range of sizes and varieties to suit all needs, preferences and budgets. The best option is to come up to the Plant Centre and let us help you select the best shelter trees for your needs.

CONTACT US: on 09 420 5655, email:

Kaipara Coast Plant Centre -09 420 5655, open 7 days 9am to 5pm, 1481 Kaipara Coast Highway, Kaukapakapa.

Questions or comments? E-mail us at or call 09 420 5655