Climate, the elements, and weather patterns of all kinds can have their negative impacts on greenhouses— but none is more dreaded and destructive than wind damage.
Wind damage can take many forms. From the sheer force of frontline winds to unforeseen debris carried from a storm, wind can weaken your structures, damage coverings, and set production and profits weeks and weeks behind.
One thing’s for sure: greenhouse growers should be aware of the risks that wind poses, while protecting and preventing against them as much as they can. But how? While you can’t stop storms and wind from happening, here are some of the best ways that greenhouse growers ready themselves against the inevitable while protecting their greatest growing asset of all.
Replace and repair greenhouse components regularly
The longevity of any greenhouse is dependent on maintenance. On top of building your greenhouse only with the highest quality materials, owners ought to keep a sharp eye on any components that may need replacing from wear and tear over time.
Steel supports, wood, hoops, foundation fastenings, and coverings fall under this category. Small holes or gaps in coverings, even under moderate wind pressure, can be worn out, widened, and eventually completely removed by winds— sometimes very abruptly when it’s too late.
Of course, wind can weaken and topple structural supports, too. Be sure to have some sort of building maintenance or yearly inspection planned. This is the only way to have a completely preventative safeguard for your greenhouse’s structural integrity.
Be strategic about your building site
This can have all manner of impacts on your greenhouse’s safety against wind. For example: some building sites are more vulnerable to wind than others. High altitude sites are undesirable, while it’s preferable to favor lower, more wind-protected sites instead.
If you must build in a high place, set structures on south- or east-facing slopes (if you must build on or near a slope). Greenhouses on north- or west-facing slopes, on the other hand, are at the greatest mercy of the most unpredictable and damaging winds.
Last but not least: build far away from trees or wooded areas, which can be a source of damaging debris in the event of a storm, tornado, hurricane, or other wind-related occurrence. That said, building wind breaks at strategic places and at the right distances is highly recommended.
Keep coverings tight on high tunnels and hoop houses
While this step can be tied into general maintenance and repair, checking and tightening coverings is advisable for a much more frequent basis. In fact, it should practically be routine. It’s ideal even to daily— and if not daily, then weekly— check fastenings for tightness as much as possible.
Besides wear and tear, loose coverings and side vents can quickly and easily compromise the strength of a hoop house, high tunnel, or other plastic greenhouse against winds. Plastic covered greenhouses especially should, when one can, be kept tightened and taut to the ground and frames whenever they become loose— which can be more frequent than one would expect. This can especially happen unsuspectedly after new plastic coverings are solarized, right after being implemented or replaced.
The same can be applied to glass greenhouse ventilation systems. Though these are less susceptible to wear or damage from winds, when not in use, take care to keep glass ventilation closed or tight— wind damage can still sometimes affect these!
Batten down the hatches
The most proactive method of preventing wind damage is anticipating it! Check weather forecasts and wind speeds often. Install a weather app and activate alarm notifications on your phone for when surprise wind events could be headed your way: such as tornadoes, hurricane winds, or even just strong storms.
This way, you can plan for high winds days ahead of time— or, right in the nick of time. On expected windy days, plastic coverings can be tightened or reinforced, or glass ventilation systems and ducts shut until wind speeds are calmer. When you receive weather warnings, you can also tighten coverings and close vents quickly before winds hit.
This is why sophisticated greenhouse growers may opt for smart phone technology. This technology allows you to work the functions of your greenhouse remotely through an app, monitoring or activating greenhouse vents, doors, or other components at the touch of a button— even when you’re not near your greenhouse at all.
In the case of windy days or weather warnings, this can make battening down the hatches against wind incredibly quick, easy, and in the most proficient way for complete protection of your greenhouse.
For when you can’t always protect against wind…
The reality that all greenhouse growers must face: there is no way to predict, protect, or prevent wind damage to your greenhouse 100%. Wind events can and will happen, and they may damage your structure no matter what you do— and it happens to even the most prepared and experienced of greenhouse growers out there!
The best protection possible for a greenhouse against wind? Greenhouse insurance! Even if you do all you can to stop the worst that winds bring, a greenhouse-specific insurance policy assures that you recoup all that’s lost from wind damage: whether it’s complete loss of a building, or partial damage that put your growing business or hobby behind.
With all these safeguards together, you can have the most protected greenhouse in the industry when it comes to wind damage. There’s no better set of ways to prevent it!