CO-Horts Blog

Thursday, July 15, 2021

The Benefits of Hail Cloth

Guest Blog by: John Weiss, Master Gardener in Larimer County
Hailstorms are every gardener's fear...and nemesis!

According to the Colorado Climate Center at CSU, hail season runs from April 15 through September 15. Using hail cloth offers the gardener at least two benefits. The first benefit is obvious - to protect your vegetables from unwanted hailstorms and the potential damage they can produce. The second benefit is shade for your vegetables. Studies suggest that a small amount of shade reduces the intensity of the sunlight. Plants appreciate the shade and responses with enhanced performance.

The hail cloth I selected provides 13-15% shade and can be obtained from (but there are other businesses that sell it).  The hail cloth has a somewhat open weave that allows air movement and rain to penetrate it while keeping even small hail out. 

Close-up of the hail cloth available from; this cloth provides 13-15% shade and protects plants from small hailstones

It can be easily cut with scissors and comes in any length.  Keep in mind that the cloth will shrink over the first season so cut large enough in anticipation of the shrinkage.

Jon's raised bed with hail cloth in place.

Above is my large, raised bed with a frame to hold the hail cloth about 4’ above the center of the bed.  The frame is PVC and each vertical piece fits over rebar imbedded in the raised bed.  A wood strip on each side was added for strength.  To keep the hail cloth from blowing off the frame, PVC pipe (lying on the ground) with a 3-4’ piece of rebar (for weight) sits on the raised bed frame.  Two vertical pieces of wood (on each end) was added to keep the PVC pipe from falling off the frame (see below).

PVC, rebar, and wood hold the hail cloth in place

Hail cloth can be draped over any sort of structure, even tomato cages and will last multiple seasons. If you haven’t tried hail cloth, give it a try as it’s great insurance against unexpected hailstorms.

Don't let this happen to your tomatoes! Get some hail cloth.


  1. Nothing of value grows outside without hail cloth on my property! Of course, I've long-since abandoned my outside garden and use a greenhouse instead, but still... potted plants live under protection, as do my bonsai and so on. I use hardware cloth for my set up, though... 1/4 inch is not only capable of breaking hail stones, it's capable of simply repelling most of them.

  2. Most of our local independent garden centers carry hail cloth. Supporting local businesses keeps our tax $ and wages local.

  3. Here in Cheyenne, the hail capital, we use hardware "cloth," which is woven wire with quarter inch openings. Make a frame the size of the length and width of your raised bed and staple the hardware cloth across it. Put 2 x 4s in the corners of the raised bed and place the hail guard over them.