The prospect of a La Niña winter brought a twinge of nervousness to climate scientists, farmers and property owners alike. La Niña on the West Coast typically brings dry weather in the south and wet weather in the north, meaning that the existing drought conditions in Southern California could be exacerbated by a lack of moisture. So how has this weather phenomenon played out, and what does it mean for your landscaping?
The Reality of La Niña
As with all weather events, La Niña isn’t exactly predictable. Anyone who experienced recent winter flooding and mudslides in Southern California can attest to that. Though the 2016-2017 winter season was supposed to be rather dry, a “weak” La Niña delivered more moisture than expected. In fact, the weather has been so wet that in many parts of Southern California, this La Niña season almost doubled the rainfall totals seen during last year’s disappointing El Niño.
Clearly, predicting the weather, especially over the course of months rather than days, is difficult, and though this weak La Niña has once again pulled the rug out from under climate science’s predictions, that doesn’t mean the drought is over. In fact, the rapid rainfall and resulting environmental fallout poses its own set of problems, especially for landscaping.
What La Niña Means For Your Landscape
When it comes to individual landscapes, the biggest concern with La Niña typically has to do with a lack of moisture, but it’s a bit different this time around. If you’ve already got your landscape set up to deal with the drought, the influx of rain coming in this year could mean some disruption to xeriscaping and other landscaping arrangements that aren’t built to cope with large amounts of water. Expect some soil, rock and sand erosion as a result of the rainfall, and be prepared to put everything back in its place when the weather dries out.
On the other hand, having a traditional trees-and-lawn landscape setup doesn’t necessarily put you in the clear. Erosion can still be a problem, especially if your landscape is already waterlogged. Your best bet is to let nature take its course and call in some professional assistance when this weird winter weather finally dissipates.