How to prepare your garden for a storm

Flowers in a storm 1200x600

On visiting the UK, an American tourist once commented “it’s not that the weather in Britain is necessarily bad… it’s just that there’s so much of it.” We all know the feeling. It can be a nice and sunny fresh Autumn day one minute, when suddenly everything changes, you’re caught in a full gale and the heavens have opened with pelting rain, a hail storm or a blustery snow blizzard. Thoughts immediately turn to your outside space, where everything feels a little vulnerable to the elements. Is it all safe?

During the Winter months when the great British weather can turn on a sixpence, it is wise to make an assessment of the havoc that high winds and wet weather could cause in your outside space, so that you can be properly prepared to weather the storm. Thankfully there are some simple steps we can all take to keep the garden or outside space safe in the event of an approaching storm.

Bramblecrest Dining Set with Cover 450x2000
Bramblecrest Dining Set with cover
Securing Cover on BBQ 450x200
Securing the Velcro strap on a Weber Barbecue cover
Hartman Pergola lifestyle image 450250
Hartman Roma Pergola without curtains

Garden Furniture

Extreme weather can ruin your favourite garden furniture unless some simple steps are taken to protect it. In high winds, lighter furniture can get blown about the place or even smashed to pieces, whilst other outdoor furniture can get soaked and saturated in squally weather or drenched in a downpour, attracting mould and mildew. For more information, see our blog post on this subject: Preparing garden furniture for winter.

Stack lighter weight garden furniture such as Bramblecrest’s rattan furniture frames, somewhere that won’t be affected by the wind and rain. It is a wise precaution to weigh it down using ballast bags or weights so that it doesn’t go on the move around the garden. Bring glass-topped furniture inside as this is easily smashed in a storm. Also store Metal furniture from companies such as Hartman indoors. Cushions should be stored somewhere warm and dry, such as the attic, in a protective and breathable bag. A zip up liner from a cushion storage box is perfect for the job.

All barbecues and furniture which can be wrapped should have secure covers that are tailor-made for that exact item, so that they fit precisely. Fasten Velcro straps and toggle pulls on covers so they won’t end up taking off in a high wind.

Put away parasols or fold them down with an appropriate waterproof cover, as the wind can easily send them into next door’s garden if they aren’t stored correctly. If you have a gazebo, pergola or pagoda, ensure the roof is secure or taken down and remove side curtains.

Children’s toys

Pet and children’s toys can be blown around the garden and some will get spoilt in a soaking. Ideally, bring them indoors well in advance of bad weather. Tether trampolines with an appropriate heavy-duty anchoring kit as these can take out a fence panel (or worse) in high winds.

Fences, Doors and Gates

It is recommended to repair fence panels and rickety fence posts before poor weather comes around as fences often end up bearing the brunt of a bout of blustery periods. Posts should be concreted in rather than staked in the ground. Fences can be elevated on treated wood or concrete gravel boards to prevent water from damaging them.

Doors and gates flapping in the wind can be a major annoyance to neighbours, especially at night, and could damage the structure they are supported by. To prevent damage, secure all entrances, from garden sheds to greenhouses and garden gates. Also make sure plant pots won’t topple over and crack or get blown around. Lock utilities doors closed and stack logs soundly so that they don’t roll about in the wind.

Roofs and Windows

Repair broken window panes in greenhouses or reinforce them with wooden boards to prevent wind blowing through the greenhouse. Look out for evidence of black mould & moist patches in a shed and if discovered, check whether you have a leaky or damaged shed roof or window which needs repairing.

Grozone Clear Cloche 450x450
Grozoneโ€™s Clear Cloche protects small plants and seedlings
Tom Chamber Deluxe Bird Feeding Station
Tom Chambersโ€™ Deluxe Bird Feeding Station anchors bird feeders
Gardena Wall Mounted Hose Box 450x450
Gardenaโ€™s Hose Box keeps a garden hose stored tidily

Plants

Seedlings and delicate small plants can be damaged by downpours, high winds, or cold weather, whilst it is the roots and stems of more mature plants that might have trouble riding out a storm.

The Grozone clear cloche is a great solution for protecting smaller plants. This controls the ventilation and humidity that the plant receives, acting like a mini greenhouse. The cloche will protect the plant from wind, whilst heavy rain is directed to area around the plant. As it is tethered into the ground it won’t move in the wind.

Larger plants can be tied back and reinforced with plant supports or bamboo canes to offer a little extra strength to the stems. Tie the stem to the stake with twine every few inches for maximum support. if a cold snap is coming, exotic plants need to be wrapped with protective jackets to keep them sheltered and shielded from the cold.

Birds and wildlife

In stormy weather birds may not be able to find food, especially ground feeders like Blackbirds, Thrushes and Robins. When the ground is frozen or waterlogged ground feeding birds will not have access worms, so ground feeding trays are a great idea to keep ground feeders nourished through bad weather. Place them in an open and visible location away from cover to deter natural predators. They can be topped up with all types of bird feed, including: seed mix, peanut bites, sunflower seeds, peanuts, suet treats, mealworm and fat balls.

For other birds, hanging bird feeders should be filled and hung from somewhere sturdy such as a bird feeding station to ensure they are secure in high winds. It’s a good idea to keep them somewhere open and visible so they are easier to monitor and top up when necessary. Regular feeding will encourage regular visitors to the garden.

We sell a range of wildlife products to help animals weather a storm or cold snap, from hedgehog houses to squirrel picnic tables, which are easy to use and may just deter them from stealing from your bird feeders or digging up your bulbs.

Garden equipment

Garden equipment needs some attention to ride out a storm. To prevent hosepipes making bald patches on the lawn store them in either a hose bracket, hose hanger, hose reel, hose box or hose trolley. Covering an outside tap with bubble wrap will prevent it from cracking in cold weather. Gather up leaves with the help of a leaf rake, leaf blower or leaf vacuum as leaves can blow around the garden and if leaves are left on a lawn will prevent thegrass from breathing, damaging the lawn. Secure or remove outdoor mirrors and clocks whilst solar lights should be staked in deeply to ensure they don’t fall over.

Whatever the weather throws at you, make sure your outdoor space is fully prepared to survive a storm or hack it in a hurricane.

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