Over the past few months, the UK has seen a ridiculous amount of intemperate weather. Storm Debi marks the nation's fourth named storm of the season, following intense spells of rain from the preceding storms, Babet and Ciarán. Even one of the best umbrellas won't be enough to shelter you from how horrid the conditions have been. However, one thing you can do is protect your garden...
We spoke to Samantha Richards, garden gazebo expert at Gazeboshop, who's provided some wonderful advice about the measures Brits can take now to prevent any further damage from being caused. She said “Given the damage from Storms Babet and Ciarán, your garden will already be in a state of recovery from the heavy rain and wind damage. Adding in extra layers of protection now will be vital to help keep your garden intact ahead of the worsening weather conditions that Storm Debi will bring.”
Keep reading to find out what you can to protect your garden during the stormy weather conditions, and how to prevent further damage. However, before you do, have you had a look at our other winter maintenance guides? If not, check out the 4 essential garden jobs to do before winter arrives, 6 top tips to get your garden winter ready and the 6 items you should never keep in your shed over winter.
1. Anchor outside structures
Flying trampolines, washing lines and bins are not uncommon during a storm. Any loose objects in your garden can simply be swept away if a gust of wind is strong enough, which is why it's vital for anything that isn’t fixed in place to be weighed down.
This also includes sheds and greenhouses as they can become a serious hazard to property and people if parts of the material are blown away. Before the weather deteriorates, now is a good time to check for any damage or faults in your garden structures and make the necessary repairs.
2. Protect your plants
If you have spent time over the course of the year growing plants and carefully curating your garden, the last thing you want is for a storm to come and ruin your hard work. For this reason, it’s well worth investing in some burlap, or tying cloth over any delicate blooms to guard them against the stormy weather conditions.
If you don’t want to take any chances, bringing your potted plants indoors. This can be a greenhouse or porch, as long as it's a dry space. If you are worried about waterlogging, then raising potted plants onto feet by using bricks is a good way to prevent this.
For plants that you are unable to move or cover easily, getting them in the best shape possible is recommended for the greatest chance of survival. This can be done by pruning your plants just before the storm hits to ensure there are no loose branches that can easily snap off in heavy winds.
3. Check drainage systems
As we saw over the last few weeks, heavy rainfall brings a higher chance of flooding and that can pose serious problems for your lawn’s health if the excess water is left to sit for extended periods of time.
There are a few things you can do now to reduce the risk of flooding such as ensuring all the drainage systems in your garden are clear and working properly. This involves checking and clearing any debris from your gutters, as well as aerating your lawn before the rain comes by spiking holes into the soil with a garden fork.
4. Pack away outdoor furniture
Make sure if you do have any packable items like outdoor garden furniture or gazebos you store them away in a secure shed or garage as they have the potential to damage property and smash windows if left open in a storm because of how light they are.
The same goes for any hanging items like baskets of flowers, or any more delicate ornaments in your garden. If you are particularly precious about anything that typically stays outside all-year round, then it's best to take it down (if possible) and store it inside over the coming days.
5. Inspect the trees near your property
During the recent storms, we’ve seen nearby trees fall and smash into houses causing expensive repairs but more importantly, pose a danger to lives. For this reason, it’s worth making the time to quickly inspect the trees surrounding your property.
Some signs to look out for are dead branches, splits in the wood and roots rising up out of the ground. If you are surrounded by trees and are especially worried about one falling, then consider getting in touch with a tree surgeon to get a professional opinion.
6. Secure fences
After the last storm, it's more than likely that your fences have been damaged slightly or even uprooted. If you do notice that your fence is leaning over or isn’t quite standing upright, this is a clear sign that it’s a vulnerable position ahead of more stormy weather.
If your fences aren’t looking very stable, it’s worth adding in some extra support to ensure they don’t come loose and fall down. As a short term fix you can bolt another post against the loose fence to increase its stability, but if there’s serious damage then you should consider replacing the fence entirely.
7. Leave your lawn alone
If the heavy rain has already begun or your lawn is waterlogged from the previous storm, the best thing to do is keep off your grass as much as possible, allowing it every opportunity to drain.
Walking over a lawn that’s waterlogged will force the air out of the soil and when this eventually dries, it will be heavily packed together which can lead to stunted growth in spring. Damaging soil and grass blades can also lead to fungal lawn diseases, so we wouldn’t advise mowing your lawn during heavy rain either.
Check out 6 of the best lawn care tips for autumn and winter if you're interested.