With temperatures having dropped across the country over the past few weeks, it's important to prepare our gardens for the cold weather as much as possible. Garden equipment is by no means cheap, and if it’s not maintained and stored correctly over the winter months, items can be damaged easily.
We've already looked at the 4 essential winter household checks and 4 essential winter garden jobs, but did you know there are certain items that just shouldn't be kept outside at all? To help, Samantha Richards, garden gazebo expert at Gazeboshop, has given her advice on garden storage over the colder months and the exact items to prioritise.
Keep reading to find out the 7 common items in your garden to pack away now, otherwise you may be facing some hefty repair costs.
1. Garden furniture
Although outdoor furniture is designed to live outside and often labelled weatherproof, a light spot of rain is a completely different situation to freezing temperatures and strong winds. Not all the parts can withstand weather conditions in the same way, such as cushions and synthetic rugs, which will need to be cared for and stored differently compared to the metal frame and chairs.
Now that hosting is over until the weather warms up, it’s safest to bring as much of it as you can inside. If this isn’t possible, protecting the bulkier items with a durable cover that’s weighted to the ground will mean the whole set is more likely to survive winter.
In stormy weather, gazebos should be taken down and packed away to prevent damage to the gazebo itself, and your property if it blows away. A shed or garage is the best place to store a gazebo, but for those with less space, consider purchasing a waterproof cover or storage chest to shield it from the elements.
If you plan to keep the gazebo up throughout winter, ensure you check for any signs of wear and tear now, and also tighten any loose screws before the cold creeps in. Freezing temperatures and snow can add extra weight and stress to the framework and fabric, potentially causing structural damage. You should also ensure your gazebo is sufficiently grounded by adding weights or anchors.
3. Lawn mower
Not taking care of your lawn mower in general is an expensive mistake, let alone over winter when it’s wet and cold and even more susceptible to damage.
A shed or garage is the best option for storing a lawn mower because of its size, but make sure it isn't too damp. To reduce the chances of damp corroding your mower, place it away from other gardening equipment with enough room either side, and ideally not up against the shed wall where damp typically forms.
For those without a garage or shed, the next best thing is to purchase waterproof tarpaulin and cover the mower to protect it.
4. Outdoor plants
With temperatures creeping below zero, certain plants in your garden will need some extra care if they are to outlive winter. Whilst cold-hardy perennials are fine, the more tender ones will need to be lifted and moved inside away from the frost.
If you have a greenhouse or porch area, utilise this space to not only reduce harm to the more tender plants, but your plant pots too. Shielding them from strong wind and freezing temperatures will prevent your favourite pots from cracking and breaking.
5. Garden hose
One garden item often forgotten about when it comes to winter is the garden hose. If the cold weather causes the hose to freeze over, there’s a good chance the hose will crack, leaving it unusable for your watering jobs when it warms up again.
When temperatures drop below freezing, empty all the water from the hose, wrap it up and move it to a dry place. If you are struggling for storage space, a good alternative is to buy a hose hanger, which can be purchased online and in most garden stores. The hanger will prevent the hose from being fully covered in any snow or ice on the ground, and mean it’s less likely to freeze and crack.
Although you can still grill in winter, most of us won't be any time soon. To ensure your barbecue fires back up in the summer, it’s vital you store it properly now. Cooking on a rusty grill will contaminate your food and may even pose health risks, which won’t earn you any hosting points.
If you don’t have room for your BBQ inside a garage or shed, try to find a dry space outside which is shielded from the wind and rain. Also, keep it anchored to the ground so it doesn’t blow over and get damaged - or worse, damage anything else on your property in the process.
7. Grass trimmer
For any keen gardeners who were gifted a strimmer over Christmas, you will need to wait until the weather dries up before you can start trimming and shaping your lawn. Before storing it away, make sure you have removed any dirt and debris and that it's unplugged by the mains or the battery is removed.
Whether your strimmer is corded or battery powered and cordless, it should still be stored inside where it’s dry. The ideal storage position for a strimmer is to be hung upright on a wall, in your shed or garage for instance. If this isn’t an option for you, then simply laying the strimmer horizontally on a work surface out of harm's way will be sufficient.
If you're interested in more, check out the 6 items you should never keep in your shed over winter.