In winter 2013-14 there were 12 major storms and winter 2015-16 was named the second wettest season for 20 years. This year (2020) we have been hit with three storms (Storm Ciara, Dennis and Ellen) in a month which ended in destruction to many of our gardens. With high winds and storms becoming more regular in the UK, it may be prudent to weatherproof our gardens. Items such as water butts and composters are not always built to withstand extreme gales. So, how do we carry on our sustainable garden activity through bad weather?
With modern technology, we are lucky enough to know a bad storm is on its way days or weeks prior. ‘Michael Fish moments’ are now longer as common due to scientific advances and better weather tracking. The best way to prepare is to acknowledge any damage left from the last incident to find your garden’s weaknesses and to plan for all eventualities.
- Have a bucket or beaker on hand that you can use to collect the excess rainwater that may come through your roof.
- Remove leaves from gutters to reduce the risk of blockages, or install a Hedgehog Gutter Brush to stop leaves getting in. Make sure you do not scale a ladder in high winds.
- Check your garden shed doors and windows are closed properly.
- Invest in a large broom to enable you to sweep away excess water, dirt and debris.
- Work out where the lowest parts of your land are (where the water pools during heavy rainfall) and have a plan in place for where you are going to move the water to using a drain away system or make deep scores in the lawn to help with drainage.
- Secure anything you can, to the floor or against walls. This is where water butts such as the 160L Terracottage help as they are screwed into brick walls.
- Make sure your water butt is pushed against a wall to protect it. If it is new or has been recently emptied, add some water to weight it down and keep it in place.
- Cut back trees to avoid fallen branches.
- If you’re able, move composters against walls or inside garages and sheds.
- If your garden is walled or surrounded by fencing, place a wind break around new plants and young trees.
Sometimes during a storm there are a few hours where the gales calm down slightly, in this time, assess damage and see if there is anything that needs addressing.
- Firstly, check for danger and do not head outside if the news has said to stay indoors.
- Drain some water from your water butt if it has been raining to keep the weight in but to not let it overflow.
- Bring anything indoors that has come loose or blown over.
This is the time to take stock of what is still standing and what needs fixing.
- If you need to, wear some wellies and heavy-duty gloves if you need to pick anything up or touch anything that you could get splinter from.
- If your fence panels bore the brunt, ask a landscape gardener or fencer their opinion as this will probably happen again.
- Maybe your lawn became waterlogged, digging a trench and fitting a drainpipe to help with ground drainage is a solution. You can also add grit and sand to new lawn to break up clay soils which can help with waterlogging. Making deep scores and holes in your lawn during the early winter/late autumn will make sure rain runs off.
- If hanging baskets flew around your garden, bring them inside the moment there is a storm warning.
- Clear away any debris and put any green waste into your composter.
- Use this opportunity to evaluate your garden, if gaps are left maybe this is a great opportunity to plant something new?
- Drain your water butt, ready for new rainfall especially if some is forecast.
- Look after your turf and lawn after a stormy onslaught and feed your grass with natural fertilisers.
Winter can be a time for extreme weather in the UK and gardens can go through a lot during this season. The right amount of preparation and forethought will make sure any serious destruction can be planned for or avoided. Safety is the highest priority so always make sure you trim any branches to avoid trees falling and bring anything loose inside. Being ready means rebuilding will be easier.
See our full garden and rainwater harvesting systems on Water Butts Direct.