How to storm-proof your garden
Storm Christoph is upon us, with parts of the UK predicted to see two months’ worth of rainfall in two-and-a-half days.
“We’re seeing an increase of these small, little storms throughout the year,” says designer and landscaper Mark Gregory, managing director of Landform Consultants. “We never used to get as many a decade ago – there’s obviously a weather pattern emerging.”
With this in mind, many of us will be thinking about how we can best protect our gardens from heavy wind and rain.
To really look after your outdoor area, it’s better to do long-term planning, rather than any quick fixes. Gregory says: “Everything needs to be managed, and it’s only when storms come that people realise they haven’t managed it.”
If you’re looking to future-proof your garden against storms, it’s worth considering these areas…
Take care of trees
This is particularly important in smaller gardens, where trees might be hanging over the boundaries.
To make sure trees don’t wreak havoc during a storm, Gregory advises lightening them, lifting the crowns and taking out dead wood.
Even if a tree is protected, he suggests getting in touch with your local council if you feel like it’s posing a danger. “Don’t be frightened – just because a tree’s protected – to actually look at the possibility of a crown reduction,” he says, “but that will take months to do – it’s not overnight.”
Bolster your fencing
“Most of our winds come from the west, we don’t get much storm from the south, so look at your north-westerly boundaries and see how you can improve them,” is Gregory’s top piece of advice.
Whether you’re putting in new fencing or replacing what you have, he says: “Think from a longevity point of view,” and recommends you bolster the specifications of fences, or put concrete spurs in.
“Typically, the fences that are put on very modern urban housing is very cheap and cheerful,” he says, so it’s worthwhile looking for more robust designs. Alternatively, you can design your fencing in a way that wind can pass through, so it won’t topple over in a storm.
Consider any buildings
If you have any gazebos or sheds in your garden, Gregory recommends future-proofing the structures. “Can those buildings be stripped down, made lighter and safer? So for instance, in winter, you can take panels out so the wind can blow right through,” he says.
It’s also worth turning off any water features, so the wind doesn’t empty it out.
Be smart with planting
Bigger gardens with exposed areas will be more susceptible to damage from storms. “If you want to future-proof, it all starts with planting and breaking down the wind,” explains Gregory. “You can create quite ornamental planting which acts as a windbreak.” Try a combination of evergreen and indigenous shrubs.
“It’s not just wind – it’s episodes of incredible rain, and not just in winter,” he says. “So, think when you’re planning your garden where the water’s going to go. You can also have gravel areas, less paving, more planting, let the whole garden act as a sponge, as opposed to big areas of hard landscape.”
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