Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Definitive Guide to Preparing Your Garden for Next Winter's Storms

It’s been a tough year so far here in the United Kingdom. There have been major floods widespread across the country with some towns cut off after the residents were evacuated. Rivers have been unable to cope with the deluge we have suffered over the last two months thanks, in some part, to the government’s policy in cutting back on dredging. The environment agency has been open about the restrictions placed on them by the powers that be and further cuts to the agency’s workforce have been delayed until the crisis is over. There is not very much that homeowners can do to protect themselves against this kind of environmental attack, though; there have been pictures on the news of a walled home and garden holding back the surrounding waters.

We have also had gale force winds that have caused extensive structural damage. Trees have been brought down, and roofs have been blown off buildings all over the country.

We cannot fortify our homes to the extent it would need to protect us against these forces of nature. However, we will take a look here at some basic steps we can take to mitigate the common damage that most of our gardens suffer during the stormy season.

Tidy Up
This is the most basic step anyone can take in their gardens. Take a critical look at what you have lying around out there. You will probably find buckets and plant pots. Perhaps an old fence panel leaning somewhere just waiting to be thrown around by the wind. Stash all potential flying debris away.

In what condition is the roof of your shed? Renew the felt on the shed roof and use more felting nails than you have at present. The felt is very easily torn off shed roofs by the wind. Go inside the shed and inspect the roof itself. See how it is attached to the shed. It is common for roofs to be completely blown off the shed. The roof can be reinforced by adding screw fixings instead of nails. Screw wooden blocks to the walls of the shed and to the roof for extra strength. If there is a place where you cannot put a screw into the roof, use wood glue.

Most people have experienced fence damage caused by the wind. It doesn’t need to be a strong wind that brings your fence down. If you have wooden posts, they will probably have rotted at ground level after a few years and will easily break. Consider replacing your old wooden posts with strong concrete ones.  They are surprisingly cheap and can give reliable service against strong winds for many years. While you are installing the concrete posts it may be a good idea to change the fence panels too if they are in bad condition.

If you have a large tree in your garden, it is essential to have it surveyed by a professional every five years or so. There may be signs of weakness appearing that are not obvious to the untrained eye. Trimming off weak or dead branches can save a lot of money in the long run. The safety factor is another consideration with trees as falling branches are deadly. Your insurance company may also ask questions if a poorly maintained tree damages your home.

As you can see, there are some basic, common-sense, steps we can take to minimise damage to our gardens in normal winter weather. However, as mentioned, when mother nature unleashes her forces in anger there is not much we can do accept keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.

So do what you can and remember that this winter is almost over. We will all be basking in the sun very soon.

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