Garden Screening, Garden Tools, Gardening & Landscaping, How To, Make over, Stuart

What To Do When Your Garden Is Battered By Storms

Storms – cool, terrifying, and a gardener’s kryptonite. If you didn’t shore up ahead of time, you’re stuck until the storm passes to simply survey and recover. So, this post will go into the befores and afters so you can find the storm-info that’s most useful to you.

Before the storm

Is it a red sky or a yellow sky is the one to look out for? Morning or evening?

Once you hear a storm’s on the way, it’s action stations to plan and prepare. Think about the parts of your garden that’ll be worst hit – are there any young trees to stake in? Is your fencing secure or does it flap in a stiff breeze? And is there any loose material you’re going to need to secure lest it fly into your greenhouse and smash all those lovely glass panels?

Stake your trees

Staked

Stake your trees with a stake/post angled downwards away from the prevailing wind. A 45-degree angle will see you right in most circumstances, and if you’re not sure which way the wind blows you can add an opposing stake to cover your bases. This’ll only work for new and smaller trees, like new bare root – for the bigger ones you’ll just have to hope.

Keep an eye on them when the winds are blowing – just don’t go out there to right anything that goes down until the storm has passed. But knowing what has fallen will speed up the post-storm repair phase.

Fasten your fencing

Fixing up fences ahead of a storm will depend on how much time you have. If the storm’s due tomorrow, all you can do is hammer your posts in further and add more screw or nails. If you’ve got a week or more, or you’re planning for a storm that doesn’t yet exist, take a look at new posts or fresh panels for a brand-new storm-proof boundary.

And look into quick fixing, quick dry cement. You can dig a little hole around your fence posts and pour the stuff in for a quick upgrade in rigidity, or apply it around new posts to start as well as you mean to go on. You can also get fence post installation kits to speed the job up.

Fix your covers

Furniture and other covers are only as good as the fastenings that hold them down. When the wind is low it’s tempting to be lazy and just flap the cover over without weighing it down, but when the breeze picks up you’re going to regret those 5 minutes you didn’t spend fiddling with toggles.

Affix your furniture covers with a toggle or clip at every corner, and if you don’t have that wind some string or twine through the cover and around any bit of furniture you can get your hands on. Every loose bit of material is a place for the wind to get in, so weigh down any loose corners to take away the wind’s chances to ruin your day.

And make sure the ballast itself is aerodynamic otherwise it’ll take off!

Protect your greenhouses

a greenhouse on the left, a trellis on a right and a nifty plus sign in the middle showing how the two can be combinedGreenhouse + Trellis = Success

Greenhouses are some of the most fragile parts of a garden, thanks to those pretty glass panels. You can’t take all the panels out pre-storm, but you can protect them as much as you can. A spare trellis, leaned and lashed against the most exposed sides, will reduce the amount of airborne detritus that can get through to smash a window.

You could use a leftover fence panel, but it’s far more likely to get picked up by the wind to smash someone else’s greenhouse than it is to protect yours.

Shelter your pots

Industrial growhouse optional

Pots themselves are generally spared from the wind. The plants inside them, however, can pick up the wind like a ship’s sail, knocking over your pot and increasing the likelihood for breakage.

Place your planted pots in a sheltered spot, or a shed/garage/garden store if those spots are hard to find. If you’ve the space you can always bring them indoors, but we know that isn’t always feasible.

Right, that’s the easy pre-storm bit out of the way. Now onto the less-fun recovery phase.

After the storm

A devastated area with a man overlooking it. Trash aboundsHopefully you haven’t found yourself the new owner of a fridge like this gentleman

After a storm, you need to survey and act. Just because the damage is done doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to sadness – there’s bits to fix and now the wind’s died down now’s the time to do it.

Right/Cut your trees

Duct tape might not cut it

If a small tree of yours has gone down, you can simple pick it up and plant again. Most small trees will see the ground fail before their bendy trunks do, so they’ll be largely undamaged after falling over. They might have lost a few branches, so if some have snapped you can snip those off just below the break.

For bigger trees that have gone over, it’s a much bigger task. If it’s flat in your garden you can take your time with it, but if it’s resting on something you’ll need to act fast. Most structures aren’t designed for a downward force greater than snow or gravity!

If you have a chainsaw, you’re halfway there. If you don’t, you’ll probably need to call in a specialist to deal with it – and they’ll charge a premium post-storm. Take a look at which bits of the tree you can cut off to reduce the weight/danger, and think carefully about where those bits might fall. The last thing you need is to cause damage the storm didn’t!

You can’t always save a fallen tree, but you can always plant a new one to make up for it.

Replant and repot

Then lay them out on the street

Should your pots have smashed, get the bits in the bin or pile them up to add to future pots for bonus drainage. Or save it as hardcore for your next building project, but that depends on how much garden space you have.

Replacing pots is as easy as buying more, but think about the materials and shapes you choose to save a repeat with the next storm. Plastic planters have some flex, while modern man-made materials often have features designed to increase longevity. Look for words like ‘fibre‘ or ‘modern‘, or check for ‘resin‘ in the description (planter-speak for plastic).

And obviously, the bigger the planter the heavier it will be. Can’t take off in a storm if it weighs a ton!

Replace broken fences

A dilapidated fence on the beach, with a black bird sat on it.If you live on the beach, fixing is optional

A broken fence is a sorry sight, but it’s not the end of the world. A couple of new panels, a bit of hammering and nailing, and your boundary line will be right as rain. But when fences fall, take the opportunity to reinforce them against the next time the wind picks  up.

Metal posts will be less prone to snapping than wooden ones, and often have recesses to make the fence panels more secure. And quick-dry cement works wonders to help a post withstand anything the Earth can throw at it. Hurdles can help as they allow the wind to pass through them to a degree, but even the strongest winds can still put any fence through its paces.

Repair your greenhouse

This greenhouse has a display stand in it

Greenhouse panels are relatively easily replaced, in that you can usually just buy a new one and stick it in place, but consider (if you haven’t already) moving to PVC over glass for increased durability. They’re a lot cheaper to replace, and while they don’t look as clear they’re far more resistant to bumps, knocks, scratches and the occasional flying brick.

If the greenhouse is done for, you can opt to replace or downgrade to something smaller or more sheltered, like a cold frame or lean-to.

Hopefully that’s everything you need to bring your garden back up to scratch. You might find yourself with some extra issues like a hedge that’s gained some decorations or a bird feeder that’s gone askew, but dealing with those should be pretty straightforward!

Before Photo by Alexey Gnatuk on Unsplash
Fence Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash
Indoor Pot Photo by Tommy Bond on Unsplash
Post-Hurricane Photo by Chandler Cruttenden on Unsplash
Felled Tree  Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Broken Fence Photo by Jaleel Akbash on Unsplash
Broken Window Photo by Renee Fisher on Unsplash