Keeping a well-maintained garden in the UK can be a challenge. From driving rain, high winds and freezing temperatures to heatwaves and droughts, our climate offers up all sorts of extremes for gardeners to contend with.
So how do you mitigate the impacts of extreme weather to protect and preserve your outdoor space?
Preparing your garden for extreme weather
This post focuses on the most common extreme weather conditions seen here in the UK, and includes lots of tips on how to prepare and protect your garden.
One of the most common weather conditions to contend with in the UK is wind. Storms are becoming more frequent, and these often bring strong winds to British shores. These gusts can wreak havoc on trees, gardens, vehicles and properties. If you have a relatively sheltered garden space then you may avoid any damage. However, if your garden is more exposed, you should be preparing for the impact of storms and gale force winds.
You can take care of trees, shrubs and plants by keeping up to date with pruning and maintenance. This will help to limit the impact of high winds, and reduce the chance of damage to stems and leaves. You can also use trellises, frames or cages to secure and support plants where necessary.
If you have a shed or another type of outdoor storage, you may want to secure the doors with extra door latches to reinforce their wind resistance. If you want to look more long-term, planting hedges around your garden can help to dampen wind and shelter your plants and belongings from the most hazardous gusts.
The British winter brings with it freezing temperatures, frost, snow and ice – all of which can cause significant damage to plants and shrubs.
For any vulnerable potted plants, it’s best to bring these inside whilst temperatures are low to protect them from the elements.
For other outdoor greenery, mulch can be used to cover and insulate soil to prevent frost damage. It’s also recommended that you plant in areas that are exposed to more sunlight throughout the day, otherwise your plants might not be able to recover from overnight frost. Another option is to cover plants with cloches, a polytunnel, or plant them in a raised bed. My post on protecting plants from frost covers this in more detail.
Ice can also cause pipes and gutters to burst, so make sure your gutters are clear and insulate any outdoor boiler vents to avoid an expensive repair job.
Our climate is synonymous with rain and grey skies, so preparing for heavy downpours is always a good idea.
For vulnerable or young plants, covering with a waterproof layer can help to prevent damage from lashing rain. Again, mulching can help to avoid over-saturation of soil by absorbing some of the moisture.
You can also help your plants by choosing an appropriate planting location – ideally anywhere that water isn’t going to pool and drown them.
For external sheds or storage containers, you should ensure that roofs, seals and structures are intact to avoid leaks and damage from excessive showers.
Finally, heatwaves are few and far between in the UK, but again they are increasing in frequency. Heatwaves can cause droughts, whilst excessive sun or heat exposure can damage plants too.
In order to reduce these risks, try to provide shade or cover for any plants that may be susceptible. Also ensure that you are watering the roots and soil around plants frequently, but be careful not to water the leaves too much as this can lead to sun scorching. Once again, mulching helps to keep the roots of a plant at a more natural and regulated temperature, which in turn helps the plant to survive.
Hopefully these tips for dealing with extreme weather help you to take care of your garden or outdoor space. Do you have a proven method of garden protection to share in the comments?