Snowy garden setting

How to prepare your garden for extreme weather

This article covers how to prepare & protect your garden in heavy rain, during droughts and in freezing conditions.

The UK weather is a little unpredictable at the best of times. Some days one feels like you’re experiencing all four seasons in one day! With climate change becoming an increasing reality, the fact is that we’re all feeling the effects.

The environment is facing unprecedented challenges, from severe storms and torrential rain to heat waves and droughts. It’s crucial we prepare our garden for all these scenarios as best we can. At Rhino Greenhouses Direct, we’ve rounded up some excellent tips on preparing and caring for your garden by giving it the best protection in extreme weather.

This article covers:

Berries in the winter snow

Preparing a garden for heavy rain

As we all know, plants love water – but there’s a difference between just the right amount of moisture and a veritable deluge! The question on many gardeners’ minds is: should I cover my garden in heavy rain?

Before a downpour:

  1. Support taller plants

Push a metal or wooden support into the soil and gently tie the plant to it. This will prevent it from snapping and protect it from any physical damage.

  1. Drainage

Ensure there is adequate drainage to prevent water from collecting in a pool anywhere in your garden and potentially drowning the nearby plants. Also, ensure there is an appropriate runoff that slopes away from the garden, and it’s not blocked.

  1. Remove damaged stems and shoots

Before a big rainstorm, remove any dead shoots and stems from your plants to ensure they’re streamlined – this reduces the risk of tangling and snapping.

During heavy rain:

  1. Cover your garden’s most delicate plants

If the rain is hard and persistent, use a waterproof covering such as a tarpaulin to cover fragile or young plants, including vegetables and herbs. Don’t forget to protect your planters and pots too.

  1. Turn your compost

If you’re feeling brave, get out there and make the most of the downpour to ensure your compost is watered by mixing the damp upper layers with the dry ones beneath.

After the rainstorm has passed, remember to check your planters and pots are draining adequately, keep the snails and slugs at bay (wet gardens are a magnet for these pests), and check for exposed vegetable roots due to soil erosion.

Heavy wind/gales

High winds can wreak havoc on gardens. Here are a few tips to keep your treasured garden features from ending up in the next-door neighbor’s field or your prized lavender pots from hurtling through the patio doors into the TV room.

How do I storm proof my garden?

  1. Cover, protect, and move what you can
  2. Bring any smaller items, such as plants in plastic pots and smaller lightweight ornaments, indoors
  3. Remember to ensure that your patio furniture or trampolines are properly anchored and secured
  4. Protect plants and vegetable patches with windbreaks made of netting or mesh and use canes or stakes as support (especially for small or young trees). Take care not to tie them too tightly to allow them to bend with the wind; otherwise, they’ll snap
  5. Low-growing plants can be covered with a tarp, provided it’s securely staked in the ground and not resting directly on the plants
  6. If you can move them without too much trouble, place your larger pot plants against a sheltered house wall. Avoid putting them where buildings create a wind tunnel and remember to water them
  7. Ensure your shed doors and garden gates are properly closed and securely locked. If you've moved your greenhouse from Rhino Greenhouses Direct or want to make sure it's super secure during a storm, you can purchase additional base anchors and fixings online, such as these, for extra peace of mind
  8. Gardening equipment and tools can not only be seriously damaged by bad weather but also become lethally dangerous if picked up by strong gusts
  9. Don’t erect big solid defenses to protect your plants. Instead, invest in some screens or open fences and plant wind-tolerant trees and shrubs to deflect the worst of the gales
  10. Take down any hanging items, such as planter baskets or decorative features, to avoid something coming loose in the gale and breaking a windowpane
  11. Move your more delicate ornamental potted plants from areas such as the patio or any seedling trays you were about to plant into the greenhouse. If you haven’t yet invested in a good greenhouse, browse the range from Rhino Greenhouses Direct. During extreme weather, greenhouses offer a safe refuge for plants.

Protecting your garden plants from droughts and extreme heat

Rainwater Collection Kit

If the heatwave and record-breaking high temperatures of 2022 taught us anything, it’s that even countries in the northern climes should be drought savvy. The questions uppermost in many concerned gardeners’ minds are: how do I prepare my garden for a heatwave, and what to do with the garden in a heatwave?

Keeping your plants hydrated and happy in the heat will not only ensure your garden remains a lush oasis during the hotter months, but it’ll also be a welcome haven from the heat for any wildlife.

How to protect your garden during a heatwave:

  1. If you have the budget, install an automatic irrigation system (great for when you go on holiday). This will save you time, effort, and money in the long run
  2. Water plants in the morning, when the roots will have a better chance of taking up the water. Avoid watering late in the evening, as this can make your plants more vulnerable to slugs and root rot
  3. Don't be tempted to over-water. A good tip is to stick your index finger into the soil around the root each morning during the heatwave. If the soil is still wet below the surface, water is not necessary. If it's just damp, it's time to water again
  4. Plant drought-tolerant plants if you don’t have much time to water regularly. Aloe vera, sage, yarrow, bougainvillea, rosemary, and lavender are good options
  5. Protect plants from direct sun by using mulch, shade cloth, and row covers to prevent moisture loss
  6. Whether you use a watering can or hose, water plants gradually rather than blasting them on the most powerful setting. Always water slowly at the roots
  7. Add vermiculite to container plants to increase water retention and prevent the water from evaporating too quickly
  8. Get a water butt. Make the most of the rainy season and harvest the fantastic potential of nutrient-packed rainwater with our range of Rhino Rainwater Collection kits
  9. Leave the grass long. Don’t over-mow, as taller grass provides additional protection from the sun

How to prepare and protect from frosts and freezes

Greenhouse heater

When it comes to extreme weather, most gardeners dread the effects of Jack Frost on their fantastic foliage. If you’re wondering, “how do I protect my garden from unexpected frost?” we’ve got a few great tips.

  • Get a greenhouse heater: while your greenhouse will protect your tender plants in most conditions, they’ll most likely need extra help during frosty or freezing conditions. Rhino Greenhouses Direct stocks a superb range of splash-proof electric greenhouse heaters to protect your plants (and your hands!) from frost
  • Strawberries are one of the first crops to make their appearance in spring. This makes them particularly susceptible to frost damage from late frost, which can kill them
  • Frost is not a major issue when the plant is dormant during the winter, but a sudden spring frost when the plants are blooming can wreak havoc on your berries. If there’s any danger of a late frost, the safest would be to move them into your greenhouse, such as the versatile Rhino Classic Greenhouse
  • Tender plants (which need protection at the first warning of frost, usually between September and November) such as dahlias, cannas, and geraniums can be lifted or moved to a more sheltered position or your greenhouse.
  • Use this handy plant selector from the RHS to choose more frost-resistant plants
  • Cover plants: for plants that can’t be brought indoors, cover them with a frost cloth, cloche, or tarp when frost is forecast.
  • Mulch the root area of conifers, evergreens, tender perennials, and shrubs with a thick layer of organic matter to prevent the ground from becoming frozen.

And there you have it. Whatever the weather – you’ll be right as rain (excusing the pun) if you follow these top tips!

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