Robert Hall investigates ways to protect your shed, greenhouse and other garden items from the damaging effects of a storm, and advises on how to make an insurance claim.
Autumn and winter garden property storm damage seems to get worse every year. Whether that's true or the media taking an increasing interest in reporting people's misfortune is open to question. However it is inevitable that branches at some time will come crashing down from trees, indeed whole trees may become uprooted if the high winds are early and catch trees in full leaf. Slates are known to fly from roofs and rain will find any excuse to find gaps in your roof tiles.
Minimize The Threat
Before stormy weather arrives put away garden furniture, umbrellas, toys, tools and garden equipment. Retract awnings and canopies, secure bins and their lids, close and lock gates. Place anything liable to blow over like bird tables, container or ornament on their side or in a safe location. Prune overhanging branches and make sure fence panels are stable and secure. Stake plants and take down hanging baskets.
For larger structures such as sheds and greenhouses, you should prepare for stormy weather even before you buy them.
Although bargains do undoubtedly crop up, the general rule is that the quality of a product is reflected in its price. Products that have been thoughtfully and well designed, built to a high standard, and use good quality materials, will certainly cost more than something that has been poorly designed and badly manufactured.
Choose a greenhouse or shed that has been designed with the consumer in mind. Whether there is adequate staging or opening vents may not have any bearing on its longevity and resistance to storm damage but it will reflect on the overall quality of the product and the thought that has gone into its manufacture.
If the design has been carefully considered, then this will indicate that the materials will also have been well chosen for both appearance and strength.
Locate any structure in a sheltered position. If it's exposed in a vulnerable location, open to the worst of the elements, this will result in you picking up the pieces after the storm has passed. With greenhouses you may have to compromise, the most sheltered position won't be the sunniest.
Be careful and not be fooled by what might appear to be a sheltered position but turns out to be a wind tunnel, great for testing aerodynamics but a greenhouse isn't a racing car, you don't want it to go anywhere fast.
An evergreen hedge, something like a laurel, will protect your shed or greenhouse from strong gusts of wind. It's permeable so will lessen the strength of the wind without re-directing and concentrating into a stronger gust. Windbreak netting is an instant solution and has the same effect as a hedge. Again a compromise may have to be made with the amount of sunlight that is blocked out.
Siting the shed or greenhouse at right angles to the prevailing wind is another tip, so the wind goes over rather than through the structure. A greenhouse with its doors open in the face of a strong wind is a recipe for disaster.
Make Sure Glazing And Base Are Secure
The glass in any structure should fit neatly into the frame, if it doesn't this may be a sign of poor quality manufacture or that it hasn't been built properly. Clearly if the glass isn't fixed effectively it will easily fall out and once inside a greenhouse the wind will reek havoc.
If the putty or sealant holding the glass in place has perished the glazing will become loose, so replace it. Any cracked glass should be renewed and always replace missing panes immediately, you don't want windows blown out from the inside as well as from the outside.
When choosing a greenhouse, it's wise to go for toughened safety glass. Although standard horticultural glass is cheap and lets in lots of light, it is easily broken even during cleaning and splinters into dangerous shards. If it does break, which is unlikely, toughened glass will only shatter, which is much the safer option. Polycarbonate glass offers better insulation but is more expensive and crucially may be more vulnerable to storm damage.
In a greenhouse, check whether the clips holding in the glass are all still there, if not replace them. Adding a one or two more to each pane will provide extra strength.
Make sure that any structure is fixed to a stable, secure and level base. A base may come as an integral part of the structure or may have to be bought separately and should in turn be fixed to firm foundations.
Listen To The Weather Forecast
Even though weather forecasts are reliably unreliable, they are worth listening to particularly if bad weather is looking likely. This is when the Met Office will issue storm warnings on the basis of 'Be Aware', 'Be Prepared' and 'Take Action'.
When you are warned to take action, close all the doors and windows and ensure that they will stay closed. Disable any automatic vents in greenhouses as these may open if the weather is still warm.
Be Prepared With A Pump
If you live in a flood risk area, and five million people in the UK do, a Hozelock Flood Pump will be invaluable. Located permanently anywhere a flood is likely, the automatic float switch will turn the pump on when water reaches a depth of 400mm.
The same company manufacture other pumps, as do Oase, AquaCharge and Bermuda, designed to empty flooded areas. Waders and gauntlets that are kept handy will also be useful.
Repair And Insurance
Check over a structure only after the storm has passed, repairing and replacing any missing or damaged fixtures and fittings, together with cracked or missing panes. For glass, it's probably best to go to a local glazier, Garden Centres will not generally stock it but may be able to supply acrylic replacements.
If you require a Garden Related Insurance Quotation, call our Garden Centre on 0121 355 7701 and we can help.
You can also do it online, simply find the items you require a quote on www.GardenSite.co.uk and add to your shopping basket. Once you have added all the items you want a quote for, click the “Quote me now” button in the basket and fill in your contact details.You will then receive a quotation reference and receive a quotation email.
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