Preparing for autumn storms

Flattened: The front path covered after a rain storm last month.
Flattened: The front path covered after a rain storm last month.

IT’S supposed to be a nice weekend – so what better time to prepare for the bad weather?

It always seem to be worst in the autumn – maybe we’re not used to them, or any devastation they cause looks worse in a garden you’ve been working in all summer.

If a storm or gale-force winds are forecast, here’s what you can do to lessen the destruction:

* Trees cause much of the damage to homes, by breaking apart or uprooting in severe winds. Inspect any mature trees on or near your property for structural weaknesses or dead wood.

* Bring inside any loose, lightweight objects. Either bring your patio furniture and barbecue into the garage or indoors, or tie them securely to (sturdy) trees in the garden. Turn outdoor tables upside down so the wind can’t catch the surface.

* Bring hammocks inside – they catch the wind like a sail and can cause major damage when still attached to a metal frame.

* Smaller plants in pots can be brought inside but shrubs in beds and borders will just have to weather the storm. You just have to accept that they’re probably going to suffer damage, so be prepared to prune and stake once the weather clears.

* Bad weather may spell the end for annual crops, such as runner beans, and tall flowers like sunflowers, Cosmos and Calendula can take a battering. Try to make sure obelisks, arches and frames are secure BEFORE the winds hit.

* If you’ve got large potted plants or trees, lie them on their sides with the tops of the trees pointing away from the expected direction of the strongest winds.

* Protect expensive, fragile pots by wrapping them in bubble wrap. Use bricks or wooden blocks to wedge the pots so they don’t roll.

* Pick fruit such as apples and pears, which are likely to be blown from their trees. You may also save the branches from splitting, as there’s less weight on them.