How to Protect your Garden and Home from Heavy Rains

A little drizzle or an overnight seasonal downpour is not a cause for concern. Every plant in your garden will be able to withstand mild to moderate rainfall. The threat emanates from heavy downpours. When it rains relentlessly or your area receives torrential rain accounting for the expected rainfall of a month in just a few hours, there are some serious dangers. Not only your garden but your home too will be at risk. You must prepare well to protect your garden and home from such heavy rains.

The approach has to be multipronged. You need to ensure your home is in impeccable condition, from the roofs to the gutters. You need to protect all your plants and trees, the fixtures and furniture, equipments and tools in the garden.

How to Secure your Roof?

Every homeowner should get the roof inspected at least twice a year. It could be more frequent if the roof is very old. Don’t wait to fix a leak till it rains and causes water damage in your house. Don’t wait for a torrential downpour before you replace some shingles or attend to the weatherproofing. Get rid of algae and mold, mildew and any other material that will allow water buildup or check the flow of water when it rains. Look for signs of sagging, damage and aging on your roof. Look for cracks in the chimney or flashing, missing tiles, granules from the shingles or tiles and make sure you have a strong, weatherproofed roof. Consult a roofer to proactively upgrade your roof.

Attend to the Guttering!

Gutters play an important role in your house and are an integral fixture of the roofing system. The gutters would channel the water away from the roof, down the pipes to the main drain. Some houses have special flood drains connected to the civic drainage system. Without optimally functioning and sturdy gutters, you would have water falling and splashing all around. Water from the roof will seep down the exteriors. Water will invade your home through the cracks and vents they get, through the soffits and even windows and doors.

This will immediately cause significant water damage. All your wooden furniture will be damaged, metallic fixtures will corrode and rust, you would have a mould problem in your home, condensation will erode the brickwork and the health of your family will be put at risk.

Inspect the guttering, check if it is broken somewhere or if there is a leak, if there are blockages in the path of water runoff, if the gutter will overflow during heavy rains and if it will hold strong when the rain gods wreak havoc. Upgrade the guttering if needed, get rid of the blockages, get tight-fitting wire mesh and plastic caps if needed, ensure the gutters are not clogged by leaves, dirt and granules form the tiles or shingles. Get rid of all debris from the roof and gutters.

Be Safe while attending to Roof and Guttering

Do not attempt to fix anything yourself unless you are trained and experience to do so. You should hire a roofer who can also attend to the gutter. Do not try to climb up to the roof using ladders when it is already raining heavily, don’t try to replace roofing materials when the weather is not right, do not use rods or sticks to clean gutters as excessive force can damage them instead of unclogging and always have help at your disposal instead of trying to do anything alone. Prune or trim overhanging trees, get rid of fall leaves and take care of any elevated fixture that will facilitate water runoff during heavy rains.

Planning Ideal Storage

All garden equipments, furniture and tools will be vulnerable to damage when it rains heavily. You must not allow any fixture to get wet for a prolonged period of time. You don’t need to worry if it just rains a little for a few minutes or even an hour. But heavy rains for days will damage everything you have outside.

Plan a temporary shed. You may have a barn, garage or store room you can use. Your shed must be weatherproofed. It doesn’t make any sense to bring in dry furniture, equipment and tools only to keep them in a place that will have water dripping through the roof or ceiling and damaging the stuff anyway.

There will be garden furniture that you cannot bring into your home or even move to a shed. You may not be able to create temporary sheds for all types of garden furniture. Barbecue pits and many such fixtures require a different approach. Fixed wooden or metallic furniture will also need a different remedy. You can opt for waterproofing treatments for wooden garden furniture. There are material specific treatments or coatings to prevent rotting, splitting, warping, corrosion and rusting. You can get waterproof barbecue covers to prevent rusting.

Holistic Protection for your Home

A home must always have multilayered protection. If you are painting your exteriors with weatherproof paint then you must also insulate the walls, doors and windows. The interiors and exteriors must be in impeccable condition for holistic protection against weather extremes.

  • Just as you would check the roof outside, you should also check the interiors to observe signs of damage. You can inspect the attic, look for signs indicating sagging, any symptom of water damage, dark spots, leaks, trails and natural or artificial light seeping in through the roof.
  • For adequate protection against rain, you should invest in draught proofing. You can use deflectors and rain bars, install them at your doors, windows and other existing vents or openings. These sealants will guard you against smoke, dust, draughts, light, insects and will also contribute to energy conservation by facilitating insulation.
  • Insulation is a prerequisite for any home. Usually, insulation is contemplated upon from the perspective of scorching summers and freezing winters. Insulation should also factor in the temperature fluctuations during heavy rains. Winds accompanying rains and thunderstorms in particular will call for better insulation of pipes and especially hot water tanks so the temperature of the water remains pleasantly comfortable. You would also need adequate insulation in case of flooding during heavy rains.

You must be proactive with all these inspections and should get things done before the rains. Preferably, you should conduct the checks before it is supposed to rain or when you are alerted of an impending cyclonic weather. You should know where you’re the mains of your supply lines are. You may have to turn off the utilities from the mains and then turn them on when the rains have subsided.

Protection has to be a proactive measure and not reactive. You need home contents insurance, protection against flood damage, you must have precious assets protected in waterproof bags and preferably in safes that would endure flooding, you should have water and gas mains turned off, you should have emergency kits including torches and spare batteries.

Advanced Precautions

There are areas more prone to flooding. You can never rule out flooding or water damage when it just doesn’t stop raining. Typical precautions or protection would not work when there is a flood. Here are some advanced precautions that you should consider.

  • Get sandbags, hydro sacks and vent guards. These will keep water out. You must inform all your family members where these sandbags are, where they should be placed in the event of flooding and how one must use the hydro sacks or vent guards to have the desired impact. Sandbags can block drains, doorways, to keep manhole covers down, to protect garden furniture and also to block sinks or drains in the toilet so you don’t have a backing up problem.
  • Hydro sacks are a relatively better option compared to sand bags. Hydro sacks are evolved, they can absorb twenty litres of water, the water doesn’t get released even if the sacks get punctured and they are very effective, certainly more than sandbags, at setting up a barrier during a flood.
  • Ideally, you should practice setting up sandbags and hydro sacks. You should also train your family. In areas prone to flooding, local authorities may provide sandbags or hydro sacks. You should consider securing the perimeter of your house with these sandbags or hydro sacks before the storm hits.
  • You can make emergency sandbags with pillows, blankets and all kinds of materials you have in your home that will soak up and retain moisture. The objective is to create an absorbing barrier all around your house and particularly at the points of entrance or where water can seep through. Create as many such barriers as you can. Many homeowners opt for multiple layers of barriers using hydro sacks and other materials.
  • Every home has a certain gradient. Even if the sloping is not apparent to the naked eye, you will have water flowing in from one direction towards another. You must be aware of this. You will have to protect your home from the natural water flow from the direction it slopes down and you should facilitate the flow of water away from your home in the other direction. If you happen to be in a low lying area, then water will flow in from almost all directions. This calls for complete sealing of the entire perimeter of the house.
  • You should seal the vents and gaps in doors, windows and any other fixtures you have that will facilitate water to seep through. You should protect the floors as well because they suffer the worse damage.

How to Prevent Flood Damage

          Homes in low lying areas or flood prone zones should have lofts and other spaces high up in the second storey or higher where all the valuable assets or goods of the household can be stored. Flood prone areas will almost always get flooded when there is heavy rain. The loft or attic and other spaces above the ground floor being used for storage must be weatherproofed. They should not be vulnerable to water or moisture damage.

          You should consider elevating everything you have at the ground floor. You should elevate the couches or chairs, the tables and desks, the cabinets and all your appliances. You can use bricks or stilts, special accessories or you can make foundations using sandbags upon which you can place your furniture. All fixtures that are fixed and cannot be moved should be sealed in waterproof bags.

          You should have an emergency kit in your home if you live in a flood prone area or if your area receives heavy rains quite a few times every year. Making an emergency kit is not that hard. You need essential medication, bottled drink water, canned or tinned foods, opt for nonperishable foods such as nuts and seeds, dried fruits and packaged ready to eat snacks, get a camping stove and a kettle, matches, torches and spare batteries. Keep a list of all the numbers you would need and you can have it laminated or in a sealed pouch to prevent it from damage. The list should have numbers of the local council, emergency services, insurance company, friends and neighbours. You should also have a document with all your personal details, including banking information, insurance details and healthcare information.

          An emergency kit must have essential items for everyone in the family. Kids will need baby food, toys, nappies and other clean clothes. Pets will need bedding and food. You should have a battery powered radio, completely charged phone or two, rubber gloves, waterproof clothes or raincoats, waterproof boots, blankets, first aid kit and you should have an emergency plan.

          An emergency plan will include the exit strategy, how long you can sustain in the house, where you should keep your car, how you would drive away if you have to, where should your first stop be, what would be the ideal refuge if the rains don’t stop, what should your first response system be, what all you must do before you can leave your house, what you should carry with you, which fixtures and personal assets or valuables must you take along with you and if you will be able to take everyone at the same time as otherwise you need a special plan.

          When you are caught in a flood, look out for yourself and take care of your family. Do not go out of your home as long as you can endure it inside, try not to drive or even get out in the floodwater, call the emergency numbers and get the latest information or weather updates, stay away from the floodwater, use the radio to stay updated and try to stay in contact with your neighbours.

          There are many ways you can stay proactively updated about heavy rains and possible flooding. You can get flood warnings at Floodline Warnings Direct. This is a free service and you will get the alerts via email, text, fax and you can get a call if you so choose. You will get enough time to prepare and be alert when you get updated by Floodline. You can call 08459881188 from within England, Wales and Scotland.

How to Prepare your Garden for Snow and Ice

Freezing temperatures pose a serious challenge to your garden. The plants, the lawn, pond, landscaping and the furniture or any fixtures you have out in the open will need to be protected to avert severe damage. Any kind of weather extreme calls for proactive measures and winter is no different. Let us explore what you need and what you should do to prepare your garden for snow and ice.

There are three quintessential aspects that will influence your choices. One is the type of plant life you have in your garden, also extending to the natural landscape and pond life if you have a water feature. The second aspect is how you wish to protect the plants, flowers and fixtures including furniture. The third aspect is the tools or materials you need to ensure optimum protection.

How to Protect Plants?

Some plants can withstand freezing temperatures, most cannot. Even those that can endure harsh winters will be vulnerable to the freeze thaw cycle. Frost is the nemesis of most plants. Frosting during cold winter nights will lead to freezing of the water in the plant cells. The cell wall will be damaged as a result. This is fatal for flowers, fruits and also the entire plant. While plants will be damaged internally, this would be further worsened by the frozen topsoil. If the roots are unable to extract moisture from the soil then that will damage the plant and may cause its death sooner than later. Just like the freeze thaw cycle, frosting poses another danger when defrosting happens in the morning. Defrosting ruptures the frozen cell walls.

The first step is to insulate the pots you are using outdoors. You can use winter jackets like a cloche, bubble wrap or garden fleece for this purpose. If insulating the pots would not be enough, you can create a temporary shed for the plants. You can use old blankets and cover the plants. You can use tarpaulin as well. Make sure the tarpaulin or the blanket is held down or tied properly so the cold wind doesn’t blow it away during the night. Any plant that is more vulnerable to the cold weather and that is small enough should be brought inside.

The secret to protecting plants from freezing temperatures is to insulate them from the harsh cold during the evenings and nights and then allowing them to get enough light and air through the days. You can consider adding bark mulch to the flower beds. This will insulate the topsoil. You can also use bubble wrap or fleece for the trunks of young trees. Even evergreen plants will be protected with bark mulch. Don’t forget to remove the insulation, wrap or shelter you provide for the plants in the morning. The plants need the sunlight and fresh air. You may also consider a grow house or a cold frame if you live somewhere that gets uncomfortably cold.

How to Protect Garden Furniture & Tools

Garden furniture, equipment and tools will get damaged during freezing temperatures. You should consider removing all outdoor furniture if it is going to snow heavily. Areas that don’t receive snowfall and only experience fluctuating but very low temperatures will not pose as great a threat to outdoor furniture and tools as massive snowfall. Being capped with ice or snowed under will cause significant damage to all kinds of tools, fixtures and furniture.

Ensure that the outdoor furniture, equipment and tools are dry before you put them away. Put them in a dry place. It could be your garage or a store room but it should be dry and well insulated. You can use a temporary shed made of tarpaulin for outdoor furniture that cannot be brought inside. You can buy special covers that can offer enough coverage for all your furniture or you can get individual pieces for every equipment or tool you have. Don’t leave a cover handling atop the furniture. Make sure you seal it well or tie it down with something unmovable and substantially heavy. If you are storing your furniture in a barn or some shed in your backyard, make sure it is weatherproofed. Consider re-felting the shed’s or barn’s roof.

How to Protect Pond Life?

Some marine plants and fishes will be able to endure freezing temperatures. You may or may not have those plants and wildlife in your pond. There are some underwater weeds that would survive even if the surface of the pond is frozen. But not all plants and fishes will be able to endure the lack of light, fresh air at the surface and a completely insulated but freezing world.

The biggest threat in a frozen pond, even if it is just the surface that has frozen, is methane. When the underwater vegetation decomposes in a damp pond, the methane exuded from the plants will poison the fish. The fishes are trapped under the ice and they are literally helpless. You can take a few simple steps to prevent the pond from freezing. You can float a ball or have some object moving and floating atop. This will prevent icing. You can use floating pond heaters. These have a thermostat that will turn on the heat when temperatures dip beyond a certain point. Consequentially, you would not have icing on the surface of the pond. If you do find the surface of pond frozen, don’t break or smash the ice. Use gentler techniques to melt it.

The freezing issue is not the only problem for pond life. You need to ensure that the pond gets adequate sunlight which will be prevented if there’s icing on top. Sunlight facilitates photosynthesis and days are anyway short during winters. You must make maximum sunlight available to the pond. Get rid of any trees or shrubs that have an overarching presence atop and around the pond. Trim and prune all growth around the pond so sunlight is not obstructed at all. These overhanging shrubs or trees will also contribute to dumping snow and vegetation, facilitating the freezing of the pond.

Simple Steps to Prepare Well

Every season has its challenges. Winter is the most challenging which is why it is harder to prepare for. Here are a few steps you should take to prepare your garden.

  • If you have clay based soil, break it into smaller clumps. Else, it would freeze quickly and become one giant lump.
  • Prune branches of trees, deciduous shrubs and get rid of all dead vegetation.
  • Think of a greenhouse. Apart from protecting your garden during winter, the greenhouse will also facilitate quicker growth.
  • Store all composting matter through the winter in a compost bin. The composts would remain relatively warm and you can use it when the soil needs to be replenished during spring.

Winter Gardening Tips

Do not neglect your garden and don’t bid adieu to gardening when the mercury drops. Here are some winter gardening tips that you must endorse.

When to get rid of snow

When your garden is snowed under, the trees and plants will be insulated to an extent. The vegetation or flowers will not be exposed directly to the freeze thaw cycle. However, if the snowfall was heavy and the dump scales several feet, then it would damage the trees and plants. Get rid of excess snow. Shake it off from the hedges, branches and shrubs. Do not let the sheer weight of the snow to break the branches or stems and smash small plants entirely.

Heavy and thick layers of snow will prevent sunlight and hence heat. The plants underneath will not be able to get the warmth during the day and will also be deprived of photosynthesis. If you find the snow deforming the trees or plants, use strings to provide additional support to the branches and trunks or stems to stand upright against the snowfall. Do not walk on frozen grass. You would damage the turf. Do not have trees that can accumulate snow as it falls and then dump it on the plants below and around it.

How to help Damaged Plants

Despite your best attempts, you may fail to protect a few plants and trees. Some may recover and some may be beyond remedy. If you find some trees or plants damaged, take a few smart steps.

Do not let the plants defrost quickly in the early morning. Let the shade be untouched till the plants have started defrosting. Let them get exposed to sunlight slowly. Do not let frosted growth fester. Prune or cut the affected parts of the plants. They will grow new and fresh shoots. Damaged plants will need better fertiliser in spring for optimum growth. Plants that are beyond recovery should be got rid of.

How to Plan your Concrete Path, Patio or Driveway

Concrete is the ideal material for any construction that is supposed to last a very long time while enduring substantial heavy duty use. Made of particles of stone or what is known as aggregate, cement and sharp sand mixed with water, concrete is hard, durable and it also has a nice finish. Unless you go wrong with any of the ingredients, concrete itself doesn’t have any unpleasant aesthetics. The eventual outcome is a strong foundation that can be ideal for pathways, patios and driveways. Concrete is one of the quintessential building blocks of residential, commercial and industrial properties.

Facts about Concrete

Once you mix the right proportions of cement, sharp sand and aggregate or particles of stone with water, you pour the mixture where you need the path, patio and driveway. You let the mixture rest as it starts to harden in around two hours. After that the material or concrete in the making cannot be worked on. It will be sturdy and have no malleability. However, it would not be as hard as what it eventually must be. It takes a few days for the concrete to be super strong, which is why it is so widely used. For the hardening to continue there must be adequate moisture in the mix. Else, the structure may not be one big solid block of concrete. This is achieve by a little watering and ensured at the outset by getting the mix right.

The exact recipe of the mix depends on the quality of the concrete you need given the purposes you have in mind. The thickness, total area and the composition will be influenced by what you are using it for and more specifically the weight the material must endure. For a patio or pad that will host a lightweight shed, perhaps made of wood, will require a concrete foundation of about 100mm depth. For block, brick or stone garage, the foundation must be 150mm of sub-base depth of compacted hardcore and there should be a 125mm concrete pad. The edges of such a pad should have more depth to provide more support to the walls. The depth should be at least 200mm.

Any concrete foundation or surface must have a slope. It should not have a sharp gradient but a gentle slope to allow water flowing away from the building or structure to the drains nearby. If you are installing a concrete foundation or structure along the wall of a property, then the surface should be around 150mm or farther below the damp proof course. For heavy loads like driveways, the concrete foundation must have a steel grid that should be at least half its depth.

The Recipes for the Mix

You can buy Easy Mix from a reliable brand. You don’t need to know the recipe, you don’t need to mix the ingredients and you don’t have to deal with the uncertainty of what might turn up.

  • You may very well mix concrete by hand but that would limit how much you can blend. Small amounts are workable without any tools or additional pair of hands. You can prepare concrete like you would prepare mortar, mix the ingredients as they are being added and you attain even consistency. The mix should not be too sloppy or too dry. You can use a shovel to test the consistency. When you scoop up a substantial portion of the mix, it should stay still on the shovel but be moist enough so it can slide down the shovel when you tilt it.
  • You can use a mixer if you want. You can pour in the water, add half of the sand and half of the aggregate and then pour in all the cement. As the mixer works on the ingredients, you can add more water if the consistency is not as desired. You can then add the remaining aggregate and sand if necessary. Check the mix and add more water if you need. Average mixers require twelve or fourteen shovelfuls of aggregate, two or three shovelfuls of cement and sand depending on how much consistency you need. Usually, two or three buckets of water would be enough.
  • You can buy ready mixed concrete as well. You can order as much or as little concrete you want. You will get the ready mixed concrete delivered to your address or site in a lorry. You can use wheelbarrows to carry the concrete from the lorry to the exact place where you would pour it. Remember that your site must be ready to have the concrete poured right after the lorry reaches the address. Don’t let the concrete sit in there or in the lorry as it will start to harden and you wouldn’t be able to work on it.

How much Concrete would you need?

To know how much concrete you need, you should know the surface area of the path, driveway or patio. Get the surface area in square metres. Consider the depth or thickness of the foundation you need and you will get the volume of concrete you need in cubic metres. You should increase the volume in cubic metres by a tenth to factor in possible wastage. If you get fractions or decimals, you should round up to the closest higher cubic metre. If you don’t have squares or rectangular and oval shapes, if you have polygons or irregular shapes that don’t really have a geometric name, then you should draw the layout on a graph, break it down to smaller geometric shapes and calculate the areas accordingly. Then consider the depth and come up with the quantum of concrete needed. Don’t forget the 10% extra for potential wastage.

Some AMAZING uses for concrete blocks around your home or garden

The humble concrete block. Not normally the ‘stand out’ piece of equipment when we want to get creative. However, the team at think a little differently.

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