Design A Garden For Unpredictable Weather

The changing weather has shown us that we need to give more thought to planning our outdoor spaces and making sure we design an outdoor space that accounts for unpredictable weather.






The weather over the past few years has shown us that it can be unpredictable and even weather experts are finding it hard to keep on track with how the weather can change in an instant. With this in mind, we need to give more thought to how we design our outdoor spaces, not only to ensure that they will withstand the constantly changing extremes in our weather but also to offer as much protection as we can for our investment.







1. Dealing with excess rainfall

Several areas throughout South Africa have experienced severe storms and heavy rain, leading to flooding in many gardens and homes. It is a sad fact that we can no longer expect stormwater drains to take away excess rainwater and it falls on us to ensure that our gardens and homes are designed to prevent rainstorms from harming our properties. One way to do this is to install a system of French drains. A French drain is nothing more than a ditch dug into the garden - particularly in areas that become waterlogged - with a large-diameter pipe installed to carry away excess water.





I have a simple French drain installed in my garden that didn't cost much to put in and it has saved my property from flooding many times over the past 15 years especially in the last couple of years with heavy downpours. You can follow my basic instructions for your French drain installation or go online to view detailed videos that explain how a French drain works and how you can install your French drain. I have included a video below from French Drain Man on YouTube and this is by far the most informative video I have encountered dealing with French drains.





2. Factoring in heavy winds

Not only have we seen damaging heavy rainfalls in the past few years but also extreme winds. These winds have caused damage to hundreds of homes across the country and a substantial amount could have been prevented. When planning a garden, homeowners tend to overlook the fact that many of the large shrubs and trees in a garden can exceed their growth potential and end up towering over the garden. Combine that with the fact that most ornamental trees have a short life expectancy and you could have a problem during storms with heavy winds.





It is important to trim trees to a set height to avoid them becoming too tall and to keep track of the age of trees to anticipate when might be a good idea to have them removed.







Ensure the following when planting larger shrubs and trees in the garden:

  • Do research before purchasing larger variety of shrubs and trees suitable for your garden.
  • Dig planting holes deep enough so that roots will be well-embedded in the soil.
  • Do not let shrubs or trees exceed a certain height, one that is manageable with annual trimming.
  • Try to keep larger-growing shrubs and trees away from the property.




3. Design structures to factor in weather conditions

As do-it-yourself has become more than a trend, many homeowners are opting to take the DIY route for various projects that include outdoor structures. Anything from sheds to decks, gazebos to full-on patios. And there is nothing wrong with that as long as you build it correctly and not taking shortcuts where you can. Even if you don't DIY it and hire someone to do it for you, avoid the cheapest option and always double-check references to avoid hiring one of the many fly-by-night contractors out there. The main factor is to ensure that any structure built should be able to withstand weather extremes, whether heat, rain or wind.



Keep these tips in mind for outdoor structures or fittings:

  • Ensure correct depth for footings or foundations.
  • Do not purchase inadequate or cheap materials
  • Incorporate additional support for stability and strength.
  • Always use wall plugs, rawl bolts or anchors for exterior fittings and fixtures.






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