A question for those of you who like to extend your growing season and propagate plants. Is yours a wind resistant greenhouse or polytunnel?
Given the extremes of weather we’re now experiencing; it’s become a vital question for gardeners.
And whilst this blog is discussing the effect on greenhouses, polytunnels and glasshouses, strong winds can also have detrimental effect on garden fences, pergolas, summerhouses and sheds.
Let’s face it, there’s no way we can 100% storm-proof our gardens and garden buildings. We’re not able to do that for our main house when one of those named storms heads our way. But what we can do as gardeners is to be as proactive as we can in minimising the risks of wind damage. That way, our greenhouses should at least come through ‘normal’ autumn and winter storms unscathed.
So, what can you do? Well, if you’re starting from scratch with a new greenhouse or polytunnel, then I’d suggest you read a previous blog on planning and choosing your greenhouse. (Links are also below if you prefer to keep reading).
However, if you already have a greenhouse, glasshouse, polytunnel or coldframes, read on for some tips. Some of these suggestions are also relevant for the lean-to style of conservatory. The sort that you sometimes get with older houses.
As many people own aluminium framed greenhouses with glass, that is the type that I am largely referring to below. However, I have included tips for other types of greenhouse and polytunnel.
Quick fixes for a wind resistant greenhouse
There are a number of easy things you can do to minimize the chances of damage to your greenhouse.
If high winds are forecast –
- close the windows, vents and door
- check guy ropes and ground fixings on polytunnels
- seal any cracks or gaps, temporarily at least with heavy duty plastic or a blanket and tape
- check bolts and fixings (also a regular maintenance task)
- remove or put away clay pots, garden furniture, patio umbrellas and so on that could be blown against the greenhouse and break the glass
You may also want to ensure that the greenhouse frame is firmly fixed to the base (for aluminium greenhouses). If your greenhouse was erected by a specialist company, they probably ensured the frame was fixed to the base, to the wall (if it’s a half glazed greenhouse) or to the concrete foundation.
A quick note about the smaller plastic patio type greenhouses. If these are literally standing on the patio there’s generally no way of tying them down. If you have plants and pots which could be damaged if it is blown around, then remove them for the duration of the storm. You could attach the greenhouse by rope to a fence post, for example, but this still leaves the base loose. If you have time to dismantle it that’s probably the best option as then you still have a usable little greenhouse afterwards.
Longer term solutions for a wind resistant greenhouse
Is the greenhouse or polytunnel situated in a sheltered spot? If this is an existing greenhouse, you’re not going to be moving it, so consider erecting some trellis as a quick fix. This will slow down the wind speed. Remember that the side of the house may actually be a wind tunnel rather than a sheltered spot.
If the greenhouse glass is held in with clips, then there is the possibility of the panes of glass blowing out in high winds. To help prevent this, secure them with capping or a sealant. A full length pvc capping system is often an ‘optional extra’ with bargain greenhouses. I would always recommend seeing it as an essential in order to weather proof your greenhouse. If you’re not able to fit pvc capping, consider using silicone sealant to secure the clips.
Do you have horticultural glass? If winds are going to be a problem, consider replacing this with safety glass or clear styrene as an economical alternative. The last thing you need is a garden filled with shards of glass!
For polytunnels, remember that the covers will need replacing. As ever, you get what you pay for, so cheaper plastics will need renewing every few years. The metal structure may also be bowed out of shape by strong or frequent storms. Regular checks and maintenance are just as necessary as with a greenhouse.
Some wooden greenhouses these days are softwood rather than hardwood. It may sound odd as a storm precaution to apply preservative every couple of years. However, the wood needs to be in maintained in order to be strong. A rotting wooden greenhouse is just waiting to be blown apart by stormy weather.
Now you have a wind resistant greenhouse…
Do take seriously the threat posed to your greenhouse by strong winds. If you spot a problem early it can often be easily mended. A few precautions and a maintenance will reduce the risk of damage by storm force winds and ensure yours is a wind resistant greenhouse or polytunnel.
Generally speaking, your greenhouse is included on your home insurance, but it’s as well to check this with your insurers. No greenhouse manufacturer that I can think of guarantees against damage caused by winds, hail and storms.
There are some greenhouses which are better able to resist storms than others. If you live in an area which is prone to high winds, then the extra money spent on one of these structures is worth it.
Happy greenhouse gardening!
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