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Mistakes costing thousands due to flooding

Mistakes costing thousands due to flooding: Today, 1 in 4 homes across the UK are at risk of floods, and the risk factor will only increase as the impacts of climate change become more prevalent. In the fight against floods, your garden is a secret weapon that can increase your resilience to floods, whilst remaining beautiful and leaving your neighbours green with envy.

There are, however, a number of things you might be doing that are worsening your resilience to floods, and they could cost you thousands in repairs. This spring, when you’re getting your garden in order for the summer, keep these common mistakes in mind now, to avoid big costs later.

Mistakes costing thousands due to flooding

Mistakes costing thousands due to flooding

Mistake #1: Large Grass Lawns

Although traditional grass lawns are aesthetically pleasing, you may not be aware of the dangers they pose to your garden:

  • Fast Runoff: Traditional lawns will increase flood risks to your garden as they allow rapid water flow.
  • Waterlogging: Common with grass lawns, waterlogging leads to shallow root development, soil compaction, and fungal diseases.
  • Lack of Biodiversity: Monoculture lawns offer little habitat for pollinators, hindering the ecosystem’s resilience.
  • Water Consumption: Grass lawns demand significant water, especially in dry climates.
  • High Maintenance: Regular upkeep like mowing and pest control is important for grass lawns to minimise chances of flooding.

Beautiful alternatives to large grass lawns include:

  • Create a meadow garden: Plant a diverse mix of native wildflowers and grasses to create a beautiful, low-maintenance landscape that supports pollinators and wildlife.
  • Create a rain garden: Water-loving plants capture to filter stormwater runoff from roofs, driveways, and lawns.
  • Add edible landscaping: Integrate fruit trees, berry bushes, vegetables, and herbs into your landscape to provide food while reducing the area dedicated to grass.
  • Add trees and shrubs: Plant trees and shrubs to reduce the amount of grass needed, provide shade, and improve air quality.
  • Increase ground cover planting: Plant low-growing plants like creeping thyme, mosses, or sedges to replace grass in areas with foot traffic or where grass struggles to grow.

Mistake #2: Astroturf

Whilst Astroturf is an easy-win to make your garden look good without the hassle of having to tend to it, these synthetic lawns create significant flood and climate resilience challenges:

  • Poor Drainage: Poor installation can lead to standing water and potential bacterial growth in your garden, which increases flood risk.
  • Environmental Impact: Made from synthetic materials, Astroturf contributes to microplastic pollution and relies on fossil fuels for production which contributes.
  • Lack of Natural Benefits: Unlike natural grass, Astroturf lacks ecological benefits like carbon dioxide absorption and support for biodiversity.

Instead of Astroturf, you may consider these more beneficial alternatives:

  • Native plant landscaping: Replace artificial turf with a diverse mix of native plants, including grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, and trees. Native plants are adapted to local climate conditions, require less water and maintenance, and provide habitat for wildlife and pollinators.
  • Permeable hardscaping: For areas that require a solid surface, consider using permeable pavers, gravel, or mulch instead of artificial turf. These materials allow water to infiltrate the soil, reducing runoff and supporting the natural water cycle.

When selecting an alternative to artificial turf, consider your soil type. Consult with a local landscaping professional to help you choose the most suitable and sustainable option for your home.

Mistake #3: Paved Impermeable Surfaces

Many homeowners aren’t aware that hard surfaces in gardens increase flooding risks and raise environmental concerns, they are the silent culprits of flooding risks to your gardens:

  • Increase Surface Runoff: Impermeable surfaces hinder water infiltration, which leads to elevated surface runoff and potential flooding.
  • Reduce Groundwater Recharge: When water is unable to penetrate paved surfaces, it leads to decreased groundwater recharge, impacting nearby vegetation.
  • Compact Your Soil: Paved surfaces also cause soil compaction, affecting your plant’s growth and health.

Some alternatives to paved impermeable surfaces include;

  • Grass pavers or permeable pavers: These are paving systems that incorporate spaces or gaps filled with soil and planted with grass or other low-growing vegetation. They allow water to pass through the gaps and infiltrate the soil beneath. This helps reduce surface runoff and allows water to be absorbed into the ground.
  • Gravel or crushed stone: Replace impermeable surfaces with gravel or crushed stone, which allows water to drain through the spaces between the stones. This is a cost-effective solution for driveways, parking areas, or pathways.
  • Rain gardens: Create shallow depressions in the landscape near paved areas, and plant them with native, water-loving plants. Rain gardens collect and absorb stormwater runoff, helping to reduce flooding and improve water quality.

By implementing these alternatives to paved impermeable surfaces, you can help reduce the risk of flooding by allowing more water to be absorbed into the ground, slowing down the flow of stormwater runoff, and reducing the burden on the drainage system. A combination of these strategies, tailored to your specific site conditions, can provide the most effective flood mitigation benefits.

 Mistake #4: Lack of Rainwater Storage

Inadequate rainwater storage in gardens is also another problem that increases the chances of flooding in your garden as it holds various challenges.:

  • Overloaded Drainage Systems: Insufficient storage overwhelms drainage systems, causing flooding and waterlogging.
  • Increased Water Bills: Relying solely on tap water will increase your water bills, especially during dry weather spells.
  • Soil Erosion: Inadequate rainwater storage leads to excess runoff, resulting in soil erosion and nutrient loss.

You can increase your rainwater storage through any of the following:

  • Use water butts: Collect and store rainwater from the roof can reduce the volume that enters drainage systems or runs across the ground. Stored water will also  be released slowly or used to water plants.
  • Add a swale: Create shallow, gently sloping channels in your landscape to direct rainwater runoff towards planted areas or rain gardens.
  • Add a pond: Making space for water in gardens and landscapes mitigates flooding by providing a designated area for excess water to collect and be stored during heavy rainfall events.

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Garden spend ending up in the ditch due to flooding

Garden spend ending up in the ditch due to flooding: British people are wasting £2.9 million on their gardens, thanks to a low understanding of their flood risk, according to new data published today by Flood Re, the joint initiative between the UK government and the insurance industry.   

Despite the cost-of-living crisis, Brits spent £17.6 billion on their gardens last year – an average of £402 per UK adult – but a low awareness of their flood risk means they’re currently wasting £2.9M on their gardens, which are being battered by heavy rain and surface water flooding.

Garden spend ending up in the ditch due to flooding

Garden spend ending up in the ditch due to flooding

In total, 5.4 million (1 in 8) UK adults with gardens have experienced the devastating impact of flooding on their green spaces.

With February 2024 being the wettest on record for over 250 years and 1 in 4 homes in the UK at risk of floodingi, this National Gardening Week Flood Re wants people to start getting smart about their garden spending.

High Risk, Low Awareness 

The data also reveals only 5% of people living in high-risk areas could correctly identify their flood risk. Worryingly, 68% of people in high-risk flood areas think their flood risk is low. This low awareness of flood risk means green fingered Brits are at risk of investing time and money in their gardens that could be washed way.

The research shows Brits are not taking the crucial steps they need to protect their homes and gardens. Indeed, 90% of homeowners, rising to 93% in high and mid flood risk areas, haven’t taken any steps to make their homes and gardens more flood resilient. Despite the extreme weather conditions, this doesn’t look to be changing, with only 9% of homeowners planning to add flood resilience measures to their homes and gardens in the next year.

Furthermore, almost half (46%) of people in high and mid flood risk areas said flood risk had “no impact at all” on where they have chosen to live.

Flood Devastation 

The picture couldn’t be more different for those who have experienced flooding in their home and garden, with 62% claiming risk of flooding has since impacted where they choose to live.  With 41% of those who have experienced flooding considering implementing flood resilience modifications (compared to only 4% of Brits who haven’t experienced flooding), Flood Re is on hand to offer easy, cost-effective ways to smartly invest in your garden as a flood prevention tool.

Gardens are an important and cost-effective first line of defence to flooding. Properly managed, domestic gardens can channel, absorb and store large quantities of water, which means the risk to buildings and property is mitigated. The risk of localised and downstream flooding is reduced too.

From Roots to Resilience 

Choosing a variety of plants such as willow, water mint and astilbe can help ensure your garden can thrive in varying water conditions and withstand the challenges posed by climate change, from drought to inundation.

Similarly, slowing the flow of water into your garden will significantly reduce local flooding risks by diverting rainwater away from infrastructure, easing the burden on drainage systems and avoiding costly upgrades down the line.

To demonstrate how to harness your garden’s natural flood resilience, Flood Re are teaming up with leading garden designer Dr Ed Barsley and Naomi Slade and, to unveil the Flood Resilient Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May. The garden has been carefully designed to show how people can protect their gardens and homes against extreme weather and learn how to increase their flood resilience from the ground up.

Build Back Better

In the event of a flood, Flood Re’s Build Back Better scheme allows eligible customers with specific home insurers to receive up to £10,000 as part of a claim.

The amount is meant for home and garden improvements that go beyond basic repairs, focusing on enhancing the property’s resilience against future floods.

Andy Bord, Chief Executive Officer, Flood Re said: “The research clearly shows there is a job to be done to educate people about their flood risk. Gardens are cherished spaces that bring joy to so many of us, so why wouldn’t we want to not only protect them from harm but actively harness their power to prevent them from future damage? Your garden can be both beautiful and resilient to extreme wet weather. We’re hopeful this research and the Flood Resilient Garden will help people think about their flood risk and consider the plants and garden features that will both endure a flood and help reduce destruction and distress to their home when a flood hits.”

Dr. Ed Barsley, Environmental Design Expert said: “The research clearly shows that the majority of people aren’t aware that their garden or home is at flood risk of flooding until it’s too late. However, what’s positive to note is that there are a variety of practical and cost-effective measures that gardener owners can take to save themselves emotional and financial stress further down the line.”

Nikki Stocks, 63 from Lancashire said: “In the chaos of the flooding, I felt overwhelmed, unsure of how to safeguard my home and happiness due to financial restrictions. It’s affected my mental health because now I’m always anxious when it rains and how bad it could get for my home”.

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