How to make your garden safe through the autumn and winter

Anti-slip timber deck boards covered in Autumn leaves

Making a few changes could ensure your garden stays safe through the autumn and winter. Here are some simple safety tips to help you make the most of your outdoor space all year round.

After enjoying sunny days in the garden, many of us retreat indoors once the winter weather comes. For some people, the garden becomes a no-go zone. Think about the barriers that stop you from getting outdoors over the autumn and winter. These could include:

  • The worry of falling on uneven paving or slippery decking
  • Steep steps that become hazardous in wet and icy weather
  • The danger of tripping on dark pathways
  • Damage caused by storms or heavy rainfall

We now understand more about the health and well-being benefits of spending time outdoors. Recent research from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, found that getting enough natural sunlight improves mood and sleep and even lowers the risk of depression. Physician and wellness expert Dr Rangan Chatterjee regularly comments on the health benefits of being outside in nature.

Just taking some time each day to walk around the garden, enjoy an alfresco meal or take our morning coffee outside could seriously improve your quality of life. So, what changes will you make to create a safe garden to enjoy through the seasons?

Reduce the risk of slips and trips

Slippery or uneven surfaces are a major safety concern for many people, particularly anyone with mobility problems. Uneven paving or steep steps can be hazardous at any time of year, but when the light fades and the ground is wet, they can be a real danger.

When it becomes wet or icy, traditional decking can be notoriously slippery. The inevitable build-up of algae and leaves in the autumn and winter months adds to the problem. Replacing old paving or decking with non-slip decking is a practical solution. Unlike traditional timber decking, it stays safe even in wet or icy weather. One Gripsure customer helped his in-laws’ enhance their quality of life when he replaced their slippery decking with Gripsure non-slip decking. The elderly couple now regularly enjoy time in their garden without the worry of falling. You can also install non-slip decking on walkways and steps, creating a safe route through your garden in any weather.

Be prepared for storms

We are experiencing more extreme weather events, which means we all need to be prepared for storms. High winds can cause devastation in our gardens, including damage to fences, sheds and trees. Unsecured objects and garden furniture should be packed away if bad weather is forecast. Trampolines can become airborne in high winds so many companies now sell kits to anchor them down.

The Met Office has published guidance on protecting your property in a storm. The RHS also has some good advice on preparing your garden for winter, including regularly checking structures, such as fences and trellises, and planting hedges as windbreaks if necessary.

Light up your garden

To safely venture into your garden after dark, you’ll need good lighting. Think about the spaces that are a priority for you. These could include paths, steps and any areas you want to enjoy after sundown, such as a deck or patio. You may also want to consider security lighting to reduce the risk of garden thefts or trespassers.

Lighting is not just about safety. It can be an aesthetic feature, creating an atmosphere in your garden. Writing for the Society of Garden Designers, lighting designer Sanjit Bahra has shared his tips and inspiration for illuminating your garden.

Take steps to prevent flooding

Our changing climate means we are experiencing more bouts of heavy rain. As a result, flooding is a growing concern. Regularly checking gutters and drains for blockages and installing a water butt are simple steps anyone can take. The Rivers Trust has shared some more ideas for reducing the risk of flooding in your garden.

Some gardeners choose to create a rain garden. This sounds like an ambitious project, but it can simply involve creating an area that is low-lying and planted with native species that absorb rain and tolerate being in water. Hard surfaces are more prone to flooding, with patios being a particular problem when it comes to surface water. Timber decking is a far better solution if you are concerned about flooding. That’s because it is permeable and allows rainwater to flow underneath. However, when you are installing a deck, it is important to ensure there is a slight fall in the deck so that water can easily run off it. The Timber Decking and Cladding Association (TDCA) explains how you can incorporate a sustainable drainage system into your decking.

Getting outdoors in all seasons is so important for our wellbeing and having a safe garden all year round could be the key. Taking steps to overcome common garden hazards could help you make the most of your outdoor space throughout the autumn and winter.

Looking for some inspiration?

Why not request a free sample of one of our decking products to help you decide what is right for you and your next project?