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Caring for storm damaged gardens

Caring for storm damaged gardens

Severe storms can be very damaging to gardens, causing branches to break and creating lots of plant debris. It's best to remove torn branches as this will aid faster healing and reduce the chance of pests and diseases taking hold. Read our tips on caring for storm damaged trees and shrubs, and making use of any branches and leaves which have fallen.


Storm damaged trees can often be under a lot of strain, resulting in a quick release of energy when a branch is cut through with a chainsaw. To avoid injury, leave the removal of large branches to professional arboriculturists.

Prune smaller broken branches at the point where they join a main branch, or if this isn't possible, prune the branch back to the trunk.

Avoid cutting branches flush with the trunk as this will delay healing. Place your pruning saw slightly away from the trunk and cut away at a slight angle. Make an undercut before overcutting to prevent the bark tearing.


For storm damaged shrubs, cut back any broken branches to a healthy bud or a point where the shoot joins the main stem.

Don't be tempted to do any further pruning to neaten the overall shape, unless it is the right time of year to prune your particular shrub.

Plant debris

If you don't already have one, try building a compost bin to make use of any fallen branches and leaves in your garden. Make sure you layer leaves, woody prunings and dead plant material with grass clippings or vegetable kitchen waste to aid the composting process.

Any small branches are best cut into pieces or put through a garden shredder before adding to the compost heap to help them break down faster. The chipped wood also makes an effective path material.

Collect any twiggy sticks to use as pea supports or for supporting herbaceous perennials in the summer.

Lots of leaves!

If you don't have a compost bin, leaves can be put to good use by making leaf mould, a fantastic soil improver.

Collect leaves into a bin bag, loosely tie the top and then pierce holes in the side. The leaves should be moist so add a little water if necessary.

Stack the bags somewhere out of the way for 12-18 months to allow the leaves to break down. Oak, beech and hornbeam leaves break down a lot more quickly than sycamore, plane or horse chestnut leaves. Shred the latter before placing them in bags and avoid using leaves from evergreen plants.

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  • raking leaves

    Fallen leaves are incredibly useful in the garden. Try composting them or making leafmould for improving your borders.

  • twiggy sticks

    Collect any twiggy sticks to use as pea supports or for supporting herbaceous perennials in the summer.