£2.9m UK householders currently spend on gardens is ending up in the ditch due to flooding

UK householders are spending £2.9 million on their gardens, due to what researchers are calling 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, householders 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.

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

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.”

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

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 householders are at risk of investing time and money in their gardens that could be washed way.

The research shows people are not taking the crucial steps they need to protect their homes and gardens. Indeed, 90% of householders, 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% 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.

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.”

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 those who haven’t experienced flooding), Flood Re offers easy, cost-effective ways to smartly invest in the 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.

Choosing a variety of plants such as willow, water mint and astilbe can help ensure a 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 a garden can 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 a garden’s natural flood resilience, Flood Re has teamed up with garden designer Dr Ed Barsley and Naomi Slade and will 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.

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.

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