By: 7 May 2024
Britain’s green fingers: protecting your home and garden from flood risk

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 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 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 flooding, 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 away.

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.

41% of those who have experienced flooding have considered implementing flood resilience modifications (compared to only 4% of Brits who haven’t experienced flooding).

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 have teamed up with leading garden designer Dr Ed Barsley and Naomi Slade 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.



Andy Bord, chief executive officer, Flood Re commented:

“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”.


Image: Canva.
Emma Cockings
Emma is a content editor for Claims Media. Emma is a experienced writer with a background in client-centric personal injury for a major firm. She has attended and reported on multiple brokerage events throughout her career.