Storm Proofing your Greenhouse.

Following the devastation that we have experienced during Storms Dudley and Eunice in February 2022 I think it a prudent time to share a hack I picked up from the Americans whose greenhouses have to survive hurricanes.

On the morning of the 19 February 2022 social media in the UK was full of images from everyone’s gardens and allotments showing the devastation to their greenhouses and sheds. There are many reasons why this happened but in a lot of cases it was because of the way that polycarbonate panels are secured to the aluminium frames.

In the majority of cases the polycarbonate panels are held in place only by simple wire springs which, even if properly fixed, can still pop out causing the panels to come loose. Many people, like me, will have a relatively cheap light weight aluminium/polycarbonate greenhouse and these are fine during our normal weather conditions. However, the weather is changing……

It does not take a rocket scientist to realise that the weather is getting progressively worse and more unpredictable. More importantly for greenhouse owners, the storms are getting more frequent and much stronger. During Storm Eunice just 25 miles away from me, a UK wind speed record was set at 122 mph on the Isle of Wight!

I was located in the Met Office Storm Eunice Red Zone and was subject to some of the strongest winds and gusts recorded in the UK. However, on the morning of the 19 February, I was relieved to find that my greenhouse had suffered no damage. This was, in part, down to one simple step that I carried out when I installed the greenhouse.

The Magic Fix

Well, to start with it is not magic but it is very simple and something that can be done by anyone with polycarbonate greenhouse panels. The ‘magic’ ingredient is Hex self-drilling washer head screws. These come with a 16mm aluminium washer but it is important that they also have the 16mm fabric washer.

Self-drilling hex head screws with washer – 5,5 x 22 mm

Whilst these are designed for securing corrugated roofing sheets, with gentle application, they are perfect for securing polycarbonate panels to aluminium frames. Although they are self-drilling, I also bought a 4mm drill to create pilot holes for the screws.

There are several key places where the screws need to be attached. With side and back panels, they need to be secured at the top, middle and bottom. For the roof panels, they need to be fixed at the bottom and middle, the top is protected by the aluminium apex covers. For the front panels, bottom middle and where ever you can secure a hex washer screw.

The following images show the key places that I secured my panels. You can copy this or alter to suit your particular design of greenhouse. This is not a ‘you must do it this way’ suggestion, I am just putting it out there for adaptation you your particular requirements.

Side Panels
Back Panel
Roof and Front Panels

There is no right or wrong way to secure the panels to the aluminium frame. The most important thing – DO NOT over tighten the screws. You do not want to compress the panels just touch them with the fabric washer. Do not use as an electric screwdriver to secure them, please you a hand screwdriver as this gives you better control not to damage the panels.

With some greenhouse designs you may find that there is a gap between the bottom of the panel and the aluminium frame. So as not to damage the panels, you may need to place a thin insert between the panel and the frame from the inside of the greenhouse. You can then drill through the panel, insert and frame.

This is not a ‘cure-all’, there are no guarantees that this will help your greenhouse survive the next storm however, it will go some way to offering you protection from the panels being lifted off and blown away. All you will now need to look at is securing it to the ground, so it does not blow over!

Disclaimer: You carry out any of these ideas at your own risk. I cannot be held responsible for any damage caused to your greenhouse by carrying out this hack.

To purchase some of these screws click on the Amazon link to my shop

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