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What do gardeners do when it rains?

Gardeners are well weathered people and able to cope with the UK's precipitous climate. Rain is a gardeners friend - it helps the plants grow! As long as plants are growing a gardener has work. Rain is part of a meteorological balance of energies - it typically rains when rain is needed.

What work can a gardener do in the rain?

Good gardeners have an intimate knowledge of the gardens they look after. They know which plants need pruning and when. When it rains, a gardener can choose to do pruning rather than digging or mowing. This is one reason why flexible customers will always get priority as preferred customers. A gardener will know which customers have pruning work that could be completed from hard standing/paving during wet weather.

Wear waterproof clothing

They say that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. Skiing doesnt make you cold because you are active and dressed appropriately. Likewise, gardeners will have appropriate water-proof clothing to enable them to continue working when it rains. Gardeners choose clothing materials that are quick drying and breathable. Spare clothing, spare gloves, a waterproof hood, summer and winter hats etc are all part of a professional gardeners PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).

Plan for regional variations in the weather

The local climate can vary from coast to coast. Many gardeners focus their services accordingly. For example, gardeners in wet and windy areas may focus on pruning trees, shrubs and repairing fences damaged by strong winds. In drier areas, gardeners may need to focus on plants that can cope well in drought conditions or dry, salty sea breezes and sandy soils!

Work with, not against, seasonal weather

It is very rare that we have prolonged and persistant rainfall for more than a few days in a row. It typically rains the most when regular lawn mowing has stopped or is less frequent i.e Late autumn, winter or early spring. Gardeners can easily work around this. If it rains during the growing season, the ground will likely dry out quickly and work can continue. Most other gardening work can continue even if it is raining.

Let your gardener manage your garden and decide what work is done and when. They will work with the weather and the seasons and plan the work accordingly. Work is more likely to be done at the right time when you let your gardener manage the work load. Remember, doing the right job at the right time usually coincides with when the weather is most appropriate to do that task. See 'What do gardeners do in the winter?'

Use professional tools

A professional gardeners tools are more powerful, stronger and better able to cope with adverse conditions i.e. long wet grass. They are also regularly maintained and blades kept sharp.

Lawn mowing in the rain?

It is not unusual to see lawn mowing on wet days. This is not done unthinkingly!
- Lawns with long grass and sodden soils will be avoided.
- Lawn mowing in wet conditions is usually avoided because wet grass can gather on the blades and tear the grass rather than cut cleanly.
- The heavy mower could also compress sodden soil in unslightly ways.

However, good gardeners have an intimate knowledge of the gardens they look after.
- Well drained lawns may be given a very light cut on a higher cut setting so that the lawn looks neat and the mower is much less likely to clog or pull the roots.
- They know which lawns grow faster after rain and will need to be given a light cut to help them dry quicker and stay manageable.(see Good time management during wet weather).
- They know which lawns are on clay soil or rocky soil.
- They know which lawns will be waterlogged and which lawns drain quickly.
- A professional mower has many height settings. A gardener may raise the cutting height temporarily so the lawn looks neat until dry weather returns when the cutting height can be reduced again.
- It is not unusual for large lawns to be managed in this way. For example, professional football pitches are well maintained and cared for despite the football season running throughout the winter. They are mowed regularly and receive heavy use.

How weather predictions affect gardening work

Some customers listen to the national weather forecast, hear that rain is forecast and cancel their gardener. Most gardeners work in an area apx 10 square miles. Even if rain is predicted for your county, it doesn't mean it will rain in your part of the county! It isn't raining until it actually starts raining.

There is a big difference between 'rain' and 'showers'. Rain is a heavy and persistant downpour. Showers are sporadic and may dry out quickly or even miss you completely.

Good time management during wet weather

A good gardener is a busy gardener. Gardeners may have to restrict regular customers to 3 or 4 days a week to give their diary some flexibility. By leaving one or two days a week spare for irregular work, they have flexibility to rebook that irregular work if they need the time slot to make up for regular maintenance commitments that are disrupted by wet weather. Gardeners will do the work they know they can do despite the weather - so they havent got as much to catch up on when the weather improves.

Let the gardener decide

As you can see from this article, a gardener can work in wet weather and many tasks can continue. The decision to work may also be affected by the time of year, your plants, the layout of your garden, whether it is rain or showers, your soil type and many other factors!

However, it is the extent of the wet weather and type of work that matters. A gardener may decide that they don't want their tools exposed to rain but are happy to work as soon as the rain stops. They may decide that the ground is too slippery to work or that they won't risk using a ladder but are happy to work at ground level. A good gardener will know what should be done and be responsible. A good customer will be flexible so that the gardener can manage their time to ensure that everything gets done in a timely and efficient manner.

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