Home Safety in the Garden

by Andrew Crowley | 4 min read   July 31st, 2018

We probably don’t get to spend all the time we would like in our gardens here in Ireland due to our climate. Nevertheless, we often leave items and belongings in our gardens and garden sheds that pose risks to us and are a potential prize for burglars.

Items to Never Leave Outside Your Home

  • The spare key – Lot’s of us are guilty of leaving a spare key under a pot or inside a bird house in our gardens. While this is great on the days we forget our key it could prove disastrous should a burglar find it and let themselves into your home. It is important to take reasonable precautions to protect your home as in this instance we would not cover theft of your contents. Our tip, leave a spare key with a trusted neighbour or family member that lives nearby.
  • Ladders – Many of us have a ladder in the house to get in and out of the attic, put the star on top of the tree at Christmas etc. Storage of ladders is always tricky. They’re big and awkward. Leaving ladders outside the home is very dangerous. Burglars can use ladders as an aid to gain entry to your home via 1st floor windows. Our tip, keep your ladder indoors, in a garage, storage cupboard or utility. Failing this a locked shed is a good option.
  • Bicycles and children’s toys – In Dublin alone, 14 bikes are stolen a day, that’s 5,000 a year. Leaving bikes and toys in gardens is a risk should an opportunistic thief stumble upon your garden. If you leave a bicycle in your garden the amount you can claim for is a maximum of €125, whereas if it is locked away and stolen we will cover up to 10% of your contents sum insured, subject to your policy excess. Our tip, keep your garden tidy and free of bikes and toys at night. Lock them away in a garage or shed. Failing this, keep them indoors.
  • Garden furniture & the BBQ – Leaving garden furniture exposed in our weather can lead to rapid aging and deterioration. Our tip, store these items in a shed or garage where possible. If this isn’t possible invest in a good quality cover to help protect from the elements. Make sure it is well secured or with the first stiff breeze it could well take flight.
  • Man’s best friend – While our dogs love to get out and explore the garden, leaving your dog outside alone for extended periods of time can be stressful for your pet. Dogs are a pack animal and need companionship. Our tip, keep your pet company whether indoors or out, your company will keep your pet content.

Dangerous Items in Your Shed

While leaving items in your garden poses risk of theft and deterioration your garden shed offers a range of different risks. Given that lots of us store valuable items in our sheds, it’s important to ensure they are locked at night and while you are out at work or away for a period of time. Inside our sheds also pose a number of risks to our health:

  • Herbicides and pesticides – We all like to keep our garden well manicured and well fed however; this can be dangerous to us, our children and our pets. Our tip, keep herbicides and pesticides in sealed containers. Have them well labelled and out of reach of children and pets.
  • Gas bottles & Flammables – A summers day is not complete without a BBQ in the garden, if yours is gas fired storing a gas bottle this can pose a significant risk. Similarly, lots of us will keep coal and kindling for fires in our sheds. Our tip, don’t store your gas bottle in your shed. Keep it upright, in a well vented corner of your garden, away from heat and ignition sources and of course children. For coal, the best place to store it is in an outdoor coal bunker. Again ensure heat and ignition sources are not near by.
  • Pet food and bird seed – Storing pet food and bird seed in our sheds can attract rodents and other pests if not properly sealed. Rodents are not just unsightly but can cause serious damage around our homes and gardens. Furthermore, temperature changes in your shed can cause some pet foods to spoil. Our tip, store these items indoors in a cool dry area. If opened, store in sealed containers and in line with the manufacturers storing recommendations.
  • Wine & beers – We have all done this, while stocking up for Christmas or special occasions; we store beers and wines in our shed to keep them from cluttering our homes. This can spoil the product as our sheds and garages can fluctuate in temperature ranging from too hot, or too cold. It’s also easily stolen. Our tip, store indoors between 10 & 15 degrees in a dry space.
  • Lawnmowers and gardening equipment – Our gardening equipment is often expensive and can be dangerous. Lawnmowers, hedge clippers, shovels and wheelbarrows can all be a juicy prize for burglars and a potential trip and cut hazard if not stored properly. Our tip, keep your shed locked tight at night and when you are away from your home to keep thieves at bay. To avoid injury have a proper storage plan for your shed. Each item should have its place. This will help to avoid injury while rummaging around in your shed.

A final consideration in the garden is the risk of litigation as a result of accidental injury. Keeping a tidy and orderly garden can reduce this risk. However, should you be unfortunate enough for this to happen in your garden your home insurance policy is on hand to help. The public liability element of your home product offers cover for such accidents up to the value of €3,175,000. Be sure to consult your Home policy document for full details.


Information correct as of date of publishing. This blog will not be updated or edited so the information may become outdated.

Andrew Crowley
Market Management