Sunday, 16 April 2017

How To Make Your Garden Ready For Summer

Summer is almost upon us, and it’s supposed to be a particularly long, beautiful one this year. Being out in your back garden doesn’t hold much joy the rest of the year, unless you’re raking leaves or repotting shrubs or chasing next door’s cat away from a terrified sparrow, but now the good weather’s finally back, it’s time to think about how you can revamp your back garden to make it a perfect summer outdoor space. Here are some tips to help…

Perfect Your Lawn

blur, blurred, eco
Image source

First of all, it’s time to start perfecting your lawn. A lot of grassy areas tend to get green and overgrown during winter before getting yellow and spiky and straw-like over the summer, but luckily there are ways to prevent that and to make sure that you have lush green grass all day long. First of all it’s time to kill any weeds and moss that have sprung up - combine weed killers with plant food to get that done. Make sure that you mow it frequently and keep raking it regularly, pulling out all weeds from the root so that they don’t grow back.

Improve Your Soil

Watering plants with a watering can
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If you want to protect your soil from the summer sun it’s time to add a layer of mulch, which protects it directly from the sun and heat and also adds organic matter to the soil as it breaks down. It’s also a good idea to start getting into the habit of watering your garden regularly now - your plants won’t stay vibrant and healthy or summer without a little extra help from you. Set up a sprinkler every few days and go around with a watering can for any pots and smaller plants, like your herb garden.

Think About How To Be Sociable

backyard, bench, daylight
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Consider how you can best turn your back garden into a sociable space that all your friends will want to visit. It’s a good idea to install decking so you have a comfortable place to put a table, chairs and a grill so that you can hold BBQs. As it’s particularly warm this summer you could also consider installing a hot tub - although that might sound expensive, it’s possible to get interest free hot tubs online, and it’ll also mean that you have a pool to cool off in during the day, plus a romantic place to relax with your partner and a glass of wine at night. Finally, if you have space, why not invest in sports equipment like a net so that you can play bat and ball games? You’ll love this, and so will your kids and friends.

Add A Relaxing Area

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Finally, you need to consider how exactly you can make your garden a relaxing summer spot for you and your family to chill out. Find a shaded area, or create one using decking and any spare fencing to block out the sun. You could hang a hammock between trees or even go for a swing seat with waterproof cushion covers.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Legal Gardening Boundaries

Breathing fresh life into the outside of your home is a great to way to unleash a new lease of life into the whole property, but when doing so you must do so legally. Surprisingly, there are a whole host of legal retirements when it comes to gardening and growing a garden on your property — a lot of them are in relation to how it affects the wider community and your neighbours.
For instance, you need planning permission for paving a garden if you are in fact interested in having paving placed in your garden. The need for these kinds of permissions have been put in place because of the impact these types of ventures can have on the wider community. For instance, the law was placed in the UK in 2007 because of the ways in which paved aware were seemingly contributing to the accumulation of water to such an extent where it was contributing to the floods that were plaguing the country at the time. Because of this, it is now illegal to pave more than five square meters if you have not paid prior consideration as to where where water would drain to in the result of a flood. And if you are successful in being granted the chance to continue with your paving venture, then you should seek as much professional assistance with it as possible so as to ensure that all the work is done not only to a good standard for yourself, but to a standard where it is legally acceptable, i.e. to a standard where it is smooth enough to walk upon without posing a danger to those that do. You should seek to find paving contractors near you so as to make sure that you are getting in experts that know not only how to set paving well and legally, but also how to set it to make it look the best it can look. In doing so, you are staying on the right side of the tracks, and you are enhancing your garden two-fold.

Make sure your paving is legal

And there are a whole host of other garden laws, even some that refer to the nature found in it itself, that needed to be abided by. One of which is the situation of an overhanging branch. Simply, branches, that come from trees that grow from the ground in your plot, that overhang over your fence and into your neighbour’s airspace, constitute as trespassing on your part. This is why you should always make sure that you either keep the branches in your plot, or you converse with your neighbour and make them aware of the situation. You must also always remember that  they are lawfully entitled to deal with any branches that trespass in their airspace as they see fit, so if you see them chopping them, even though it is your tree, you are not legally entitled to claim anything from it as long as they make an effort to return the pieces they have chopped to you. And there are also laws that dictate on lawful entitlement and ownership. For instance, a tree belongs to the owner of the plot in which it grows from the ground in, and so does all of the produce that falls from it. Therefore, it is illegal to take, say, an apple that has fallen from your neighbour’s apple tree, even if it has fallen into your garden.

Overhanging branches
You can make your garden a relaxing haven, and relax in it knowing that every piece of work you’ve done it is keeping you on the right side of the law.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Make Your Garden a Relaxing Haven

Max Pixel

The garden can be the unrivalled champion of stress relief. If you’ve found yourself taking on a lot of stress due to work or home obligations recently, then it might be time to head out to the garden and craft yourself a relaxing haven. Here’s how!

The magic of gardening

As you may already know, physical activity is a great way of reducing stress. People often underestimate just how much of a workout thorough gardening can be sometimes! But it’s not just the physical exertion that triggers a decrease in stress.

There’s the increase in exposure to sunlight to think about, too. An influx of vitamin D, combined with fresh air, is always great for relaxation. Another thing about gardening is that it’s a creative process, which in itself relieves stress in a very effective way. That’s why a lot of people write and paint. Why not get double the effect by creating a beautiful garden then painting it?

Creating a space for you

People underestimate how stressful being at home can be. Because your home life isn’t always completely divorced from your professional life - and it certainly isn’t much of a break from obligations if you have a family! - simply being at home isn’t always as relaxing as people make it out to be.

That’s why having a private space away from home can be very beneficial. We’re not talking about something too far away from the house, of course - we’re talking about having somewhere right in your garden! Some may choose to construct an arbour or a small summerhouse, others may choose sheds or even log cabins from Cuckooland. Whatever you choose, these spaces can be great places to relax and concentrate.

Bring in the wildlife

Nature, in itself, can be a relaxing thing - and this effect is multiplied when you throw wildlife into the equation. The presence of animals can help someone destress very effectively. This is why a lot of people suggest that those who are depressed or stressed get themselves a cat or a dog!

You can encourage wildlife into your garden by getting a bird bath and bird feeder. After all, how good can a garden really be if it doesn’t attract beautiful birds? You can also encourage the presence of butterflies and bees by planting flowers. (Although the presence of bees doesn’t always relax people!)

Calming scents
It’s strange that there’s such a strong connection between stress and smell. But studies have shown again and again that there are certain scents out there that can really help us relax, as well as boost our mood. Thankfully, you can introduce many of these scents to your garden.

The first thing you may think of is lavender, which is widely used for its calming effects. Jasmine is something else you can grow in your garden with a scent that boosts moods. If you’re not in the mood to start growing plants, or you need something a little more immediate, then try mowing your lawn. You’ve probably experienced for yourself the mood-boosting and relaxing effects that the aroma of cut grass gives.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden

Located close to Gatwick Airport is the fantastic Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden. The  stunning selection of sculptures chosen by owner-curator, Hannah Peschar, is extremely wide and varied with styles varying from figurative to highly abstract. The various sculptures use an  innovative selection of contemporary materials ranging from metals, wire, glass, ceramics and plastics as well as the more traditional stone, wood and bronze.

The grounds are simply fantastic, we visited in the Spring, I would imagine the autumn colours would also compliment the sculptures beautifully as well.

A large giant head lies amongst the undergrowth.

See through fungi on an old tree stump

Another large head, this one resembles part of an old giant statue. Fabulous colour in the woods.

Each sculpture is placed in the landscape with a carefully considered and meaningful relationship with the other featured works within the garden, which was created by the award-winning landscape designer  Anthony Paul. The overall result is an beautifully inspired combination of peaceful, enclosed harmony and dramatic, surprise vistas in an ever-changing environment.Whether you are fan of sculpture of just beautiful landscapes there is something for everyone.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

How to Take Bay Cuttings

An essential herb you should have available to you is bay (Laurus nobilis) it is an easily available plant to buy but if you want to grow your own heres how!
  1. Take a heel cutting, a fresh shoot or tip in early summer or in the autumn. Cut from a mature bay tree don't be tempted to take one from a young plant. The cutting should be about 8cm (3") long.

  2. Strip off the upper and lower leaves from the cutting.

  3. Dip the intended root end into a cutting rooting hormone powder. This will stimulate vigorous root growth.

  4. Put the cutting into a small pot filled with two-thirds coarse sand and one-third good quality multi-purpose compost.

  5. Put the container under a plastic bag hanging over wire or similar to keep it from touching or landing on the cutting. This creates a mini-greenhouse for the cutting.

  6. Be patient. It will take around 9 months for the cutting to root.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Keeping Koi

Water features, whether they’re fountains, ponds or rills, can be a wonderful addition to any garden. However, a lot of gardeners will hit a point where they look at their standing water, and think that it looks a bit barren. One popular way of breathing more life into your pond is buying some koi carp and giving them a home there. Here are some tips for keeping them happy and healthy.

Image from Pexels
The Right Diet
Like any animal, a koi’s diet is essential to keeping it happy and healthy. There’s a range of specialised koi foods on the market, intended for growth, colour, general health or a combination. One of the most important things to remember is that koi are poikilothermic, meaning that their body temperature is governed by the surrounding water. This means that you need to feed them different foods during different seasons. They’ll need a lower amount of protein in the winter and colder end of spring, and foods that are high in protein during the summer. This is because food passes slowly through their gut at lower temperatures, and will be poorly digested. Be sure to consult the koi vendor about the food you should stock up on for different times of the year.
Water Quality
The quality of the water you’re keeping your koi in is another important thing to consider. You need low or non-existent levels of ammonia, nitrate, and a PH level between 6 and 9. Common toxins found in tap water, such as chlorine, chloramine, and iron, also need to be avoided to assure the best possible health for your koi. It’s also important to maintain a minimum oxygen level of 6mg per litre, which can be achieved with products like the Oase Filtoclear. You may not be able to get all of these parameters spot-on, but once you get close enough, it’s important to keep it this way. Erratic changes in oxygen, mineral levels and temperature can all be extremely strenuous to a koi’s body, and may shorten their lifespan. Whatever you do, don’t assume that the water quality is good simply because it’s clear. Battery acid is clear, but it won’t do any animal much good!
Be Vigilant
Countless people like the idea of keeping koi in a pond, but unfortunately, a lot of them simply don’t put in the time it takes to keep their environment healthy and free of problems. Now that you own koi, you’re going to have to deal with various environmental issues, such as excessive fish waste, acid rain, and nutrient runoff. These issues are fairly common, but can be serious if you don’t stay vigilant and tackle them as soon as they arise. Make sure you’re performing regular water checks, and taking steps to iron out any developing issues you come across. Koi may not be the most high-maintenance fish in the world, but when you’re not paying attention to the state of the pond, even the hardiest fish can experience some harrowing and potentially deadly health issues.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Create a Garden Your Dog Can Enjoy Too

Your dog is an important part of the family. He is always happy to see you; always there for you with a wagging tail when you’re down, so you should do what you can to take good care of him.
Dogs love being outside in the garden with the wind in their fur and the sun on their face, and who are you to deny them that? If you want to make your dog happy and keep him safe, you should create a garden your dog can enjoy. Here are some tips that will help you to do that:
Secure the Borders
First thing’s first – you will need to secure your garden so that your pooch can’t escape and get into all manner of mischief and danger. Erecting a fence or building a wall, at least around the area where your dog will be playing, relaxing and sleeping is a must. Make sure you dig down a bit into the ground and start building there because some dogs are known diggers who will be down and under the fence in no time given the chance.
Stimulate Their Senses
Dogs are smart. If they aren’t stimulated, they can get very bored very quickly, and you don’t want that. To keep them busy in the garden, put down paving slabs to create different pathways and section off areas for digging, sleeping and playing as a first step. Then, think about texture. Paving slabs, turf, water (If you install a water feature, make sure it is dog-safe), wood chips – give them plenty to explore.

Plant Hardy Greenery

Dogs like to run and play. They don’t stop to think about the havoc they are wreaking on the environment around them, which means that, if you want plants in your garden, you will need to go for hardy varieties that can stand up to pounding paws and wagging tails. Geranium and Leucanthemum are particularly good options.
A note on buying plants: Many plants and flowers are toxic to dogs, so always check a reputable source before you plant anything your garden.

Use Hedges
Make use of hedges and gates to section off areas where your dogs can roam freely and areas just for the humans, where flowers and plants will be safe from destructive paws and excessive peeing.

Build a Kennel
Your dog might like being in the garden, but when the sun is at its highest in the sky, he might want to sit in the shade for a spell, so either build or buy a good dog kennel where he can go to rest, drink some water and have a sleep in the shade.

Use Organic Pest Control

Slugs and snails don’t only eat your plants – they can also poison dogs who eat them, but pesticides and water feature additives can also poison your dogs, which is why you should use natural organic methods of controlling pests, weeding and keeping your water feature clean if you want to keep your pet pooch safe.
Do you have a dog? How do you keep him or her happy in the garden?

Monday, 27 February 2017

Give Your Garden Some Summer Lovin' This Spring

If you can’t wait for the summer months and the way that they bring out the best in all of your beautiful flowers, then why wait? Don’t wait for the summer when you can bring the summer to your garden now, in the springtime. As soon as the last dregs of persistently bad and wet weather have passed, and it is safe to get outside and make a start on sprucing up your garden, you should.

Start by trimming and tending to your grass that has, of late, seen no action and therefore grown out-of-control. Feeding your lawn like clockwork with granular feed should start as soon as is practically possible for you, and should then continue throughout the spring and summer months. If winter killed your grass well and truly, then not to fear, it can be rectified — you should seek to eradicate any instances of moss quickly though so that you can get to thickening the affected area of grass. And as soon as it is in a position to be tended once more, get to shaping and trimming it in order to bring the best out of it aesthetically. Buy a Hayter Mower to assist you in making sure your grassy area doesn’t look like it has a winter hangover and isn't suffering from wear and tear, but is instead in a pristine and perfect condition. Your grass is the centre piece of your garden, so should be the first piece of the puzzle that you seek to get in place as you seek to construct the perfect summer garden.

However, a garden wouldn't be the same without flowers in it — so it’s a good job you can get to planting summer-flowering bulbs as early as in the spring! Lilies, Gladiolus and Ranunculus are just some that can all be planted before the summer period kicks in, but will erupt to life and provide a colourful summer display when it does; if these don’t take your fancy, then make sure to check the huge catalogue on Thompson & Morgan to find the seeds and bulbs that can be planted during the spring that best suit your garden’s style and character.

You should also focus your energies on covering all of the practical aspects of owning and maintaining a sizzling summer garden. This means that you should be carrying out actions such as: clearing up your flower beds and borders, so that the dead growth of the winter is cut back and you can really focus on the future; sowing seeds that need a longer season, so that you’re covered in the long-run; hunting down any unwelcome garden pests, so that they don’t back around to bite you (or any guests you may invite over) on the bum when you host summer parties; cleaning your greenhouse, so that it is clean for the time when it is to adorned with trades of seedlings; and put-up, fix or paint any fences, gates and trellis. Doing all of these tasks, no matter how tedious they may seem, will mean your garden will have a sturdy backbone that you can work upon.

Getting your garden practically in order as early as possible in the year is a way to stay on top of keeping it looking aesthetically pleasing when the summer sun is shining upon it, so start pronto! Tending to your garden as if it were summer time now will mean you will be able to reap the rewards when it is in fact in the midst of it.
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