Friday, 25 July 2014

Don't Overlook the First and Last Thing People See in Your Garden!

First impressions are hard to undo when it comes to people walking up to your front door. If you have buy that is in disrepair or looks shoddy, it is saying more about you than the humble fence. Thankfully, it’s not hard to make your fencing say good things about you than bad things, as long as you pay attention to it before the guests arrive.

How to Make a Beautiful Impression

Your choice of fencing can set the tone of the house. It can be as decorative or utilitarian as your heart desires. Wrought iron fencing brings some old world charm to your house facade while picket fencing is an American favorite. Install a high privacy fence, to make it useful as well as beautiful. There are ways to modify fencing that is already installed. Keep it looking its best so that it can put on its best face, no matter who comes to your door. For example:

Keep It In Good Shape - Inspect your fence regularly and replace loose boards or broken hinges. Animals can damage your fence and it may need some repair every now and then. Bad weather can also wear down the paint on it making it look almost shredded in places. You can sand flaking paint off, give it a new coat of paint, and make repairs when needed to keep it in top shape.

Go for a Custom Paint Job -
Add a pop of colour to your fence by painting a mural on it. If you don’t want giant poppies painted on your fence, you can still opt for a bold color choice like blue or steel gray, instead of the usual white. There are numerous stains that can also bring out the best in different wood fences.

Landscaping - Inspect the trees and bushes that are planted around your fence so that they don’t interfere with walking through a gate or end up obscuring the view over the fence. Keep all your landscaping tidy by adding fence elements, like arbors or trellises, to keep your landscaping under control while adding beauty to your fence design.

Fencing doesn't have to be ornate to be beautiful. A white, picket, fence is a simple option that many households dream about before they even make a home purchase. Fences create good neighbours by delineating borders and keeping people out of your yard, when you don't want them there. It’s also quite an inexpsive way to make your yard beautiful – check out the pricing at
Buy Fencing Direct for example.

They are utilitarian and can also be a central part of your curb appeal. It doesn't matter what your tastes are like, there is a fencing style out there to suit your lifestyle that can reflect your personality too.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Summertime garden checklist: How to keep on top of general maintenance

With summer underway and hot temperatures making their presence felt across the UK, your gardens could probably do with a bit of TLC. Here we provide the ultimate summer garden checklist to help you keep on top of general maintenance come rain or shine.


·         Always be vigilant and look out for pesky pests such as aphids and slugs. Pesticides aren’t your only option for this, so research natural deterrents and make your garden beautiful and pest-free.

·         As plants such as roses continue to bloom, prune and feed them to encourage new blooms into late summer. Shrubs may also need a boost so give them a good feed to promote growth towards the end of the season. Find out what kind of soil you have and then adapt your feed to supplement it with the nutrients it needs.

·         Opt for potted plants if you find tending a whole garden of foliage too strenuous. This is even possible in retirement homes such as those offered by McCarthy and Stone  where landscaped gardens are a common feature.


·         Wash and clean the glass, both inside and out, to keep your greenhouse looking great no matter what the weather.

·         Store planting materials under benches and tables within greenhouses to stop them from cluttering up the house and to ensure you always have access to the tools you need. Make sure any sharp edges on tools are covered are stored in a way that won’t present a risk of accident.

·         Grow young plants or vegetables in your greenhouse to ensure you have plenty of colourful things to look at whatever the weather does to your outside garden.

Vegetable and fruit

·         Grow a variety of fruit and vegetables to provide yourself with fresh produce throughout the year. You can freeze excess produce you’ve grown to defrost and use later or turn into jams, chutneys and other sauces if you prefer.

·         Prune vines in August to keep fruit ripening throughout the season and to prepare your plants for the autumn and winter. If you’re not sure exactly when to prune certain plants then this checklist from The Daily Telegraph can help.

General tips

·         Water your plants regularly, choosing cooler parts of the day (such as early morning and night-time) to do it.

·         Re-sow bare patches of lawn with new seed or turf and tidy up the edges with sheers. Placing edging stones can help keep your lawn under control in the long term and giving the whole thing a quick feed of nutrients and water will keep it green and luscious.


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Are Garden Offices Great For You?

This is quite an interesting question. Since you are here, reading these lines, it is obvious that you are thinking about the possibility of buying or building garden offices. We are faced with various different options that are available on the internet. You can now buy something that is perfect according to the wishes you may have. However, although this is the case, will garden offices be suitable for the needs you have at the moment?

In order to answer this question, you need to basically take a quick look at the various options that are available for you. It is important that you think about the work that you do on a daily basis. That will have the highest impact on the work that is to be done. Stay focused on your routine. Is it possible to do work while at home? If so, will you be comfortable working in a garden office or you just need a shed? This is a really simple question that you can ask yourself.

No matter what you may believe at the moment, the truth is that the garden offices can be great for you. There are so many options that are currently available and it is practically impossible not to find something that is truly appropriate. You just need to be patient enough. Take a look at manufacturers and sellers like and you will notice that you can find something that is appropriate, based on the needs you have at the moment.

The only problem is that you have to choose based on the needs you have right now. In most situations people will just consider the first garden office that they find and that looks appealing. If the price is suitable based on the budget of the buyer, the sale is usually made. Do not hurry this choice process. It can lead towards making such a mistake.

Our recommendation is to simply take a look at all the garden offices that are available. Some are more suited for some professionals. As a simple example that you can easily consider, in the event that you are a freelancer that works with computers, you will need a suitable power supply network built inside the office. Make sure that you can accommodate all the furniture you need in order to do your job. That will help you out the most.

The good news is that there are many different manufacturers available on the market. The bad news is that some of them are not going to bring in the high quality you are surely after. With this in mind, try to learn all that you can about the manufacturer. See if the clients that were serviced in the past are happy with what they received. Whenever you notice many complaints that are written about a considered manufacturer, you need to stay away. There is a pretty good chance that problems would appear in your case too. Simply compare the deals and try to find something that is truly appropriate. You will definitely appreciate the choice that you make if it is based on as much research as possible. 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Tips for installing a pond

Water features have become quite popular with homeowners who want to have a fabulous outdoor area and can be applied to both small and larger gardens.

If you’re thinking of adding a water feature to your garden, have you thought about installing it yourself? With flexible liners and prefabricated pools often preferred to concrete, it’s much easier to do than you might expect.

The tips in this article should provide you with everything you need to get started on your water garden.


Before you get carried away designing an extravagant water feature, it’s a good idea to take a good hard look at your budget. If you’re reading this article, the chances are that you’ve opted for the DIY method, which will save on labour, but there are still more costs to consider.

It’s important to plan ahead as this will prevent you from overspending.

Types of pond

There are two main types of pond that can be easily installed by you: flexible liner and prefabricated ponds. A flexible liner is the cheapest option, but it does require a little extra work as you will have to stake out the area. This extra work can be a blessing to some, as it means that custom designs are a possibility.

On the other hand prefabricated ponds are simple and even easier to install as the shape is predefined. As they’re made from heavy duty polyethylene, they can withstand hot and freezing temperatures.


The size of your pond will largely depend on your budget, the size of your garden and what you want to achieve with it. A small pond (less than 2000 litres) offers you a way to enjoy small water plants, while a medium pond (2000 – 5000 litres) could have a small pump and some goldfish.

If you want to go bigger than that you will need to be committed to maintain the pound regularly. Large ponds are considered those between 5000 and 10,000 litres, while anything above that is extra-large. Remember, the bigger you go, the more investment required – both money and time.


This is a particularly important consideration, as you’ll need to consider sunlight and rain, especially if you plan to have aquatic plants or trees.

Ideally, the location of your pond should be somewhere that gets sunlight for at least half of the day, but also isn’t an area that stays wet. You will also want to choose a spot that is visible from the house too so that you can enjoy your new garden masterpiece.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Planting that can be done on your boat

While we spend a lot of time discussing what to add to your home garden, or the types of plants you should be aiming towards growing for each season, we wanted to veer off just a bit. We feel that a common area that can be turned into a whole new space with the help of a few plants, is the cabin area on a boat.

In general these cabin areas are under deck and a bit small. On top of this, there is usually very minimal natural light coming into this area, so you must choose your plants very carefully. While we personally love seeing lush green vines growing against a dark wood finish, these plants below fall on the smaller side.

 the 3 plants the will be discussed today, each of these plants require very little upkeep, and will not completely take over the cabin area on your boat. The added bonus is that a few of the plants below actually have some very handy uses while out at sea.

The Christmas Cactus:
This plant is a bit different than a normal cactus in that, it actually blooms some very beautiful pink flowers. Since this plant is classified as a cactus, a very nice thing is that not a ton of water is required to keep this plant going.

The Christmas Cactus does require a bit more sunlight to keep growing, so a covered area above deck would be a great location for this plant. This plant can still function below deck, as long as it is near the main natural light source down there (the biggest window).

Being a cactus, this plant is a little prickly at certain points, but not nearly as prickly as a normal cactus one would find in the desert. However you should find a way to keep this potted plant in place, as you should with all your plants on board, but especially with this plant. The last thing you want is for a Christmas cactus to come flying at you in the middle of the night when a large wave hits the side of your boat.

This plant is incredibly resilient to the elements. Salt water does not affect this plant nearly as much as it does to others, aloe plants need very little water to survive, and it really thrives in areas with a lot of sun. While aloe can grow well in sun, a lack of sun does not completely kill this plant off.

An added bonus to having an aloe plant on board, is that you can break off a piece of the plant at anytime to rub onto a bug bite. Although it could be used on a bug bite, aloe will most likely be used for dealing with any sunburn that may occur when out on the water.

While many boating enthusiasts do take the necessary precautions when protecting their skin from the UV rays, aloe is a nice thing to have on hand. If for some reason you missed rubbing sunscreen on a part of your arm, or you didn't have anyone get the back of your neck; aloe can really help cool off the pain of sunburn quickly.

Last but not least is the Mint plant. While there are various versions of mint plants out there, these plants are also a bit harder than the other two listed above when trying to grow it on a boat. A mint plant needs plenty of sunlight, and moist soil, so place right next to the main window below deck would probably be best.

One of the great benefits to this plant is the aroma it brings with it. This mint plant can act as an instant air freshener  for below deck. No harmful sprays or overly pungent car fresheners required for your boat anymore.  This mint aroma instantly makes your boat feel a bit more like a home away from home.

For even bigger boats, another nice thing with having a mint plant on board is its multiple uses in cooking. If your boat has a kitchen, or at least a small burner, the mint can be added to any meal for that little extra zest, and can even be added to a nice cup of hot tea for a refreshing kick. Mint plants grow very fast, so they are the perfect companion to have on board.

So take the next step and liven up your boat area. You can buy colourful new boat cushions, repaint the cabin below, or make a minor tweak to an area just by adding a new plant. Do not forget the added bonuses of some of these plants. Break off a mint leaf and chew on it for instant fresh breath. Use the aloe plant to soothe any burns out at sea. Most of all, relax and enjoy your time out at sea!


Keeping Your Fingers Green

Many of us love to spend time outside in our gardens, often reflecting that particularly as we get older it helps keep us fit, agile and keeps the mind occupied. There are a number of positive benefits linked to gardening that many may not be aware of.

With this article we hope to rekindle the love of gardening that some of or more mature readers may have previously enjoyed but brought to a sudden halt because of the onset of a number of bone and joint disorders (for example osteoporosis or arthritis), disabilities from stroke and the ageing process in general  – with the mind being willing, but the flesh being weak.  

There are ways and means to get back into the gardening the game without the work being so back breaking  or setting off a number of painful symptoms in your body.  With this article we’ll be looking at some of safer ways to garden as you age as well as why it’s good for you to keep at it.

Practice safety

  •  Minimise the amount of bending and any unnecessary overexertion through raising those garden beds:
  •  Limber up before hand: warm up exercises to prepare your body
  • Protect yourself : sunscreen and insect repellent (especially as we welcome summer to London)
  •  Invest in the right tools to ease the gardening process
  •   Understand the correct ways of handling tools – the way in which you hold a pruning scissors – will allow for easier pruning or make the job at hand that much more strenuous
  • Depending on the amount of time you spend in the garden – pace yourself.
  • Wear the right attire for the job, if you are digging or moving something heavy wear a pair of boots, consider investing in a good pair of overalls to avoid scratches or irritations
We published an article last year on the diligent gardener with reference to finding the balance when gardening providing a few guidelines preventing you from overexerting your body by following a few simple guidelines.  As a recreational activity especially as you age, light gardening can really get your blood circulation going and if done in moderation you stand the chance of living a longer healthier life.

The health benefits of gardening:

There are many health benefits to gardening, apart from getting outside and enjoying some fresh air!
  • Gardening is said to be a prime way to get a moderate to intense workout and with the above mentioned guidelines, light gardening is possible as well – getting you that moderate exercise needed.
  • Horticultural therapy is said to heal the mind, body and soul, keeps your mind active as you plan ahead for the coming season(s).
  • By undertaking physical gardening two three times a week you can keep fit and active – i.e. gardening is said to contribute towards your overall wellbeing.
  • Baking, gardening and musical therapy are all said to contribute towards improving the symptoms of dementia.
  • Getting stuck in the dirt improves your mental wellbeing – reducing stress and can be a social or solitary experience depending on what you would prefer it to be.
  • Could aid the rehabilitation process, if you've been a victim of stroke or have been diagnosed with a life limiting conditions
  • It keeps you nimble and flexible
  • Growing your own fruit and veg gives you better, fresher produce then from the supermarkets, and it could mean saving on all those organic purchases – so it’s easy on the wallet too!

Gardening is a reconised therapy for many older people, for example at Amherst House care home in Horley, Surrey they include gardening activities into their residents weekly routine all in the name of improving their quality of life and ensuring that they get the needed amount of gentle exercise. It seems that this is something that Gracewell’s residents are quite fond of as it’s becoming a more and more of a popular activity in the various care homes.

Gardening activity at Amherst House
Describing their plans for the current season the team at Amherst explain
In the raised beds at Amherst we will be planting runner beans, lettuce and spinach.  Amongst the runner beans we will plant sweet peas as these will bring bees to pollinate the plant as well as being decorative.
Nasturtiums will also be planted amongst the vegetables to draw aphids away from them.  Nasturtium  flowers and seeds can be added to salads as the seeds add a peppery flavour and the flowers with their bright orange colour, liven up a plain salad.  There are good health benefits too as Nasturtium leaves have a high concentration of Vitamin C and are a natural antibiotic. The gentle antibiotic in the leaves makes them useful for treating minor colds and eating a couple of leaves three times a day offers a natural way to fight off a cold.
I am very keen on companion planting, it helps reduce pests in a more natural and sustainable way, and even if you are not totally organic making some efforts to reduce the use of chemicals in the gardens is a great idea. Nasturtiums as mentioned by the team at Amherst are edible, and many people do not realise this, they also make a great shot of colour in your summer bedding displays.

Great tip from Sam Vatcher, events and activities co-ordinator at Amherst House:
When my father used to plant leeks he would make a hole big enough to take the inside of a toilet role, put this in the hole fill with water before adding the leek plant as this helped stop mud getting into the plant.

As the saying goes – if you plant something and you water it, something’s going to grow – the biggest reward would be reaping the fruits of your labour… Imagine being able to actually live off the land or being able to see the process of those rose seeds that you planted transforming into a fully-fledged rose bush – now there’s something that many people dream of and with  a bit of dedication can actually achieve. So with a little bit of care and attention there is nothing to stop the more mature gardeners from keeping on gardening!


Monday, 23 June 2014

Review: Dickies Donegal Workboots

I was sent a pair of Donegal workboots from Dickies to try out. I have to say these are incredibly comfy and robust, and perfect in providing protection to your feet.

For most of the jobs we have undertaken in the garden I have just worn a pair of old trainers - probably not the most sensible of option, so I really have no excuse now for risking my feet!

Dickies Donegal Boots

The Donegal Boot is ergonomically designed, and consists of a nubuck cow leather upper in quite an attractive tan colour. The boot is reinforced with steel in both the toecap and also the midsole to provide the protection.

The tongue in the show is also padded for comfort and also will offer some extra protection and dual density PU sole makes sure you are waterproof.

We are currently in-between projects with much of the garden looking tidy (for once) however come July there are secret plans a foot (if you pardon the pun!!), and these boots will get their first proper try out in anger. However saying that they look almost too good to get covered in mess and concrete, so maybe the trainers will come out again! Only joking :) I expect these will be a regular feature in the garden for many years to come, as they should be quite long lasting given how well made they are.

Highly recommended!


For the full range of other boots from Dickies check out their website.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Effective Ways to Get Rid of Dust Mites

Dust mites: these two little words strike fear into the hearts of homeowners all over the world. These microscopic bugs cannot be seen, but they are certainly there, lurking throughout your home in places like your bed, your carpeting and rugs, and your upholstered furniture. Related to the spider, these tiny creatures prefer warm environments, as well as humidity. And they feast upon the flakes of skin that are shed daily by everyone living in your home, including your pets.

When dust mites take over, they can cause allergies and respiratory problems, particularly in individuals who are sensitive as a result of conditions like asthma. But even if dust mites really gross you out, you need to first come to the understanding that you cannot eliminate them 100% from your environment. Instead, you can take steps to effectively reduce their numbers to a much healthier level. Continue reading to learn how.

Get the Right Vacuum Cleaner
With so many different types of vacuum cleaners on the market, it can be difficult to determine which one is really the best option. But when it comes to getting rid of dust mites, a unit with a built-in HEPA filter is the one you should invest in. Another option is a unit that contains a double-layer micro-filter bag. These will effectively catch all of the allergens in your environment, including dust mites, and prevent them from being re-released into the rooms throughout your home. The end result, especially with regular use, is a home with fewer dust mites.

Remember, though, that vacuuming will not eliminate 100% of dust mites. If you are really concerned about this or you have family members who are very sensitive to their presence, remove carpeting and opt for tiled or hardwood flooring instead.

Clean Up the Bed
Your bed can play host to more dust mites than you would probably feel comfortable sharing it with. But, thankfully, there are steps you can take to reduce the population and enjoy a peaceful night's sleep knowing you are not exposed to these tiny bugs.
First, get yourself on a schedule that forces you to wash your bedding at least once a week. To kill dust mites, you should use hot water. Any bedding materials that cannot be washed traditionally can instead be frozen overnight. Both of these methods will eliminate the dust mites effectively.

Secondly, your pillows and mattress should be covered in materials that are allergen-proof and dust-proof. You may have to shop from specialty stores to find these products, but it will be worth it to eliminate as many dust mites as possible.

Use a Dehumidifier
In addition to a home air filter that will effectively clean the air you breathe inside your house, you should also invest in a dehumidifier that will maintain the appropriate humidity level in every room. Remember, dust mites prefer humid and warm environments, so keeping the humidity level at 40-50% is one way to make your home an inhospitable place for these creatures. Use the dehumidifier all year long if you need to in order to maintain this ideal level of humidity. A hygrometer, which can be found at building supply shops, is one of the best ways to monitor moisture levels.  

Clean Plush Toys
Although your children may love to play with plush toys and stuffed animals, these can also hold a high population of dust mites, just like your bedding and pillows. To kill off the dust mites on these products, place them in the freezer for a day every two months. You can then wash these toys in the washing machine with cold water before tossing them in the dryer. 

Dust Regularly
Dusting regularly is also key in eliminating as many dust mites as possible. But instead of using a dry cloth or rag, use a damp one that will effectively trap dust without simply moving it from one place to another.

Dust mites may be quite disgusting to think about, but they are easily controlled. By simply maintaining a clean home and keeping the air quality as high as possible through the use of air filters and dehumidifiers, you can dramatically reduce the number of dust mites throughout your home. And this will hopefully let you rest easier at night.
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