Friday, 17 February 2017

Big Ideas For Your Garden? Prioritise Proper Planning

Whisper it quietly, but the time to get back in the garden is creeping nearer and nearer. This is good news for some, who since October have been limiting their outdoor work to necessary repairs and tidying. For others, who take on garden work only when necessary, it marks the beginning of the end of their ideal excuse. Before long, your local garden centre will be a hive of activity again.

Let's be clear - it's still a little too cold to be planting out very much. Even if you wrap up warm, most of what you plant will struggle to survive against the harsh conditions - and we may yet have more snowfall. Nonetheless, this is very much the time to put together any plans you may have to overhaul your garden in 2017.

Big garden renovations do not happen overnight. They take time and effort. Most of all, they take a certain amount of planning. Whatever ideas you have to bring your garden up to date, an idea does not become a reality without a sound plan.

You can ignore that advice, but it will be at your peril. If you're one of those people who decides to do something and jumps right into action, it can result in a garden that looks disjointed. Unfinished. A collection of good ideas not fully realised. The garden equivalent of an album released by any group referred to as "a good singles band."

The following, then, are ideas which, if planned and executed with precision, could make your 2017 summer garden special.

#1. Modern Decking

There are different ways to "do" decking. Some will look excellent, leaving you with a garden full of character which will be an ideal outdoor space. Others can look thrown together, not match up with anything else in your garden, and just give the impression of an afterthought. Your garden is too important to look like that.

First of all, you must decide on the finish for the decking. To get the right look, you need to scan around your garden and evaluate the general look. Do you have a fence, and if so what colour is it? What naturally grows around your garden, and what colour of decking will fit with the look of your house? Are you prepared to paint the fence, or the exterior of your house, to get the right look?

Safety is also an important consideration. If you're going to be holding barbecues and children will be playing out there, the decking needs to be kept as dry as possible. Sitting water can encourage bacteria, damage the finish and the load-bearing abilities of the wood you've used. Also, because decking creates a multi-level effect, you don't want people to fall off it. Putting in place a balustrade, by SHS Products or similar, is a good idea. Done right, it will enhance the look considerably.

#2. Fire

Okay, left there alone like that, the word can seem a bit extreme. No-one is suggesting just setting fire to part of your garden and occasionally throwing wood on it, though. There are ways and means to use fire in your garden which make it look spectacular.

Obviously, safety is an issue here. However you might choose to include fire in your garden, it needs to be in a way that children and pets are not going to be at risk of harm. For example, one of the most popular garden accessories of 2016 was a fire pit. Versatile and visually impressive, they nonetheless need to be placed very carefully.

Most important of all when considering a fire pit, chimenea or barbecue, is that it needs to be away from the house or any fence. You buy fuel for these things at a garden centre or supermarket. You do not want your fence or your siding to become additional fuel. Also, by situating it away from the house, it is out of the way of any kids or pets who might come running out, excited to play in the garden.

Therefore it is essential to create a fireproof space for any new accessory like this that you buy. Laying down concrete paving, keeping any wood out of the way and ensuring that nothing is hanging overhead are essential. Fire can be beautiful, cosy, romantic. It can also be deadly, so respect its power.

Finally, any time you are going to light a fire, check among the fuel for any creatures that may have nested in there. Hedgehogs, in particular, like to huddle among piles of material for warmth and safety.

#3. Your First Menagerie

It's becoming more and more popular to create a little bit of the countryside in the towns and suburbs of Britain. This was originally seen mainly in terms of planting food and flowers but has spread to include keeping animals in your garden. And why not?

Be aware that personal responsibility is essential here. Of course, it is wonderful to have a few chickens or a duck here and there. Depending on the size of your garden, you can go further and keep a goat or two. You do, however, need to provide them with adequate living space. For chickens, this means a coop, and a similar arrangement for any other fowl. Ducks will ideally need a pond to swim in.

Goats or other livestock will need at least a shelter. Unless you plan to have them sleep in the house at night, you can't expect them to roam around the garden in all weathers.

If you fancy just having a little nature around your garden but can't commit to maintaining that kind of space, create a hedgehog house. Keep it supplied with food and water. Then it will become a refuge for the kind of animals that are often driven out of other areas by predators and angry gardeners.

Monday, 13 February 2017

3 Starting Steps To A Successful Allotment

For those who consider themselves to be at least a little green-fingered, the idea of starting an allotment might be a frequently recurring fantasy. And why not - having an allotment has many benefits to it. For a start, who doesn’t love the idea of producing their own produce year after year? This is a cheaper, much more fulfilling way of sourcing fruit and vegetables, and many agree that the taste is even better as a result. What’s more, an allotment affords you a wonderful opportunity to practice your gardening skills, and it is also likely that you will learn a great deal which will be beneficial in the future. But one of the hardest aspects of the whole process is in the beginning; starting an allotment has its own unique challenges which are quite a lot of effort to deal with. As with anything, it is remarkably easier if you break it down into smaller steps - so here are three steps towards starting your own allotment plot.

Plot It Out

One of the quickest ways to ensure failure with your allotment is to fail to plan it out. This is vital, as there is so much that can go wrong if you fail to plan properly. With a decent plot laid out on paper, however, the whole process is going to be remarkably easier. You need to think about where you are going to have not just your plants, but anything else which might be necessary to. For example, have you included space for your compost? Is there room t walk between the beds, so that you don’t tread on your soil? All of this needs to be considered in your plotting, as it all makes a big difference to the final outcome. Allotment planning is a difficult art, but one which is vital to your success.


When you are planning, it is vital to remember rotation. This means that you need to rotate where your different plants go from one year to the next. In the first year, you need to have your brassica in one patch, your root vegetables in another, your salads and leaves in another, and so on. Then, it is important that you rotate where these are the following year, as this ensures that the soil is kept in the best possible way. You need to remember this during planning, so as to make the most of the space you have.

Prepare The Soil

Now it is time to actually get down to work and get your hands dirty. Preparing the soil is one of the most important parts of the whole operation, as it ensures that your plants will actually grow and be as healthy as possible. The first thing to do here is to remove any weeds, ideally by their roots so they don’t grow back. Then you want to turn over the top layer of soil, add some compost and dig it down to whatever depth you need, depending on what you are planting. With well-prepared soil, you are now ready to actually begin your planting - arguably the most exciting stage of all.
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