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Getting your Garden Ready for Summer 2020

Summer is almost upon us, and it’s hopefully it will be a particularly long hot one this year. With the current world events meaning people are staying at home more it is worth investing some time in your garden. Now the good weather is 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 of our tips to help…

Perfect Your Lawnblur, blurred, eco

Many people immediately think of the lawn when they think about the typical British back garden, and if you haven't already started to look after it this year, now is the time to start perfecting your lawn. A lot of grassy areas tend to get mossy 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 feed 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
If  you want to protect your soil from drying out in 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. A good layer of mulch will also help prevent weeds from poking through.  It is 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 when its hot and go around with a watering can for any pots and smaller plants, like your potted herbs, Don't let your pots dry out as it can often take a long time for the plants to recover.

Sociable Spaces

backyard, bench, daylight

Consider how you can best turn your back garden into a sociable space that all your friends will want to visit. If you don't already have one it is a good idea to install or refresh your patio so you have a comfortable place to put a table and chairs and so that you can hold a barbeque. If you are experienced at DIY then putting in a new patio may be something you feel comfortable with doing yourself, however for many this is a big task. Ensuring the patio is level is important, who wants to trip on an uneven surface. Fortunately there are lots of guides online that can help you work out the cost of laying a patio don't forget to cost in the various accessories and not just the paving stones themselves. 


Add A Relaxing Areagarden

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.

DG
 

Garden Shortcuts


For many enthusiasts, gardening is about the method and the meticulous detail as much as it’s about the result. There’s a sense of reward to seeing your planning and participation in creating the space fit to your desires. But there are plenty of people who would like a lovely looking garden without having to put in so much effort. Perhaps they don’t have the time for it, perhaps they simply don’t like it. Everyone deserves a better garden and you can make it a lot easier to get one.

 


Let nature reign (a little)
Perhaps you want a bright patch of flowers without having to carefully consider how much water, sunlight, and space individual species need. You will need to get a little less particular about which flowers you prefer, but you can separate and create a wildflower meadow in your own garden which will need very little maintenance from you afterward. After all, these are the flowers that grow just fine without human intervention. The most you will need to do is make sure they’re not crossing the boundaries outside of where you want them to be.

Au natural isn’t everything
You don’t necessarily have to concern yourself with things growing out of control or getting overrun with weeds, either. If you want to completely take the effort out of maintaining a garden, there are plenty of authentic-looking and feeling lawns like Multiturf on offer nowadays. Synthetic turf allows you to add a touch of green where you might not be able to and ignore the problems that usually come with low-quality soil.
 

Keep off the grass
If landscaping to prepare the garden sounds like much more a chore than it sounds like a fun time, then you might want to let the grass keep to itself. You can move your flowers and other plants to individual spaces where they’re not going to require as much control, instead. Vertical gardening options, potted plants, using the windowsills and the like all allow you to get that touch of colour you want for the garden while making it easier to tend to your plants.

Let it take care of itself
If you really want to get lazy with it, then technology is going to be your best friend. There are loads of time-saving tools on the market nowadays that allow you to almost entirely automate your garden. Automated sprinkler systems are everywhere nowadays and they’re becoming cheaper, too. But now there are even automated lawnmowers like those from Husqvarna that will smartly calculate the differences between patches of ground and lengths of grass to give you an even cut without leaping unmanageable clippings. There are even automated drip irrigation systems that take the effort out of caring for individual plants.

There are a lot of shortcuts to achieving the garden you want. In most cases, however, you will always need to do a little upkeep of your own. Stay on top of your garden regardless of how low-effort you make it, or else you will be dealing with an overgrown mess.

Thinking about Curb Appeal

We all hear the phrase curb appeal when estate agents or tv make over shows are looking at houses, and I guess like me many people think its a bit of a strange one, do you only make your home welcoming or attractive because you want to sell it. What about just wanting to enjoy arriving home or welcoming visitors.

Walking round our neighbourhood recently, whilst taking my daily exercise I have noticed a lot more activity at the front of peoples homes. Perhaps being home a lot more recently has made people think about improving their home, or simply they have run out of Netflix boxsets to watch. Whatever the reason its good to see people improving where we live.

As regular followers will know we have updated our tiny front garden over the years, with a new front door, new planting and a brightly lit welcoming entrance.

But what have our neighbours in been up to. Plenty of planting, with several adding pots at the front doors.

These two standard bay trees make a welcoming entrance, but smaller features work just as well. Picking bright pots and colourful plants give any home a welcoming feal.

Several neighbours have also been updating their driveways, now I'm sure most keen gardeners would much prefer to use the space for plants, but having somewhere to park your car usually is a key requirement for many, not forgetting that it can help reduce your car insurance. Lots of options when it comes to driveways, from the simple gravel drive, that can almost be DIY if you take your time with it, to cobble stone, flags or block paving. One increasingly popular approach is a resin driveway, these use a mix of stone or other hard wearing materials and a resin to bond it all together. They often have the advantage of looking like gravel, but without the mess - if you have mown over stones on your lawn you will understand that advantage! 

A newly laid resin driveway

Lots of people edge them with blocks, or stone sets to get a traditional look, and I think they look very smart, and significantly better than the 1970s crazy paving one of my neighbours is removing!

As well as driveway upgrades, new fencing and even some railings are making a reappearance, we added new fences a few years ago to the front, partly to break up the continuous row of parked cars on neighbouring drives, but also to provide a backdrop to new planting. 

Many people are removing planting spaces from the front of their homes, small trees can be added at the edge of a garden to keep plenty of space for cars if needed, but by using the vertical height you still get a sense of a garden, and in the summer they create some valuable shade so your car wont get too hot.

Of course it is important to choose the right tree, not something that will dominate a small space, and avoid shallow rooted trees if you are planting next to a paved area so they don’t break up your new drive!

What have you been doing to improve your curb appeal, tell us in the comments below.

DG


Making your garden child safe

The garden is the perfect place for all the family to spend time together. Now that summer is here, you need to make the most of your outside space. It’s also a great place for the kids to play outside without you having to worry about them being out and about on their own. It’s more important than ever that you keep the kids active but when they’re young, you need to consider their safety as well. Check out these tips on making your garden safe for toddlers so you don’t need to worry about them while they’re out there.



Secure The Borders

Young kids are prone to wandering off and exploring the world which is why you need to make sure that they can’t get out of the garden while you aren’t watching. Garden fence installation is the first thing to consider; make sure you’re getting a good quality fence and you make it high enough that they can’t climb out of the garden easily. Make sure you’ve got a good lock on the gate as well and remember to lock the shed or garage if you’ve got any dangerous tools etc. in there that they might injure themselves with.

Divide The Garden Properly

Even though you’re creating a nice garden area for the kids, don’t forget about yourself. You’ll want to make a nice area for the adults so you’ll need to divide up the garden. You’ve got to think about this properly because you still need to be able to supervise the kids. Always put the kids play area somewhere close to the house so you can get on with things around the house while also keeping an eye on them. Putting a shaded area in is important as well because the kids won’t realise when they’ve been out in the sun for too long. You can use smaller fences and hedges to section off the kids area of the garden to stop them wandering around too much.

Be Careful With Plants

When it comes to planting the garden, you can get the kids to help. If they’re going to be helping you around the garden you need to be incredibly careful about what you’re planting. Toddlers like to explore the world by putting things in their mouth a lot of the time so make sure that you aren’t planting anything that can make them sick. Things like Ivy, Poinsettia, certain types of Lilies, Aloe Vera to name a few, can be incredibly dangerous if ingested. If you are going to use any of those plants in the garden, keep them away from the kids area and always teach them to be careful in the garden.

Use Plenty Of Grass

Slips and falls are inevitable when the kids are playing out in the garden so concrete is never a great idea. Soft grass is a lot better because they won’t hurt themselves too much. Normal grasses are likely to get ripped up pretty quickly when you’ve got kids running about so you’re better off going for something a bit hardier. Kikuyu grass is one of the toughest grasses out there which will stand up to a bit of punishment.

Be Careful With Water Features

A water feature is a great addition to your garden but you might need to wait until the kids are a bit older before you put one in. If you’ve got a fenced off portion for the adults that’s fine but don’t put a water feature where the kids can get at it. Even if it’s only a tiny water feature, there is still a chance that the kids could drown in it if they’re incredibly young. It’s not very likely but it has been known to happen in the past and it’s not worth the risk. If you’re dead set on a feature, just put one in and don’t run the water through it. It’s still a great piece of decoration in the garden but without the risks. If there’s an outdoor tap in the garden, put a lock on it so the kids can’t play with it.

Secure Furniture

Garden furniture is a must if you’re going to create a nice relaxation area for the adults but you need to think about how the kids might interact with it. They’re likely to pull at it and push it around. If it’s not secured to the ground, it can fall over and hurt them. Either secure it or keep it locked away in the shed or garage and just take it out when you need it.

Follow these rules and you can create a fun garden space for the kids that is safe so you don’t have to worry about them.

Making the most of your space



Your garden is important!

So many people tend to neglect their garden due to lack of time, or not wanting to put the effort in, but it’s a luxury you shouldn’t take advantage of! There are so many things you can do with your garden, and leaving all the plants to die, and using it as some kind of dump is no way to treat it. A person’s home can usually affect their mood, so giving yourself something to be proud of and enjoy looking at can greatly improve the reflection you get from being at home.

Discover a new hobby

Gardening is often an activity people can find joy and satisfaction in, as you’re rewarded for the efforts you make. Most of the time, gardening is something people do once their retired, it can take a lot of time, however, it’s not necessarily that strict! The amount of time and effort you put in is based on what you want from your garden, as different plants have different needs. Many people may find it easier to just buy their plants from a home store and just try to maintain them with watering, but simply planting them and watering them isn’t always enough. Gardening can be a hobby for anyone, as long as you know what you can do with the time and money you have.

Install functionality

A garden doesn’t have to strictly be something to look at. Most of the time people will have a shed somewhere in their garden where they keep their tools and gardening materials, along with basically anything that you wouldn’t want to keep inside your house. While it’s useful to have a shed, there are more forms of storage that you can invest in. An example of this would be storage tanks for various liquids. While that may sound strange at first, it’s common for people who use oil heating and can save money if you stock up on it early. The other usage for you could be water collection, which again might not sound so useful, but if your country is experiencing droughts, you’re helping yourself out while caring for the environment too. It doesn’t take any effort to do so, as you can just contact the tank manufacturers, and they can deliver and install them for you, meaning that you only need to rely on the rain. If you have the extra money, it might be worth investing in something like this to help you with efficiency.

(Source: Pixabay)

Improve your mood

If you have to look at a horrible baron garden every day, it may start to affect your mood, and can even ruin the image of your house. Not only can looking after your garden provide you with a hobby, it’s great to work on it to improve your quality of life. Even if you don’t have time yourself, there are many services out there you can reach out to that can help you restore it and have it to your tastes. Just because you can’t see anything in it now, doesn’t make it unworthy of investment, so don’t let price tags scare you!
 

Five of the best ways to recycle our plastic waste

Over the last century, humans have produced a phenomenal amount of plastic goods due to its cheap production and versatile nature. Unfortunately, most of these plastic items have a short lifespan before they’re cast aside, polluting our atmosphere and land. As we’re well aware, plastic pollution is one of the biggest concerns for our planet right now.

As it stands, we’re currently dumping over eight million tons of plastic into the oceans each year, according to Plastic Oceans Foundation. But, what exactly can we do to halt this? Follow our guide below as we explore some of the best ways our plastic waste can be recycled to make useful products, helping to limit the damage to our planet.

Clothing


Perhaps unsurprisingly, we can buy items of clothing that were once part of a plastic bottle we’d have drank from. With the likes of polyester, nylon and other synthetic fibres forms of plastic, companies can use recycled plastic to help create their new garments. Did you know that it only takes approximately 10 bottles to create enough plastic fibre for a new t-shirt? As well as this, the insulation in a ski jacket can be created by just 14 recycled bottles. 

Decking


The UK is a nation of outdoor lovers — even if we don’t always get the weather that’ll help us best use our outdoor space! Studies have found that the average Brit spends over two hours a week in their garden space. Many take pride in their outdoor area and love to entertain guests throughout the year. To do so, they need a space that is suitable, and decking has seen a huge increase in popularity. Since first being released in 1990, composite decking boards have grown in popularity as they’re low maintenance, look like real wood, and have a long life span. These boards are made up of 95% recycled wood fibres and plastic, making them environmentally friendly as well as easy to upkeep.

Bed sheets


Great news! You can soon relax in the knowledge that you’re being environmentally sustainable while lying in bed! Ecozee, a company that is set to launch bed sheets made from recycled plastic, states it is going to help you ‘save the environment in your sleep’. With the average plastic having a ‘useful life’ of approximately 15 minutes, it’s clear to see that bed sheets made from recycled plastic will turn this into a much greater lifespan!

Home décor


It’s not just companies who can create great uses for old plastic. Users on social media channels are always sharing the DIY skills regarding old plastic material. Stand out examples include jewellery stands, themed plant pots, and pencil organisers — all created using the bottom of plastic bottles and milk bottles. Some much more extravagant examples by those with creative flair include hanging chandeliers and Christmas trees!

Transport


Moving away from home comforts, did you know that many forms of transport use recycled plastics in production? In 2018, vehicle manufacturer Volvo set itself a goal of using 25% recycled plastics in cars by 2025. This can range from fishing nets to old bottles and can be used in areas such as dashboards and carpets. Currently, the company states that approximately five per cent of plastics in its cars are made from recycled materials.

Elsewhere, in 2017, pilot and environmentalist Jeremy Rowsell made history by flying a light aircraft across Australia using conventional fuel that was mixed with fuel which derived from plastic waste. This journey, which saw him travel 500 miles from Sydney to Melbourne, saw the fuel used include a blend made up of 10% end-of-life plastic that was usually found in the ocean and landfill sites. It was a breakthrough in potential future fuels for light aircrafts.

Of course, there are many other ways plastic can be recycled. And, when you recycle materials, it uses far less energy than creating them new, so recycling has many benefits. While recycling is a major topic of discussion, we still have a large scope for improvements regarding the subject in order to help save our planet. It’s not just up to companies to use recyclable products either, so recycle today to reap the rewards tomorrow!

Make your goals green and more plastic-free for 2020

The plastic-waste crisis and its impact on climate change weighs heavily on our minds. If we keep using plastic at the current rate, there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050. Every day, approximately eight million pieces of plastic are discarded into the ocean, and microplastics have even been discovered embedded deep in arctic ice. Clearly, something must be done. Our casual plastic use is causing far more damage to marine life then it’s worth.
If your plastic-free plans aren’t already in motion, why not start this week? Living a plastic free life is one of the best and easiest methods of self-improvement you could opt for this year. Forget your optimistic gym membership and your severe diet plan, dropping plastic is an achievable and massively rewarding new year’s resolution that we should all try. Here are some small changes that will help you achieve your green goals in 2020.
1. Say no to plastic bags and straws
Luckily, these items are becoming less commonplace in the UK today. However, it can still be difficult to avoid them at times. When you pick up a takeaway for example, don’t be afraid to say no to the excess plastic bags your food is wrapped in. 
2.       Invest in a reusable coffee cup and water bottle
Takeaway coffee cups are a major source of waste material and plastic bottles take a shocking 450 years to decompose. With this in mind, it is more pressing than ever to make the switch to reusable items. KeepCups and Chilly’s Bottles are popular brands that focus on sustainable products.
3.       Only buy unpackaged fruit and veg
Many supermarkets are now making switch to packaging free products. If you have the option, choose to load up brown paper bags with fruit and vegetables rather than choosing pre-package food.  
4.       Get your hands on a bamboo toothbrush
Plastic toothbrushes take 400 years to decompose, and if you consider how many you go through in a lifetime, the life span of them all is shocking. A bamboo toothbrush on the other hand, only takes five to ten years — minimal in comparison!
5.       Find a refill station for your laundry detergent and washing up liquid
Instead of chucking out the plastic bottle when your washing up liquid runs out, hold on to it and get it refilled! Lots of sustainable shops now offer this service, making it easier than ever to opt for refills rather than wasting more plastic.
6.       Switch to soap and shampoo bars rather than bottles
Shampoo and hand soap always seem to come with excess plastic packaging. There is simply no need to coat these items in plastic, as they work perfectly well in bar form. This is another tiny switch that will make little difference to your daily routine but really help out the environment. 
7.       Shop at ‘zero waste’ shops
Thankfully, zero waste shops are becoming far more common in the UK. The idea of zero waste shops is that they sell produce with absolutely no plastic packaging. Switching up your shopping routine and choosing a zero-waste shop would be a great habit to get into in 2020. You can find a list of zero waste shops and where to find them here.
8.       Switch to beeswax wrap rather than clingfilm
Sustainable food storage is another factor that people often forget to consider. We throw away single use clingfilm without a second thought, because it seems like such a necessity within our lives. Now however, there are plenty of alternatives to use if you want to go plastic free. Beeswrap, for example, is a ‘natural alternative to plastic wrap’ which can be used time and time again.
9.       Up your sustainable Tupperware game
Along the same theme, consider switching to sustainable Tupperware. There are plenty of alternatives to wasteful plastic Tupperware, such as bamboo, glass, or stainless-steel alternatives. Oxfam do a great range!
10.   Cut down on shopping and spending
This last one is essential, although perhaps not as easy as the other lifestyle changes. Every time you buy something, especially online, it is likely to come swaddled in needless layers of plastic. If you cut down on this spending, you could make a real environmental change.
These changes will be easy to get used to once you’ve made an active effort to change your routine. They will soon become second nature! If everyone chips in and makes an effort towards sustainability, we will see a reduced amount of plastic pollution our oceans.
 
Article provided by Where The Trade Buys, a UK provider of square business card printing, with bases in London, Sunderland and Surrey.
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