Posts tagged with “Gardenscape”

Why you need to give your fruit and vegetables special treatment this spring

redcurrants.jpg

May is the perfect month to get serious about sowing and planting your fruits and vegetables. Hopefully the hard frosts are finally behind us and summer is on the way - so now’s the time to start dreaming about living The Good Life with your own glut of homegrown produce.

With the cost of living on the rise and grocery prices soaring, it’s no wonder so many people are turning green-fingered and growing their own food. The process doesn’t have to be too arduous either; the key is to invest in good products that will help your produce to thrive. Here are some ways you can do just that…

Invest in your compost

Making your own compost is a great idea, but it can be a long process, and sometimes your soil might need something a little more refined to really help get those plants growing. That’s why it’s worth investing in a really good quality mix to boost your soil. We offer specialist mixes for either seedlings or pot plants, and each contains essential nutrients and has been specially developed to aid growth effectively.

You might also want something a little more bespoke, especially if you’re working with tricky soil, are trying to grow a difficult plant, or perhaps have specific conditions in your garden that other composts and soils can’t cater for. We can tailor-make a unique mix for you to suit your specific needs - just get in touch to let us know what you’re looking for.

Pick your favourites

It can be tempting to fill your garden with ten different varieties of kale, but unless you eat it like it’s going out of fashion, there’s little point. Instead, grow fruits and vegetables that you regularly incorporate into your meals, and nothing will go to waste.

Growing lettuce is a good option because it’s easy to grow but can be quite expensive to buy, especially when pre-prepared. Tomatoes, cucumber and other salad ingredients are also worth growing because you’ll use them a lot - and cut down your weekly shopping bill in the process.

Fan of berries? Consider fruit bushes - they require little effort on your part and should produce plenty of fruit. When it arrives, freeze what you can’t eat (or use in crumbles or cocktails!) and you’ll have your favourite berries available all year round.

Be seed savvy

When selecting which fruits and vegetables to grow, seedlings may seem like the obvious choice, but growing from seed only takes a couple of weeks longer, and you’ll get a lot more for your money.

Swapping with friends, family or your neighbours is also a great way to grow your garden for free - cuttings, excess seeds and duplicate plants are all readily available if you know where to look or who to ask, and can really make a difference when it comes to diversifying your plants.

It also pays to be selective and really plan out what you want ahead of time so you only need to accept plants that’ll benefit your garden - (many of us have accepted a plant from a neighbour and then left it unattended and unloved because we can’t work out where to plant it!) You’ll be happy you were selective in a few months’ time when your garden is filled with plants you truly love rather than border fillers you feel obliged to water because your next door neighbour generously offloaded them onto you.

Raise it up

Elevate your fruits and vegetables to a higher status by building raised beds in your garden. The soil warms quicker than at ground level, helping your produce to grow quicker. Not only that, but you’ll achieve better drainage, better water retention and fewer weeds. If you really want to get the best out of your fruits and vegetables this year, then make sure to give them some special treatment in their own raised beds - the benefits will be worth the initial outlay.

Five no-planting ideas to pretty up your garden

birdbath.jpg

Often, when we want to give our garden a makeover, the first thing we do is invest in a whole load of plants, hoping they’ll give the space the transformation we desire. But, this can be costly, and unless you’ve carefully planned out which plants are going where, often once you arrive home from the garden centre with a car boot filled with new purchases, the garden can quickly become chaotic as you try to plant up your new finds.

A solution, then, is to refrain from reverting to new plants to improve the garden’s aesthetic, and instead choose other ways to give your garden a makeover. Something as simple as edging your lawn can instantly create a tidy look, or threading lighting through the trees gives a nighttime glow.

Read on for more inspiration…

Get gravelling

It’s amazing what a difference a bit of gravel can make to the overall aesthetic of your garden. A neat and tidy pathway can work wonders for giving your garden a bit of a spring clean - and that’s before you’ve even delved into weeding the borders. Our self-binding gravels are a really simple way to pave pathways and driveways, and give a polished finish whilst providing a hard wearing surface. Firmer than loose gravel, self-binding gravel compacts down to create a smooth surface, and is easy to maintain, too.

Paint perfect

Sometimes a fresh lick of paint is all you need to really give something a new lease of life. From fences to furniture and sheds to sun loungers, revitalising the wood or metal in your garden with a new hue is a cost effective and reasonably straightforward way to improve your garden’s appearance. If you really want to switch things up, then move away from plain wood or white, and add a splash of colour to your garden. Jewel tones are one of 2022’s biggest garden trends when it comes to flowers, so why not take inspiration by adding some vibrancy to your woodwork?

Aqua aesthetic

Adding a water feature to your garden creates a focal point, offers the opportunity to encourage wildlife to the garden and adds some tranquility to the space too. There’s plenty of different styles to choose from, depending on budget, space and of course, personal taste. From waterfalls to ponds, and fountains to contemporary water features, there’s sure to be a style to suit your garden. Bird baths are also back in vogue, so be bang on trend by adding one to your lawn and encourage your feathered friends to pay a visit.

Mulch makeovers

Mulching might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you’re thinking of ways to make your garden prettier, but hear us out. Mulch has many benefits, including conserving water and smothering weeds - so while it may not be the obvious choice for making the garden more attractive, it’s a great way to start. Adding mulch to your beds and borders will make them look instantly tidier, will help to keep the weeds at bay, and will also reduce the amount of watering you’ll need to do in the height of summer, which is surely a win?

Elegant edging

Orderly edges to your lawn can make a world of difference, and creating neat edges is easy, too. Use a half moon edger to cut the edges of your lawn, then mow the grass and trim any overhanging with long-handled edging shears.You can also use the shears to cut any grass that’s grown onto pathways, or if you prefer, use a sharp knife.

The Garden furniture guide

furniture.jpg

We've finally reached what is arguably one of the best times of the year - Bank Holiday season. Over the coming weeks we've got some lovely extra days to play with, and if the weather is feeling kind, we might be afforded some time in the garden, too.

Whether entertaining or relaxing, having some suitable garden furniture is a must. And, just like plants in your garden, your furniture will need a little TLC from time to time. From cleaning to painting and prepping to making, we take a look at how to get your garden furniture ready for the season ahead.

Cleaning rattan furniture

Rattan furniture is the ever popular choice for many gardeners. It's a wicker-style weave that's durable, stylish and pretty low maintenance. Unlike wicker, which can split and rot when exposed to the elements, rattan garden furniture tends to be made of synthetic materials, making it much more hard-wearing.

It's easy to clean, and doesn't need doing that often - after you take it out from storage and before it goes away again you'll want to give it a clean, plus maybe a couple of times over the season if you notice it looking a little grubby.

To give your rattan a refresh, you don't need any fancy tools. A bucket of warm soapy water, a hard brush and a vacuum cleaner is pretty much the extent of your toolkit.

Give the furniture a vacuum off first to get rid of any petals, leaves or cobwebs. Then, get the soapy water on there and work it into the crevices with the brush,, allowing it to soak in for a few minutes.

Rinse off with the garden hose or a bucket of water, and then leave to dry before popping the cushions back on.

Making pallet furniture

It's a trend that's been around for a long time now, and shows no signs of going anywhere. DIY pallet furniture is a cost effective way to create your own garden furniture, and it gives a rustic look once done.

You can make anything from an individual chair or bench to a corner sofa and coffee table. The choice is yours!

There are lots of video tutorials online showing you how to make specific items, but the key things you'll need, no-matter what piece of furniture you're creating, are: pallets, a sander, screws and a drill, a wood preserver and then a paint if you're looking for your furniture to be a particular colour.

The last couple of years have seen a huge demand for garden furniture, and lack of availability has meant the trend for DIY creations has grown exponentially. Pallet furniture is an excellent option if you need something created quickly, but if you put in the prep and look after it, your furniture could last years.

Restoring wooden furniture

Wooden garden furniture looks great and is generally hardwearing and durable, but it needs some upkeep. Benches, tables and sun loungers are all exposed to the elements, and as we know, the British weather can be unpredictable and unforgiving at times.

The level of restoring you'll need to do will depend on the material of your furniture. Softwood such as pine isn't so hardwearing, whereas hardwood like teak can go for years with little intervention needed.

For pine and other softwood furniture, your main objective will be aesthetic upkeep because it tends to deteriorate quicker. So, sand it down and then add wood stain to keep it looking smart. Use a wood preservative for extra protection - if you soak table or chair legs in it overnight, it will penetrate the wood and soak up through the legs. In the morning, just wipe it off, then leave the furniture to dry before using.

For furniture made of hardwood, it'll go a pretty long time before it needs any TLC, but if it's looking a bit worse for wear then grab some sandpaper and work on getting it back to looking fresh by smoothing any rough patches. Once you're done sanding, apply a teak oil and your furniture will be good as new.

Revitalising plastic furniture

Plastic furniture can start to look dull after a while, but it’s easy to clean and restore. Soda crystals dissolved in hot water will do the job of lifting off stubborn stains - leave them to soak on for a few hours for best results. Or, invest in a pressure washer and blast your furniture to give it a really good, thorough clean.

Removing rust from metal furniture

If you’ve had your mental furniture for a while, then the chances are that after several years of being exposed to the elements, it may have begun to show signs of rust. Moisture and humid weather contribute to the rust, so it’s best to tackle it before the weather gets too warm.

For an easy homemade fix, just get some white vinegar and soak the affected area. Then, wipe down.

If you’re looking to restore the paintwork of your metal furniture, use a wire brush to treat the rust first, then remove any flaky paint before repainting

This month’s task: Building a raised bed

raised-beds.jpg

Getting out in the garden doesn’t always have to be about what you sow and grow; building outdoor constructions can also be incredibly rewarding. Your new creation will likely enhance your outside space greatly, whether that’s through providing you a handy space to keep tools, a new area to grow prize veggies or a place where you can shelter from the elements with a cup of tea.

One project that’s definitely worth pencilling in before the weather gets too warm, is building a raised bed. If you can, build it in late winter or early spring. That way you can get plotting and planting straight away and see the benefits of your work for the rest of the year.

What are the benefits of building a raised bed?

There are a lot of reasons why a raised bed might be a great addition to your garden. For starters, if you’ve only got a small garden, the addition of a raised bed gives you a new area of your garden to experiment with growing plants or vegetables that you may not have space for in your regular borders. Raised beds are also handy for anyone who finds bending down to tend to their plants a struggle. Watering your bed is also much quicker and easier than doing the whole garden.

One of the great things about a raised bed, is you can choose the soil you fill it with, which means you might also be able to grow plants you wouldn’t usually have success with in your borders. Adding an ericaceous soil will give you the opportunity to grow acid-loving plants such as rhododendrons, heather or blueberries. Drainage is another benefit of a raised bed - because the bed is above the regular ground level, the soil drains much more easily. It also means the soil warms more quickly - great for getting things growing!

How do you build a raised bed?

There are several ways you can create a raised bed, whether that’s making it from bricks, wood, stone or even paving slabs. However, our preferred method is by using one of our raised bed kits, which contains everything you need to create your own 2.4m raised bed.

Each kit contains premium quality softwood sleepers cut to size, screws, a drill bit and our quality growing media for filling the bed.

Before you start building your raised bed, you’ll need to choose where it’ll go.Choose somewhere that gets a decent amount of daily sunlight, ideally five to six hours. Dig over the area so that it’s level, and remove any weeds, then plot the bed using string.

Our raised bed kits come with assembly instructions so you can ensure you’re fitting the sleepers correctly. Once you’ve put them together, you can add the growing media, and then start planting.

What can I grow in my raised bed?

Raised beds are suitable for growing a wide variety of plants, but are especially popular for growing fruits and vegetables. Soft fruits such as strawberries and raspberries do well in raised beds, and most vegetables will also work well.

You could also use your bed to create a cutting garden, growing herbaceous perennial plants and flowers.

Plants that require good drainage, such as alpines will do well in a raised bed, and this may give you the opportunity to grow new plants that hadn't performed well in your regular beds and borders.

If your regular soil makes it tricky to grow certain plants, then creating a raised bed will give you the opportunity to experiment with other soils and grow items you've previously struggled with, such as ericaceous shrubs which typically struggle in alkaline soil.

Where can I buy a raised bed kit?

If you’d like to try creating your own raised bed, you can purchase one of our raised bed kits here.

For more ideas for what to do in your garden this month, see our blog. You can also get lots more tips over on our social media pages, including seeing what our brand ambassador Tom Strowlger (@garden_with_tom) is creating with our Gardenscape product.

Welcoming Wildlife

blue-tits.jpg

The arrival of spring also marks the appearance of many creatures, great (well, modestly sized), and small to the garden. If you're wild about wildlife, here's some ways to encourage animals into your outside space.

And, if critters are causing chaos in your garden, we've got some tips to help there, too.

Welcome water

The addition of a pond to your garden can provide a much needed breeding area for frogs, newts and dragonflies, and also creates an area for birds to drink from all year round. When selecting the site for your pond or water feature, choose a place that's not directly under trees where there's the likelihood of falling leaves - that way you won't be constantly fishing them out and cleaning up debris.

Short on space? Even a bird bath or a plant pot filled with water can help birds and other wildlife.

Lawn living

Something so simple as grass in the garden can be incredibly beneficial to lots of wildlife, all year round.

Short grass helps birds search for food easily - sometimes even the early bird needs a little help catching the worm!

Some people like a neat and tidy lawn at all times, but allowing some long grass helps to feed a number of other creatures, such as butterflies. Or, go one step further and grow flowering plants in your grass, which will also encourage various wildlife. If having meadow flowers in your lawn ruins your aesthetic, choose a section of the garden to create an area where you can grow wildflowers.

Boundary benefits

More than a simple border to divide your garden from the neighbour's, hedges offer shelter to many animals all year round, as well as giving birds a place to nest. A hedge is also one way to offer animals in the garden protection from the elements, whether that's a hot summer day or torrential rain.

Flower power

Filling your borders with bright blooms not only makes for a colourful garden, it also helps to provide for wildlife, too. Grow flowers for bees, butterflies and other visitors - choose a range of annuals and perennials, and incorporate flowers with pollen and nectar to give the bees a helping hand. Sunflowers are a particular favourite for worker bees, and once they’ve flowered, the seeds also make a great source of nutrition for birds and insects.

Small but mighty

A small outside space doesn’t have to mean you can’t encourage wildlife to it, you just have to get a little creative. Even pots and containers on the patio can have benefits for wildlife - small insects can shelter underneath, while pollinators can enjoy what’s planted inside. Hanging nuts and seeds can help birds especially in winter, and these feeders take up relatively little space. Or, a hanging basket not only looks lovely, but can also provide nutrition to wildlife, plus a place to shelter or even nest.

Wonderful waste

Compost is not only great for the garden, but it also helps out a huge number of creatures in the garden. The compost itself encourages wildlife such as worms and mites, who are all a part of the composting process, so will help that matter to convert from your old potato peelings and grass cuttings to compost. But, having these insects and invertebrates inhabiting your compost is also great for the birds, who can feast on what they find.

Keeping wildlife out

Sometimes, you might not want to encourage certain wildlife into the garden. Perhaps you’ve got some prize carrots growing that you’d rather not share, or a cat who brings you back ‘treats’ they find in the night.

● Installing a fence to create a barrier is one way of keeping critters at bay, especially stopping rabbits from munching through your crops. To prevent them from burrowing under and feasting on your produce, dig it in about 250mm deep. ● Elevating your plants and crops is another way to keep some animals at bay - raised beds can limit the damage they’ll do, as will window boxes which are out of harm’s way for hungry bunnies.

● To stop birds stealing your fruit crops, place netting over your berry bushes just before the fruit ripens.

● If you like a tidy garden, then perhaps consider a wild area - this will encourage wildlife to forage here for food first, rather than heading to the places you’ve carefully planted your crops. And, it’ll give somewhere for mice to hide, so that your pets don’t find them as easily and bring them back for you as a gift.

● Finally, while compost is a great way to encourage wildlife into the garden, it can attract some unwanted pests. To avoid this, keep your compost tidy in a compost bin.