Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How to Start a Garden

If you can’t wait to transform your garden, then you need to do a bit of planning before you begin. Here are our tips to make sure that your garden works for the plants and for you.


Whether you want to plant flowers or vegetables, you’ll need to take a look at what sort of sunlight exposure your garden gets. All plants have different needs when it comes to sunlight, so to get the best out of them; you have to take into consideration how they like their light.
Study your garden and make notes of any particularly shady or sunny areas.

Plan Your Plants

Once you’ve assessed your garden’s sunlight exposure, you should then plan your garden out. A vegetable plot needs at least a four by four foot plot of land, and for flowers you’ll need to plan out where they will thrive.

Get to Know Your Soil

Plants often need certain nutrients in the soil that they are growing in to be able to grow properly. You can enrich your soil through composting and fertiliser, but you’ll need to determine how much you have to do.


If you don’t have any storage for your gardening tools, then you may struggle to look after your garden as effectively as you might do. Planning in storage is therefore always a good idea. Think about the other things that you might need to keep outside, such as bikes, logs and even chickens if you are so inclined.
There are a wide variety of different sizes available when it comes to sheds, like the ones here from Sheds and Things. Allow for a little bit of expansion when it comes to your shed – you may want to expand later on down the line when your garden becomes a roaring success. You should make sure that you keep your shed well organised, so it doesn’t become a dumping ground for tools.
A potting bench is always a good idea if you have room for it, too, as it means you can garden even on a rainy day.

Seasonal Plan

If you only plant seasonal plants, then when the seasons over you’ll be left with bare soil again. Make sure that you always have plants, even if they aren’t necessarily in bloom the whole year round. Evergreen plants will keep your garden looking lush all year round. 

Before you begin, buy a spade, a garden fork, a hose, a hand trowel and a basket for moving soil around. You can (and will) add to your tool collection as you tend to your garden.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How to Choose Your Outdoor Furniture

Choosing your outdoor garden furniture can be a nightmare. The vast array of different types of furniture on the market means that there is so much choice it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Here are a few tips to help you pick the best outdoor furniture for you.

What Do You Want Your Furniture For?

If you’re a small household and you just want to have breakfast out in the garden in the summer, then a bistro style table will be suited to you, while a wooden picnic-style table and long benches is more suited to a big family who love to eat dinner outside. Some of the furniture will easily be used in different ways, but identifying your primary need for your furniture will make deciding on the rest easier too.

What Design Do You Want?

There are several approaches that you can take to the design of your outdoor furniture. If your garden has a clear theme or design, then it may make sense to keep your furniture in the same vein. For instance, if you have a Victorian style country cottage garden , then it makes sense to have furniture that reflects this, such as a wrought iron table and chairs.

You could, alternatively, keep in a similar aesthetic to the furniture that is inside your home, reflecting your home’s design and décor.

The Material

Wooden furniture is good if you want solid, low-maintenance furniture. In particular, teak and all weather rattan make excellent outdoor furniture. Teak is naturally protected from water damage and fungus, making it durable and perfect for the outdoors, but it can be very expensive. Rattan can be natural or synthetic, but if you want outdoor furniture that will last in any weather, then you’ll need synthetic.

Metal stands up to the elements well too, and can be extremely pretty when moved into ornate styles. Metal does need to be maintained, however, checking for rust occasionally, and sealing or painting the metal as necessary.

Plastic outdoor furniture is extremely cheap, but looks it too. It might last a while but it adds nothing decorative to your garden.

Soft Furnishings

Things like rugs, throws and cushions will make your garden a much more comfortable place to sit and enjoy. Whether you choose bubblegum pink or something that matches your garden, you’ll either need to buy waterproof furnishings or buy a water-tight box to keep everything in when you’re not in the garden.

Attention Designers!

Susan Dickenson writing for Home Accents Today says, "There will be more changes in how consumers shop and pay in the next three to five years than there were in the last 20."

"Retailers interviewed by Home Accents Today at this year's winter markets said social media, blogs, showrooming, HGTV's design shows and internet search engines have resulted in a much more knowledgeable consumer: "Today's tech-savvy shopper is smarter ... has more product and design information at her fingertips." She knows what you're selling, what it should look and feel like, and how much it should be selling for. She expects high quality, bargain pricing and convenience, and if she doesn't get it, she can broadcast her disappointment to her social media community."

A designer, we believe, must ask more questions, must be as knowledgeable as her clients, can't fake it, and must call on the experience of her sources to supplement her knowledge. We try to help you look like a hero to your client.

Make Money from Your Spare Garden Space

There’s nothing better than finding your dream home and moving in, but once you’ve been there a while, the mortgage repayments can start to take their toll on your monthly income. If you have a big plot of land with a lot of garden space that you don’t really make the most of, you could be wasting an opportunity to make some money to help with those expensive mortgage repayments.

Outhouses and annexes can add serious value to a property, and people build them to give somewhere for older relatives to live, as well as places for guests to stay. Some even hire them out as holiday apartments and cash in on their investment, which is exactly what you could do to make some money from your spare land. To help you decide whether it’s a viable option, we’ve put together a checklist of things to consider.

Location, Location, Location

There are certain areas where holiday apartments are in high demand, and in these areas it’s more likely that your new venture will be a success. If you live by the coast, or in a popular holiday resort, people are likely to be looking for holiday accommodation on a regular basis. If you live in a less desirable area, you might find business is tougher due to a lack of demand.

Can You Afford the Initial Expense?

You can either choose to hire a construction firm to build a proper building, or you can buy a large log cabin from somewhere like Tunstall Garden Buildings, which is admittedly the cheaper option, despite being less luxurious. Then there’s the cost of plumbing, and the optional addition of a basic kitchenette, as well as all the furnishings.

It won’t be cheap to set up, but you could always take out a small loan – your new apartment is bound to pay for itself very quickly once it’s up and running. You’ll also need to apply for planning permission, which could be a lengthy and costly process, so check out this mini guide to building outhouses for more details.

Is There Somebody Who Can Manage the Business Aspect?

It’s important that somebody in your household has the time to manage the business aspect of your new venture. Taking bookings and replying to emails will take time, so make sure you have an hour or so (or potentially more) to spend on administrative tasks each day. 

Designers Are Once Again Going For Gold

"Gold and other yellow metallics are showing up in furniture, lighting, even fabrics and wall coverings. They bring a little glimmer to a room, a little understated glamour.

"This isn’t some ornate casbah look or a return to staid Colonial style, however. Today’s gold metals are soft and subdued, often with the complex look of handcrafting.

"Doty Horn, who runs the color marketing firm ColorVoyant in Holicong, Pa., thinks gold’s resurgence is tied to the economic recovery, but not because of its association with money. Gold is in the yellow family, which she said is a happy, positive color. “It’s a sign of optimism,” she said.

"Rose gold is especially popular now, Horn said, its pinkish hue adding complexity without the hardness and rustiness of copper. Brass is coming back, too, although in a lower-luster finish.

"Indeed, “the finish really is key,” she said. Shiny gold is out. Gold with a more complex, matte finish is in.

"The reappearance of gold is also an indication of the renewed popularity of traditional design, albeit with a fresher, more modern twist, said Jennifer McConnell, vice president of design for furniture maker Pearson Co"

Here's an example of the new look, the Chiltern Buffet from Bernhardt.The buffet has a gold leaf finish and four doors with inset antiqued mirror panels with rosettes.

Ponds: Free Form or Preformed?

If you've decided that you want a water feature to add tranquillity or depth to your garden, but you got stuck deciding which is better; a free form pond, or a preformed one. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each, so you can make the decision easily.

A Preformed Pond

A preformed pond is a piece of plastic/rubber composite moulded into a static shape. They are available in a variety of different shapes, from square and rectangles to more organic shapes.

The ponds have ridges incorporated into the design, which allow for the growth of bacterial colonies. These colonies are essential in controlling algae growth and helping support the natural ecosystem of the pond They are similar to naturally formed ponds and have radically uneven embankments that result in muddy pockets.
A preformed pond is an easy method of installing a pond in to your garden. All you really need to do is dig the hole, place the shell in the ground, and fill it with water. The main disadvantage of it is that there is a limitation to the shape and the size of the pond. Depending on which store you look at, your choice may be quite limited. 

A Free Form Pond 
A free form pond uses a pond liner, like these from All Pond Solutions to retain the water, rather than an already formed plastic shape. They are usually synthetic rubber, which is flexible and highly durable. They should need little maintenance. Pond kits are available too, so if you are less confident in your ability to take on a free form pond, then these might be a good option for you.
A free form pond requires much more work. You need to plan your pond’s dimensions and depth in detail, and then excavate it to your plan. While a preformed pond already has ridges, with a free form pond, you have to create them yourself. These ridges are essential for the delicate ecosystem and all the life that will dwell within the pond, from the fish to the algae.
An advantage of a free form pond is the freedom you have. You can design anything you like, as long as it is within your capabilities to do yourself. 

Weigh Up the Options

Compare the two, and make sure that you pick the best one for you. If you’re inexperienced with pond construction, you may be better off sticking with a preformed one, but if you’re confident and you’re willing it to put in the work to create something more creative, then a free form pond is yours. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New From Uttermost

Metal filigree with detailed banding finished in a semi matte black with rust antiquing holds the separate interior shade of silken warm beige fabric. Frosted glass diffuser included.
Designer: Carolyn Kinder
Wattage: 60W
Number of Bulbs: 3
Dimensions: 9 H X 22 Dia. (in)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Everything you Wanted to Know About Artificial Grass

While you may not be the most enthusiastic gardener, you no doubt still aspire to have a picturesque and well kept lawn. This can be extremely difficult to achieve, especially during the autumn and winter months when austere weather wreaks havoc on plants, grass and varnished surfaces. For those of you who struggle to grasp either the mechanics or the joy of gardening, however, there are several steps that you can take to help you in your quest to maintain a beautiful and functional space. 

3 Things you Always Wanted to Know about Artificial Grass 
As a novice gardener who is not especially keen to learn, one of the first things that you should do is lay artificial grass. This means that you will not have to mow your front or back lawns, while the maintenance processes involved are far quicker and easier to implement. Consider the following facts about artificial grass and the products key benefits:
ñ     Can Artificial Grass be Laid Directly Onto Hard Surfaces?: One of the most common misconceptions concerning artificial grass is that it can only be laid on soft ground or previously turfed areas. This is untrue, as contemporary products sold through leading retailers such as Great Grass can be laid directly onto firm surfaces such as decking. If this area has been treated, laying artificial grass can be as simple as fixing it in place green tanalised timber screws. Most types of artificial grass can also be laid onto concreted areas, although adhesive often works as a more effective fixing agent in this instance. 

ñ     Is Artificial Grass Suitable for Children and Pets: All artificial grass products are designed and manufactured with practical needs of home-owners in mind, which in turn means they are suitable for both children and pets. With this in mind, artificial grass not only imitates the texture and resistance of grass, but it also hard wearing and able to cope with heavy traffic and footfall. To support this, you need only look at the number of British schools, kennels and catteries that lay artificial grass in their outdoor recreation areas. 

ñ     Does an Artificial Lawn Fade with Sunlight: Another misconception surrounding artificial grass is that it fades with sunlight, especially over a period of between 5 and 10 years. This is false, however, as the majority of retailers will place a 10 year UV guarantee on their products to safeguard your investment as a consumer. This is because contemporary artificial grass is manufactured using fibres that have UV stabilised, meaning that it is more durable when exposed to direct sunlight in an outdoor space.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Fresh and Exciting Garden Design Ideas

You are individual and unique so why shouldn't your garden and patio areas reflect this? Of course, being original these days can be a difficult task, as so much has already been done before. But with a little thought and plenty of creativity, you can still find exciting ways to improve your garden that are fresh, easy, cost effective and not least importantly, very pleasing on the eye.

Upcycle Your Way to a Brand New Garden

All that 'junk' that's just been laying around in the shed for years gathering dust, is in fact a potential garden design goldmine. Upcycling is the process of transforming all of your broken or unwanted pieces of household debris into attractive, artistic or even practical objects, effectively giving them a second life. In garden design, previously useless objects can become creative and original centrepieces. Who needs a conventional flowerbed when you've got a broken down VW Beetle rotting in the garage? Remove the hood and engine and plant colourful flowers inside! Overrun by old unwanted crockery and plates? You'd be amazed what some paint and a little super glue can do. Stack the plates and cups on top of each other in the right order, apply a little glue, some paint and eureka: You've just made your first ceramic bird bath! Broken old chairs, ill-fitting rubber boots, car parts, ancient television sets, retired electrical appliances, home brew bottles, shelves, tables – you name it – just about anything can be upcycled into an impressive garden or patio design piece.

Balance Your Creativity

Even with all these great creative ideas, you still need to be a little mindful of what type of 'look' or scheme you are creating for your garden. If you merely throw all of your design ideas randomly together, your garden quickly becomes less of a design and more of a random collection of objects, patterns and installations. Be sure to think stylistically about how you combine the various elements of your design motif. Sometimes building your garden around a more conventional structure can give it the grounding it needs. Don't be afraid to use some plain outdoor decking, or even some quality uniformed paving from Milford. With one of these as your foundation, you can then begin to construct a more bohemian garden landscape that doesn't look out of place. On the contrary, it will look fabulous.