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Summer should be spent enjoying the garden — but what happens when you have an infestation of pests?
Did you know that, in London, more than 100 rodent complaints are made every day? Although this is just one city, pests are still an issue for many homeowners. To help keep your garden pest-free, Arbordeck, suppliers of decking boards, has presented this guide on how to keep rats, mice and other critters far from our gardens.
Make your garden unappealing
We all want our gardens to look nice — but making it appealing to a pest is a big mistake. Pests, such as rats and mice, will scout out places before deciding on where to settle down, so try and make your decking as uninhabitable as possible.
Food attracts rodents, so make sure you properly clear and scrub clean your decking and patio after eating outside. Remember; rats, mice and hedgehogs will also eat birdfeed, so make sure to opt for a birdfeeder that isn’t placed on the floor or a table and put it away from your decking.
Long grass and shrubbery make great abodes for home-hunting animals, so trim these right back and keep them neat. If your main pest problem is birds, movement is a great deterrent. Try hanging something that moves — like a wind chime or wind spinner — to help prevent birds from making a mess on your decking.
Close off entry points
Does your garden boast a decked space? If so, this is also a great place for shelter that you need to bear in mind. Pests won’t be able to make a home under your decked areas if they can’t get in to begin with, so investing in extra materials to create a barrier is worth it.
Use wood, mesh or chicken wire and run it along the entire edge of your decking between the boards and the ground, if you want to ensure critters can’t make a home under your decking. If you’re worried that this will ruin your decking’s aesthetic appeal, you can install a wooden trellis and have the mesh running behind it. Place potted plants or plant flowers around the area to make it look even nicer.
Rats and mice can get through tiny gaps (even half an inch), so ensure your decked is sealed to prevent an infestation.
Woodworm and wood decking go hand in hand, unfortunately. Unless you have decking that doesn’t rot, you should take steps to prevent this particularly unpopular garden pest. There are three kinds of woodworm in the UK. The common furniture beetle is usually what people mean when they say ‘woodworm’, but the house longhorn and deathwatch beetles are far more destructive — although thankfully rarer.
The first an easiest step to preventing woodworm in your garden is keeping wooden areas dry. This might be difficult for large decked spaces, but your tables and chairs should be relatively safe under a waterproof cover. Sealing your wood with varnish is a good shout, too. This creates a barrier that prevents female wood-boring beetles from laying eggs in the pores of the wood.
Perhaps you can already see a woodworm infestation? Small holes across your decking and furnishings may mean woodworm — these are usually in a cluster and often about 1mm wide. Although this is treatable, you first need to identify which type of woodworm is doing the damage, so it might be worth seeking professional advice. Common furniture beetle problems can be treated yourself using products that you can buy online. However, if the culprits are house longhorn or deathwatch beetles, you may need to treat by injection.
Catching the problem
Non-lethal traps or scent repellents are great solutions for dealing with a pest problem. Were you aware that rodents hate the smell of hot spices, peppermint and garlic? So, why not place a peppermint tree around the edges of your decking or sprinkle cayenne around potential entry points? Of course, there are also plenty of commercial rat and mice repellents you can buy that will work to keep pests at bay.
Forget cheese in your rodent traps, sweet foods are far better at luring critters like mice. Place these around your decking and make sure to release the rodent at least one mile from your home once caught. If you prefer, buy an ultrasonic pest repellent. Compact and discreet, these devices are ideal for placing by your decking and emit high-frequency sound waves that rodents can’t stand — and we can’t hear.
Following these quick tips can help ensure that your garden is a pest-free environment!
Growing your own fruit, vegetables and flowers on an allotment is an enjoyable and highly satisfying experience – nothing quite beats harvesting and eating the fruits of your labour and there is nothing quite so sweet tasting as the produce over which you have sweated and toiled for many months.
However there is one particularly irksome side to allotmenteering, and no, I’m not going to talk about weeds – weeding is part and parcel of gyo and can be highly enjoyable when done properly. What really is a pain is keeping the plants watered especially during extended hot and dry periods such as we are experiencing now.
You get home from work after a long hot day in the office and have to rush off to the allotment which may be a round trip of almost an hour. You get to the allotment desperate to water your wilting thirsty tomato plants but you still have to wait half an hour until your neighbour finishes with the hose.
The scenario I’ve described above has destroyed many a GYO enthusiast. However I’ve discovered an ingenious solution – the Irrigatia Solar Powered Automatic Watering System.
This fantastic invention has changed my life – I no longer have to rush to my allotment every day just to water my crops – the Irrigatia system does it for me. I’ve also installed one at home to water my patio pots which as well as saving me time, uses about 90% less water than conventional watering.
Briefly; the system uses a solar rechargeable battery powered pump which draws water out of your water barrel and pumps it to your plants via a pipe and dripper irrigation system. The pump has an inbuilt sensor which will water more or less depending on the weather. I found it very easy to assemble – I put up a C12 system on one of my vegetable beds and greenhouses in a little over an hour.
I also add a soluble fertiliser to my water source so that as well as getting watered, my plants are also getting well fed.
There are a few different systems available depending on how many plants you want to keep watered.
SOL-C12 – powers 12 drippers
SOL-C24 – powers 24 drippers
SOL-C60 – powers 60 drippers
SOL-C120 – powers 120 drippers
SOL-C180 – powers 180 drippers!
My Irrigatia Automatic Watering System pictures at my allotment and home
Many of us are guilty of failing in our garden pursuits. Often, this is because we bite off more than we can chew. We set large lawns and plant high-maintenance flowers. Then, life gets busy, and we don’t even think about maintenance until it’s too late. When we finally look outside, our gardens are a wilderness we can’t begin to tackle.
Sound familiar? You aren’t alone. Many of us fight with this discrepancy between what we’d like to do in the garden, and what we actually have time for. But, half of the secret is to accept what you can do, and create an outside space which suits that need. Rather than trying to be the gardener of the year, admit you don’t have the time. Instead, focus on part-time garden ideas you really can keep on top of. But, what does part-time gardening look like exactly? Read on to find out.
Cutting the grass
Cutting grass is, perhaps, the most persistent job any gardener faces. Most large lawns need cutting at least once a week, but many of us tackle this more often than that. If your grass often gets out of control, it’s a sure sign you need to cut back. It may be that you pave a section of your garden so your lawn’s less prominent. That way, it won’t look half as bad if you leave it for too long. Or, you might want to cut grass altogether with the artificial lawns offered by companies like LazyLawn. Though it’s sad to say goodbye to grass, artificial options look startlingly realistic. And, you’ll never have to cut the stuff again. You can’t get more part-time than that.
Much ado about mulch
When it comes time to prepare your flower beds, it’s also worth thinking about mulch. Mulch is a material you place on top of the soil in your beds. It can consist of anything from hay to compost. The idea here is that you place up to 4-6 inches of the stuff. This then breaks down to keep your plants happy and healthy. It also works miracles at reducing weed growth. How’s that for miracle gardening? While it may take a little longer to start, this is a fantastic way to half the time you spend tending your flowers.
How to Mulch a Garden Bed - YouTube
Power to the pots
If you don’t fancy getting stuck in with mulch, you could fill your beds with pebbles (a great design feature), and invest in potted plants instead. These reduce the risks of weeds because there’s less overall space for them to sneak into. In fact, there’s usually only room for one set of roots in a pot like this. Plus, certain potted plants are notorious for looking after themselves. Ferns like Silver Lady are pretty sturdy, as are options like Golden Cane Palm. All you need to do is a find a nice pot and make sure you’re putting them in the right place. Oh, and you might want to water them sometimes, too.
There is so much innovation out there in the gardening community and one of the things I love most about visiting flower shows is spotting new innovative products. Recently most new products that I’ve seen have focused on various watering systems, so when I walked past Jardinopia’s “Potty Feet” stall I was pleasantly surprised.
At first I almost ignored the stall thinking it was simply a gift stand selling more garden ornaments but then Anthony caught my eye and called me over. Not wanting to be rude I thought I’d go and have a brief chat; and boy am I glad I did! Potty Feet provide a solution that all pot planters need – to raise the pots slightly off the ground. The reasons that your plant pots should not sit directly on the ground but rather should be slightly raised are:
To aid drainage and prevent water logging
To improve air circulation for healthy root growth
To minimise frost damage risk in the winter
To deter unwanted pests from establishing their homes under your pots
To prevent “pot rings” from spoiling patios, decking and indoor flooring for house plant pots
Until I discovered Potty Feet I had used various improvisations myself for raising my pots, but none were completely satisfactory. The “feet” I used were often unsightly or even those specially made terracotta feet which I bought from my local garden centre usually perished after a couple of seasons due to weathering.
Potty Feet are made from frost resistant poly-resin, which makes them extra strong so they won’t crumble under the weight of your pots. Additionally they and are hand painted using a lead free UV light resistant product so they won’t deteriorate in the sunlight.
Potty Feet make a lovely additional feature to your potted plants – they come in all sorts of wonderful animal designs. The feet are very reasonably priced for around £15-£25 per three feet (for one pot) and they are specially presented in a beautiful printed recyclable gift box making them an ideal gift.
So Potty Feet have just solved another of my frequent gardening problems – a novel gift idea for my gardener/houseplant friends – every birthday and christmas I have to rack my brains to find something original – well now I’ve got something which takes off the pressure for the next few seasons
People often talk about period homes when it comes to buildings. Properties that still resemble their original structure from when they were built and have been well-preserved are abundant in the UK. We have houses going back hundreds of years, and they can make charming homes, full of character. But what about a period garden? While it’s not typical to find a garden that has been kept in its original style, except perhaps in stately homes, it’s definitely not difficult to replicate the trends of the past. From cottage gardens to colonial styles, there’s plenty to inspire you if you want to create a traditional garden.
Choose a Time Period or Style
If you want to create a period garden, you first need to choose a certain time period or style that you want to emulate. There are plenty of different options, whether you want to look at gardens through the ages in Britain or you want to explore some styles from around the world. If you’re not sure where to start, you might want to look at the history of your home. Find out when it was built and if you can perhaps even find some photos of it. You might want to imagine what the garden first looked like or how it could have changed over the years.
You have lots of styles to choose from. There’s the baroque style, Georgian gardens, Arts and Crafts gardens, Victorian gardens, and much more. A great resource to take a look at is the National Trust guide to gardens through the ages. Of course, many gardens you can look at from the past are sprawling formal gardens. You probably don’t have nearly as much space to work with, but just because you can’t landscape something worthy of Capability Brown, it doesn’t mean you can’t take inspiration from these gardens.
Read Up on the Trends of the Day
If you’ve decided on a theme or a particular time period, your next step might be to do some further research. Find out some more about the trends and fashionable styles of the day, from what sort of plants people were using to typical garden layouts. For example, Victorian gardens brought in lots of new and exotic plants, while in the 20th century, gardens became a bit less formal and structured. You don’t have to follow a strict set of rules to create your garden. It’s just interesting to look for ideas that could inspire you, especially if you see yourself as a bit of history buff.
Consider the Practicalities
While you’re exploring ideas for your garden, it’s worth thinking about some of the practical aspects of some of the things you might do. Keep in mind that some of the formal gardens of the period you’re researching might well have had a team of gardeners to care for them. Of course, you might be happy to spend a lot of time gardening or hire someone to do it for you. But there could be some ideas that sound fun on the surface but soon turn out to be completely impractical. It’s important not to be overly ambitious, especially if you don’t have the budget of the landed gentry.
Choose Updated Ways of Doing Things
If there are some ideas that you have to scrap for impracticality, there could still be plenty more that are easier to carry out today than it would have been in the past. Even though you’re trying to create a period garden, you can still enjoy the benefits of modern inventions. For example, caring for some more exotic plants could be easier with some of the garden technology available today. Some things are much more affordable too. Stuart gardens often featured extravagant water features. While you might not pay thousands for something truly impressive, you can install a beautiful water feature without paying too much.
Create a Plan
Once you’re feeling truly inspired, you can start to create a plan for your garden. You might want to work with a landscaper who can help you to plan out your vision. They can draw detailed plans to make it easier to visualise your garden. Once the plans are finalised, you can follow them to turn your garden into a reality. If you don’t want to design your garden from scratch, you can also find some great plans to work with. You could adjust them slightly to match what you want so that it’s suitable for the size of your garden and the particulars of what you want.
Look for Materials Matching Your Theme
It’s often not just the plants and layout that give your garden a particular look. The materials you use, from paving to plant pots, can also contribute to the overall style of your garden. The great thing is that you can find plenty of products designed in the style of different eras. If you’re trying to create a 19th-century garden, you can find Victorian greenhouses inspired by the trends of the day. However, another excellent thing is that you can find products that have the look you want and also have a more solid, modern construction. With modern materials and techniques, you can get the best of both worlds.
Find the Right Plants
Of course, the plants you choose are important too. As well as being inspired by the popular plants of the period you’re using for inspiration, it’s a good idea to think about how well they’re going to work for you. Firstly, they need to be compatible with the soil and the climate. You should also consider how much care some plants might need. Perhaps they can survive in your garden, but only if you’re very attentive. Not everyone wants to spend a lot of time doting on certain plants to make sure they can thrive. You can usually get the look you want without sticking to very specific plants.
If you want to create a period garden, do some research before you start. Not only will you learn a lot, but it will be fun too.
Making the most of your space can be difficult if you’re one of the many people living in the urban jungle. High-rise buildings don’t leave you much room for outdoor enjoyment unless you are fortunate enough to have a rooftop garden, communal areas, or a balcony. You may feel disheartened with your gardening prospects dwindling if you’ve moved from a suburban area to an apartment block. However, even the quirkiest of outdoor areas can be brought to life with a little love. When you get creative you can utilise what you already have and work on a budget. There are plenty of ways to make the most of your outdoor space, no matter what garden you’ve got. Here’s a guide with 8 simple ideas to make your garden look bigger:
1. Window Boxes
Window boxes fit nicely on most tiny balconies or compact gardens, brightening up your space without taking up too much room – which will free up floor space making your garden appear larger. They’re also great for growing your own fresh herbs right outside your window. Plenty of wonderful flowers and fruits lend themselves well to these types of growing conditions; from Strawberries or Cherry Tomatoes, to Petunias and Erigeron – you’re by no means limited with what creations you can put together in such a small space.
2. Garden “Tower”
Flowerbeds can be a wonderful way to bring life and character to your outdoor space, but they can also take up a large proportion of the garden. It’s a logical idea for those with smaller gardens: instead of building outwards, build up. You can buy plant pots specially designed for bringing a variety of flowers together in an impressive tall structure called a garden tower. The best part of elevated gardens is that you can have more flowers then you ever imagined was possible.
If you have a narrow garden, using a decorative floral archway can break it up, making it seem larger and wider. This is especially effective when placed over a garden path, bringing a magical element to any outdoor space.
4. Hanging Baskets
Hanging baskets can be a complete saviour when it comes to decorating smaller gardens! Even the cosiest of balconies can be brought to life with a selection of beautiful flowers and colourful trailers. Some excellent flowers for hanging baskets include: Sweet Peas, Pansies, Begonia and Bacopa. You can mix and match to create your own wonderful display. Top tip: they’re also ideal for growing your own herb garden.
5. Breaking up the garden
Often people can be reluctant to lay down a patio if they’re working with limited space as they’re keen to save whatever grass area they have. However, splitting your garden up with even a small patio area can make your garden look longer, especially if you create a path in-between the grass areas.
6. Outdoor Furniture
For those lucky enough to have a little more space to work with, boutique-style outdoor living furniture can greatly improve the aesthetics of your garden, and also change the way in which you use it. Investing in all-weather furniture like a dining table can give your garden purpose and encourage you to spend more time outside. Having a corner garden sofa or bistro table rather than bulky furniture can free up room in your garden and make it seem more spacious.
7. Create An Illusion
One of the best ways to give the impression of a larger garden is to trick the eye into thinking it’s bigger. A popular way to do this recently has been to recycle old mirrors to create a wall display. This is easy enough to achieve by hanging smaller mirrors at varying heights on a fence or brick wall. Alternatively, you can use one big mirror at an angle to make your garden appear wider. Consider where to place the mirror for the ultimate illusion impact.
The upkeep of your garden is crucial in making it look bigger. Once you allow your garden to be overgrown it instantly appears smaller and cluttered. Keep on top of everyday tasks like trimming hedges, bushes and trees. You should also pay special attention to any moss or weeds that may try to grow through your patio – a clear patio always gives the impression of a larger space so be sure to maintain it by using a non-toxic chemical spray.
What steps will you take next?
Don’t be disheartened when if you find the perfect house that doesn’t come with the garden space you were hoping for. You can still make it work for you. There are plenty of ways you can tailor your garden to your needs, without spending a fortune. Take a walk around your local gardening centre and get inspired.
Part of the joy of gardening is the room to experiment with shapes, colours and textures. Watching something grow from seed to full bloom over the year, or year after year. Something that not many people experiment with is hydroponics. Now, while there are a few hydroponic systems that you can work with, the basic idea is that you don’t use soil and instead use nutrient-rich water. Interesting, isn’t it?
So what kind of fruits and vegetables can make the most of the way that hydroponics works?
Cabbage is a great grower in cooler temperatures, making it an ideal candidate for this style of growing. You’re going to need to cater for the changes in temperature and plant them according to the season (as you would anyway), but you should have a great harvest with these.
An aromatic and versatile herb, Basil. The damp conditions enhance the flavour by a reasonable amount, and it is highly likely you will see an increase in the yield.
If you have a good support system and have grown tomatoes before, then swapping to a hydroponic system might be the challenge you’re looking for. If you have the support ready to go, tomatoes take very well to being grown hydroponically.
Strawberries are known for being particularly juicy and do very well in this type of growing environment. There are a few different plant configurations that work best, so a little bit of research might be required. While it might be tempting to try and grow a different type of strawberry to that of which you usually grow, it would be advisable to grow the same. Only as a test to see the comparison.
A very obvious choice perhaps, but lettuce does well here too. Don’t stick to iceberg but rather experiment with romaine, butterhead – Boston, red leaf lettuce or butterhead -Bibb.
A few notes:
Any fruits or vegetables that need to be pollinated by bees can be a bit tricky to grow. You don’t have bees naturally inside the hydroponic greenhouse or structure you’ve chosen to use. You can, however, pollinate them yourself – it all depends on the type of tasks you enjoy.
Try to grow things that you eat a lot of. Why? Well, hydroponics tend to give a much bigger yield. Or, if you have friends and family willing to help you eat them when it comes to harvest time – that would be ideal.
If you intend to grow flowers using this method, then you should do some research before you start. Not all flowers will take to this method as you might like them too. On that note pumpkins, watermelons and squash might take up a bit too much room for this method also.
Mainly you could grow whatever you like, as long as you can accept that what you imagine and what you produce might be very different while you get used to a different method of gardening. Hydroponics can be a lot of fun, and ones you get started it is pretty difficult to get bored or run out of ideas.
The new generation of cordless battery powered lawnmowers combine the advantages of their clean, lightweight electric corded cousins and their powerful versatile petrol powered cousins without the disadvantages of each; making them the lawnmower of choice for your average home garden.
Despite it’s rather strange name, this is a fantastic general purpose cordless battery powered lawnmower which will perform fantastically well for most home gardens. This Bosch mower is powered by a 36V lithium ion battery coupled with the new Power drive 43Li + system delivers consistently high torque in all conditions. Weighing only 14 Kg this is very easy to push and the back combs will help to leave the nice striped effect on your lawn – granted the stripes won’t be as pronounced as those made by heavier petrol lawnmowers – but the lightness, and easy of use surely make up for lighter stripes! It is also has an AGR certificate which means it has specially been designed to put less strain on your back.
After you’ve fixed up the interiors of your house and made it feel like home, you might be thinking that you’re all done. However, there’s probably something that you’re missing. Just outside the back door is the garden, looking a little sad or overgrown. It can be enough to put a dampener on any domestic satisfaction. Creating a garden that you and your family want to spend time in may seem like a daunting task but, don’t worry! Here are some simple ways to turn it from a frightening jungle into a tranquil paradise.
Keep your lawn trim
Your lawn probably dominates your garden and will draw a lot of attention. It’s also the place where you and your family will spend much of your time playing and relaxing during the summer. But a neglected lawn can bring the whole garden down. Feeding your lawn some fertiliser a few times a year can make it stronger and look healthier. It’s also important to give the lawn a regular trim as long grass can shade areas of lawn from the sun, leaving it patchy and sad looking, as well as leading to lumps in the soil.
Light is for the outdoors too!
The only way to improve an evening of relaxing in your garden in the evening is to bring a little light into the environment. There are plenty of garden lights that you can string over patios, sheds and even through flower beds. Many of them are even solar powered, so you don’t have to worry about trailing wires or finding a power supply. Don’t assume that the indoors are the only places where lights can work wonders.
Learn to embrace colour
Most people don’t really think about the colour of their garden, assuming that green is the only colour that matters. But why not bring a little extra spark into it with some splashes of colour. It can be as simple as planting some pleasant flowers in some of your favourite shades. Or you could brighten up your shed and garden furniture with a lick of paint. You’ll be amazed at how much more vibrant your garden can become with such a simple addition, not to mention how much more of a personality it will have.
Make a space to relax
Speaking of furniture, sitting out in your garden in the evening is one of life’s simple pleasures. Unfortunately, you can always guarantee the weather will be on your side. A patio space in your garden can shade you from the sun, keep your warm and dry in the winter, and provide the perfect hosting space for parties. Of course, you’ll need some garden furniture to put in it as well! An elegant and spacious patio is just the thing to take your garden to the next level of luxury.
In the end, your garden is just as much a part of your home as any other and deserves the same care and attention. By doing just a few things here and there, you won’t believe how easy it is to take your garden from something into which you daren’t step foot, to the place where you want to spend all of your time.