Alfresco dining is one of life’s simple pleasures. Even though the UK weather isn’t always on our side, we find ways to make it work. After all, is there something better than sharing a delicious meal with friends and family in a beautiful setting? Of course not. The only thing that can make it better is enjoying those moments from the comfort and privacy of your home.
While the benefits of playing outside for children may seem obvious, according to several surveys, many children in the UK don’t have regular access to outdoor play time.
Experts have long been stressing the importance of active outdoor time to both the mental and physical health of children growing up. If you are an adult you may agree with me that the lure of digital technologies is just one of the many reasons why outdoor time is shrinking. Of course, there are benefits to both outdoor and indoor activities, in the same way, modern technologies have many advantages. The challenge is to achieve a balance.
Warm weather spells the start of the holiday season for most people. Whether you’re going away for a week, 10 days or more, there are some steps that you should take to ensure that your garden is still alive when you return home.
A few days before you go away, it’s beneficial to weed your beds and planters, as the weeds will compete with your plants for water. If you have vegetables growing in your garden then you should water them deeply and spread the soil with either clippings, compost or mulch. To ensure that the soil remains damp for as long as possible, you could even place large stones or planks of wood between the rows of vegetables.
If you’re only away for a few days, you can probably get away with giving your plants a good watering before you leave, and waiting until you return to water them again. However, if you’re going away for a week or more then you should think about investing in some self-watering equipment. Whether this is a sprinkler on a timer, a soaker hose or a drip line, there are many self-watering options that suit all budgets and requirements.
Alternatively, you can look into creating your own self-watering system by using plastic bottles. All you have to do is take several plastic bottles (if you wish to water an entire garden) and poke tiny holes in the bottom of the bottle. Place the bottle a couple of inches below the soil surface next to your plant and fill with water. The tiny holes will allow for the water to slowly drip to the roots of your plants. Depending on the bottle sizes, you can use one bottle between four plants.
Potted plants are much more susceptible to drying out than bedded plants. If possible, you should group your pots close together as it creates a damper micro-climate and reduces evaporation from the soil. The potted plants should also be moved to be in a position that’s shaded for a lot of the day but where they’ll still receive rain.
The plastic bottle system mentioned above will also work for potted plants. However, it’s recommended that you try this system out about a week before you go away so that you can see how long the water lasts, and if you need to put more, or larger bottles in the pot.
Ask a Friend
An alternative solution to all of the above is to ask a friend if they could pop round a few times a week to water your plants for you. To make the request work if their favour, if you have fruit and/or vegetable plants in your garden you could always allow them to take any that have ripened whilst you have been away, as they’ll most likely be inedible by the time you return!
For further advice, please contact the Eden Landscape Projects Ltd team on 01933 652 786 or get in touch through our online contact form.
It’s getting to that time of year where everyone cannot wait for it to be summer. Warm evenings, a colourful garden and quality time spent outdoors. It sounds bliss, doesn’t it? That’s until you catch a glimpse of your green-tinged patio. Once you notice how dirty it is, you won’t be able to un-notice it.
That’s why we’ve put together this post to provide you with information on cleaning and maintaining your patio. Allowing you to enjoy those summer evenings and appreciate your garden in all its glory.
Sweep Your Patio Regularly
Sweeping away all of the leaves and other debris that builds up throughout autumn and winter can prevent decaying leaves from staining your patio for good. It can also help to prevent any seeds from germinating as they have nothing to root into. Along with this, damp leaves can be a slip hazard, so removing them from your patio offers safety to you and your family.
Spring Clean & Patio Maintenance
Although the best way to keep your patio clean is through regular maintenance, spring is the optimal time to give your patio a really good clean. Due to the damp winter months, there can be a build-up of organic growth along with general dirt. Once most of the bad weather is out of the way this provides an ideal time to get your patio ready for summer.
A pressure washer is the quickest and most efficient way to clean most types of paving. However, it’s important to know the material that your patio is made from, as some materials can’t withstand the pressure from this type of cleaning and can damage the paving stones.
Even if your patio is built from a material that can withstand this pressure, it is recommended not to use the method regularly due to the possibility of damage still being caused.
If you don’t own a pressure washer, or need a cleaning alternative in between pressure washer usage, there are methods that you can do by hand.
The most used and cheapest option is a bucket of warm soapy water and a stiff brush. Just pour the mixture onto the patio and scrub with a stiff brush in a circular motion. Rinse the soap away using a watering can or hose and repeat as required.
Another method is using a diluted bleach solution and the above directions. However when using this option, take care not to let the bleach mix to go onto your grass or plants, or near any pets.
We would recommend cleaning your patio 3-4 times a year, switching between using a pressure washer and doing the job by hand. Although this may sound a lot, cleaning it regularly will make the job easier as there won’t be a large build up of dirt.
Sealants can help to keep your patio looking new for longer and are best used soon after the patio has been laid. Sealants can either form a film on top of the paving or actually penetrate the stone depending on which type you purchase. They can help to preserve the colour of your patio and prevent against weathering. Sealants also make it much easier to clean stains and dirt, however, this doesn’t mean that your patio won’t need cleaning – it just means it will be easier to do so.
If you need advice on the best cleaning method for your patio or are interested in having a new patio laid for summer, please contact Eden Landscapes today. Our team of garden landscapers serve the Northamptonshire area and work with our customers to create bespoke garden designs.
Do you want a garden full of colour ready for spring? It can be difficult to know when and where to begin preparing your garden, so we’ve put together a few helpful pointers below.
Potting and Planting Flowers
Planting seeds and bulbs in February allow for the flower to grow and flourish by the time that spring and summer comes back around. There are many flowers such as Lilies, Chrysanthemum and Ranunculus that can be potted now, and planted in the early spring so that they are ready to brighten up your garden during the summer months.
Some plants are best to be kept indoors or within a cool greenhouse during their first few weeks so we’d recommend doing your research, or contacting our team before you begin purchasing seeds and bulbs.
Although it’s cold outside, this time of year is the best time to begin weeding. As the weeds will be freshly grown, the roots will still be short, meaning this chore will take a lot less effort than it would be doing it at the peak of spring.
Clean Your Greenhouse
Your greenhouse is soon to be full of trays of seedlings and cuttings. Giving it a good clean with a hot solution of garden disinfectant can remove any of the pests and disease that may have survived there during the winter. Ensure to also sweep out and remove any debris that may be left on the floor and shelves.
It is also a good idea to clean your pots and trays to prevent a potential disease from spreading and killing off young plants. To dry your greenhouse thoroughly, it is recommended to keep it well ventilated for the few days following the big clean.
Remove Dead Plants & Clear Borders
Having a tidy up in your garden can help you see what space you have for planting new shrubs and flowers. Removing leaves and debris, along with any dead plants shouldn’t take long but will make a big difference to the appearance of your garden. However, to give the local wildlife time to come out from hibernating underneath your plants and within other areas of your garden, we would recommend waiting until the early spring to begin this clear up.
You may not think that wildlife needs our help to survive throughout winter, but in actual fact, this is the time of year that they are most reliant on humans. As the weather starts to turn, there becomes less food available in the countryside to the overwintering wildlife, and by offering the correct food and shelter you can increase the diversity of creatures that appear in your garden.
Providing Food for Birds
Birds benefit from feeding throughout the year, however, it is most important during winter as it increases their breeding success the following year. You should aim to provide them with food that contains a high-fat content as this helps to keep them warm.
If you’re looking to offer natural foods for birds and already have ivy or bushes in your garden, resist the urge to cut it back. By waiting until March, the berries are available to birds for longer and the leaves can provide a foraging habitat for insect-eaters such as tits.
During winter, bird feeders are used most heavily compared to the rest of the year and there is a variety of options and food types available that are suitable to give to them:
- Fat blocks placed in wire cages helps birds to receive the fat content required to keep them warm throughout winter. These can be made by melting suet into moulds (such as coconut shells) and being placed in wire cages.
- Wire mesh feeders are suitable for peanuts, whilst seed feeders are best for other smaller seeds.
- Feed placed on a wire mesh just above the ground will help to encourage ground-feeding birds such as robins and dunnocks to spend some more time in your garden.
Ensure that you keep the feeders topped up so that birds don’t waste their energy visiting your garden if there is no food available.
Looking Out for Mammals and Amphibians
With bonfire night not being too far away, it’s very important to check bonfires before they are lit as animals such as hedgehogs, toads and frogs may be sheltering there. You should also be wary when turning compost heaps as they are often warm and provide the perfect sanctuary for these amphibians along with other animals.
The following tips will allow many amphibians and mammals to comfortably survive this winter:
- Provide a shallow container of water at ground level as this will benefit all species of garden wildlife that needs to drink.
- Spread fallen leaves over your flower beds to allow frogs and invertebrates to spend winter amongst the damp leaves. This also creates a foraging habitat for thrushes and blackbirds.
- If you have a pond in your garden, melting a hole in the ice allows the wildlife to drink, and enter and exit the water. By filling a saucepan with hot water and placing it on the ice until a hole has melted, you can create an entry point for the animals without sending shockwaves through the water by cracking it, and causing harm to the species below.
- Leaving a dish of water and meat-based cat or dog food outside of your property can provide food to hedgehogs, helping them to fatten up for winter.
Offering Shelter to Insects
Although they’re not everyone’s favourite creatures, it’s still important to take care of insects throughout winter.
By leaving dry plant stems standing in the garden, you are providing a shelter for all kinds of insects. Just make sure that when you do cut them in spring, that you leave them in a stack until towards the end of the season to allow the overwintering insects to emerge.
Ladybirds tend to gather in large clusters on dead plant stems and are more commonly found in more sheltered parts of the garden. To allow them to feed, leave aphids, also known as greenflies, blackflies, and whiteflies, on your plants for the ladybirds to find. Growing nettles is one of the best ways to attract aphid-eating ladybirds as nettle aphids are some of the first to emerge from hibernation.
With the bank holiday weekend almost upon us, we can imagine that us Brits are going to try and squeeze in one more bbq before summer is over. But have you ever taken the location of your plants into consideration before starting to cook?
Avoid placing your barbeque near any plants that are at high risk of catching alight and make sure to sweep away any leaf foliage build-up that is on the ground area around the barbeque. You should avoid cooking anywhere near Australian native plants such as eucalypts, wattles and bottlebrush as they contain too many volatile oils. Any plants with crisp leaves or brown leaf foliage are also at risk of catching fire due to their dryness.
If the majority of your garden is filled with plants and you’re struggling to barbeque away from them, we’d suggest cooking your food closer (but still as far away as possible!) to plants with a waxy or glossy foliage as they have a slower reaction to flames, making them less likely to ignite.
Hanging Baskets and Pot Plants
Many homes have hanging baskets around the exterior of the property – but against the wall of your house is a prime place for people to put their barbeques. If your hanging basket is above, or near the barbeque flame, we would recommend taking it down for the cooking and cooling period. In fact, we would recommend keeping all plants near your barbeque trimmed with dead plant matter removed regularly to avoid any accidents when cooking.
Where to Position your BBQ
The best place to position your barbeque is in the middle of your patio area, away from any garden shed or fences and away from trees, plants or shrubs that may set alight. Your guests would probably prefer that it is also away from the seating area to avoid being smoked out!
So, when you’re setting up to cook your barbeque this bank holiday weekend, take your plants, guests and personal safety into consideration when deciding where to place it.
To speak with Eden Landscapes about re-designing your garden (and making it more BBQ friendly!) please contact us on 01933 652786.
The cooler months of the year are the perfect time to work on your garden in anticipation of the long summer nights where you can be outside relaxing, enjoying the labours of your work; so join us as we take a look at some of the best options to satisfy your green fingers over the colder part of the year.
The winter is a time of the year where the enthusiastic gardener can still find plenty of jobs to do. These jobs can range from protecting plants to tidying up the garden before the onset of spring. Just as we all need to look after ourselves in the colder weather to keep bugs at bay, you need to do the same for your garden – and our latest post runs through some key bits of advice. Continue reading
In the depths of winter especially after the severe weather we have had there are still some dependable sources of interest in the well designed garden. Colour and scent can still be found even in the smallest of gardens and will help lift those winter blues.
There are old favourites like snowdrops; they don’t have to be planted in carpets to have an effect. They are fairly easy going and will happily grow at the base of established deciduous shrubs where they will get enough light when growing and cool shade when they are dormant. Consider growing them where they can be seen easily without having to mount an expedition to the other end of the garden. Close to a kitchen window or near patio doors will be a welcome sight. There are many types to choose from with cool combinations of white and green or even yellow markings as well as large and small flowers, but remember that they mostly hang their flower heads so you may want to get up close to see their full cool beauty. Maybe on the path to a door or in a temporary display, such as a large shallow pot on a low wall or in the porch at the front door. And you don’t have to settle just for the common Galanthus Nivalis, although there are many great varieties to choose from, try also the Galanthus elwesii types for a larger flower.
Another garden designers choice would be the subtle and unassuming Sarcococca or ‘Christmas Box’. A small evergreen shrub that happily minds it’s own business for most of the year in some of the shadier areas of the garden, it really comes into its own in the depths of winter. Small white flowers open to deliver an amazing scent, sometimes so strong you stop and wonder where it’s coming from. Later on small berries form to give more colour and interest and also make it useful for cutting. Sarcococca humilis doesn’t get above 60cm usually. Sarcococca Confusa gets taller but has very fragrant flowers. Both would be ideal close to a garden gate or path, perhaps even near where the car is parked to greet you as you get home.
For a different sort of colour interest try the dogwoods. These shrubs have bright and colourful stems that stand out wonderfully in the dull days of winter. Cornus Elegantissima has reddish stems and green and white leaves in summer but Cornus ‘sibirica’ has much redder stems. For yellow stems try Cornus stolonifera ‘Flaviramea’ and if you want contrast try the purple black stems of Cornus alba ‘Kesselringii’. For the best colour these shrubs need ordinary to moist soil and regular pruning as the young wood looks best.
A good garden designer knows that with gardens getting smaller our plants have to work harder all year round to deserve the valuable space they use and these winter favourites have all earned a place.