Cleaning Your Patio

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.

Patio Design

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.

Pressure Washer

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.

By Hand

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.

Patio Sealants

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.

Bespoke Garden Design With Pond

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.

Preparing Your Garden for Spring

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.

Ranunculus Flower
Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/ranunculus-flower-ranunculus-blossom-433429/

Start Weeding

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.

Weeding the garden
Photo Caption: https://pixabay.com/en/work-in-the-garden-garden-digging-2432111/

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.

Small glass green house
Photo Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SmallGreenHouse.jpg

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.

Garden shrub border
Photo Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Garden_shrub_border_at_Boreham,_Essex,_England_02.jpg

If you would like any further advice, or to speak with our team about our planting services, you can contact us on 01933 652 786 or get in touch via our online contact form.

How to Help Wildlife in Your Garden in Winter

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.

Bird Eating Flat Blocks

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.

Hedgehog hiding

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.

Ladybird on plant

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.

BBQing near plants – what to take into consideration

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?

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Flammable Plants

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.

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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.

hanging-basket-of-flowers

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.

Essential Advice for the Winter Gardener

Essential Advice for the winter gardener
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

The Garden Designers Winter Favourites

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.

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