Category Archives: Outdoor living

How to… make a raised garden bed

veg-box

The school holidays are underway, so what better time to get your little helpers involved in a spot of outdoor DIY? Making a raised garden bed or vegetable box is a fun summertime activity to do with your children, and here’s how!

What you need:

Four lengths of board, with each ‘pair’ the same length

Four wooden posts of equal length

1” screws or decking screws

Drill

Heavy duty staple gun or handful of nails

Soil

Weed control membrane

Seeds or plants!

 

The benefits of a raised garden bed:

A raised bed or veg box can enjoy greater exposure to the sun and improved drainage. You can choose the quality of the soil you put in and you’ll have less weeds to deal with. Depending on the height of your bed, it can also be easier for children and older relatives to plant and water, plus it’s educational, as young children can find out where food comes from as their seedlings grow!

 

Five steps to a raised bed:

 

  1. Mark out the position of the raised bed in the chosen location, digging four shallow ‘trenches’ for the sides and digging holes at each corner for the posts
  2. Set the posts securely in each corner. If the bed is particularly long, you can strengthen it by adding posts in the centre of the long sides as well
  3. Cut the boards to the required length and place against the corner posts. Drill the boards into place with the screws
  4. Place a layer of weed membrane inside the box, overlapping with the edges all round, and nail or staple
  5. Add the soil and get planting! You can use the beds all year round to grow different vegetables and fruit depending on the season, and don’t forget that rotating your crop is also good for the soil!

Once the hard work is finished, all that’s left to do is sit back on the newly-painted garden bench, switch on the outdoor lights and make the most of lazy summer evenings!

garden-lighting

 

Summertime and the painting is easy

summer-painting

 

What a difference a spray makes – a good paint spray, that is! Or how about a nice old-fashioned brush? Whatever the method, it’s time to scrub up for summer. The sun has well and truly got his hat on this week, meaning it’s time to give your garden a makeover for the months ahead.

 

Jetting off for summer

The key to any paint job is in the prep, and chances are your garden decking and fencing will need a good blast with a jet wash to get rid of moss, lichen and general dirt before you make a start. Alternatively, use a hard-bristled brush to sweep away the cobwebs, particularly in hard-to-reach corners. A thorough clean will help the paint bond with the surface, look better and last longer!

outdoor-lighting

 

Let us spray

Paint-spraying exterior walls, fences, sheds and decking could, until recently, be quite a haphazard affair! But thankfully there have been large strides in the technology behind spray guns, giving greater control, an even finish and, thankfully, less mess.

There are plenty of choices on the market when it comes to wood treatment, including many different finishes from light oak to deep mahogany. And colourful outdoor paint continues to be popular for sheds and fence panels in 2016 so, if you can’t quite afford that Jurassic Coast beach hut, you can always recreate the look by painting the shed sea green and sky blue!

hot-tub

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Set in stone

Painting exterior walls not only freshens them up but protects against the weather, too. Remember to put safety first if painting high areas; never overstretch and make sure the ladder is securely positioned, with at least three rungs overlapping if it’s an extension ladder.

Cover drainpipes and window sills with newspapers, securing in place with masking tape, and start at the top, working your way downwards. If the walls are heavily textured, use a stippling technique to get into all the nooks and crannies and paint in the opposite direction to ensure even cover.

 

Set the benchmark

Image: Design-3000
Image: Design-3000

So you’ve spruced up the walls and fencing, but what about the outdoor extras? Are boring benches, tired tables and scruffy seats letting your al fresco areas down? Check out our previous post on restoring garden furniture to ensure your summer is picnic perfect, and don’t forget to freshen up your front door before welcoming the guests around!

5 garden gadgets to get your (green) fingers on

outdoor-lighting

With the weather warming up nicely, it’s time to step outdoors to smarten things up for spring. And these handy gadgets are set to make your garden maintenance grow well!

  1. (Weather) stations, please!

If you’ve ever watched the weather forecast only to wake up the next morning to what feels like an entirely different season, your own garden weather station could be just what you need. By monitoring the local microclimate, a weather station can help you plan the next day’s outdoor tasks, not to mention star as an eye-catching garden feature! And, as it is the digital age after all, some versions work with your smartphone to deliver real-time weather updates right to your fingertips.

  1. Photo shoots

garden-camWhether you want to get great views of visiting wildlife or quite literally watch your garden grow, a time-lapse camera can lens a hand. Easy to install, waterproof and with a range of time settings, garden cams capture nature at its best, from the changing seasons to something as simple as a spider spinning a web. With colour images by day and infrared at night, a garden cam can also double as a security camera, giving you peace of mind as well as a bird’s eye view of life in the great outdoors!

  1. Over a barrel

Ok, so it’s spring… but this is still the UK, after all! Rather than grumbling about the British weather, why not enjoy the chance to save time and money by installing a rain barrel to collect water. Whether you sprinkle it over the plants or wash the car, it’ll reduce your water bills and help the environment too. Stylish stone and wood barrels can be bought online and from garden centres, whilst alternatively you can make your own from a plastic drum or rubbish bin.

  1. Lighter evenings

outdoor-lightingNot only are the days getting longer but, with the right outdoor lighting, you won’t need to go inside when the sun goes down either! Contemporary external lighting is now as stylish as its interior counterpart, from stainless steel post lamps and polished hanging lamps to traditional lanterns and even garden floodlights.

  1. Turf’s up

Artificial lawns can be a low maintenance, no-fuss alternative to a turf lawn and have become popular in recent years. Good quality, synthetic grass can last up to 20 years and eliminates the problem of mud-covered children and pets, as well as the need for a lawn mower! If laid badly, however, artificial grass can stick out like the proverbial sore thumb, so research thoroughly the preparation required or commission a landscape gardener (or even a carpet fitter!) to do it for you.