Tag Archives: DIY

How to… make a raised garden bed


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


Heavy duty staple gun or handful of nails


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!



Nine nifty tips for nicer DIY

diy-paintingDIY needn’t be hard work if you know the rules! Our handy hints don’t cut corners but they do cut down on the work in the long term. If you want to start as you mean to continue, read on!

1. First things first

Always check what type of screws and rawlplugs you need before you get started. There’s nothing worse than drilling into the wall only to find you’re without the right fixtures – and they’re not always supplied with the product being fitted.

2. On the level

Invest in a spirit level and always use it when putting up shelves and rails. You might think you can judge just by looking, but chances are you can’t!

3. Primed for perfection

table-lampDon’t assume that painting over a stain will hide it completely. Try a coat of primer first, to seal it in, and then add a fresh coat of paint for a clean finish.

4. It’s a wrap

When leaving paint to dry before applying the next coat, wrap the brushes and rollers in cling film. It stops them drying out and prevents you having to wash them out multiple times!

5. Stick with it

The same goes for grout and tile adhesive. If you’re taking a break, place a damp towel over the bucket to stop the mixture hardening.

6. Silver lining

chinese-wallpaperDon’t skimp on the lining paper, particularly if you live in an older house or the walls are bumpy. Quality lining paper evens things out and makes it much easier to hang the main wallpaper, as well as giving a nicer finish if you’re painting the walls. Paste the lining paper horizontally if you are papering on top, but vertically if you are painting over it.

7. Building relationships

If you’re a regular DIY-er or have a large project on the go, check out your local builders’ merchant as many accept public as well as trade customers. You might get a 10% discount on all purchases and staff are also likely to be extremely knowledgeable and give great tips and advice.

8. Check, mate!

Check, check and check again. The silliest mistakes can be made when a DIY-er is tired or in a rush, with handles being fixed upside down and even doors opening the wrong way! Take your time, enlist someone you trust to provide a fresh pair of eyes and have plenty of tea breaks!

9. Know when to go pro

diyRecognise your limits and accept you might have to call in the experts for the hard stuff!

DIY Advice Online is brimming with clever ideas for your home and garden, as well as step-by-step guides. Check out our decorating dos and don’ts, as well as how to avoid a DIY botch job!

Make a date with DIY!

diy-showsWith the new year now well underway, thoughts are turning to all those home improvement projects put on hold over Christmas. If, like us, you have big DIY or building plans for 2015, you might be in need of a little inspiration – and where better to get it than from the many home shows coming up!

Throughout the year, DIY Advice Online will be rounding up details of our favourite home, building and lifestyle events in the UK, starting with the winter months ahead. So get your diaries at the ready and start planning your year of DIY!

The Southern Home Show, Alexandra Palace, London

Start the year in style at the Southern Home Show, returning to the Ally Pally for the second time. Covering interior design, DIY, self building, renovation, energy efficiency and gardens, the show is a chance for visitors to take part in workshops and seminars, find products such as power tools, hand tools and building equipment and get tips from the experts. You can even bring along your plans and drawings to the advice area, whilst kids can get stuck in to their own DIY workshops! Jan 30 – Feb 1, £8 (children free), http://www.southernhomeshow.co.uk

The Listed Property Show, Olympia London

If you live in a listed building, this one’s for you! Here you can chat to conservation officers, property regulations experts, planners and architects, as well as source specialist builders and suppliers of things such as windows, doors, paint and flooring. And don’t worry if you live up north – there’s another show in Harrogate in March! Feb 14-15, free (register online), http://lpoc.co.uk/property-show / @Listed_Property

The Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show, Birmingham NEC

camping-showOk, so it’s not a home show exactly, but you might be surprised at the array of ideas you can glean for your home and garden here, not to mention inspiration for the outdoor lifestyle! Held during half term, this massive show is staged over several of the NEC’s huge halls and includes plenty of activities such as rock climbing, dog agility displays and discovery zones to keep the kids happy while you canvas opinion on essential outdoor style! Feb 17-22, from £7 (children free), ww.caravancampingmotorhomeshow.co.uk / @CaravanCampShow

Wilton House Antiques Fair, Wiltshire

This independent and renowned annual fair is the one to visit if you like period pieces. From furniture, paintings, maps, silver, porcelain, glass, clocks and collectibles, your home will certainly stand out from the Ikea crowd if you invest in a unique antique or two. With more than 40 top class, vetted dealers setting up stall in the cloisters area inside the main house and in the old riding school, experienced buyers and novices alike are welcome. Feb 27 – March 1, £5.50, www.wiltonhouse.co.uk

Ecobuild, Excel London

This trade event is the UK’s largest built-environment show and is packed with interactive and innovative attractions, live demos and brand new products and techniques. Speakers in the Nature and Built Environment Hall include experts from conservation trusts, the British Bee Keepers’ Association and the Grass Roof Company, whilst visitors can even earn a spot to pitch their eco retail solution to Marks & Spencer! March 3-5, free (register online, no under 16s), http://www.ecobuild.co.uk / @Ecobuild_Now

First Time Buyer Home Show, Business Design Centre, London

You can only dream of DIY if you’re yet to put a foot on the property ladder, but this show can get you started. Home-owning hopefuls can get free advice from housing associations, lawyers, credit check firms and home builders, and although the experts on hand do tend to be a little London-centric, there is also information on first time buying outside the capital. TV property expert Nicki Chapman will chat to first-time buyers about their experiences, and there’s £5,000 towards a deposit up for grabs too! March 7, free, http://www.ftbhomeshow.com / @firsttimebuyer

Vintage Home Show, Victoria Baths, Manchester

Do you think kitsch is cool? If your style is old style, make a date with Discover Vintage’s next show, where there’ll be 50 fabulous stalls selling everything from furniture and lighting to ceramics and textiles. With items from the 1930s to the ‘70s, you’ll be sure to pick up timeless treasures to make your home the envy of the street! March 15, free, http://www.vintagehomeshow.co.uk / @VintageHomeShow

The Homebuilding & Renovating Show, Birmingham NEC

homebuilding-showWhether you’re planning to build your dream home, add an extension to your current property or remodel your garden, this show is a one-stop shop of advice and bright ideas. The show features thousands of products on display, more than 500 specialist businesses, a planning clinic and experts from Homebuilding and Renovating magazine on hand to answer questions. Visitors can also book a free one-to-one consultation with an impartial expert at The Advice Centre – but hurry, as these slots are extremely popular! March 26-29, from £12 in advance, www.homebuildingshow.co.uk / @MyHomebuilding

Ideal Home Show, London

It’s hard to believe, but this year marks the 107th Ideal Home Show! And, as befits the grand duchess of all home shows, the IHS has home improvement ideas, garden gadgets, terrific technology and heavenly homeware bursting from every room. Celeb experts include Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, money saving expert Martin Lewis, TV presenter and campaigner Katie Piper and gardening god Alan Titchmarsh, whilst there will be lots of food and drink-related attractions and even a catwalk and daily fashion shows! And with the show returning to its original home, where it was launched by the Daily Mail way back in 1908, it’s sure to be one of the most special events yet. March 20 – Apr 6, from £12 in advance, children free (ticket required), http://www.idealhomeshow.co.uk / @ideal_home_show

Main photo: Steve Burden