Now Easter has been and gone, the weather is warming up and it's time to look to the summer.
What could be nicer than sitting on your garden decking on a warm evening enjoying a beer or glass of wine, listening to the birds sing with a background of flowers in tubs and hanging baskets?
There are lots of ways to make your deck inviting and different, and here are a few off-the-wall ideas that may appeal:
Use your imagination and turn your deck into a special place to enjoy.
Growing fruit trees in an English garden can be disheartening if you do not know the right fruit trees to grow. The whole process could be a tricky affair if you select trees that need special attention. Some fruit trees come with some pests that need taking care of; others are very intricate when it comes to pruning, while others may demand a particular pollination partner to produce the desired crop.
Choosing the correct fruit type will help avoid most of these complications. There are a few factors to consider when selecting the best fruit trees that will cause you little grief:
There is a huge variety of trees that you can grow in your English garden, but we’ve chosen just five easy trees to get you started.
1. Chelsea Mulberry Trees: The historic mulberry trees are some of the easiest fruit trees to grow as there is little pruning compared to other fruit trees, although the season is quite short. Aside from watching out for staining of clothes, you can enjoy their heavenly fruits, which should be harvested and consumed immediately they are ripe – and before the birds beat you to it. The trees need space to grow, as their branches tend to stretch out. They also need warmth so ae better grown in the South where the weather is milder.
2. Tomcot Apricot Trees: These apricot trees come with a significant advantage as they do not require pruning in order to avoid diseases such as silver leaf and canker, among others. These conditions are known to penetrate into the tree through the wounds brought about by pruning. In the case of unavoidable pruning, then during the peak of summer would be the best time to do it. Another advantage of these apricot trees is that they do not need pollination to produce the desired crop. Their only disadvantage is that you need to sync your crop with the weather as the frost may damage early blooms.
3. Falstaff Apple Trees: Most apple trees require pollination partners for them to produce fruit. The Falstaff apple tree, however, does not require pollination. It may not produce fruits as big as other types of apple trees, but their taste is still as good. The trees are easy to grow, produce massively, and are ideal for small gardens.
4. Victoria Plum Trees: The Victoria Plum Tree does not need a pollination partner. This historic fruit tree is known to produce large harvests, and at times, the fruits are too heavy on the branches, to a point where the branches snap. You can strut up the branches to avert such problems, using a strong branch like an old-fashioned clothes prop.
5. Kumoi Nashi Pear Trees: The Nashi pear fruit is a blend of apple and pear, with its flesh being more crunchy and crispy and its taste has a subtle hint of strawberry. The advantage that these fruit trees have is that they are less troubled by the challenges that other pear fruits face, such as pear rust which deforms leaves, or pear midge which destroy the buds.
Try these varieties and let us know how you get on.
There are hundreds of varieties of fruit trees for you to try, from traditional cooking apple trees to espalier trees you can train along a wall or closeboard fence. Experiment and have fun. Happy eating!
Disclaimer: This is a guest post since we are fencers and not expert gardeners! We hope you find these easy to grow, but please do your own research to see whether these are suitable for your own garden.
If you are looking to add beauty to your fence, plants can add colour, softening and a whole new dimension to your garden. Climbing plants are a must-have addition to any outside area. Not only do they look stunning, but they make great utilisation of space too.
When you put your climbing plants into the ground it is important to do so in a way that will allow them to grow up the sides of your fence. Plant your climbers a short distance away from fence posts in order to allow the roots to have the space they need. Early on, be sure to use twine or wire and tie the shoots of the plant to them in order to encourage your plants to grow how you want. Or you can affix a trellis to wooden fencing panels to give them something to cling on to. Once your climbing plants are established, they can usually support themselves.
Here are two climbing plants that we think are particularly suitable for fences.
Boston ivy as it is more commonly known, is one of most popular flowering climbing plants available. This is a vigorous deciduous climber and its beauty is evident throughout all seasons. Throughout spring and summer the plant takes on a fresh and crisp green colouring. However, once autumn arrives you get absolutely stunning orange, rich crimson and purple colours - warm and welcoming.
To really make the most of this colour it is best to plant Boston ivy in partial or full shade. In addition to this, it is important that the soil is well drained if the plant is to flourish. And finally, Boston ivy is generally disease free but with regards to pests it can be susceptible to vine weevil as well as glasshouse red spider mite. Therefore it is suitable for any fence – but beware, it does grow vigorously so be prepared to prune if you have a small garden.
Viburnoides (climbing hydrangea)
There is something extremely elegant and classic about Pileostegia Viburnoides. It boasts narrow elliptic leaves and stunning small cream flowers. These beautiful flowers come to light in the summer and autumn months. One of the things people love about this plant is the fact that it is easy to plant and maintain. It can grow in full sun, partial shade or full shade. The only thing you need that could hinder the growth is if it is extremely cold. Aside from that you have nothing to worry about; especially considering this is one of several climbing plants that is generally completely pest free and disease free too.
We’ll be bringing you more climbing plants for your fences in future blog posts so stay tuned .....
Learning how to build a tree house can be a lot of fun. Tree houses are spectacular and not only are they suitable for kids but also for adults who are not afraid of an adventurous lifestyle. If you would like to build a tree house in your garden, the following tips will help you turn your dream into a reality without hassles, allowing you to enjoy memorable moments surrounded by nature.
Be aware, though, that you may have to check with the local council before starting your build. Although most tree houses will be fine, there are occasions when planning permission will be needed.
Choose the most suitable location
As with other types of houses, your tree house will require a perfect location, meaning you will need to choose a strong and healthy tree. The tree of choice should be in a perfect location within your property and it should be able to support the weight of the house and that of the dwellers as well.
Pick the right design for the house
Tree houses come in different designs that will definitely capture your imagination. It is good to decide how big you intend your house to be, whether it will have more than one room and also other features that are available to make it more enjoyable. For example, you could want to add a balcony, or a front door. Consider the design and the size you require and have a clear plan. Do you want the tree house for young children or teenagers? Is it just for playing or to chill and invite friends over? Or perhaps it’s a den for an adult.
Choose your style
As with everything these days, you can find mountains of information about tree houses online and choose a style that will suit you – and your tree! And it must look good your garden too. Measure carefully to ensure the design you choose will fit in your tree and won’t be too heavy. It’s easy to get carried away when the kids are enthusiastic, but keep it practical as well as fun.
Choose the support method
The support method you choose will help determine the stability of your tree house. There are different support methods to choose from including bolt, post and suspension method. These three are the most popular and will help ensure that the tree you choose doesn't move with the wind. Each support method comes with its own advantages so select the one that best suits your needs and style, after researching the subject fully.
Decide which access method is suitable for you
Before building the tree house, it is important to decide on the right access method. It’s not much good if you can’t actually get into the house! You could opt for a rope ladder, a standard ladder or a staircase. However, always consider the safety of those who will be using the access method you opt for as this will be a very important feature for you. The access method should be sturdy and safe.
Using spare materials
If you're a do-it-yourselfer you may well find you have lots of spare building materials hanging around. Most tree houses are made of wood, so consider surplus fence panels, gravel boards, old floor boards or crates. These can all be taken apart and used in your build to avoid having to purchase new wood.
If you don’t intend to build the tree house yourself, look for a local handyman or builder who can undertake it for you. Someone who shares your vision and will complete the structure according to your requirements. Always leave a space around the trunk and branches for the trees to grow without having an effect on your structure.
Take all these points into account and you’ll be able to enjoy the aerial view of your property from a well-constructed tree house.
When designing and improving our gardens, we all want to preserve the environment and . can do this by encouraging a variety of wildlife. An eco-friendly garden will encourage insects, which in turn brings a wonderful selection of birds.
It takes work to create a garden ecosystem and it won’t happen overnight. Here’s a simple guide to encouraging wildlife and providing shelter for bugs and animals in your garden.
Ivy is a common plant in an English garden, often seen as a pain as it climbs trees and walls and tumbles over wood fences. But this common plant can be a great starting point to attract insects. Ivy is easy to grow and can soon provide a green carpet that offers protection to insects which provide plenty of food for the birds.
Make sure you incorporate plants that will fruit early in spring to provide food for garden birds and their young. Most plants that produce edible berries will encourage birds into your garden, but you they don’t have to be boring as you can plant orrnamental specimens such as the purple-berried Callicarpa. An evergreen shrub that will provide plenty of berries for blackbirds and other common varieties is the evergreen Pyracantha. These popular plants are extremely prickly so whilst they’re useful to keep out intruders, beware when you handle them. Pyracanthas bear red, yellow or orange berries, depending on the variety you choose. Why not plant a selection.
Other forms of wildlife can be attracted in different ways. Some shrubs are evergreen and have attractive flowers which release a scent attracting moths. Moths are also an important food source for bats, so you're not just supporting the moth population, but the bats too.
There are also plenty of tactics you can use to attract animals, birds and insects. A bee box is a great start and requires only a pair of two by four planks cut to a rectangular frame and a selection of bamboo canes. Cut the canes into 1cm tubes then cut another plank as the backing to the box and tilt the tray backward to pack the space with the bamboo tubes, discarding any that are malformed. Use timber that hasn’t been treated, since you don’t want to harm the bees, and add a few larger tubes to accentuate the box's aesthetic appeal.
A nesting box for small birds is easy to make and will provide hours of pleasure. You can even mount a small camera inside so you can watch the babies being fed. Your nesting box should be placed in an area out of direct sun so that the chicks don’t overheat. It can be placed on a tree trunk or fence post or attached to a building.
Hedgehogs will be attracted to a log pile. Consider buying earthworms as an addition to your garden. As well as aerating the soil, the worms will multiply and feed the hedgehogs. The hedgehogs also eat garden pests such as slugs and snails,, so encourage them into your garden. However, never feed hedgehogs with bread or milk, they can't digest them and will make them ill. A saucer of dog food is suitable, together with access to water. The presence of hedgehogs is very likely to attract foxes, completing your garden ecosystem - all at the price of a little green work!
If the above tactics are too time-consuming, a simple way to encourage some wildlife into your English garden is to just let a small part of it run free! Allow the grass to grow and a few stinging nettles to appear and you’ll be surprised how many insects and butterflies flock into your garden to set up home.
Typically found in a native English hedgerows are thorn-based tough species including hawthorn (particularly prevalent), blackthorn, wild dog roses, field maple and hazel. It’s often said that you can work out the age of an ancient hedge by counting the number of different species.
You can buy bare-rooted hedging plants online quite economically. Search “country hedging plants” to find a suitable mix of plants. Typical country hedge plants are very hardy and will thrive in open fields in most parts of the UK. Or you can plant more sparsely against wood fences to great effect.
Preparation here is all about weed control. Country hedging plants as a rule like to be planted in firm, unprepared soil. They are native to the UK and grow in a wide range of soil types and are used to poor conditions. As a rule, therefore unless your soil is very poor, like clay subsoil, it is better not to improve it. When your hedge is in, the plants will put their roots out far and wide in search of food and moisture which ensures the hedge will survive drought and is well anchored against gales, cattle, trespassers and so forth.
Weeds, on the other hand, are every hedge plant's enemy. They smother your plants and, because their roots are usually shallow, they soak up water before it reaches the hedge. A carpet of weeds can stop all but the heaviest rain wetting the soil more than 5cms down - the plants can look green and lush while your hedging is dying of thirst.
Prevention is better than cure here. Mark out the area to be planted with string and bamboo canes or sticks so you can see what you are doing. Mark a strip about three feet wide, whether you’re planning a single or double row. If you are happy using chemicals, the months of August, September and the first half of October are optimal for killing weeds using a systemic weedkiller. Mix according to the instructions and apply by sprayer or watering can on a dry still day. The weeds will start to yellow after 2-3 weeks. Any that are still green after four weeks should be given a second dose - this will get rid of pernicious monsters like bindweed.
If you do not like chemicals, then buy weed control fabric in 1-metre widths. Cut the weeds as close to the ground as you can and lay the fabric over the marked strip. Secure the corners with stones. Standing on the fabric to keep it in place, use a spade to push the fabric into the ground about 2 or three inches from the edge. Do this along the entire length, pushing it in until it’s completely tucked in and the edges are hidden by soil. This should last about 3 years before breaking down and will allow moisture through, but excludes light and so kills everything green underneath.
Finally, if you do not like plastics either, you can use organic materials such as carpet underlay, broken down cardboard boxes. I have seen people recycling estate agents For Sale signs. You can even use grass clippings in a blanket about 7-8 cms thick. A few pernicious weeds may find their way through your covering but it’s easy to pull those out by hand.
Guest article by Rosie Lang
Investing time and money in your garden can be a daunting yet exciting decision for any homeowner. A carefully planned garden can maximize the use of precious space as well as adding to the value of your home and giving the benefit of another area for the household to enjoy. Careful planning is essential before creating your inviting garden space.
You can achieve a great outdoor room through the judicious use of a variety of furniture options, lighting, fixtures, and construction of simple structures. Harmonizing man-made materials together with natural elements such as plants and trees can produce an artistic result. Don’t forget to consider the weather in your area when planning your outdoor space to accommodate the passing seasons. By thinking ahead, you can also save a lot time, money, and running costs of an alluring outdoor room.
A clear vision of the overall design is the most important consideration when planning on how to turn your garden into an outdoor room. Would you like to have a charming wooden cottage or an elaborate two-tier gazebo? Will there be a fully functioning water feature running amidst paved walkways and garden furniture? Or would you just like one or two “rooms” delineated by shrubbery and wooden fences?
By narrowing down your list to a few major options, you start to make a note of necessary purchases. In this way you can also save on trips in between hardware stores and garden centres. It’s always more economical to plan in advance, then execute the plan!
With that in mind, here are a few ideas to turn even the smallest most boring garden into an outdoor room.
1. Paving – Starting out with something as simple as evenly laying out a patch of gravel will give you a temporary framework for future improvements. When you decide on something more permanent, you can replace the gravel with beautiful natural stone such as sandstone, granite, or slate. If you want a barbecue area or to incorporate a garden building, this could be a good starting point.
2. Wood – This tough and all-natural material is an easy choice, since wood fits in well to the outdoor garden theme. Whether you are planning to build pergolas, decks, or a garden office, wood is easy to insulate for warm or cold weather. Wood is also resistant to damage from shifting environmental factors such as rain, damp, and extreme temperatures. Chemical treatments also prolong the longevity as well as the quality of wooden structures and fixtures, but take into account any damage that might be caused to wildlife by treated wood and choose accordingly.
3. Plumbing - Providing running water to your outdoor garden room could be a vital part in your garden’s design. If you want to add a running water feature or need to bring a water supply to an office building, for example, it would be best to consult a professional prior to starting. Perhaps you’d like to choose a koi pond or a running fountain – even a small waterfall with the sound of running water would add a new dimension to your garden.
4. Garden Furniture - Selecting a set of tables and chairs can make or break the layout of your outdoor garden room. Garden furniture these days can be made of materials that are able to stay outside during the worst of the winter weather. If storage is a problem, then look for weather-proof designs. It’s fashionable now to have outdoor sofas and armchairs with plump comfortable cushions and coffee tables. You can make a great feature from these. Or perhaps you’re more likely to eat meals at a higher table, in which case choose a dining table with matching – or contrasting – chairs. If you don’t incorporate a gazebo into your garden, it’s wise to have a garden sunshade since even in the UK the summer sun can be hot.
5. Electricity – Having an electrical connection provides homeowners with power to run outdoor lights and built-in sound systems. Lighting affects the ambience and setting of your garden, and even more so now that modern light fixtures can be installed practically anywhere with efficiently low power consumption ratings. Likewise, you can use music as a way to set the mood in your outdoor garden room to really make your garden an extension of your home. Fans, fountains and bug zappers all contribute to how you can turn your garden into a room, and can often be most effectively powered by the mains.
6. Plants and Trees – Perhaps the most essential elements when it comes to an outdoor garden room, choosing the right plants and trees should be based on important considerations. All-weather perennial plants such as foxglove, verbenas, and hardy fuscias survive through all four seasons as well as having long lifespans. Trees such as maple, rowan, and sycamore live through all the seasons as well, providing shade in the summer and an interesting visual backdrop in the fall and winter. Using a variety of pots for plants is another way to add more scenery while retaining a natural feel and is a great way to screen off areas of the garden.
Remember to always account for the weather when planning on how to convert your garden into an outdoor room. The weather factors in as an important outdoor influence. If you live in a cold part of the country consider wooden fences or tall slim plants like bamboo to form windbreaks. And don’t forget to add shade for those hot summer days!
Guest Post by JonBlog article wooden fences
Guest article by Jon
Fences are a symbol of tranquillity and comfort. A well installed and maintained fence could go a long way towards enhancing the beauty and comfort of your property. Fences come in many types and serve a wide range of purposes. They can be made from materials such as wood, metal and vinyl among others. With a good fence, you can enjoy the privacy of your garden or business premises. You don't have to worry about the prying eyes of passers-by as you relax on your plot.
Besides offering privacy, fences also enhance the security of your home. You can keep intruders at bay, enhancing your security and that of your pets as well. Fences are known to act as sound barriers and help keep your property quiet and peaceful. Well maintained fences enhance the beauty of your home. To enhance the aesthetic standards of your property, it is important to understand how to keep your fences looking good.
Upon visiting your home or business, the fence is the first thing people notice. People make assumptions based on the physical image of your property. First impressions are very important as they remain engraved in the minds of your visitors. Irrespective of the type of fence involved, proper maintenance is necessary. This helps to keep it looking appealing. Proper maintenance also enhances the life of your fences. They will last a long time, offering you the privacy and security you desire.
Methods of keeping your fences looking good vary depending on the type of fence. The maintenance practices adopted for a wooden fence will definitely differ from those of a metal fence.
Wooden fences are popular as most home owners prefer them to other types of fences. They are easy to install and greatly enhance the beauty of a property. They can be painted into any colour that you desire. When newly installed, wood fences are full of glamour and emit a warm glow. With time, however, harsh weather conditions may erode this beauty. How can you restore a gray, loose wood fence to its former glamour? A thorough wash and an application of oil stain is needed. Power washers are used to clean wooden fences. Due to their aggressiveness, power washers help clean off dirt and grime from wood. It is advisable to have the cleaning done by a professional. This keeps you from ruining the fence or eroding the wood due to the great pressure of the washer.
Once your wood fence is cleaned, it is time to repair the loose and damaged boards. Start by allowing the fence to dry so that you can easily identify the areas that need fixing. Countersink all protruding nails to give the fence a neat look. For split and broken boards, waterproof glue can be used to hold them together. Rotten posts should be identified as these may need replacing.
After fixing all the defects, apply the semi-transparent oil stain, which will make the wood look almost new. Since it is semi-transparent, it will not hide the natural beauty of the wood. This process can be carried every couple of years to keep the fence looking great.
For wrought iron fences, different maintenance tips are adopted. These are aimed at keeping the fence free from rust and chipping, thus maintaining its appeal. Accumulated rust ruins the beauty of metal fences and if unattended could weaken the structure. Regular cleaning and rust removal should be undertaken. For large rust spots and scratches, it is appropriate to work on the fence as a whole.
The fence should be well scraped, cleaned and dried. A rust resistant metal primer is then applied followed by appropriate metal paint. It is advisable to keep the fence from coming into contact with water to prevent further rust. Clear the vegetation surrounding the fence to keep off moisture. All dysfunctional hinges should be replaced.
With vinyl fence, it is easy to keep it looking good. You can have a vinyl fence that resembles wood. With vinyl, however, you don't have to stain or paint the fence every now and then. Algae can grow on vinyl fences making them turn green or yellow. Cleaning the fence helps get rid of such dirt. Power washing is recommended when cleaning vinyl fencing.
And so, with the right procedures, it is possible to keep your fence looking all good and well maintained. Irrespective of the type. All you need is a professional fence maintenance expert or fence repairer such as the Horsham fencing experts at Horsham Fence Contractors to walk the journey with you.
It doesn’t matter how large your garden is, it can sometimes be hard to keep it tidy!
Every time of the year seems to bring its own problems. In the spring we have to cut back untidy branches that have died off during winter and pull up weeds that have sprouted in eternal optimism.
Summer brings deadheading of all types of flowering plants, and what to do with those half-open bags of compost and lawn feed?
Worst of all may be the autumn when leaves fall from the trees like butterflies fluttering to earth. Some trees leave small leaves that easily rot away, but others like horse chestnuts and oak are not so easily dispersed. Large trees can deposit huge amounts of leaves and they need to be removed if the lawn isn’t to suffer.
Then winter, when most of us hide indoors and wait for the warmer weather to arrive!
But here are a few ways you can help keep the garden looking tidier all year long:
Although it’s nice to have a tidy garden, don’t forget to leave a couple of small untidy areas for the wildlife. Butterflies need nettles and insects appreciate rotting wood.