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The garden office is a winner all round

By adding a home office in your garden, you will not only be relieved of the grind of the daily commute to your place of work, but you will be a winner by saving the cost of this as well as adding value to your home; making it much more attractive to buyers.

Can improving your garden increase your house price?

Due to the property market being quieter than usual in recent years and an increase in spending more time at home, a lot of people are putting more effort onto improving their gardens to impress their guests with luxury features such as hot tubs, top of the range in-built barbecues and imposing patios. Research has shown though that not only does this make your home more attractive to your guests, but also to prospective buyers.

Garden trends for 2014

The 2014 Garden Trends Report has shown that people are spending more of their free time outdoors in the garden and indulging in more outdoor activities such as lawn games, garden parties, barbeques and glamping.  There has recently been a record growth in the sale of garden furniture and accessories. The key is keeping the garden “balanced” in 2014, being a place to decorate for relaxation as an extension of the home, and a social hub.

Choosing the right timber for the deck

Choosing the right timber for the deck

A deck is a popular addition to a garden and choosing a sunny spot, where a barbeque can be within easy reach is an ideal way to spend a sunny afternoon, but choosing the right material for the decking is just as important as the position in the garden. The deck is perfect for family and friends to sit on the warm sunny days or evenings.The most common timber used by most of us is softwood as this is easy to work and it is relatively cheap compared to hardwoods. However, it is vital that softwood is treated to prevent decay and the best way is for this to be pressure treated. There are basically two types of pressure treatment, water based chemicals or spirit based solvents.The most common is the water based type and this is often referred to as “Tanalised” and it certainly is effective. The one downside to this is that it can warp as it is not water repellent, it also will need to be stained each year after it has been pressure washed, this is why it may be better to choose a pressure treated spirit based solvent.The ultimate choice for a deck is hardwood and the choice is wider and varied, cedar or eucalyptus species will last and require minimal refurbishing, they will not distort and can stand up to hard ware, but it is more expensive.An alternative to both of these is a composite which is made from a combination of wood and plastic to mimic the appearance of aesthetic wood. However ensure that any cut ends are well protected as they are the vulnerable part of the composite, but nonetheless virtually maintenance free.

What type of lawnmower should you choose?

What type of lawnmower should you choose?

If you have a house or a property with any area of lawn or turf, it’s most likely that it’s your responsibility for the upkeep of the grass area and keeping it tidy. You have two options for this: hiring a gardener to cut the grass for you, or buying your own lawnmower to do it yourself. Often in the long run, though a lawnmower is expensive to buy up front, it might be best to buy one yourself. But when it’s your first time buying one, how do you know which one will do the job you want?You first need to assess the size of the lawn area you’ll be tackling – for a smaller lawn, there are a number of ‘walk-behind’ mowers that will serve you well. But if the area seems like it would take a long time to do in that way, a ride-on mower might be your best bet. But make sure to check that there won’t be any obstacles in the path of the lawn mower that will be difficult to manoeuvre around such as trees and flower beds. You also need to take into consideration the type of landscape you’ll be mowing – is it rocky; is there a slope? You can then decide whether a walk-behind or ride-on would be best.Think also about the type of grass you have. If it is very fine ‘ornamental’ turf it will need to be tended to regularly and with no ‘heavy’ equipment – try a ‘cylinder’ mower for this job. A rotary lawnmower is best for a typical family garden which will have a mixture of grass and weeds that needs cutting around once a week. If you need something lightweight and easy to handle, a hover mower will be best.It’s important that once you have chosen which kind of lawnmower will be best for you to keep it in tip-top condition. Do not leave it outside to rust; keep it in a shed where it will be protected from the elements. Make sure to keep the blades and engine in good condition and replace anything that is playing up.

Home gym – in the garden

With the UK’s inclement weather now well underway, it is not always tempting to pop off to the gym for that all-important training session. Consider installing a garden studio and fitting it out with all the kit required for a home-based workout.Raise that heartbeatWhether you are a rowing enthusiast, runner or circuit-training fan, contemplate the idea of training in the privacy of your own home in a purpose-built gymnasium.  Suburban homes are generally a tad small to accommodate all the paraphernalia required to kit out a quality exercise space, however, Oeco have a solution to this particular dilemma.All the bells and whistlesDiscover how these contemporary structures can be custom-built in the garden by viewing the design specifications online at Oeco (www.oecogardenrooms.co.uk).  Begin by compiling a list of the equipment required for a good work-out and work with the team to compose a drawing that would comfortably house everything.  A shower and toilet may be an optional extra and could add a sense of completeness to the master plan.

Garden rooms for kids

Many parents will know that young children love the allure of playing in tents, tree houses and Wendy houses. Some parents also yearn for a separate playroom to contain the mountain of children’s toys that accumulate. A quiet room is also a handy place for a child’s education as somewhere for young ones to read and complete homework.Listen in A sensible and environmentally friendly, as well as budget friendly option is to have an Oeco garden room installed. The professional and speedy construction of these heated structures can be adjusted to accommodate any garden space and usually does not require planning permission. Monitors can be placed inside the garden retreat in order to keep tabs on the proceedings at the bottom of the garden.The interior could be described as luxurious and garden room specialists Oeco work with only the highest possible standards. All structures installed come with a 10 year guarantee, further cementing the confidence that Oeco garden rooms have in their environmentally friendly wooden garden buildings. The satisfaction of the parents that opt for a garden room for their kids is well documented, but the satisfaction of the children goes without saying.

Removing a tree

Trees can shroud a garden in darkness, hide beautiful views and interfere with power cables.  In some cases, a property and its outdoor space can be greatly improved by chopping a tree down.If an individual wishes to remove a tree independently, it is important to remain safe and in control at all times throughout.  It is sensible to call in a professional to remove large trees, as specialist equipment may be required to prevent real damage when the tree falls.The first thing to do is work out an area where the tree can safely fall.  If the trunk has a natural slant, aim to make it fall the least distance.To bring the tree down, a wedge should be cut into the trunk on the side that you want it to fall towards.  This will direct it to the ground, and ensure it falls in the desired direction.Attention can then be switched to the other side of the tree.  A straight line should be cut into the trunk, on the opposite side to the wedge.  It is vital that the second cut is made above the wedge, or else control of the fall will be greatly reduced.The feller should get clear of the area as quickly and safely as possible, as soon as the tree starts to give.  There are various ways to deal with the stump.  One of the simplest is to drill holes into it and inject a chemical that will eventually cause it to break down naturally.  Only ever attempt to fell a tree after thoroughly researching it first.

Growing peas

Growing peas in the garden can produce a crop that is far sweeter than shop bought produce.  The main reason for this is freshness.  When peas are picked, their sugar content starts to turn to starch, so picking peas out of the garden and eating them raw or cooked straight away means a higher sugar content, giving a sweeter taste.Peas should be planted in an open area that gets sunlight and has not been used to grow peas for two seasons.  Sow the seeds around 2 inches deep in damp soil leaving around 12 inches between rows.  Once planted, it is advisable to cover the seeds with netting or branches to protect from birds. Germination can be expected to occur within 7-10 days.  When the plants start to grow it is a good idea to place twigs or bamboo canes next to the stems to offer the plants support. HarvestingPods are ready for picking after around 12-16 weeks, when there is still a little space between peas in the pod but the pod is filled.  Regular picking is advised to produce a bigger crop.

How to create a wildlife pond

Creating a fishpond can be prohibitively expensive and time consuming but creating a wildlife pond is far easier and cheaper with arguably greater rewards. The requirements are minimal; a liner and some sand. Two types of liner are available, pre-formed and flexible but the flexible liner is probably the most sensible option as it allows more freedom in designing the shape of the pond and its features. Butyl is the most flexible lining material available. Once a suitable lining has been bought, digging can commence. The pond should be roughly 18in at its deepest point and should offer a shelf for wildlife and plants that prefer growing in the pond margins; this should be 9-12in deep and approximately 12in wide and should cover an adequate part of the pond’s circumference. Fill the pond with a 1-inch layer of sand before weighting down the liner with heavy stones. Introduce water through a hosepipe – this will naturally ease the liner into the shape of the pond. Trim away any excess lining overhanging the edges; making sure an apron of 6in is left. For finishing touches, allow grass and plants to overgrow the edges and add natural stones to the margins to provide access and escape for wildlife as well as a place for tadpoles and other creatures to shelter. Choose an appropriate selection of plants for your pond and consider bringing a bucket of water from a local pond or lake to give your own pond a ‘jump-start’.

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