Friday, 6 April 2018

Creating the prefect place to relax

We all need a place that we can retreat to, to relax and disconnect and what better place than our gardens. Therefore today we want to share our top tips on how to create a super relaxing and indulgent garden where you can while away the hours enjoying some good, old fashioned, quality ‘you’ time.
 
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Privacy
 
First of all no garden is going to feel particularly relaxing if you feel that you are being overlooked by all and sundry. Therefore a really good place to start when creating a relaxing and peaceful garden is to create some privacy for yourself. This may come in the form of building up some high fencing or it may just be fitting in an awning that can be pulled out over your decking to cover you from any nosey neighbours from above.
 
Therefore look at the areas in your garden that have the least privacy and see how you can overcome that problem. Perhaps you can build in some hedges and trees that will create a secret relaxation corner to your garden. Or perhaps it is a case of traffic noise that you can buffer out with thick fencing. Whatever the needs of your garden, privacy is a really important in order to enjoy your garden as a relaxing and personal space.
 
Look to the Floor
 
Lets face it no garden is going to look particularly cosy with old, hard concrete floors. Therefore a really effective way to make your garden look much more welcoming and indulgent is to whip your floor up into space. Pulling up old concrete floors and replacing them with grass turf is a simple way of instantly transforming your garden into a natural and fresh space. Decking is also a great way of making your garden look really attractive, organised and clean so look into the different flooring options that could transform your garden into a really inviting and cosy outdoor space.
 
Ramp it up a Notch
 
If you really want to take your garden up a gear and create an outdoor space that will really make your neighbours jealous why not thinking about investing in a hot tub? Hot tubs offer the ultimate garden relaxation space so they are well worth the investment. There are a wide range of hot tubs on the market from the top of the range models all the way through to much more affordable inflatable hot tubs, so there really is a model for every budget. If you are unsure about the best type of model for you look for a hot tub specialist and read their review here to find out about what is available. Use online research as a way to decipher which model, size and style would best work in the space that you have available.
 
Furniture
 
A garden is not going to welcome you outside to relax, after a long hard day at work, unless you have the right furniture to beckon you outside to take the weight off. Therefore if you don’t already have comfortable outdoor furniture you will want to be looking at the range of soft, comfortable and of course, hard wearing outdoor furniture that will really bring your outdoor oasis to life.
 
 


Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Looking after your orchds


It is often said that more orchids fail as a result of getting the watering regime wrong than any other reason. When it comes to watering epiphytes there are two elements to consider when considering your watering regime, these are When and How. The vast majority of orchids grown by hobby growers are naturally found on trees above the ground where the light is more plentiful. Most orchids that are not terrestrial need their roots exposed to light, air and water.

When to water?
Orchids should be watered as they start to dry out. Dont allow them to completely dry out, but just before. This rule generally works for most orchids with variations depending on whether the orchid is able to store its own water. Orchids such as cattleyas and oncidiums should be allowed to dry completely between waterings while orchids such as phalaenopsis and paphiopedilums that have no water storage organs should be watered before they dry out.

There's is no strict rule on how to water, that can apply for every grower. This is because your local growing environment will not be the same as anyone else's. Key climatic differences such as temperature, humidity, air movement, the potting mix (type and age), and light levels all influence the watering requirements of individual plants.

When deciding whether to water, there are several identifying clues to determine when a potted orchid is almost dry:

  • the surface of the potting mix will appear dry when the potting mix is moss 
  • dry pots will feel lighter when lifted.
  • clay pots feel dry;
  • If you insert a pencil or wooden skewer into the potting mix when removed it will come out almost dry.

Generally it is best to water your plant in the morning to give the moisture on the leaves time to dry off during the day, this will reduce the risk of fungal damage. If any water remains in the center of the plant then use some kitchen towel to dry it off.

Many people prefer to use natural water rather than tap water to avoid any of the added chemicals or to have water with a different PH. If you use water treatment such as that provided by Lagan Water then this can help increase the range of plants you are able to cater for.

During the summer months when temperatures are higher then you will need to water more frequently, and conversely in the winter months water less frequently. Keep in mind that temperatures close to the window on a windowsill will be colder or hotter than your general house temperature. Keeping your plant away from radiators in winter will help minimise premature drying.

When orchids are watered, they should be watered copiously, infrequent and plenty is better than little and often. Place your plant into the sink and let the water run freely from the drainage holes for about a minute. Do not use salt-softened or distilled water. Allow the plant to drain completely. This is an opportunity to examine how the potting mix behaves. If you cannot pour water rapidly through the pot, the potting mix is too dense and you run the risk of starving the roots for air. If you see finely divided material that looks like coffee grounds in the water coming from the drainage holes, your potting mix is breaking down and it's time to repot into fresh mix.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Garden Decking


When the winter abates and the warmer months start to draw round, attention often turns from interior design to the garden and the curb appeal of a home. It’s easy to focus on the interior of your house when the weather is cold, and autumn and winter tend to be the time we update the living room and the kitchen. Interiors are fun to organise and once you sort a lick of paint or flooring only require cleaning maintenance instead of what a garden would require.

The garden can often – and unfortunately – be somewhere that’s neglected. The weather gets wetter or colder and we retreat indoors, ignoring that maintenance is still required no matter what the weather is. Where possible, try not to neglect the garden. The amount of work it takes to ensure a garden stays looking beautiful all year round means that you can often spend your weekends pruning bushes, planting flowers and generally looking after the area. No one likes to spend their weekends doing chores and that’s where low maintenance gardens can be a total blessing!
If you enjoy being outdoors, whether to eat or simply just enjoy the fresh air, then you should look at installing decking. With the wealth of designs and materials out there made to suit your budget, you can have your pick with garden decking. Choose a company to install the decking for your, or get some quality materials from George Hill Timber and follow online tutorials to build your decking yourself. It’s one thing to maintain the grass and flowers of the garden, but you can make it a space that requires lower maintenance by having decking. It’s also easier to brush leaves and debris off decking than it is to maintain gravel and other stone layouts.
A deck is a way to add beauty and aesthetics to your garden and is an attractive look for any garden, whether a flat one or multi-level. You can also install a deck if you’d prefer something that looks classier than simple paving slabs. Decking transforms your garden and makes it a place you can hang out all year round. There are a lot of considerations that you need to think about before you invest in decking, including your decking options. Ask yourself why you want a deck and what it will be used for. You can then plan accordingly as to what you want out of the space you have created. Al fresco dining, for example, will mean creating a space that has easy access to the kitchen to pass food in and out of. Dining outside is always amazing but still be cautious of where you place any barbecues or brick grills like these so that you don’t end up with smoke blowing into the house.
You could also choose to use your decking for simple relaxation purposes. If that’s the case, perhaps a deck built toward the back of the garden would be a better idea, as you may find that’s your garden’s sun trap. Children should be considered, because you need the deck to have non-slip materials or mats like these on it and if your deck is elevated, railings and coverings will always be advised. Think about investing in a parasol or gazebo for all weathers so no matter what you can enjoy your deck. A gazebo is a great thing to have in the summer so children can play safely, and you can add mosquito netting as well to protect everyone from bug invasions in the summer months.

Garden decking isn’t made in the same way it used to be thirty years ago, and there is so much advice online about materials you should use. Your deck can add to the value of your home and while you may not be interested in selling up and moving on right now, you have a little investment that has a good return on it for years to come. Hiring professional landscapers to come and give some advice on the design of your decking is never a waste of money, especially if gardening doesn’t come naturally to you.

Always be creative with your ideas for your decking. Be aware of the dangers of decking and installing it the wrong way and ensure you do some thorough research about it. Your garden is your own personal space to enjoy the outdoors and with a beautiful deck in the garden, you get the chance to do that all year round.
 

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Giving your garden a makeover

Has, in recent seasons, your garden been looking a bit lacklustre? If you garden didn't even look good in its heyday last summer, then perhaps it’s time to start taking action now in order to spruce it up before this coming summer arrives.
 
You could brighten the area up with a whole host of lights — they add a real character to the environment and even mean you can spend nights outside during the summer without having to bring a torch out with you. Decking lights are a great feature for any of those of you whose gardens are blessed with a decking area, but there are other areas in your garden where you can utilise LED lighting to spruce it up. LED plinth light can be mounted and sit on top of posts, such as veranda posts and solar-powered lighting can be stuck into the soil in various points and positions. You could, if you have any sort of path running through the garden, place lights on either side of it in order to spruce up the path.Solar_garden_light.jpg
 
And why not make a splash when sprucing up the area? You could introduce a bird bath to your garden in order to give your garden a different kind of edge, whilst in turn attracting all sorts of different types of birds to your area who will bring with them an instant and healthy dose of ‘spruce’. Or, if you’d prefer, you can go the whole hog and opt for a fancier water feature. Features, fountains, ponds and pools are some of the best ways to give your garden a new lease of life because, when first introduced, they offer something completely different to your area. Make sure to have a look at some of these stunning water features.

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But it doesn’t all have to be necessarily expensive: you don’t need fancy and costly tools and areas to help spruce your garden up.You can add colour to your garden, and not just by way of the flowers you plant or grow there. A good idea is to buy cheap and colourful plant pots, or even paint old ones to add even more vibrancy to your outdoor haven. Whether you go for summer pastel colours, or bold bright ones, your garden will be brought to life instantly. However, you should always continue to take care of the basics of your garden, which is looking after the nature that grows there — because if done right, they are a way of really sprucing up the environment themselves. You should begin to tend to your lawn as soon as the weather allows you to. Feed your lawn on a regular basis with granular feed, and continuing to do so throughout the summer months, will stop your grass from ever looking as it is suffering from a serious case of wear and tear. This makes the garden look greener and far more inviting.pexels-photo-212324.jpeg
Green grass
So, there you have it. A few things you can do and introduce to your garden to give it an injection of life and really spruce it up!

Monday, 26 February 2018

Orchid Propagation

Propagation from seed requires specialist laboratory equipment, but some orchids can be successfully propagated at home by other means:

From plantlets: These appear from the growing points of stems of some Dendrobium, Epidendrum and Phalaenopsis species. Detach the plantlets when they have developed several good roots, and pot them up in orchid compost. Water them sparingly at first, and mist daily.

From stem cuttings: These can be taken from many Dendrobium orchids. Cut off a stem up to 30cm (1ft) long and cut it up into 7-10cm (3-4in) sections, with at least one dormant bud on each section. Place the cuttings in a tray of damp sphagnum moss, and keep them humid and shaded. Detach and pot up the plantlets that form from the buds.

By division: This method can be used to propagate orchids such as Cattleya, Cymbidium and Odontoglossum in spring, just after flowering. Only divide plants that are overcrowded in the pot. Cut through the rhizomes that join the pseudobulbs, making sure that each division has at least three healthy pseudobulbs. Trim off any dead roots and remove any brown and shrivelled pseudobulbs before re-potting the divisions individually.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Garden Projects



Summer is still at least half a year away yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some work done in your garden! In fact, some renovation of the outdoors of your property right now could be started around now and be finished for summer so you can enjoy them properly in the sunshine.


You shouldn’t underestimate the ability of your garden to adjust to the colder climate. A lot of people seem to think that winter is a time in which nothing is worth doing to your garden - that you’ll just end up wasting your time because everything out there is dead and infertile.


But this simply doesn’t apply to every sort of garden work. Indeed, crafting a beautiful garden for winter is something a lot of gardeners are keen on. But what about landscaping? A lot of people would dismiss any full-on renovations for this time of year. Besides, how would they possibly be done in time?


Not all renovation projects take nearly a year or more to complete. Here are a few ideas you get started on now and finish in time for the sunny months.




Secluded resting place


Feels strange the type the phrase “resting place” when talking about your garden, right? I’m not referring to building yourself a grave in your backyard! I’m referring to the development of a small and simple getaway tucked somewhere near the back of your garden. Bring in a few hedges and flowers towards the back of your garden and get yourself a luxurious outdoor chair. Position everything so where you’re sitting is out of the house and vice versa. In other words, make this seating area secluded by vegetation. You’ll be surprised at the feeling of escapism this can bring!


Decking


This is one of the most popular home renovations of all time, and for good reason, too. It’s practical, fun, luxurious, and adds great value to a property. But can decking really be completed within six months? If you get the planning done properly and work with good contractors, then you can get it done in a matter of weeks without having to skimp on quality. In these darker, wintry months, you may want to ensure that there’s decent protection so the wood doesn’t get too wet while you’re working on it. As long as you have that, there’s no reason why you can’t start a decking project in winter and get it finished by summer.




Courtyard


Another project you may think takes much longer than it actually does. Even if you throw in some new steps leading up to your back door, the project can be completed in a matter of weeks. Of course, a “garden courtyard” is actually a much more vague term that you may realize. There are so many varieties out there, so it’s possible that the image you have in your head is a very complex project that could indeed take a little too long for it to be ready in time for summer. Your best best is to check out a bunch of courtyard ideas to see what would work best for your garden.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

5 Incredible and Contemporary Aquascaping Designs for Your Fish Tank

Aquascaping has become an incredibly popular pastime among aquarists and there are many traditional ways of decorating tanks which are well-documented. However, there are more and more contemporary designs and styles being experimented with and shared across the aquascaping world. Here are five of them:

1.Iwagumi Aquascaping
One of the more popular aquascaping styles, this design is created using an odd number of stones, which are arranged according to the rule of thirds. It is important to only use odd numbers so that there is no balance in the layout. The aim is to have one large stone and two smaller ones. You can use more than three as long as you sustain an odd number.
The aim is to copy a natural landscape style and keep it very simple with clean lines. Keep the colours limited across both the plants and the stones used, and create minimalism by not varying the plant species too much.
It needs a sense of scale, so the large stone needs to be the largest item in the tank and you should use smaller fish to maintain the vision.
2.Walstad Aquascaping
The aim of this design is to create a totally natural environment. It involves no planning or design at all, but a totally random placement of all of the rocks and plants within the tank. The aim is to simulate nature instead of trying to create aligned patterns. This particular style is very low maintenance and will need the use of potting soil but make sure the soil has no added chemicals to avoid killing your stock.

3.Sculpture Reef Tanks
If you really want to create a visually appealing tank but aren’t too bothered about recreating elements from nature, then try out sculpture reef tanks. These stunning looking aquascapes are made using specifically created reef sculptures, not necessarily natural coral, designed to be visually appealing and building up a dramatic landscape. These designs don’t feature plants but with a landscape of white coral sculptures and bright coloured fish, your aquarium can’t fail to stand out.
4.Mountain Style Aquascaping
The aim with this design is to only use a small portion of the aquascape to create the mountain area and don’t have it bang in the centre, or in one corner of the tank as it will look strange. Aim for slightly off-centred so that the plants and fish get good water flow around the feature. The mountain should be created using one particular type of rock or one particular type of driftwood to make this design effective.
5.Saltwater Reefs
Now most of the traditional aquascaping styles are aimed at freshwater aquariums and there are not many ornamental plants which thrive in a saltwater aquarium. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t aquascape a saltwater aquarium at all. It just needs to be planned and prepared in a different way.
Saltwater aquascaping designs focus on trying to recreate the look of an underwater reef and rely on arrangements of rock, corals and algae, as well as the use of marine invertebrates to really bring the reef landscape to life. 
One of the important aspects of a reef aquascape is the lighting, because many corals, and marine life which might be integrated, such as tridacnid clams, contain microorganisms which actually fluoresce under certain lighting.
Therefore, by providing specialist lighting with ultraviolet wavelengths, saltwater reef aquascape aquariums will help to support the life of all the creatures in the tank but also feature some amazing natural light displays from the organisms themselves.

This aquascaping style will require a little more maintenance to keep the lighting correct and make sure the tank doesn’t get too hot from the lights, but it’s totally worth it.
Conclusion
There are many incredible and contemporary aquascaping designs for your fish tank available now – the world really is your oyster and you are only limited by your own imagination, and perhaps your budget!
Aquascaping enables aquarists and fish enthusiasts to get creative and artistic and almost become landscape gardeners within their fish tanks. It’s a great way to make your fish tank completely unique to you through choice of colour, plant, fishes and style.
You can make the tank reflect your minimalist home by using modern coral sculpture, or create a completely natural appearing coral reef scape for your saltwater aquarium. 
From stone patterns, to creating mountains out of driftwood, there really is no limit to how creative you can get in the world of aquascaping design. It’s so easy to get caught up in the design process and ideas that it’s almost possible to forget that aquariums are homes for fish to live in!
Make the most of your aquarium by adding creative elements, whether to hide the pump and pipes or a full on aquascaping design, it’s a great way to add fun to your fish tank.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

The Ultimate Guide To Garden Protection



When your garden is your pride and joy, there’s nothing scarier than something happening to it. And sometimes, you can find that your garden faces all kinds of threats. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to put up with them. Instead, you need to ensure that you can protect your garden from just about anything that you can. And we all know that we need to be able to cover your plants ahead of the winter season, but the weather isn’t the only thing that we have to protect our gardens against, both at this time of year and all year round.


Secure The Boundaries

First up, let’s talk about how you can keep your garden protected on a security level. When you have broken fence panels or hedges with gaps in, you may find that your garden really isn’t secure at all. So, instead, you need to focus on making sure that the entire boundary is secure. For this, the obvious choice is strong fencing, even if it means ripping out a hedge that you already have to upgrade the boundary. But you should also think about the gates with locks that you need to really ensure the space is secure.




Cover Your Veg Patch

However, you’re also going to want to think more about some of the specific areas in your garden, like your vegetable patch. Because when you’re growing veg, you don’t want to have put all of that hard work in to of then found out that the fruits of your labor are damaged. When it comes to growing your own, you don’t always want to douse everything in chemicals. So, instead, you should look at covering your vegetables. This way, they can be protected from any harsh weather, as well as be kept safe from pests.


Tackle Pests
And while we’re on the topic of pests, let's have a look at how we can tackle them too. You’re going to want to ensure your garden is pest-free with some handy homemade deterrents. These can be great for insects. But when you find a wasp nest, you might like to give wasp nest foam a go if you can. Or, call in an exterminator or wasp specialist if you’re concern. This can also be a great idea for rats too.




Protect Your Furniture
But you’ve also got your furniture to think about too. You can often need to protect your garden furniture during both the summer and winter. For wood, it will often need sealing, plastic is best off covered, and when it comes to metal, you should always look to store it away to ensure it's protected.


Discourage Intruders

As well as securing the boundaries, you may also want to focus on further ways to protect your garden from intruders. One of the best ways to discourage them, as well as make it hard for them to get in, is to put lights out so that they can be seen in the garden should they try to enter. Security lights can also be an excellent form of protection here too.


 

Friday, 29 September 2017

The Heads Up On Growing Veg, Without The Crippling Back Pain

That excruciating, pulsing ache that radiates out from your back after a hard day of gardening and growing vegetables. For some, it signifies a job well done, but it can make others question why they have been compelled to work so hard in the first place. Especially, if their back is problematic anyway. So, if you are one of the poor souls that fall into the latter category and would like the result of a healthy vegetable garden without the crippling back pain, keep reading for some useful advice.


Raised beds


One way to minimise the bending and hard work associated with growing your own crop of vegetable is to put in raised beds. These are vegetable beds that sit on top of the natural ground level, instead if under it, as is traditional. The idea is that there is less of distance to bend when tending and planting, and so saving your back.


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To make your own raised bed, you first need to delineate the areas that they will cover. So use string and garden cane to map out the area. Then you need to install wooden scaffold board around the edge of this shape and fix it at the corners. Many people do this by inserting a strut at each corner and nailing each board to it where it meets. Then all that is left is for you to fill the space with soil.


To save money here, you can use materials dug out of other places in the garden.  Although topsoil and compost purchased from the garden centre will work fine too. Remember too that the higher the beds, the more soil you will need to fill the volume of the space. Although higher bed do mean less bending and are so much easier on the back.


Greenhouse


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Greenhouses are also a great way of growing some fabulous vegetables without causing crippling back pain. Especially ones like these Elite High Eave Greenhouses, as they are tall enough to stand up fully straight in when you are working, even if you are tall!


You also have the advantage of being able to work on shelves in the greenhouse, instead of the floor. So save your back, as well as ensuring that your plants get the perfect amount of sunlight and heat to start off strong.


Tubs


Lastly, in a similar vein to raised beds, you can also use plastic, or wooden tubs and barrels for planting veg. Root vegetable like carrots and parsnips grow especially well in these types of containers.


Their main advantage over raised beds is that they don't take up so much room. So are perfect for those with smaller gardens that want to minimise the back breaking work associated with planting, tending and harvesting veg.


It is worth noting too that you can grow other types of fruit and vegetables in these barrels such as lettuces. However, as they are so deep, it's probably not the best use of space. So choose a shallow window box and house it on a plant shelf for access that is easy on your back instead.




Monday, 25 September 2017

Size Doesn't Matter: Practical Tips For Growing Food In A Small Space



Many people mistakenly think they need a large garden, or even farmland, to grow food. This isn’t true, as it is possible to yield a sizeable harvest in the smallest of spaces. So, if you don’t have a garden, or you don’t think your land is big enough to grow food, we have some ideas you may find useful.


Use the space you have




So you don’t have a garden? Fear not, there are other spaces where food can be grown. Planters can be hung on balconies and fences, and you can also affix them to the walls on the exterior of your home. You could grow fruit from vines, such as grapes, by lining them around mailbox or fence posts. You might also place pots and planters on your windowsill. So, despite your lack of garden space, you can utilize other areas around your home.

Buy a greenhouse

You may not have a garden, but if you have a yard space outside your home, greenhouses are perfect. They can come in all kinds of sizes, from around 4 feet to 12 feet, so you could feasibly buy something that can be accommodated in your space. A greenhouse can be used to grow crops all year round, so even during the colder months, temperature controlled heaters can be used to maintain food and plant growth.

Remember to fertilize

When gardening in a small area, such as a planter or a raised bed, your crops will deplete the nutrients in the soil faster than they would in a larger area. So if you have tried this idea, but given up because you don’t think it’s practical, you have probably failed to fertilize sufficiently. There is advice here on how to fertilize container plants, including using compost teas, that will help you get the most from your small-scale gardening.

Attract pollinators

Pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, are essential to a garden’s success. Through cross-pollination, they fertilize plants and food crops, encouraging growth. Therefore, always mix flowers in with your vegetables and herbs, as the scent and bright colours will invite the pollinators in to get about their business. You should also think about planting edible herbs, such as dill and basil, which will also attract our insect friends.

Maximize your space

If you only have a small amount of space, you don’t want to plant any varieties that will leave little room for anything else. So, if you only have a square foot of soil, forget about cauliflower and broccoli in that area, as not only do they take up space, but they only yield one harvest. Instead, plant those foods that won’t take up a lot of space, and have higher yields. For example, carrots, onions, radishes, and lettuce, are perfect for those of you growing in small pieces of land or containers.

Grow miniature fruiting trees




You can grow miniature fruiting trees on a small patch in your garden, or in a container, allowing you to have your quota of fresh fruit without having to grow an orchard. Nearly every fruit imaginable can be grown, from apples to peaches, so you can buy according to taste. For a faster yield, buy at least two, as this will allow them to cross-pollinate.

Finally

Great things do come in small packages, so don’t let your lack of space put you off from growing food. Let us know if you have ideas of your own.