A beginners guide to a clever garden design
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A beginners guide to a clever garden design

Summer is around the corner, however after a winter of abandonment, you might find that your garden looks more like a farmyard than a relaxing spot for you to enjoy the company of guests.  If you need to get your garden into shape this spring, here are some of our landscaping cheats.

How To Make A Garden Seem Bigger

If your garden is on the small side, then you may feel limited in what you can do; however with a few little tricks you can make your garden seem bigger than it actually is. Trimming and hedging those bushy borders or intrusive trees can really help to free up some much needed space, whilst retaining height and texture with foliage and trees can help you to keep your privacy from neighbours. Contrasting warm-coloured flowers in the middle of your garden with cool colours on the border can help to give your garden a real feeling of depth, while clever garden lighting and reflective ornaments can also play their part.

How To Create a Mediterranean Style Garden

Mediterranean gardens are often designed to evoke a real holiday-feel, where a warmer climate and sun-kissed colours are utilised. If you’re looking to incorporate a feel of Europe in your garden, features such as large seating areas and terracotta potted plants take precedent over grassy lawns, which are often hard to maintain in the heat of the Mediterranean sun. Paving stones and pebbles should be sprinkled around large plants pots, while ceramic tiles should be used to add a Moorish colour style. Walls should be whitewashed or painted in an earthy, sandy tone before vine-covered terraces are erected for a shaded dining spot. If space permits there should be different dining areas for a variety of outdoor living, with al fresco dining terraces complimented with simple benches and shaded spots.

How To Create a Cottage-Style Garden

Traditional cottage gardens are full of flowering plants and lush foliage which are planted in a purposefully informal style. Aiming to create a romantic and natural woodland feel, you can have free reign to plant all of your favourite flowers. There are no strict planting patterns or colours or scents to use, as texture, depth and variety are the king of the cottage style. Beautiful flowering archways and stepping stone pathways can lead to hidden garden areas, where a vintage hammock or tree swing are perfect for watching the birds fly overhead. Rustic water buckets and troughs are also great for an added character-feel and can often be found for a good price in an old junk yard or online.

How To Create a Chic and Sleek Garden Retreat

In contrast to a wild cottage garden, a sleek and chic retreat needs clean lines, formal plant designs and minimalist trees. Here, fussy borders are a thing of the past, as are fruit trees, unruly lawns and overgrown hedges. Lawns should be kept to a minimum and must be neat and weed-free at all times, while large flowerbeds should be replaced with sleek rockeries and simple water features. Patios and decking are often used to create a contemporary design, along with cool colours and sculpted trees.

How To Attract Wildlife

You don’t need to have masses of flowers and plants to attract birds and other wildlife into your garden. Even just a few carefully potted plants and hanging baskets can attract birds, insects and beetles into your garden with ease. Plants which offer nectar, pollen, seeds or sap should be prioritised first as these are important food sources for our feathered, furry and flying friends. Digging a pond or installing a bird bath or water feature can also help to create a welcoming habitat for the friends of the natural world.


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Autumn heating options

Autumn heating options

As we head into autumn and the summer sun begins to seem like a distant memory, here in the UK our attention turns to keeping warm, rather than trying to head out and enjoy the outdoors. If you’re looking to prepare your home and garden for the cooler autumn and impending winter, here are our favourite options for heating your home.

Wood Burner

Our top tip when it comes to heating the home with an element of style is to install a wooden log burner in your house. If you have a room in your home that your family spends most of their spare time in, having a log burner installed makes a lot of sense. Although installation costs can be pricey, you’ll begin to see the savings almost immediately when you aren’t required to leave your heating on night after night. Easy on the eye and carrying an element of back to basics style, a log burner can be a great visible addition to any communal room.


They’re the go-to option in every home, however that doesn’t mean that you have to sit back and accept bog-standard radiator options in your home. Whilst the standard central heating and radiator method is seen in every home, when you’re wanting to make a real design splash in a room, why not push the boat out with something a little more flamboyant that can make a statement. If you want to get creative, here are some simple yet eye catching options.

Bathroom Rack

In many homes, through the colder months radiators double up as a spot for drying clothes. As part of many modern bathrooms, heated towel radiators have become commonplace, meaning you can heat the area whilst also having a convenient method of drying towels. In addition, heated towel rails are specifically designed to retain heat within the vicinity of the operating fitting, meaning they’re not only great at keeping towels warm for once you get out of the shower, but are great at keeping the room warm when the shower and bath are in use.

Patio Heater

Whilst summer may now feel like a distant memory, heating garden areas through early autumn can make spending time outdoors enjoyable. Items such as chimineas can be utilised as more of a style piece, adding a touch of class to a chosen area. On mild summer weekends, providing a form of patio heating means your outdoor areas won’t be deemed out of bounds by winter just yet.

If you’re a new home owner readying your home for the autumn and colder winter, we’d love to hear your thoughts and top tips on keeping warm over the coming months.

Image credit: Free to use courtesy of Pixabay.

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10 ways to get your summer garden on a budget

10 ways to get your summer garden on a budget

When it comes to decorating your garden in time for summer, how much you spend can spark quite a bit of a debate. While you’re obviously eager to make the most of every last bit of sunshine by basking in your beautiful garden, it’s also inevitable that the great British summer will be over before you know it and therefore it’s probably not worth breaking the bank for.

That being said, when the sun does decide to show, there’s nothing better than organising a BBQ or cocktails with friends and family, knowing that you have a lovely garden to sit out in. Bearing that in mind, we’ve put together a list of 10 summer budget buys that can help to spruce up your garden and get it summer ready, without having to break the bank.

1. Statement pieces are a great way to add a feature to your garden without having to spend a lot of money, so a large ornament or statue can often work perfectly. This bronze decorative garden sphere is the perfect way to add contemporary style to your garden and is a bargain at only £14.99.

2. If you’re looking for something to help give your table a bit of wow factor then this solar powered mosaic table lamp is just the thing; both stylish and practical.

3. When having friends over for a summer BBQ, it’s great to have something fun to dress up your garden. These fun lights can help to keep the party running from day, well into the night.

4. When it comes to seating, these heritage bistro chairs are the perfect addition to your garden.  Light and easy to fold, they’re ideal for storing away when the sun does decide to disappear.

5. Lanterns have become one of the latest décor trends, with a wide range now available for the garden.  They are great way of adding a decorative piece to your garden, whilst also adding to the ambience. Don’t forget to purchase some candles too.

6. Who can resist these dragonfly solar lights? They scream summer and instantly add a burst of colour to your garden.

7. This garden wall sign can help to add an air of shabby chic to your garden, and at only £3.00 is a serious must-have style upgrade.

8. Sticking to the theme of shabby chic, this watering can makes for the perfect garden feature. Our tip would be to use it as a garden planter and once filled with beautiful flowers it will make for the perfect table centre piece.

9. Cushions are a great way to add a splash of colour and are an instant style upgrade for your garden. What’s great about these is that you can use them inside too.

10. Finally, we all dream of summer nights where we can stay outside chatting and catching up with friends but the reality of it is that it often gets too chilly. However, now thanks to this bargain fire pit at only £39, you can make the most of your evenings sitting outside around the fire.

Thanks to these top 10 budget buys you’ll have all of the neighbours talking about how fabulous your summer garden is; while you can relax knowing that if it rains…it’s OK to go inside!


Photo Credit: Naughty Architect via Compfight cc

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5 Tips for Exterior Home Maintenance

5 Tips for Exterior Home Maintenance

After the harsh conditions of a cold winter, and the even wetter start of spring that we have endured in the UK, some outside maintenance around your house will be essential. There are a few key things to consider when inspecting the outside of your property for potential maintenance work, so it helps to know what you are looking for in the first place. Here are a few key tips to make sure that you know exactly what you’re looking for when it comes to outdoor renovations.


Guttering, Drains and Roof Tiles
Throughout the winter, the chilling weather will have a real effect on  gutters, roof tiles and drains. When the water freezes in gutters and drains, they expand and are put under pressure; unfortunately this causes cracks and breaks to appear. These can be patched, but it is a definite nuisance. Similarly, roof tiles can receive a battering from wind, rain and hail, so replacing them in the sunnier and dryer months of the year is advisable.
Whilst the rain has been pouring down, all of the debris that accumulates on roofs like moss and leaves are washed down into your guttering. This can cause blockages, and even result in the gutters breaking or splitting. Now that there is a nice gap from the dire winter weather, it makes sense to get a head start on repairs. For those with fairly reachable gutters you can use a long ladder to clear out the debris, but for those with very high roofs this may not be so easy or safe. If this is the case then it may be advisable to hire a specialist lift for a day, so you can carry out the task in a safe manner.


Outside Plumbing
Checking outdoor plumbing could be the most important aspect of looking after the house exterior, as it may show problems that will affect the interior of your home. If you have taps on the outside of the house, make sure you check if there are any problems. If the water flow is losing pressure, or if the water flow is intermittent, this could mean that there is a leak in the plumbing system. Similarly, if the flow seems strong, then plug your finger into the facet. If the flow stops without much resistance, you may have a leak somewhere else in the interior plumbing line. If it sprays everywhere however, then you have nothing to worry about. If the above problems are occurring, it is worth calling in a professional plumber to see what the root cause of the problem may be.


Probing for rotten wood
This is a simple exercise that can be undertaken using a screwdriver or a pointed piece of metal. If you have any wooden fixtures or overlay on the outside of your house, they can be prone to rot and warping. Although most wooden exterior fixtures should have been weather treated before they are exposed to the elements, it is possible that they are still prone. Walk around the outside of the house and probe the wood to see if there is any give. This should expose any sort of rot that may be taking place under the surface. If there has been any warping at all then it sensible to replace that fixture or try and salvage it by sanding it down and weather treating it again.


Move the firewood

As it gets cold in the winter, storing firewood as close to the house as possible is advisable, as it provides quick access. The problem with storing the wood next to your house is that is can be a nesting place for wildlife, or could begin to rot and erode away at the side of your house. The correct procedure for storing firewood is that it has to be 1.5 feet off the ground and 2 feet away from the house itself. This keeps it nice and dry, preventing the wood from being ruined.


Looking at the foundation

When there has been significant rainfall or just any rainfall in general, it is worth checking the land and ground around the your home and garden, so ensure it is draining water adequately. Your grounds may be prone to earth and stone erosion, which can lead to structural problems in the future. Keeping an eye on prone areas is a significant measure to ensure that you do not get caught out.

This article was written by Drew Rapley, an expert in homecare and DIY.


Image used under CC licence courtesy of 

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