Garden preparations for spring

Garden preparations for spring

Summer is almost upon us (or at least it feels that way after the few weeks of nice weather we’ve just enjoyed) and although we can’t always guarantee undisturbed weekends of sunshine, it’s worth ensuring your garden is ready for those summer hot spells. Barbecues and a drinks make for the perfect weekend entertainment, especially when hosting guests. If you plan on playing the perfect garden part host over the coming weekends and for the rest of the summer, here are our top tips on making sure you’re all set.

Blast it clean

Over the winter, dirt, mould and grime become embedded into your pavements, patios and areas of decking. When the summer arrives however, you want your ourdoor areas to look spotless. Whilst giving the floor a good scrub might seem laborious, you can save a lot of time and effort with a pressure washer. Karcher offer a range of great options when it comes to pressure washing, so make sure you take a look and invest in something that can be used year after year. Blast away at the dirt and leave your surfaces looking as good as new, and ready to show off to your party guests.

Upgrade the grill

Summer and spending time in the garden just wouldn’t be the same without a good old barbecue of burgers, sausages chicken and whatever other meat you want to take on. If you’re planning a summer of outdoor dinner parties and hosting, you don’t want the embarrassment of bringing out the disposables to cook. A barbecue is an investment, and if chosen wisely, can be utilised for years. Whether you’re a fan of the genuine built structure charcoal article, or something portable and gas powered, make sure you have the tools to get the job done when cooking for a large number.

Set the right tone with furniture

Garden furniture differs greatly to indoor furniture, that goes without saying. More hard wearing and expected to survive the summer elements for months on end, durability is just as important as aesthetics with outdoor furniture. When it comes to patio tables, make an informed choice to ensure it fits in with the other aesthetics of your garden. Some gardens look more at home with a wooden table and chairs, whilst others enjoy the modern feel of something made from metal and glass.

Light it up

When the sun sets and the evening hits, it shouldn’t signify a definitive end to your time outdoors. As darkness drops, it might seem logical to shift the party indoors, however if you get your outdoor lighting right, you can light up your hosting area and keep the party going outside for as long as the warmth lingers. Along with the primary purpose of allowing you to see gathering areas and people, more decorative lighting, such as Candles and lights can draw the gaze to unexpected places and create a magical atmosphere in your garden. If you have an area of the garden you’re particularly proud of, such as a flowered bed or DIY pergola, lighting is a great way to drive attention to the spot. Another innovative use of decorative lighting is through using tiki torches around the perimeter of your garden, they’re exotic and whilst they don’t provide a huge amount of light, they do add a real ambiance to the area.


What are your favourite summer garden additions? If you have any particular favourites you wheel out when entertaining outdoors, we’d love to hear them. Drop a comment below with your tips and advice!

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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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Spring updates for your living room

Spring updates for your living room

With winter now behind us, April is the perfect time to give your living room a revamp. We’d all like to hope that, over the summer months, an abundance of sun will mean we spend every free minute basking out in the warm garden. In reality however, it’s fairly safe to say that we won’t be spending all our summer outdoors. Prepare for the coming months by revamping your living room, for when the weather turns grim and you have to move guests and visitors indoors. Here are our top tips for updating your living room to be a bright and breezy summer area.

Feature wall

In many cases, people decorate a room and leave it for numerous years just to avoid the hassle of redecorating. Whilst we aren’t advocating that you do a complete renovation after every passing season, it can make a pleasant change to the feel of your room if you implement, or simply repaint your feature wall. Having a feature wall within your room adds a greater depth to your space, and providing you chose the right colour, it means that you can change the tone of your room from season to season.

Change window coverings

Over the winter months, in an effort to keep out the cold, rain and howling winds, a thick heavy curtain is a great option for dressing your windows. However as the winter comes to an end and the weather picks up, it’s a great decorative idea to switch out your heavy duty curtain for something a little lighter.  In many households, blinds are a popular choice as they’re easy to use, provide the option of allowing in light even when closed, and can also be easy to work around when you have numerous open windows. If you have a curtain rail in place and want to alter the look of your windows over the summer, simply switch for something in a lighter material. It’s amazing how much of a role something as simple as a window decoration can play in the overall feel of your room, so making the most a light delicate window dressing can give your room an uplifting feel of summer.

Plants and flowers

Bring a feel of the summer indoors with some home-grown greenery. Nothing makes a room feel brighter than well chosen plants and flowers, and the injection of life to your room can really improve the overall feel and help you escape the feeling of winter. Don’t overdo it, as you don’t want your room to feel like an indoor greenhouse, however a selection of summer greenery can instantly help your living room.

Summer rug

If you want to add a splash of colour to your room, but don’t want to take any drastic permanent action, then adding something as simple as a spring summer style rug can help to drag your living room out of the winter and into the warmer months. Something like a floral rug can bring a real feel of spring into your room, and paired with another couple of light and bright accessories, it can have a real impact on the feel of your room.


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Top tips for your spring garden

Top tips for your spring garden

Winter finally looks to be at an end, and with weekends warming up and the sun finally showing itself, it’s time to head into the garden and begin to prepare your space for the spring and summer. Having a well kempt and blooming garden gives you a great area in which you can bask through the summer months, and although it might take a bit of work, it’s well worth it when you have a nice spot to relax, enjoy a drink and cook up a barbecue with friends. In order to prepare your garden, you’ll have to start early and ready the area, here are out top tips to get you started.

Plan your garden

If it’s your first year in a new home, and you aren’t accustomed to taking care of the appearance of outdoor spaces, there’s no need to panic. Similarly, you don’t want to jump straight in, as you’ll get the best results if you carefully make plans. One mistake many people make with their garden layout is failing to plan beforehand. It might not seem vital, but there are areas of your garden that will have more access to sunlight, making them ideal for your vegetable patch, or areas shaded from elements such as wind, meaning delicate flowers would ideally make this area their home. You don’t need to create a garden master plan, but just make sure that you have a logical layout sorted.

Be self sustaining

If you’re planning to invest time and effort into home growing your own vegetables, fruits and flowers, then you’ll be in need of large quantities of mineral rich compost. Make your garden greener by making the most of a compost bin. They can be picked up for a relatively cheap price and, using your own discarded fruit and veg peelings, you can begin the decomposing process in your own garden. Similarly, the abundance of plants and flowers in your summer garden will lead to you needing more water. Water buts are a simple solution that, when connected to your home drainage system, collect and store rainwater for general garden use. Invest in these two simple but effective ideas and make your garden more self sustaining this year.

Prepare your tools

Once you’ve made your plans and invested in flowers and plants, the hard work isn’t over. You’ll need to dedicate portions of  your free time to garden upkeep and maintenance, in order to keep your plants looking trim and blooming. If you’re a relative rookie when it comes to gardening, begin to build up a collection of necessary tools. Trowels, rakes, shovels, trimming tools, watering systems and lawn mowing equipment are all necessities – so if your equipment is somewhat lacking, now is the time to begin investing.

Prepare your space

Winter can be tough on your garden, so it’s likely that the cold months will have left your garden looking a little worse for wear. Before you begin to organise out your spring garden, you’ll need to have a thorough clean up. Clear away items such as tree debris, twigs and branches from your grass and soil, plant grass seed in any bare looking areas and turn over your soil to prevent it being compounded. Weeds may have run rife through your garden over the winter, so have a thorough check and remove any from your lawn and soil areas. Check fences and other items aren’t in need of repair, and touch up on any surfaces that are looking tired.

Photo Credit: CC image hosted on Wikipedia.

This article was kindly provided by gardening and outdoor home expert Chris Hay exclusively for First Home News. 

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5 ways to bring Morocco to your home
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5 ways to bring Morocco to your home

If luxury and opulence are two words that are appealing to you then why not update your home with a few easy ideas inspired by the streets of Morocco.  Moroccan souks are energetic, lively places that are bursting with vibrant handmade fabrics and intricate lighting and decorations.


Playing around with lighting throughout your home is a sure fire way of being able to create a relaxing atmosphere. By incorporating colourful Moroccan lamps to your home, you can decorate your home while brightening up the place. Another way of adding soft lighting is by placing intricate candle holders around the house to help you wind down in the evenings. Using scented candles is a definite plus for turning your house into your home.


If comfort and luxury is what you want in your home then soft furnishing is a good way to start. Why not try stacking mismatch cushions in the living and bedroom or using colourful scarves to decorate the walls?  Experimenting with different textures such as silks throws and velvets can help to add to a luxurious feel. Pouffes are also an easy way of incorporating a Moroccan theme at home and are also a favourite with the kids. If you prefer a more minimalistic approach then having simple décor with a Persian rug could be the way for you.


Adding metallic framed mirrors work well to give an illusion of a bigger and brighter space. Silver and copper frames with engraved patterns help to add to an ethnic vibe. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try mirrored furniture that while further enhance any soft lighting that you’ve incorporated.


Metals such as copper and silverwork are commonly seen in Moroccan décor and kitchenware. Tea glasses, candles holders and silver plates are an easy way to incorporate this. Charity shops are a good place to hunt for silverware for cheap while bringing something unique to your home.

Colour Schemes

Bright colours are at the forefront of Moroccan themed décor where rich purples, oranges and metallic are used in fabrics for a luxurious effect. For a fresh modern twist for summer, you could use bright and neutral colours while integrating Moroccan references in artwork or furnishing.

Try the trend for yourself and see which Moroccan trends you can bring into your home this springtime.

Image credit: Jon Olav Eikenes:


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Spring cleaning for beginners

Spring cleaning for beginners

With winter almost behind us, it’s time to start readying the home for spring and summer. Integrating new themes and colours into your home can add a new lease of life to a room, however before cracking on and adding vibrant new elements to your home, it’s time to have a thorough clean to prepare for the coming months, and make sure you can fully assess each room prior to investing in a new decor.

Clean your sink

It might not be the first place that springs to mind when considering where to clean, but the kitchen sink is known to contain more bacteria than your toilet seat. Considering that you’ll be needing to wash cutlery and crockery in the area, that’s quite a disturbing piece of information. Make sure you regularly disinfect the whole sink area of your kitchen, along with all surfaces you use when preparing food. As a starting tip, use a supermarket product you know is effective, rather than just your everyday soap and dish cloth – if these aren’t thoroughly washed at regular intervals, they can also be a hive of bacterial activity. If your sink is stainless steel, make it sparkles afterward by putting a few drops of mineral oil on a soft cloth and buffing. Not only does this process make the whole area look clean, but it also prevents water build-up, which deters mold and keeps the sink looking clean longer.

Wipe your Oven

Another area of your kitchen which is integral to be kept clean, due to the role it plays in the food preparation process is your oven. Giving the surfaces a thorough clean with an appropriate product can keep your oven in a sanitary state, but it also might be worth lining the bottom with a non-stick oven liner. It can be wiped with a paper towel, put in the dishwasher, and reused over and over.


It’s the area of your house you’ll spend most of your time, as your sleep is a huge aspect of your life, but it’s also amazing just how unhygienic a mattress can get. Obviously, you’ll do a regular clean of bed sheets, however many people disregard cleaning their mattress, something which can lead to hygiene issues. Regularly make sure you vacuum the area, as you would with any other area of the home, as this will keep the mattress as hygienic as possible. If you spill on an area, use a suitable upholstery cleaner to ensure you don’t allow stains to bed in to the material. Regular cleaning, and in some cases, the use of protective covering can be the best protection from allergens and dust mites in your mattress.

Declutter Your Drawers

Bedroom drawers are notoriously busy spaces, and can easily get out of hand, with clothes often being thrown in to the point of overflow. Prior to decorating your bedroom for the spring, or investing in new furniture or decorations, make sure to have a thorough clean out. Get rid of things you haven’t worn in a while, and thoroughly declutter.

Know the Hot Spots

Some areas in the home are breeding grounds for clutter. Whether it’s that hall side table used for keys, change and post, or the dining table that is used as a kids play area more than a spot top have a civilised meal. As part of your spring clean, make a resolution to keep these ‘problem’ areas clear. If you’re so lazy that you simple can’t resist dumping junk on the side, it might be worth adding decorations to a space, to make sure there is no longer any room for rubbish.



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Boring to beautiful homes in 6 simple steps

Boring to beautiful homes in 6 simple steps

Your home is not only a place to lay your head, but a reflection of your individuality. Regularly updating the look of your home will help maintain a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere without running the risk of boredom. In order to achieve this, we’ve compiled our six top tips on how to transform your place from being boring into beautiful home, with little cost and minimal effort.


Wall Murals

Plain, dull coloured walls in a room can instantly add a sense of monotony when not used creatively. To brighten up lifeless walls around your home, design, create and paint your own mural. By choosing one singular wall as your focus point, adding a mural not only adds a sense of individuality to your room, but also saves on the expense of redecorating. For those of you who are less artistic, wall stickers are available for a quick fix to any room.


Storage Solutions


Storage space is key when it comes to de-cluttering your home. Not only are storage boxes efficient, but they are also cheap. Store those rarely used belongings under your bed and inside your closet. By moving these items out of sight, focus is shifted on the remaining pieces of furniture in the room, whilst also giving the appearance of larger space. Alternatively, if you prefer to proudly display your collections, invest in some conventional storage shelves and cabinets to place around your home.



A patterned duvet is no longer enough to create that homely bedroom feel. By investing in cushions, throws and blankets, you are not only increasing the comfort of your bedroom, but also creating a more relaxed environment. Similarly, invest in contrasting cushions and throws for your living space in order to refresh the look of other rooms around the house.


Interior Lighting


Lighting has a significant effect on the mood and ambiance within any room. Soft lighting creates a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere, whereas bright, florescent lighting can be harsh. In order to achieve a relaxed atmosphere and sense of style within a room, invest in candles, crystal lampshades and fairy lights. Make sure you also make the most out of the natural light provided.


Improve your Exterior


If the view outside your front room is not overly pleasing on the eye, distract yourself and visitors by making the view inside a more appealing one. With a variety of blinds, curtains and nettings, you can make sure the inside look attractive and stylish, even if the outside does not.


Personal Touch


Finally, nothing says home sweet home quite like a display of framed family photographs. By hanging them along the hall, above the mantel piece or across the walls, the faces of your loved ones will brighten up any room within your home.


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Home touches for the ultimate spring feel
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Home touches for the ultimate spring feel

We might still be in February, but to the optimistic amongst us, Spring is just around the corner. With the warmer days  hopefully soon arriving on the horizon, despite cold temperatures, the sunshine is just beginning to peek through the clearing clouds. It’s never too early to shake off the misery of winter and implement spring into your home, so with that in mind, here are our top tips for getting an early start on your spring decor.

Kitchen: Cooking with Colour

Many kitchens sport drab matching walls and a spaghetti stained backsplash. A spot of paint can change that. Choose a paint colour like bright orange, yellow or sky blue for one wall or area. A streak of highlight will renew your faith in spring veggies and freshly baked bread. Take your update to the next level by purchasing a coloured mixing bowl, bright spatula, blender or toaster matching the colour of your freshly painted wall. Guests will appreciate your thought to go the extra step in contrasting your stainless steel accessories with a few coloured ones. Your kitchen is going to pop and you can revel in your mastery after just an hour with the paintbrush.

Bathroom: Appropriate accessories

No matter what colour scheme your bathroom is, throwing away the plastic accessories and updating them with rustic things from around the house will make your room a much more inviting space. Update the toilet paper holder with a wicker basket you’ve been using for random bits and bobs. Grab unused containers and fill them with all your cotton essentials. Take an empty vase and fill with freshly cut flowers or some bright artificial ones to provide a real feel of spring. And the ultimate trick for the ladies, a cake stand is the perfect way to show off and keep your makeup organised for a fuss free morning.

Bedroom: Perfect pillows

Decorate with a few spring coloured throw pillows to get your home completely revamped for the summer days. You can recover the old pillows with your own fabric or buy an entire new set. The bed is the staple item in the bedroom, so find your favourite comforter to snuggle up. Really tired of your old room? Cover the headboard with a bright or striped fabric to give off a plush new bedroom aura.

Living Areas: Recover your drab lamps

The simple task of changing a lamp cover will shake off gloomy winter nights and help you to embrace spring. Choosing one piece to change in a room is a quick fix and you’ll see a noticeable difference. Go to your local homeware store to see what colours could brighten up your room. Don’t assume popping pink is your only choice, but a light yellow, bold colour or fun new print could do your home the favour it’s been seeking. Don’t want to buy an entire new lampshade? Choose from hundreds of fabric choices at the craft store. With scissors, adhesive, a trim piece and a bit of patience, you’ll have yourself a statement new decorative item.

Outdoors: Get in the Garden

Plants bring life to a home in every way. The freezing temperatures of January and February have now passed and it’s time to dig up the weeds and leftover foliage of the winter. Spring geraniums, begonias, and pansies are all great summer plants that will continually bloom throughout the warmer months. Don’t have the luxury of a front garden or a home in the countryside? Make room for a few potted plants inside your home on bookshelves and the mantel piece, as will add a feel of spring to your home, even on the rainy summer days.

Photo Credit: jinkazamah via Compfight cc

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Top patio paving for your new garden

Top patio paving for your new garden

Paving as a concept can be seen as a gorgeous and valuable addition to any back garden, however you can really boost its effect by choosing the correct pattern to correspond with the style of your garden and home. There are many different paving patterns to choose from, some of which really stand out. Here are the our top picks. 

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Patio cleaning in 5 easy steps

Patio cleaning in 5 easy steps

The patio area of your garden is a place where you entertain and gets a lot of attention. Ensuring that the surfaces are clean and well maintained is crucial, even heading into the autumn months. In Britain, the up and down weather means that there is only really a small period where you will be using your garden, and it is pretty essential that you are able to put it to good use ensuring it looks its best. With late summer sun still a possibility over the coming weeks, you’ll undoubtedly be heading outdoors to lap up the last fragments of summer whenever the cloud clears, and having a clean and presentable patio means you can entertain guests without having to worry about how your place is presented. You will find that cleaning the patio is like any other house cleaning job, though of course, it requires a little more elbow grease or power than your standard domestic clean. You may want to get a contract cleaner in to do the job, as they will have the best machinery and knowledge, but if you want to have a go at it yourself, here are our top tips.


Clear it

To start, clear the patio. To have a thorough clean, you’ll need to ensure that absolutely everything is clear on your floor surface. Also, be careful with the finish on your decking or plant pots. You might find that the power of the pressure washer can damage smaller things like paintwork, and decorative items.


Remove foliage

Next, it’s time to get in and remove any weeds that have grown in between your patio tiles or pieces of decking. It’s important that when removing weeds, you use the correct tool or scraper to ensure you remove as much of the weed root as possible. Try not to simply pull the head off any weeds you find, as the root will still continue to live and thrive, leaving you repeating the task a couple of months down the line.


Pressure wash

The quicker option, when it comes to washing, is to ensure you have a good pressure washer at your disposal. Whilst hand washing is an option, it’s a far more laborious way of getting the job done. No one wants to spend their Saturday afternoon on all fours, scrubbing their patio until a bad back sets in. A good high powered washer will easily lift up the dirt and mould that has set in any crevices over the months of use, and if you invest in a new washer, it will come in handy for plenty of jobs around the house.  However, if you don’t want to expense of a new washer, and don’t see good re-use value,  it may be cheaper to get a cleaning agency in to do the job for you, as the cost of a top end pressure washer can be a lot more than a cleaner.


Clean up

Once the washing is done and the water has dried, the dirt will settled on the tiles, having been contained in the water. The next task is to simply sweep this away, and it will be removed rather easily, without any difficulties.


Once swept, you can apply any treatment that the area requires, although it is rarely necessary. Once you’re done, simply replace all furnishings and head out to enjoy the new, clean area.

Public Domain CC0 image used courtesy of 

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