5 Top Choices For The Garden

bi fold doors

So, you have probably finished the interior of your home and you are ready to create that outdoor space that you have always dreamed of. I think the path from the house to the garden should be a journey from the ground floor, onto decking or paving, then onto a lawned area or crazy paving to a vista that can be viewed to the very back of you property.

Here are my 5 top choices for the garden to create a wonderful outdoor experience.

  1. Bi Folding Doors – French doors are so yesterday! Bi fold doors are so popular because you can easily open these doors to open up your whole ground floor to the outside. The doors are usually almost the complete width of the back end of the house. With a low foot bar, one can effortlessly step into the garden. Also any furniture, food or drink can easily be carried in and out, from the indoor area out to your wonderful garden. Here is one of the best bi fold suppliers around.
  2. Patio Area – So what are you going to step on to when you pass through your trendy bi fold doors? You could lay a stone patio, I recommend limestone paving, it looks so natural and the Chinese version contains fossils which are so beautiful and interesting. You could go for timber decking, although that is a bit passe nowadays. If you have endless funds, Yorkshire stone paving looks fantastic and will last forever.
  3. What Are You Going To Put On the Patio Area? – there are many useful garden gizmos you could buy, I suggest metal garden furniture, try Outside Edge. You could also consider rattan garden furniture. Don’t buy wood patio furniture, it rots and need loads of treatment. Then you need to a get a BBQ, I would get really good quality and these gas barbecues from the Broil King are the best.
  4. The Best Lawn To Plant – you could plant seeds or buy grass turf. For ease and quickness go for the turf, remember to water regularly and put the turf down in the spring. These guys offer a great national delivery service for rolled grass turf.
  5. The Vista – you need height for your vista. Plant mature trees or tall shrubs at the back of your garden so the the eye follows a natural rise to the edge of your garden. This is the principle that the famous English garden landscaper Capability Brown used with such great effect in the 18th century. Go to RuskinsTrees for great quality.

Good luck and you had better invite me round when your outdoor area is finished!

Japanese Maples

japanese maple

This is the time of year for the Japanese Maples to shine and they never fail to disappoint!
Maples are magnificent trees providing the garden with the most exceptional display of foliage and form throughout the year, peaking in October/November when the first leaves fall, when their colours change, giving the most spectacular shows of Autumn colour.

Japanese Maples

The Acer palmatum is generally a large shrub or small tree. They exhibit a wide range of forms including weeping and fastigiate and their leaf shape are varying forms of palmate, some incredibly ornate. They are at their best in a moist but well drained soil, sheltered from cold winds.
From specialist nurseries you can buy the most exceptional range of Japanese Maples, including dissectum, ranging from red, purple, green, yellow/pink and variegated.

Japanese Maples

These plant sizes also start from smaller sizes right up to an impressive large Acer palmatum at 2.5metres height by 1.5 metres wide in a 1000L pot at £590.00.
Acer palmatum is certainly a wonderful choice of specimen tree for your garden whether planted alone to enhance a focal point or planted amongst other plants such as dwarf conifers, Himalayan Birch and Hibiscus to create a Japanese feel.

The maple tree has a distinctive shaped leaf which of course the symbol used on the Canadian flag. The process of extracting the sweet maple syrup can be done with most maple species. However, there are three main types of maple tree that are mainly farmed to make the wonderful syrup. The first tree is the acer saccharum which produces a sweet sap as the latin name suggests. Then there is much use made of the black maple, mainly for cooking or sweetening ready made foods. Finally the red version of the maple is bled for its very sweet sap. Did you know that only one of these maple trees will make just one bottle of the golden sickly liquid!

Chimonanthus – Winter Sweets

Chimonanthus praecox

There are certain plants which are at their best when they have lost their leaves during the Winter including Hamamelis (witch hazel) Cornus (dogwood) and Corylus avellana contorta (twisted hazel). Chimonanthus praceox is one such plant, coming into its own from December-February.

Chimonanthus – Winter Sweets

Chimonanthus – Winter Sweets are a genus containing six species of both deciduous and evergreen shrubs. It is a vigorous, upright shrub which is best left unpruned as it matures. They are easily grown and are happiest planted against a sunny wall. They succeed in well drained soil and are extremely content in chalky ground.
The Chimonanthus praecox produces yellow flowers stained purple at the centre which exude the most fragrant of scents during the Winter months.
I think this would be a stunning addition to any Winter garden especially planted where those delicate flowers and intoxicating scent can truely be best appreciated. Please click on this website for available sizes and prices.

The ‘lantern tree,’ is our chosen plant this month and looks breathtaking at the moment. It is displayed amongst Himalayan Birch, red Acers, Bamboo & Azaleas here at Dyffryn and fits into a Japanese theme perfectly.
Crinodendron is an upright, evergreen shrub with narrow, dark green, glossy foliage. Hanging, lantern like scarlet flowers are produced in early summer.
It prefers a moist, well drained acid soil in a shaded spot away from direct sun and cold winds.

As an evergreen shrub, Crinodendron is a wonderful garden addition but the delicate, scarlet lanterns which hang from it during early Summer make it a definite must have plant.

I love plants that surprise you!

The Feijoa at first glance is a statuesque, graceful shrub with green grey, rounded foliage. I thought that it would be at home in a bright, warm border providing a nice backdrop of foliage for the lower, brighter herbaceous perennials..but no!

Very small grey ‘Peonie’ like buds began to appear in early July, gradually revealing the most exquisite sub tropical like flowers! Its flowers’ form and colour, although slightly different, remind me of the Passion Flower, screaming of exotic lands far far away!

The ‘Pineapple guava’ is a large shrub and can be hardy when planted in a sunny, sheltered position. The foliage is grey green with a white, soft underside. The flowers have fleshy crimson and white petals and a central grouping of crimson stamens. Fruits can also be produced after a hot summer. Both the flower petals and fruits can be consumed and have a rich, aromatic flavour.

The beautiful Feijoa is best appreciated on a terrace or deck as a Specimen, planted amongst other plants with sub tropical foliage and flowers such as Passifora, Fatsia, Bamboo or Mimosa! Plant them and lay back on a warm Summer evening in your own exotic private paradise!

Planting Climbers Advice

Planting Climbers Advice

The concept of the Instant garden, transforming empty spaces into mature oasis’, has been welcomed by our readers with open arms. The use of mature climbers takes this concept one step further, giving a garden those special and effective finishing touches.

Planting Climbers Advice

Climbers used cleverly, can create stunning results, immediately transforming hard architectural garden structures such as pergolas and archways into something less obvious and altogether more beautiful. They can be trained around doorways and up ugly, exterior house walls, giving your home a completely different feel.

There are both evergreen and deciduous climbers, hardy and more tender but providing you have a suitable site, are worth the extra effort!
Passiflora caerulea, with its rampant evergreen foliage and sub tropical looking purple and blue scented flowers and the deciduous Campsis Madame Galen with its beautiful orange-red trumpet flowers, require a sheltered, sunny, south facing position, and if given this will reward you with a spectacular display of colour and form.

Planting Climbers Advice

Parthenocissus-‘Virginia Creeper,’is deciduous but produces dense foliage and wonderful Autumn colour and the evergreen Hedera-Ivy are not ‘pretty’ climbers but invaluable for covering bare exterior walls as they are extremely vigorous in full sun or the deepest shade.
The deciduous Wisteria sinensis, with its lilac grape like flower bunches and intoxicating scent and the evergreen Trachelospermum jasminoides with its sweet jasmine smelling, small white flowers, if planted in a warm position over an arch or pergola, will overwhelm your senses with their hypnotic fragrance.
More shady positions can also benefit from sweet scented evergreen climbers in the form of Clematis armandii, a rampant climber, producing sweet smelling, white flowers in early March and Lonicera japonica Halliana, the evergreen honeysuckle, producing extremely fragrant white then yellow flowers.

Planting Climbers Advice

You can always mix plant your Climbers for all year round appeal. For example, Wisteria sinensis with Clematis armandii or Jasmine officinale and Campsis.
Whether it’s scent, colour or screening you want, our Mature Climbers will help you to create a different ambience within your garden.

Potentilla Lovely Pink

Potentilla Lovely Pink

While our Summer has been slowly washed down the proverbial drain by the never ending rain, I hope your desire to get out into the garden has not been lost. There are a few rare floral treasures that can pull us back from the brink of despair and raise our spirits, ensuring that we still continue to don our wellingtons!

Potentilla Lovely Pink is exactly that – lovely. I have always liked the happy, confident yellow and orange colours produced by this wonderful shrub. The flower of the Potentilla Lovely Pink is much more subtle and almost embarrassed by its prettiness.

Potentilla Lovely Pink

Potentilla is a hardy, deciduous shrub which shrinks back into the border every Autumn/Winteradopting a twiggy appearance. It emerges very slowly in Spring, gradually coming to life and then hops, skips and jumps into July with vigorous growth and an abundance of bud.

The flowers are pink semi-doubles and completely cover this hardy shrub. It has a globe like habit and attractive dark green foliage. It will continue to flower throughout July and August.

Potentilla Lovely Pink

Potentilla Lovely Pink is a small, compact shrub which will appreciate an early Spring cut and shape prior to its new Spring time growth.

Bring some fresh, dewey flora into your garden and let its bashful innocence charm you outside, forgetting all about the grey clouds and rainy days.

How To Keep Cast Aluminium Garden Furniture Looking Like New

I like to publish this article from time to time. We have published numerous posts in the past that into the care and maintenance of cast aluminium or rattan garden furniture, nevertheless, as with any blog these posts take down the page as we publish new material making it a little harder to search for.

Although, they are ranked and appear in Google searches, etc., but it is good to reconsider important topics. To make the things pertinent, we can add a new tip that can be extracted, or talk about the new cleaning products that we found etc.

The care and maintenance of outdoor furniture are very significant. Our furniture is an investment you want to see last for many summer to come, not replacing it after a few years. And believe me, it will last. With a little regular TLC, cast aluminium garden furniture could have a lifespan of fifteen, maybe twenty years or more. It is built to resist nature nothing can throw, and washing from time to time with a little washing liquid and warm water, followed by a thorough rinse and dry with a soft towel is all that is necessary. Maybe a bit of car wax, but we will come back later in the post

Keep your cast aluminium garden furniture looking as best as the first day you purchase it

  • The main method of keeping our case aluminium fused garden furniture like a brand new is really common sense, but you’d be amazed the number of times customer have made mistakes in the past. Metal garden furniture is planned to be outdoor, but everything that is exposed to Mother Nature, is susceptible to elements, bird droppings, accumulation of dirt in general, etc. So the protection is the key. Unlike wood, for example, you cannot simply sand and re-paint, but you should not do it. The aluminium casting will not rust or rot, end cover will provide all needs for cast aluminium protection, and no oxidation. It is designed to be outdoor in all weather conditions; however, some simple steps will make it look like new for many years to come.

 

  • We have already mentioned keeping it clean by washing it with hot water and soap. It is simply to avoid abrasive sponges / brushes or hazardous chemical cleaners etc. Treat your furniture exactly the way you would treat your car. In fact, I regularly use a car cleaning kit to clean my furniture. The car shampoo is impeccable, a suede is a great way to help dry while light (and I must insist that you need a very small amount on a dry cloth) a good car shield / Polish wax is ideal to add a little more protection and restore the brightness of our furniture.

 

  • Be sure to keep an eye on the stones bumps in the paint of our furniture. This can be the beginning of the most serious problems. They appear more frequently on the legs of chairs and tables, when pulled through the stone courtyards.

 

  • Easy to repair, all you need is our paint retouching, and the following video provides a step by step guide to tackle this simple task. So it is easy to do, but very important you do when you see a chip. If you need a touch-up kit, please contact us.

 

  • As our furniture has a slightly structured finish, an alternative to car wax, which may be a bit difficult to apply on some of the rooms, it is possible to periodically apply some oil to the surface after cleaning. As well as waxing the car, it will prevent dirt from accumulating faster and restore the lustre. I find it a little easier to apply and shine up than the car wax.

 

  • Car shampoo that has a wax element in it, is also good for use. This will also help make the furniture zero of moisture and dirt, and give it a nice shine. Just keep in mind with baby oil, you can make the surface greasier if you use too much, so be careful. If you are not satisfied with the result, then you can wash it with warm water and soap.

 

  • It should also be noted here that the level of care required always depends on the condition of the furniture. What I’m talking about here is a proactive plan for newly purchased parts. If you have neglected your outdoor furniture for one or two seasons and you need a deeper cleaning then you may need to invest in some specialty products. If you always use it on the odd day of sunshine, you seem to get it, then it might be best to leave it for a few months and do this after summer. However, a quick option to get all the dirt removed is the removal of the engine. Always use the least power and try it on the bottom of a seat that to test. I would not use a washing machine on my set, but some people do.
  • If the accumulation of dirt, etc., is not so bad, then you can try to wash it with soap and water, to which you can add a little vinegar or lemon juice. This can aid to cut through the dirt without damaging the finish. Most of the water is slightly alkaline anyway, so anything you do, do not add TSP, ammonia or any cleaning soda / crystal which can actually damage the surface of the furniture.

 

  • To make your cast aluminum furniture be at its best, you can store or cover your furniture when not in use for an extended period of time. This is really the best way to keep your outdoor furniture like brand new. To be honest, I picked up a cover from Amazon and spent more time on furniture at that time. Summer 2016 has been so pretty pants so far. But all the jokes aside, when I’m not using my set, I pull the lid to keep the bird poo etc. outside. The Tarp style cover was only 20 pounds or more, so it is money well spent. That means I have to clean it up when I want to use it. I can remove the lid and set the table for a family barbecue. Indeed, my set is about 2 years old, but does not have space in the garage for you, so it sits outside in the garden all year round with only a protective cover. I only cleaned it once in all this time, and to be honest without cleaning it was more just to get off the cobwebs. I just give it a quick wash with a little soapy water as we clean the rest of the yard!

Dos and Don’ts of Patio Design

furniture and patios

January is a great month to let your creative inspiration run riot and come up with a radical overhaul of the garden.  Here are the major considerations to tick off before you embark on the construction of a new patio.

  • You usually find the terrace right next to a property.  However, it is not always sensible to have it adjoining the home.  I have lived in houses where the outdoor dining area was adjacent to the west wall of the cottage on an exposed site.  This meant that there was no protection from the elements and we were not able to enjoy sitting outside on any day when there was a strong breeze.  In the height of summer, the lack of shelter turned the patio into an oven to be avoided on very hot days.   For most of us, locating the dining area somewhere sheltered could well be the most useful option, where you might enjoy some drinks with friends of an evening.

 

  • This leads me onto point to – if the perfect site is a trek away from the kitchen, there’s a good chance that you simply won’t go there as often as you might.  Consider the access – you are going to need to be able to reach it effortlessly with a tray of glasses or some coffee mugs.  If you are a super-entertainer, making it easy to reach from indoors will be paramount.  Unless you are in the realms of those who plan to invest in an outdoor kitchen – but that’s another league, and you’d be unlikely to be reading this blog…

 

  • Having earmarked a good position, the next thing on the list is the outline – what shape and size will it be?  Start with a list of what you are going to use it for, and what furniture will be on it, and then design around that.  Garden furniture websites usually have details of what dimensions suit a certain set.  As a rule, circular sets work well on square plots, oval and rectangular may be better on a longer thinner site, and trendy corner sets are designed for the obvious.   Will it be a mere table and chairs, or lounge set; will you need to incorporate a barbecue or some other gadget?

 

  • You also need to think about what materials you will use for this garden structure.  The sharp edges or corners of patio can be softened with low walls or curved stone paving, or clever planting.  The trick here is to reference the style of the overall garden if you want a harmonious result.   A few planters will help marry this formal area into the larger landscape.  This is the time to consider how the patio will be lit.  The options for outdoor lighting are endless but ignore this vital element at your peril.

 

  • And the boring bit.  Whenever you considering hard standing – whatever material you use, you must consider how the surface will drain.  An effective drainage system will prevent build-up of algae. If you need plumbing advice for outdoor taps etc please try our plumbing category.

 

How To Clean Mould Growth From Shower Tiles

mouldy tiles

The Problem

Wet and steamy conditions are ideal for fungal spores to grow and the shower cubicle is just the place where they grow, which is what mould on the tiles is. Why do they choose your shower tiles then, the answer is the grout that is used as a waterproof sealant to fill the cracks between individual tiles. This mixture of cement and sand and is what is needed as a very effective barrier against water seepage. Over time the waterproofing capability of the grout diminishes with constant exposure to moisture.

The way that this is treated will depend upon how long you mould has been forming, it can be removed from shower tile grout with both natural cleaners and traditional household bleach. In very severe cases it may be necessary to rake out the old grout and re-grout this with a new waterproof grouting mixture.

Method

  1. There are a number of proprietary spray cleaners that are very effective, but it is possible to clean the tiles using simple household products. The first thing to do is to clean the tiles thoroughly using hot water and a scrubbing brush, use the shower head to rinse off the mildew.
  2. Now you should mix some baking soda, about half a cup to a bucket of water, baking soda won’t harm your plumbing or tile but it will dry our your hands, so make sure to wear gloves when scrubbing. Make a paste using some baking soda poured on to the shower tray and then dip your scrub brush into the baking soda/water mixture and scrub the tile grout completely, working the paste into the grout.
  3. Allow this to remain on the affected grout for at least an hour, remember if it has been affected for a long time the mildew could be hard to remove. Rinse a small area to check how effective it has been and if necessary rinse all of it off and reapply more paste solution, it will not harm your grout to leave this solution on overnight.
  4. If this does not seem to have worked effectively, you can soak some paper towels with white vinegar and place these wet cloths directly on the most stubborn mildew stains. Let the vinegar sit for 15 minutes and scrub the mildew spots. If the spots still prove stubborn, pour vinegar directly onto the mildew stains and scrub. Rinse and repeat until the mildew is removed. If all fails it is possible to try household bleach, this has been known to work well, but remember if you are using bleach in a spray bottle, ensure that the room is fully ventilated, allowing the bleach to work for no less than fifteen minutes.

Click here for some great tile and bathroom cleaning products.

How To Remove The Lid On A Push Button Toilet

automatic toilet

A Silly Subject? Wait Until It Happens To You!

It might seem like a silly question, but think about – how do you remove the lid on a push button toilet? There are no obvious screws and it doesn’t just lift off. You could do damage to yourself and the cistern by trying to force it up, so instead read this simple way to get it off quickly and easily.

You should first check a manufacturer’s guide if you’re unsure, but most push button cistern lids lift in one of two ways. First try gently pressing down the outer ring of the button and turning it anticlockwise in order to remove the button. If this doesn’t work, use the edge of a flat screwdriver to gently prise the button upwards. This should reveal one or more screws.

You now need to remove this screw. This will allow you to lift the chamber that surrounds the flushing button. If it is a little stiff, it can be prised off with a screwdriver as before. It is then very simple to lift the whole lid away from the cistern.

Replacing it is simply a matter of putting the lid back on, replacing the chamber and the screw, then finally the button and the ring surrounding it.

  • check manufacturers guide
  • press down on the outer ring of the seat button
  • remove screw and lift chamber
  • replace the chamber and put back crew, button and ring

There easy and no huge plumbers bill!