Cleaning the Terrace or Patio

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Garden

It does not matter how well the slabs have been laid, over a period of time you will get weeds appearing in the joints and they will certainly require some basic maintenance to keep them looking their best. It is true to say that maintenance will keep your paving looking good lack of it will certainly have the opposite effect!

Weeds can usually be pulled off the surface of most paving, or scraped off using a hoe or similar tool. You should keep the slabs weed free by regular brushing of the surface with a stiff broom. Weeds will grow on the accumulated dirt in the joints; they will not grow thought the slabs’ or the mortar joint, unless it has broken down of course.

With simple steps such as a basic wash-down with soapy water, all types and forms of paving will look so much better for it, although there are some types of paving slab that will need more attention.

Good results when cleaning the slab can usually be achieved with nothing more than good soapy water and a stiff brush hosing off afterwards. If the slabs are very dirty then power washing is probably the best way to get rid of the dirt and if you do not have one, they can usually be hired at a good DIY merchant or hire shop.

We do not recommend acid based cleaners on your slabs as they can ruin certain types of stonework. Avoid any cleaners that that has hydrochloric acid listed in its ingredients. They may clean your paving, but there’s also a significant risk that they’ll ruin it. This particularly applies to Indian sandstones they will be ruined!

A word of warning about power washers, used properly, they will keep paving in tip-top condition, but take care because if the high-pressure water jet is allowed to remove that critical jointing material, you will have to re-point it all.

Picture: Eva Ekeblad

How to Clean and Reseal Your Deck

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Garden, Home Improvements

Your garden decking is open to the elements all year round, so it is important to maintain the wood to ensure a long and fruitful life. It is recommended that you reseal the wood on your deck at least once a year, but if you use a professional wood seal you may be able to leave it longer between applications.

In this handy guide we will teach you how to clean and reseal your decking so it looks good for years to come.

Cleaning the deck

First thing to do is remove everything from the deck including any furniture, plant pots and other decorations what will get in the way during the cleaning process.

Sweep the decking with a hard bristled brush to get the large pieces of debris off the surface and use a thin tool like a wall scraper to remove all of the debris from in between the deck boards. Once the large pieces of debris have been removed use a hose pipe or ideally a pressure washer to give the decking a deep clean.

Some areas of your decking might have a build-up of algae or mildew, in that case use a commercial cleaning agent mixed with water to remove it. Use a hard bristled brush to get the cleaning solution into all the nooks and crannies, and rise thoroughly with a hose pipe or pressure washer to remove the cleaning solution.

Allow the decking to completely dry before resealing or staining.

Resealing and staining the deck

The choice of finish for your decking is entirely up to you. Choose to match the colour to you existing garden features or make a statement with a different colour; there are many types of stains available for decking available in a multitude of colours.

Read the label of the stain fully before applying to the decking and leave to dry for the recommended time in between coats.

Once dry you can replace all of your furniture and other items to your decking area. Sit back and relax in the knowledge that your decking is protected for another year.

Picture: freestockimages

No shortage of choice with garden rooms

Author: dpinning  //  Category: Garden, Home Improvements

Most people buy garden rooms to help create more living space or enjoy the benefits of a home office. There are many different uses for these structures and they are available in a range of styles. Garden rooms from Oeco offer customers plenty of choice.

For individuals who decide to opt for a more traditional style structure there are garden lodges. Garden lodges ordered from the company’s website, www.oecogardenrooms.co.uk are sized 3m x 3m and are less than 4m high, keeping them well within planning requirements. Adding real style to these structures is the apex roof, which is clad in tiles of western red cedar shingle. Cedar is also used to clad the walls, giving the garden lodge a delightful look.

Other options for anyone thinking of purchasing a garden room include a garden studio and a garden pod. The garden studio provides an excellent way of creating more living space and is generally far cheaper than building an extension onto the property or carrying out a basement or loft conversion.

Garden studios are manufactured and installed to the high standards that Oeco customers have come to expect. As with all garden rooms from Oeco these contemporary studios are fully insulated and are connected to mains utilities. They offer homeowners a wide choice of uses, from a space in which to relax, a room for leisure or even a place to work.

Garden pods from Oeco are an excellent option for those who do not have much outdoor space or who want to start enjoying the benefits of using a garden room without spending too much money.

Garden office buildings are the ideal option for those running a business from home. A garden office from Oeco will allow self-employed individuals to enjoy office space away from the distractions of the home, without all the problems and costs of having to commute to and from work.

Oeco Garden Studio

Laying new turf in your garden

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Garden

If you, like so many households in the UK are suffering from a patchy lawn after last year’s winter you might be thinking or laying some new turf. Many people are put off as they expect it to be time consuming, but if the preparation is done properly laying turf is easy and can really make all the difference in creating a picturesque garden.

Preparing the ground

First thing to do is remove the old turf; this can be done by under-cutting it with a spade, but if you have a larger area you might want to hire a turf stripper.

Once the turf is gone aggravate the remaining soil by digging down about 15cms and turning it over. Remove any large stones or roots from the soil then use a rake to smooth out the surface.

Push down the aggravated soil by walking over it making sure that the ground is firm but not compacted and is level.

Laying the turf

Treat the soil with some pre-turf fertiliser, this will help the new turf to root more effectively and become established quicker.

Turf comes in strips that are approximately 1 meter square so ordering enough turf is essential to finishing the job quickly. It is recommended that you lay the turf within 24 hours of its delivery or collection so make sure that you have enough time to complete the task before ordering/ buying your turf.

Start laying the turf from the boundary edge laying one row at a time; excess turf can be cut using a long bladed knife. Continue to lay the turf in rows staggering the joint between rows like brickwork and butt all of the edge up ensuring that there are no gaps in between.

Once a couple of rows have been completed use a board as a platform to work from; this will ensure that you don’t put holes in your newly laid turf.

Once the lawn has been laid it is recommended that you water it regularly until it’s established; adding some more lawn fertiliser may also speed up the process but always read the instructions before use.

After 2-3 weeks the lawn should be looking great and you can sit back and relax in your new garden.

Picture: scary_mary

The silence of a music room

Author: dpinning  //  Category: Garden, Home Improvements

The teenagers are hoping to become the next latest pop sensation and are making music at a level which that generation love to do; they are in their own dedicated room. Sitting just a few feet away are their parents who are quietly reading, but completely undisturbed, all thanks to the purpose built garden room.

An Oeco dedicated music room is an ideal place for any musician to practice in the knowledge that they will not be disturbing family or neighbours. The garden music room is built to the highest possible standard and specially soundproofed. Using soundproofing during the construction phase, efficient windows with 28mm Pilkington K argon gas filled double glazed units with warm edge super bars, the garden music is an ideal addition for music practice, tutoring or just listening to music.

All Oeco garden music studios are bespoke and installed with electrics, heating, and lighting, a room which can be used all year round and not confined to warmer months. The price you pay is for the complete agreed package and will be installed onsite by the Oeco team, one company from beginning to end, normally within seven days. From foundations, to building construction, interior fit and electrics, Oeco will give you a complete package at a fixed price.

Picture courtesy of Oeco Garden Rooms

How to install garden decking

Author: dpinning  //  Category: Garden, Home Improvements, How To Guides

A deck tidies things up and makes it easier to take care of your garden, as well as providing a space for outdoor summer dining or a play area for the kids.

Preparation

Laying a garden deck need not take much longer than a weekend, although this all depends on the size of the deck and your personal DIY experience. Before you start the job, however, make sure you have planned it out carefully and measured up the area to ensure you buy the correct number of decking packs.

Start by marking out the area to be decked with pegs and string. Make sure the ground has been cleared of any grass or weeds, then level out with a spade and lay a deck fabric over the ground to prevent weeds growing up through the timber; you might also want to consider laying concrete slabs rather than placing your decking on exposed soil.

Making the framework

The outer frame is made from wooden joists cut to the required size. The frame is then filled with the long joists, spaced at 400mm intervals. Once you have cut all the joints to size, lay them out in the correct position on a flat area of garden.

Next, construct the frame by fitting the joists together with rustproof screws. Three screws are required at the end of each joist. Use a spirit level to check everything is level.

Laying the boards

The next job is to lay the deck boards, which run at right angles to the floor joists. Start at the front of the deck and make sure the first board is flush with the outside edge of the frame. Secure the boards to the frame with rustproof screws and predrill your screw holes so as not to split the wood.

Finish the job using extra deck boards to tidy up the exposed cut ends, which should be sealed with wood preservative to avoid rot.

Picture courtesy of Mark Philpott

Creating more space with a garden lodge

Author: dpinning  //  Category: Garden, Home Improvements

Often it can be difficult to find enough space in the house for a growing family, but moving house is expensive and stressful. One excellent way of providing extra room for minimal cost is the Garden Lodge. Built in a suitable location in the garden, a Garden Lodge provides extra space, privacy and warmth. Oeco offer a range of designs which are perfect whether you need an office, extra study, music room or somewhere for the teenagers to meet their friends.

Oeco also provide bespoke designs suited to customers’ specific preferences and are happy to discuss any ideas. Each lodge is constructed from heavy duty structural grade timber, built to a very high standard, with insulation to enable them to be used during all weathers. A 3x3m Garden Lodge can be constructed to within two metres of a boundary and planning permission is not normally required under current permitted development rules.

Why not visit the website at www.oecogardenrooms.co.uk to view the stylish range of Garden Lodges available? Their apex, cedar-shingle roof and cedar timber cladding will enhance any garden as well as maximising living space.

How to plan decking in the garden

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Garden

Garden decking not only looks extremely attractive it is very useful.  However, just as with any other DIY project, anyone deciding to lay decking in the garden will need to plan carefully before starting work. 

The first thing to do is to decide where the decking is going to be placed.  Most people like direct access from the house, such as through patio or conservatory doors. 

Another thing to consider is whether the deck is to be shaded.  If so, it may be worth building an arbour over the decking.  Similarly, anyone considering building garden decking will need to know what it is going to be used for.  Will it be used as a place to relax during those long summer days or evenings?  Maybe it will be an ideal location for those outdoor dinner parties.  It is always worth having an idea how the decking is to be used as this could have a bearing on the plans being drawn up.

The size of the decking is also important.  Obviously the bigger the garden the bigger the decking can be.  But it should be remembered that a large deck will be more costly to build, so it is important that its size is within the budget. 

Before any decking can be laid it is important to remember that it may be subject to planning permission.  If the property is listed, or within a conservation area, then planning permission will be needed.  It is always worth checking with the local authority what the regulations are.

Treating fencing panels

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Garden

Purpose made fencing panels are normally treated against wood rot and insect attack when they are manufactured. However, over time these will fade and lose colour, but more importantly the actual fungicide/insecticide will also leach way and lose its effectiveness leaving the panels susceptible to problems. It is worth remembering that two natural elements that will age and degrade wood these are ultraviolet light and water. Using a wood preservative significantly increases the lifespan and maintains the natural beauty of wood. So restoring the golden colour and protecting them is not a difficult thing to do, but there are some important questions to ask yourself before covering everything with wood preservative.

By definition anything that penetrates a wood will, in some way, protect it, but the best way is to use a good proprietary wood preservative. Oil based one are the most efficient and last longer that water based ones. The oil based contain petroleum based solvents which soak into the wood, a good water based one should contain silicone or wax additives to repel water, not all do though and they will leach out quickly. There are a number of ways in which the wood preservative can be applied and a number have built in spray guns to make the job easier, but a word of caution, if you do not want to cover your own and your neighbour’s car with brown spray avoid these. Also as the preservative has a fungicide in it, your plants will not be very happy either and will die. The same can happen with a roller application too, so brush the preservative on, it takes longer, but the result is that you will get more preservative onto and into the wood and less around the home; brushes should be cleaned in white spirit.

Fixing new fence posts

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Garden

With the winter we inevitably get gale force winds, recently of course heavy snow which combined often means that already weakened fencing fall down and needs to be replaced. If ypu have firm ground which is clay based sinking new posts into the ground is often all that is required, but sandy or loam based soils means that new posts will work loose. The first thing to stress when replacing fencing posts is that they should be fully treated against wood rot and the best method is undoubtedly pressure treatment, otherwise you are wasting your money as they will soon be subject to decay.

The rule of thumb for a fence which is six feet in height, the posts should be eight feet in height and two feet of this will be set into the ground, a four foot fence will have six foot posts and again two feet in the ground, anything less and there will not be enough strength to hold up an interwoven or close boarded fence. Ideally new fence posts should be set in concrete which provides a very solid foundation and will help to make your fence and other garden structures more durable. Concrete will give your structure a much firmer footing than using post spikes would, particularly if working with light soil or areas of high wind, but bear in mind that using concrete will add a couple of days to the overall completion time of the project whilst is sets.

When setting the new post in the prepared holes it is as well to have a helper to hold the post in position whilst you put the concrete mix in which is simply coarse sand and cement mix, which you should tamp down and leave. The moisture in the ground will be sufficient to set the concrete. Most good DIY or builders merchants will sell “post mix” ready prepared.