How to clean a patio

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Garden, How To Guides

Not only does a clean patio look better when they are kept clean, it is less likely to become wet and slippery in the winter. One of the first things you should do to avoid a patio becoming dirty is to regularly sweep it as it is less likely to collect dirt which in turn encourages moss and slime.

Weeds between the paving stone should be taken out with a knife or a proprietary weed killer will deal with the roots. A really effective way of cleaning the paving slabs is to use a power washer, although they can use quite a lot of water and you will certainly have to use a stiff yard brush to remove some of the more stubborn stains. A more water friendly way is to use one of the numerous stone cleaning chemicals although some scrubbing with the brush may still be necessary. A word of caution, always try a small test area first before embarking on a full scale clean as some materials might react with the chemical, Rinse the chemical away with a hose when you are satisfied it has worked.

If you are feeling particularly energetic, then a strong solution of laundry detergent and a stiff brush should work suing a hose to wash away the detergent when you have finished. Care should be taken when using a stone cleaning chemical or laundry detergent if you have plants in a border close by.

Garden Pods from Oeco

Author: dpinning  //  Category: Garden, Home Improvements

Need extra space to work from home? The latest innovation from Oeco Garden Rooms is the Garden Pod. This smaller Garden Room is ideal for those with limited outdoor space and budget, who would still like space to work away from the distractions of their main home; a stylish and economical solution to the need for an extra room. The Pod’s attractive timber cladding will complement all gardens and is both durable and resistant to decay. UPVC doors and windows ensure warmth and security at all times of year.

Built to the same high specifications as larger Timber Garden Rooms from Oeco, the Pod is available in two sizes, 2x2m and 2x3m. It can be located to within 0.5m of any boundary and planning is not normally required under current development rules. In addition, special concrete foundations and heavy duty steel feet ensure a Garden Pod can even be installed on slightly uneven ground.

There is a wide range of bespoke features available to meet any budget and specific requirements. Visit www.oecogardenrooms.co.uk for a complete list.

Home office – in the garden

Author: dpinning  //  Category: Garden, Home Improvements

It is frustrating to have to keep converting one’s precious office space into a guest room or play area. Files and office equipment need to be stored away on each occasion and much time is wasted having to maintain this process.

Important work space

There are many people embracing the ‘work from home’ concept as transport costs soar.  With technological improvements on internet speeds, and the ability to communicate virtually with co-workers, the need for commuting to the office every day is lessening.

If a dedicated work area is called for, a purpose-built garden office from Oeco can be erected in the garden in just a few days.  Planning permission is not usually required for this category of building.

Productive privacy

Away from all the distractions of the home, the workday can continue uninterrupted.  With the warming properties of the PIR rigid thermal insulation panels used in this structure, heating costs will be reduced to a minimum.

When five o’clock arrives, lock up and take a short stroll up the pathway.  Without the stress of traffic or weather, arriving back home will be a truly carefree experience.

Choosing the right fencing for your garden

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Garden

Fences are one of the most popular forms of boundary markers and can be far cheaper than building a wall.  With regular treatment fences can last a long time – but what is the right type of fence for your garden?

Closeboard fencing

This is made by nailing overlapping feather board strips to horizontal rails.  Although cedar is the best quality, softwood is the usual choice because of its price.  Although an expensive fence, it is strong, attractive and is very difficult to climb ensuring that nobody gets in and the kids and pets cannot get out.

Interlap fencing

These are made by nailing square-edged boards to the rails fixing them alternately on one side then the other.  If you want privacy they can be overlapped closer together or they can go further apart for a more decorative look.  If you have a windy garden these are ideal as the wind passes through without causing too much pressure.

Picket fencing

Seen as a traditional ‘village green’ type fence picket fences are often used in houses where there is no need for a high fence.  They can be quite difficult to build by hand and most are sold as ready-made panels in either plastic or softwood.

Post and chain fencing

These fences are made by linking metal or plastic chains between short posts in the ground. 
Offering no security they are most useful to stop people inadvertently wandering onto your garden.

Concrete fencing

These offer high security and low maintenance.  Interlocking sections are placed one on top of the other and supported by concrete fence posts.  Despite not being the most attractive of fences, suitable climbing plants can help alleviate problems with the aesthetics.

With this much variety, you just need to determine your priorities, price, security or the way it looks.

Ridding your garden of pests

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Garden

Garden pests can take all of your hard work and destroy it in a matter of days.  Some can be difficult to see, which means they cause damage before you know they are there.  Learn how to spot pests and deal with them quickly to protect your valuable plants.

Birds

If you scatter seeds, birds will try to eat them and if you are growing food, birds will peck at it before you can harvest it.  You can deter them by placing some garden netting over the plants. You can also hang something to scare them away, like old CDs hung from fishing line.  If you are going to add a bird feeder to your garden, place it away from the plants.

Earwigs

While not dangerous in small numbers, earwigs can damage immature plants if you have an infestation.  Place hollowed out fruit near your garden to attract them and keep them away from your plants.

Slugs or snails

Slugs and snails are not picky.  They will eat most garden plants and they prefer the younger ones.  If you can, buy a slug trap and fill it with juice.  You can also stop them with slug pellets, but these can be dangerous to children and wildlife, so choose the right ones.

Aphids

Aphids, also called greenfly, are hard to see.  You can tell you have a problem if shoots and leaves begin to curl.  Adding French marigold or lavender to the garden can keep them away. You can also protect young plants with a fine garden mesh.

Essentials for a garden studio

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Garden

One of the most exciting attributes of an Oeco garden studio is the fact that it can be used as a multipurpose, outdoor mini-home throughout the year, regardless of the weather. The wide variety of choices in innovatively designed garden studios allows you to select one that can be customised and installed to your specific requirements to fit in with your individual lifestyle.

Garden room construction is a task that needs to conform to internationally acceptable building standards. This is why you should research reputable manufacturers who meet these standards and even exceed them. A good option to consider would be Oeceo’s garden office buildings and timber garden rooms, which are manufactured and delivered to extremely high standards.    

Cost efficiency is achieved by undertaking in-house production of garden studios, which ensures that quality is maintained throughout the entire process of manufacture and delivery. This, in turn, saves time and unnecessary expense.  

An Oeco garden office is fully functional and self-sufficient, featuring telephone, internet and electricity connectivity, in addition to various other fittings, depending on the purpose and scope of the office. The possibility of adding conference rooms and changing rooms, etc can also be accommodated.

Adding value to your home with a Garden Room

Author: dpinning  //  Category: Garden, Home Improvements

Extending a house or changing the interior layout can prove quite a challenge, as it represents a fundamental change to the original architect’s design. It is also a daunting prospect to have builders in the house for several months.

Building separately, in the garden, offers an interesting alternative to consider. An Oeco Garden Office can be used for many purposes, not least to add a useful and pleasant extra social space to the home. Whilst Oeco Garden Offices are fully functioning interior spaces suitable for use all year round, they can be built relatively quickly, and may not even require planning permission.

A garden room can be built in any suitable place in the garden and includes concrete and steel foundations which can compensate for non-level ground. A solid, flat surface is not necessarily required.

A look at the website for Oeco garden rooms and look at their refreshing and practical approach which includes plenty of relevant technical information. Details regarding ‘the build’ are available through a short and informative video clip. 

How to establish and maintain a wildflower meadow

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Garden, How To Guides

A wildflower meadow can be an attractive and easy to maintain feature that will improve any garden for its owner and for the wildlife that visits it.

Sadly, many efforts are blighted by invasive ‘weeds’ or through garden birds eating seed before it is properly established. To deal with weeds, it is important to bear two things in mind. Firstly, better quality soils provide more opportunity for invasive weeds to grow in the garden so sometimes it may be necessary to remove topsoil to reduce soil quality and secondly, prepare the ground properly to minimise weed growth. Use a weed killer such as glyphosphate to destroy all vegetation on the site and hire a rotavator to turn the soil over. It is advisable to repeat this process at least twice, once straight after the first application and again once weeds have started to re-establish in the area. Ensure that the soil is very fine and well drained by raking it thoroughly. It’s a good idea to remove some of the soil in a wheelbarrow and homogenise with the seed mix to ensure even sowing. It is often recommended that only a small concentration of seeds per m2 should be used but recently it is believed that a higher concentration of seeds lessens the likelihood of weeds and grasses establishing themselves in the meadow.

Ideally, seeds should be sown from March through to May or, at the very latest, over the autumn. It is unwise to expect instant results as most meadow gardens only come to fruition in their second year. Maintenance is extremely easy because, by definition, it is a ‘wild’ garden but it is advisable to mow the meadow several times a year; regularly in the early part of the year, never over summer and once before autumn to allow a second period of flowering. 

Building a pond

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Garden, How To Guides

A rough guide to building a pond:

•    The hole for the pond should preferably be rectangular and around 45cm deep, with 60cm long pegs around its sides with 2cm thick retaining boards screwed in to them.  The hole should be framed with a timber border screwed into the pegs.  

•    Make sure all edges of the hole are level using a spirit level.

•    Build up one side of the pond with soil to provide a gradual sloping effect from a deep end to a shallow one. Make sure that no point is so high that potted plants would protrude from the water’s surface.

•    Use a durable sheet of material to cover the hole, which acts as an underlay, then on top of this lay down the pond liner.  Ensure all stones have been removed from the soil and remove any possible sharp clothing that may puncture the material, such as shoes or jewellery.

•    Next step is to fill the pond.   Ideally, this will be from rain water collected in a water drum but if tap water is used, this must be left a week before adding wildlife, to allow the chemicals to evaporate.

•    Trim the sheet and underlay, leaving about 15-20cm extra from the edge, folding over corners.  Four strips of decking should then be drilled to the sides of the pond and cut to size so that they form a rectangular frame.

•    Now it is time to add wildlife and encourage the formation of this mini ecosystem within the garden.  If fish are to be added, then specialist plants called oxygenators should also be in the water to make the habitat suitable.   The most popular fish for ponds are goldfish, being hardy and visually pleasing.  For larger ponds, Koi fish can be considered; a rough guide is 60 sq cm for every 1cm of fish, although a minimum of 1.5 sq metres is recommended to house 1 Koi.

Garden rooms – contributing toward a healthy lifestyle

Author: dpinning  //  Category: Garden, Home Improvements

According to research carried out by the Royal Institute of British Architects, the average UK home is quite small. This causes problems for homeowners who struggle to accommodate all their belongings in the space available, sometimes forcing them to take extreme measures. It is in this context that they might wish to consider garden offices, which are a great way to overcome day-to-day storage problems. Setting up a multi-purpose garden studio can be an effective way to eliminate cluttered corners from your home.

In addition to adding value to your home, a garden studio also provides an eco-friendly zone in which to spend time and relax. One of the great features of garden rooms is that they are extremely flexible and can be used to reflect your personality while also fulfilling a range of practical requirements.

In addition, they are constructed using completely natural and organic materials, such as sustainable timber, sedum, sun pipes and renewable energy sources. It is hardly surprising therefore that garden offices with sedum roofs are being looked at with a great deal of interest by working professionals, home business owners, architects, artists, photographers and chiropractors, among others.

Learning how a garden office can meet your daily requirements is an excitingly creative process that can go a long way to eliminating sources of pollution from your home.

There are a number of creative ways in which a garden office can be utilised; for example, they can be converted into an outdoor, environmental-friendly gym that enables you to take all the equipment out of your bedroom. Office/Studios provide another creative way in which to store all your work-related tools and equipment. In addition to creating a professional space, garden rooms can also be used as a place in which to relax. An unwinding zone allows you to escape from the monotonies of work and soak in some fresh air and recharge your batteries, whenever you feel the need.