Create A Garden That’s Good Enough To Eat

One of the most practical things that you can do with your garden is to grow fruit and vegetables in it. There are a number of reasons why this is such a great use of the space; you are saving money, giving yourself a practical hobby and having fun at the same time. If you have never done this before, it can be a little tricky to know where to start, but don’t worry; this article is here to give you a helping hand with some of the basics involved.

Gather Your Equipment

You are going to need a host of specific gardening tools and equipment before you go any further. And you are better off getting some good-quality tools as this will make the jobs ahead of you so much easier. To start off with, you will need a trowel for weeding and digging small holes, some gardening gloves for protection, a watering can, a wheelbarrow, and a rake. Shears and a pitchfork are also going to come in handy.

Markus Spiske

Choose a Location Where Your Garden Will Grow

The three most common types of garden can be comfortably split up into three categories. A traditional garden is the most obvious type, which utilises the space that you have already. You ideally should choose a site that gains a minimum of six hours of sunlight and is south-facing. If you have a garden which has poor soil (or no soil at all) you could start a container garden. Your third choice is a raised-bed garden which is a manageable choice which gives you control over the soil and better weed control.

Decide Which Plants to Grow

Choosing which fruit and vegetables that you want to grow depends very much on what appeals most to your taste, the space that you have available, and the conditions in your area. If you are struggling for inspiration, it is worth checking out a grow your own fruit resource or speaking to the specialists at your local garden centre. Many basic vegetables are relatively simple to plant and look after, and you can get a lot of the information that you need on the back of the packet.

Prepare Your Soil

Your soil is the lifesource of your fruit and vegetables, so you need to make sure that it is as high-quality as possible. This means it having a few different positive characteristics. First of all, it should be well-aerated so that air circulates through it well. It should also be free of obstructions like stones. Finally, it needs to be rich in organic matter like compost and aged manure. You can test the acidity of your soil in a straightforward manner by buying a simple test, and adding different substances depending on the result. Everything else comes back to how well you maintain the soil through your gardening habits.

Follow these simple steps and you will give yourself the basis from which you can grow fruit and vegetables that the whole family can enjoy.      

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7 Easy Ways to Create More Garden Space

With the promise of a long, hot summer, it is no wonder that we want to create more space in the garden to enjoy the summer sunshine. If space is limited, you need these great hints and tips to create more garden space.

#1 Choose easy to store furniture

No matter what furniture you choose, style or material, make sure it can be easily stored away to give you more room in your garden for other activities.

For example, if you invested in an expensive piece of garden furniture, you don’t want your children using it as part of their outside tennis or football matches!

From cubed dining sets to loungers on wheels, there are all kinds of easy to store options. Rattan garden furniture is easy to store, for example, because it is lightweight, easy to move and yet robust. And none of this compromises on style either.

#2 ‘Lines of beauty’

In art theory, there is a concept known as lines of beauty. Straight lines, such as pathways, have their place but are considered formal and to the eye, absolute.

A serpent line – a pathway in the smaller garden that gently curves and weaves – distracts the eye. It is a peaceful shape, and one that invites the eye – and you! – to meander gently along its path.

This ‘line of beauty’ is used in all kinds of artistic applications, from paintings to sculptures. The gentler the curves, the more pleasant we find it. And in the smaller garden, an off-set or curvy path gives it interest as well as an illusion of more space.

#3 Clever planting

You want space in the garden to entertain, for the kids to play, to lounge around enjoying the sun and to dine al fresco too, complete with BBQing area.

That’s a lot to fit into a large garden but when your borders are closer than you would like, making the most of the space can seem impossible.

Thus, we stick to the three borders and large lawn, assuming that this expanse of lush green grass is ideal for everyone and everything you want to do.

With clever planting, you can create an interesting landscape that is both garden and playground. And this means repeating elements.

On your next trip to the plant nursery, just as you would repeat key elements in an interior room, do the same in the garden.

Choose two main colours, using a third as a surprising accent or choose the same plant, but different subspecies such as the variegated leaf Hosta and the large, bold leaf Hosta.

Pull one border wider into the garden or create a curved edge, similar to that we talked of for paths.

#4 Plant vertical or in tiered pots

When you don’t want to claim any more soil for the border or have a small courtyard garden, planting in pots is the solution to bringing colour and wildlife into your garden.

Introduce more, however, by planting vertically;

  • A garden wall is easily created. Use a tiered ladder shelving unit or fix lengths of rail onto a wall and use pots with hooks (you can buy systems online) and plant a green, garden wall.

  • Used tiered pots or strawberry containers where you can pack more in and add colour and lush greenery to your small garden.

#5 Add a focal point

We assume that a focal point is only needed in a large garden but it is just as important in a smaller garden too.

Keep it subtle with a water feature, for example, well-placed in the far corner, allowing the eye to roam across the rest of the garden. Or make the al fresco dining area and your rattan garden furniture the focal point of the summer garden.

#6 Mirrors

We know that mirrors in a small room make a big difference and they can in the small garden too.

Hang wall mirrors or lean them against a wall, allowing plants to cover the edge but not obscure it completely. Use indoor glass mirrors with care, especially if you have children running around.

#7 Soften the boundary

When a fence or wall signifies the smallness of your garden you either embrace this or try to soften its impact. From vertical garden walls to growing climbing plants up the fence boundary, there are many ways of softening the impact of such a fixed feature.

Clever planting, great use of colour and employing some lesser known tricks like the ‘line of beauty’ pathway can instantly transform a small garden. Try it and see!

Rattan Direct is an online retailer specialising in the highest quality rattan garden furniture from sustainable sources.

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How Gardening Can Help Your Child Learn

So many children now spend more time indoors using technology than going outside so we need to let them know that there is fun to be had outdoors too – and you don’t need to go too far, just your very own garden. There are some great ways in how gardening can help your kids to learn and leading top soil retailers, Compost Direct have more to tell us:

Early-years development

Playing in the garden is a great way to develop early-years skills. Messy play is a great way to improve sensory and cognitive development and Olivia loves nothing more than plonking herself down in the grass and having a root around the garden. There are so many advantages to messy play and how this unstructured form of activity can really help your child develop so I am keen to encourage it. This can be done in the garden with sand, water or even mud – if your child is like Olivia though, they may try to eat everything! You need to break down the usual rules that your child might face, such as being restricted to a play mat or not being too disruptive with toys. Let them draw shapes with different (child-friendly) tools and use their fingers in various materials —help your  children to build up their finger and arm muscles, which is useful for when they come to hold a pen.

There are plenty of new textures that a child can become exposed to from spending time in the garden. Letting your child come into contact with mud, a softer material, lets children broaden their knowledge and allows them to compare and understand new textures, aside from the rigid structure of their plastic and wooden toys.

General learning

Why not do homework outdoors? After all, your child has probably been indoors doing school work all day!  Make it easy for your child to work outdoors by purchasing a gazebo or having a table and chairs outdoors where homework can be done. 85% of teachers reported that they saw a positive impact on their pupils’ behaviour when they were taught outside. In addition to this, 92% of pupils said that they preferred their lessons to be outdoors. I know I used to love having lessons outside!

In a study between pupils who learnt indoors and those who learnt outdoors, those who were outside were found to have a better understanding of their responsibility to care for the environment.

About healthy eating

Research has also discovered that children who grow their own food are more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables or express a preference for that food. This can be a great way to improve their diet and get them outdoors. Jack has always loved to grow his own – and when my father was alive, they used to have a whole garden full of goodies that they were growing. You may remember previous pics of Jack digging up the potatoes he had grown.

Easy fruit and vegetables to grow include: strawberries, cabbage, radishes and potatoes. You can decide on the size of your patch and watch as your child runs outside to see what has grown that week.

Jobs for little helpers

Children often love to have some responsibility and help out in the home or garden. Give them some tasks to do daily, or even weekly, and it’s likely that they’ll start to look forward to spending time in the garden. Jack always wants to be a little helper so why not get your child to help in the garden?

One simple task to get children outdoors could be to grow a sunflower. Each day your child can head outdoors to see how their plant is growing and practise some maths skills through measuring. This can be exciting for a child, as often the sunflower will grow taller than them!  Jack grew one before!

If you are mowing the lawn or potting plants, why not get your child involved with keeping the garden tidy. Let them trim the edges of your garden, water the plants or do some de-weeding — it’s a nice way to spend time together, too. If the weather brightens up, guess what we are doing this weekend!

What do you do in the garden to aid your child’s learning?

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How to enjoy the al fresco life

The warm, sunny weather has arrived and it’s time to start heading outdoors more. Did you know that almost two-fifths of people in the UK have changed the way they use their gardens? 35% of those asked said they have transformed it into a place for relaxing and 11% had even made theirs into an extra living space!

So, how can you make your back garden the best place to enjoy summer sun in 2018? Check out these top tips to find out…

The best garden furniture for 2018

A stunning environment that you want to spend time in relies on having beautiful garden plants and flowers. However, plants aren’t the only part of a fantastic garden. Did you know that sales of garden furniture, barbecues and accessories are expected to grow by 3-4% annually to 2021? So, get searching for top deals on a range of tables, chairs and more!

Al fresco dining has long been a trend, but what makes it special in 2018? Forget plastic chairs and paper plates; why not create a sunken fire pit in your garden, surrounded by some cosy cushioned seats and colourful plastic dinnerware for snacks and drinks? With a comforting source of heat in your back garden, it’s likely that you’ll find yourself outdoors more than you would have thought.

Although getting the right climate for them is sometimes difficult in the UK, Brits love a barbecue. In fact, between 2006 and 2016, the average number of barbecues held per family each summer rose from 2.5 to 10 — demonstrating our growing love for outdoor dining. Of course, you can go as premium or as basic as you like with your barbecuing, depending on the size and features that you’re after. More people are making purchases of verandas now too, allowing them to spend time outdoors despite what the weather is like!

Don’t fret if your garden is petite; back yards of any size can be home to the 2018 trend for alfresco living. If you have a small garden, you can be space efficient and keep clutter out of the way by building a shed. The Posh Shed Company saw a massive 300% increase in sales of its Chelsea shed in 2017. This type of shed is all about space-saving and has features such as built-in shelving on the outside so that internal space isn’t compromised — great for keeping your garden clear and looking nice.

The best plants for your 2018 garden

To begin, why not make your garden come alive with colour by planting an assortment of pretty plants and flowers?

If you have a lot of time to potter around your garden, it might be a wise move to opt for easy-to-maintain plants — such as the shrub. You can use shrubbery to line the pathways of your garden and the lawn edge, filling in a space that might’ve been left bare. When planting shrubs, remember to plant them at least half the width of the shrub apart from other shrubs and boundaries as they can grow outwards.

Growing your own is only going to get bigger and more popular, so don’t get left behind! When cooking for your guests, you can head to the bottom of the garden to gather some fresh herbs and vegetables to go with their meal.

Furniture and flowers are two simple ways to make your garden fit for al fresco life in 2018. Spending more time in the garden is guaranteed to lift your mood and stop you getting cabin fever — so give it a go.

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How To Make Your Garden Family Friendly

If you have children, you’ll know that a lot of the time they love to play outside, especially when the sun is out. This is why many parents opt to buy a house with a large garden so that they can watch their children and know that they’re safe in their own home. This is great in theory, but gardens aren’t always a safe place to play right off the bat. This is why we have come up with some ways that you can help to make your garden family friendly so that you can let your children play freely. Keep reading to find out more!

Avoid Toxic Plants

When you first move into a house, one thing that you should do is have a look for any toxic plants. You can easily find a list online of the ones to avoid and take some time walking around your garden in the areas that your children might be playing. It is also important that you avoid planting any of these plants yourself so when you are gardening you should check these details again. It is not uncommon for children just to pick things up and put them in their mouth so teaching them to avoid certain plants may also be beneficial. You could even make it into a fun activity where you remove them together!

Use Trellis Panels

Trellis panels are not only a great way of supporting your plants as they grow but they can also have a great functional use. Installing trellis panels in your garden can create sections and prevent children from getting into those sections. This means that you can keep your favourite plants away from little feet that might want to stomp all over them. Trellis panels are often favoured over fences as they can separate your garden but still make it look nice because of the design and the gaps. If you’d like to increase the height of your fences on either side of your garden to protect your children, we’d also recommend adding trellis panels as they mean that you are not sacrificing any light.

If you’d like to know more, you can find a lot of different shapes and sizes of trellis panels over at the following link; https://www.buyfencingdirect.co.uk/trellis. Buy Fencing Direct offer many different types such as arched trellises, planter trellises, fence toppers and expanding trellises which are perfect for reaching those awkward areas.

Consider The Surface

If your children are prone to falling over and cutting themselves like most are, you’ll need to consider the surface of your garden. One thing to avoid is stones or gravel as this can cause scratches and will not be fun to fall onto. Having areas that are filled with grass or wood for dry areas will make for a safer environment for your children. If you have grass then ensuring that it is properly maintained is also important when making it safe for your children to play in. Although it may seem like a high cost initially to replace the surface of your garden with grass, it will be very beneficial to the safety of your children.

Add A Water Feature

When you have children, you don’t need to compromise the aesthetic of your garden completely. Of course, you’d like them to be safe and the dangers of a pond may put you off but there are other options. Installing a safe water feature that stores the water underground can make your garden look great but also provide fun for the children. If there is any amount of water that the children can access, it is important to take this away or to supervise them at all times. Kids love to play in water and what’s more fun that running around in a sprinkler when the sun is out?

Create A Play Area

Having a play area in your garden will make it a lot more fun for your children. It is important not to get too bogged down with keeping your plants safe because it is likely that you children will not remember to take care with them. This is why creating a play area is a good idea and something that doesn’t need to cost too much. Play areas can be created easily by buying a swing set, a slide or a climbing frame. If you’d rather spend less money on the play areas, you can build your own with wooden pallets and other materials. The play area doesn’t need to be something that is huge and takes up the whole garden as long as your children have somewhere that they can enjoy playing and stay away from your plants.

Secure Any Gates

Our final tip for you to make sure that your home is family friendly is to make sure that you secure any gates. The last thing that you want is your kids wandering around the side of your house or into your neighbour’s garden. By taking some time to secure any gates and make the locks out of reach you can ensure that they will stay in your garden. If you don’t already have a gate, we recommend that you invest in one as the safety of your kids is key. Adding gates to your garden will also add an element of privacy and means that people in the street passing by cannot see what you and your children are up to.

Summary

If you’re lucky enough to have a large garden attached to your home, it is very important to make sure that is child friendly. Doing simple tasks such as sectioning off areas and removing toxic plants can go a long way when it comes to protecting your children. Make sure to take the necessary precautions when you first move into a new house because you don’t know what the previous owner might have planted there. Follow our tips to make sure that your garden is safe, and you’ll have happy children and peace of mind.

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