5 Tips on Staying Safe While You Garden: A Guest Post by Gardenknow

With our garden often just a few steps from the comfort of our home, sometimes it’s easy to forget the risks associated with gardening. In this post written by Gardenknow, we explore tips on staying safe while you’re doing your gardening. Below is a list of 5 simple steps that will help keep you safe when you’re doing your gardening…

5 Tips on Staying Safe While You Garden: A Guest Post by Gardenknow

1. Wear Protective Gear

Regardless of the task you’re doing it’s always important to consider protective wear. Even for jobs as simple as weeding, it’s recommended that you wear knee pads. Although this isn’t the most strenuous task, years of bending down to weed without knee protection could quite easily cut your gardening years short.

For more intensive jobs such as string trimming, remember to always wear the appropriate head and eye protection. All it takes is for the one time you forget to wear your visor, a rock to be flung up into your face to cause serious damage.

2. Stick to What You Know

There’s no two ways about it; gardening is addictive. However, don’t let this lead you to jumping into tasks you haven’t done before without any prior consideration. This can lead to safety risks for you and others around you.

We recommend reading guides for carrying out tasks prior to attempting them. This way you’re going into it with some understanding of what’s required. An example of this would be in our pruning guide post which you can read here. We detail the tools, techniques and precautions required before attempting pruning.

3. Drink Plenty of Fluids

If you were planning a trip somewhere involving lots of physical exercise, you are likely to consider staying hydrated. Gardening should be no different. Again, due to gardens being so close to the comforts of your home this is something that’s often overlooked.

Staying hydrated is vital, operating machinery within your garden will take lots of your strength. This is why it’s vital that you make sure you have all the nutrients needed for a long days work in the garden. This applies to food as well as staying hydrated.

Hand holding plant and woman smiling in background.

4. Bend Properly

We don’t want to make this post sound like a manual handling induction, but please don’t forget the importance of bending with correct form. Bending is one of the most common exercises in gardening. You’ll often find yourself bending down to remove weeds, or picking up branches and leaves.

Remember to always bend your legs and keep a straight back. We’re sure many of you do this already but it’s vital we emphasise how important correct form is in preventing injury.

5. Wear Sunscreen

This is something tons of people forget all about when gardening. Often you’ll pop to the garden for a job that would take minutes then end up spending hours there. Remember, whether you’re going out for 5 minutes or 5 hours skin protection is vital.

This doesn’t only apply for the summer time either. Whether the sun is glaring down or not, you’ll still want to make sure you have all the protection you can from UV rays.

Author Bio

Linda, a writer at Gardenknow, has a real passion for spreading her knowledge gathered through decades of gardening experience. She runs the website along with her Husband Paul. They formed the site as a way to document great quality information gathered through their combined gardening experience with the hope of sharing this with others.

Keeping Things Simple: A-Z of 30 Days Wild

K is for…

Keeping things simple.

A - Z of 30 Days Wild

One of the things I most love about 30 Days Wild is that it isn’t about expensive days out and organising extravagent activities; it is about celebrating the simple everyday things, slowing ourselves down and stopping to appreciate the small things. It is about reconnecting with nature, and our natural environment. Being, not just doing.

I love how 30 Days Wild achieves so much in so many ways. It helps us to shift our mindset; supporting both of our physical and mental health. As well as fostering a desire to nurture and protect wildlife, and our planet.

Squiggle in the garden. Tree. Blue sky.

On that note, I am not going to rush myself to finish my A-Z by the end of the month. For me, that would contradict the whole purpose of the challenge. There would be little point in stressing over getting that done when I could be outside, watching the birds and observing the insects. Playing with Squiggle. Chilling in the sun. Enjoying just being in the moment.

I love 30 Days Wild. The A-Z will continue, in my own time. It’ll be done when it’s done. And that’s ok with me.

Stay Wild folks. I hope you have loved 30 Days Wild as much as we did. xx

Garden, Growing, Grounding… A-Z of 30 Days Wild

G is for…

A-Z of 30 days wild

Garden

We spend alot of time in our garden. We help to encourage wildlife and nature into it, then take the time to enjoy it! During 30 Days Wild, we did many simple activities in our garden that embraces the whole concept of 30 Days Wild. You don’t have to just go on adventures to appreciate wildlife and nature; you do that anywhere!

Growing

We also use our garden for growing our own food. This is something we loved doing as part of 30 Days Wild, and generally too!

View this post on Instagram

#30DaysWild – Day 6: Grow Your Own

A post shared by Katie (@living_life.our_way) on

Grounding

Grounding is such a simple but effective act – walking barefoot on the ground – and one Squiggle does regularly. I really should do it more often too!

A – Z of 30 Days Wild: A is for… Ants!

As I explained yesterday, I am not going to be blogging about 30 Days Wild as heavily this year due to other commitments. But what I do intend to do is share an A – Z of my highlights from previous years, with a few snippets of our activities this year, and some guest posts too! So today I thought I would kick off with my A – Z of 30 Days Wild Highlights.

A - Z of 30 Days Wild text Forest of Dean image

A is for…. ANTS!

One of my favourite highlights was in the first year of taking part (2016) when Squiggle discovered a large groups of yellow meadow ants in our garden. I took a quick video clip, then we observed them for a while – they were fascinating!

At the time I thought it was just grass seeds they were crawling over, as we had just put some down the day before. It was only when I shared the video to the 30 Days Wild Facebook group that a wildlife expert (Sean Foote) told me that actually they were pupae, which I was really excited about! I had no idea!

The video clip is poor quality unfortunately, but still very cool! Here it is…

Coming Up…

Tomorrow will be the first of my 30 Days Wild themed guest posts. So look out for that! And remember if you would like to take part, email me at livinglifeourway@outlook.com or fill in my google form.

What Random Act of Wildness did you do today? Tell me in comments!

Grange Raised Urban Planter: GardenSite’s Gardening Solutions for Small Spaces (Review & Giveaway)

As you all know, we love being outdoors in nature, and part of this includes gardening. I have written before about some of the food we have grown, or at least attempted to grow! So what do we think of our new urban planter from GardenSite? Read my review…

Grange Raised Urban Planter from Gardensite title with image of planter

About the Planter

Grange Raised Urban Planter is built using only FSC timber that has been pressure treated, and is resistant to rot and fungal decay. In fact, it actually comes with a 20 year guarantee against rot. It has six pre- divided sections to grow a selection of plants, and it also has a handy shelf underneath. The planter usually retails for £89.99 RRP but is currently on sale at £77.99 at the time of writing.

Delivery

The planter took just under a week to arrive after ordering. We were kept updated with the progress of our order and delivery details. The courier company they used was a good choice; they followed our delivery instructions, and they were friendly and helpful.

An image of all the parts of the planter pre- assembly

Assembly

The Urban Planter is very well designed so it only requires basic assembly instructions. It is very high quality thick wood, so you will need a decent power drill though; it couldn’t be done manually, or with a small basic electric drill that people have around the house to put together flat pack furniture. It took well under half an hour to assemble with the right drill.

Tip: The PDF instructions on the website are different to the paper version it comes with. Take a look to see which you find easier to follow! We personally found the website PDF version clearer.

It is worth noting that the planter is very heavy so ideally it needs two people to move around. Or assemble it in the right place!

Grange raised urban planter

Our Verdict

We really like this planter. It is really sturdy and of excellent quality. The shelf underneath is useful as storage, or even for small potted plants that like the shade.

The six sections make it easy to grow a selection of plants within a small area. It doesn’t take up too much space, so is a genuine solution for small urban gardens. Also, we often have cats hanging around our garden, so we appreciate the benefits of a raised planter!

It is not cheap but it is made extremely well and is therefore worth the cost, in my opinion; I personally would consider it decent value for money. Overall, we definitely recommend this planter!

Grange raised urban planter by GardenSite

Check out the full range of stock on GardenSite for other planters and a wide range of other garden items. I spent ages browsing their website, they have an excellent selection!

Giveaway

I have teamed up with GardenSite for one very lucky person to win a Grange Raised Urban Planter! Competition open to UK residents only and ends on 3rd June 2018. Other T&Cs apply. Enter via rafflecopter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: I was sent the urban planter for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

How To Build a Swimming Pool in Your Back Garden

With summer almost upon us, and the recent spell of hot weather, you might be considering building your own swimming pool in your garden. To many, it might seem like a waste of space and money in a country that doesn’t often reach warm temperatures! However, there are quite a few benefits to having your own pool, and don’t forget it can be heated so once you are in it is fine; I remember having an outdoor pool at my Primary School and it was such a huge asset.

It is relaxing and good for your wellbeing. And of course it is a wonderful luxury to enjoy the peace and privacy of your own pool. But also, there’s nothing more sociable than having a swimming pool in your back garden that you can then invite friends and family to enjoy too.

At this time of year you’re probably already thinking about getting your garden into shape and the thought of having such major excavation work done in your back garden might feel prohibitive; indeed, the process of building a swimming pool does necessitate the need to bring in diggers to excavate a huge hole in the middle of your lawn. In many ways, that’s the trade-off, as the pool is likely to take a huge chunk of your garden lawn out of the equation. That said, if you’ve always dreamed of having a pool in your back garden, here are a few simple steps to help turn your dream into reality…

How To Build a Swimming Pool in Your Back Garden with swimming pool background image

Design

The first factor to consider is size, which will obviously be constrained by how large your garden is, and the next factor to consider is depth. If you are having children use the pool or you’re not a particularly strong swimmer, then it is recommended to keep it under 1.2 metres, which is what most fancy gyms set their pool depth to. You also need to consider what colour you would like the tiles to be – blue is the classic colour, whilst there are many startling designs that embrace deep reds and purples to create more of a design statement.
The next consideration is lighting and shape. Generally speaking, the more complex the design, the higher the cost to create the swimming pool.

Get Permission

In order to build a swimming pool in your back garden, it’s likely that you’ll need to gain planning permission from the council.

Excavate The Area

The first step in terms of building the pool, once you’ve designed it and been granted permission, is to start excavating the area! You could employ a contractor to take care of everything, or if you’re on a budget, you could hire construction equipment yourself, as at this stage all you’re really doing is digging a big hole in the back garden. It is, however, vitally important to have been granted permission before starting to dig, as there may be hidden wires or pipes that you could unearth.

Consider Material To Use

The three main options to choose from are concrete, fibreglass, and vinyl.

Grade the Ground and Frame Walls

The next step is to even out the ground. This will make building the walls and laying the floor much easier. With the hole dug out, and the land flat, the walls can now be built with wood and metal rebar.

Put in Plumbing and Electricity

You’ll want to get an experienced plumber to take care of this specialist task, as you don’t want to have to undertake emergency plumbing should there be an issue down the road. Indeed, it’s important to hire a plumber that is experienced in swimming pools, as an inexperienced plumber could ruin your pool.

You’ll then want to hire an electrician to install the lights. Understandably, bad wiring plus water is not a good combination; so it’s advisable that you read up on how to prevent electrocution before going any further, or attempting to do it yourself.

Pour the Floor, Build Walls and Tile

The next step is to pour the floor and build the walls, then tile them, but remember to add a moisture barrier to stop the water from seeping out.

Fill The Pool

The final step, of course, is to fill the pool with fresh water that is subsequently treated with a cleaning agent such as chlorine.

Lady swimming in a pool

Have you ever considered a pool in your garden? For most it is just a pipe dream… but if it ever becomes your reality, now you know what to do!

*This is a collaborative post.

Relaxed Summer Living: How to Make Your Garden More Private

All going well, we’re going to see some pretty fine weather in the UK this summer. While there are never any guarantees (especially in England), the buzz around the weather stations is that it’s going to be one to remember, with long sunny days and clear blue skies the order of the day. This means a lot of us are going to be spending many an hour in our gardens, enjoying the weather with our friends and family.

Sign saying we are in the garden. Watering can to edge of picture.

But this isn’t always as relaxing as it should be if your garden isn’t private. It may be that you are surrounded by other properties and your garden is very overlooked. Some people don’t mind this of course; I know many neighbours enjoy spending time together, often popping in and out of each others’ homes. But this is not always the case; others enjoy peace and quiet, and value having their own secluded spot to relax. Or it might be that your garden back onto a public space and is therefore exposed to passers- by. For whatever reason it might be, lack of privacy can make your garden less appealing. If this is the case with your property, then take a read below…

Relaxed Summer Living: How to Make Your Garden More Private title with faded background image of a secluded garden bench amongst bushes for privacy

Fill it Out

If you’re just got a bare garden, one with only a large patch of grass and a chair, blanket or lounger in the middle, then it’ll be no wonder that you feel on display when you’re out there sunbathing. Even if no-one is looking, it’s hard not to feel a little self-conscious if you’re the only thing that anybody can see. If this is the case, then look at “filling out” your garden. If you have a shed, plants, water feature, and so on, then your garden – and thus you – will feel much less exposed.

Build Up

If you’re concerned that you are overlooked when you’re in the garden, especially if your kids are playing out and there are strangers looking in as they walk by for example, then why not just neutralise this problem by blocking their view? By installing solid fence panels around your property, or building up the wall at the back or side of your garden if there’s one already there, you’ll be limiting the view that others have of your backyard space. The taller the fence, the less that they’ll be able to see. This is a quick process, so you’ve got more than enough time to get it installed before summer arrives.

Find a Cosy Corner

You’re unlikely to be using all of your garden when it comes to simply unwinding. So instead of working to make the whole garden private, pick a cosy corner in which you’ll relax, and focus on making that space covered. If you have a corner with a few trees already there, then you can attach a hammock, and you’ll feel like you’re in your own private oasis, even if you know there are dozens of people living around you.

A large patio area with porch. Seating and table. Two ladies with snacks and drinks chatting, one playing guitar.

A Porch Area

Of course, a hammock isn’t going to be much good when you’re hosting friends and family for an afternoon outdoors! To make a more private social space, consider building a covered area at the back of your house. This doesn’t have to be anything complicated; it can be as simple as installing a wooden structure with plants that grow up the side. It won’t bring total coverage, but will be enough to feel more comfortable. A gazebo would also do the trick.

What tips do you have for a more secluded garden? Tell me in comments!

*This is a collaborative post.

How To Get Your Garden Ready For Summer

The sun is starting to finally make an appearance and Spring is now well underway! But is your garden ready for the summer yet? If not, don’t worry! There is still time yet to get it into shape for those lovely long summer days ahead! Read my guide and your garden will be ready to enjoy in no time…

How To Get Your Garden Ready For Summer title with faded background image of garden

Tidy Up

Get the lawn mower out, or at least use a trimmer around the edges. Weed the nettles and cut back any overgrown sections. There is no need to overdo it, especially if, like me, you prefer a more natural feel to your outdoor space. Just a quick neaten up is all it really needs. Also, put down some grass seeds if it is looking bare in places too.

Close up image of a lawn mower

Get Planting

Now is the time to make sure you get planting, if you haven’t already done so. Growing your own food is a brilliant way to enjoy your garden, be healthy and help the environment too! Choose companion plants to protect your crops and encourage pollinators to your garden.

Consider your senses when selecting your choices of plants and flowers too; for example, lambs ears are wonderfully tactile, and herbs will give your garden some lovely scents, while flowers will provide vibrant colours. Also consider growing some climbers for shade and privacy too.

A flatlay picture of gardening gloves, hat and pruning shears

Furniture

A well chosen piece of garden furniture really helps to maximise enjoyment. Table and chairs are a popular choice of course, particularly for dining al fresco, or perhaps you might like a garden bench. This teak garden furniture guide is a useful read before you invest. Don’t forget some cushions and blankets for your outdoor comfort too!

Also, it is handy to include a parasol in your garden set- up for shade. Or perhaps even consider a gazebo, especially if you are likely to have guests outside.

An image of a garden patio with various items of furniture, including sun lounger, table and chairs, and a bench. Plus parasol for shade.

Lighting

Get some solar outdoor lighting so that you can continue to enjoy your garden long into the warm summer evenings, even as the sun sets. Fairy lights, around the edge of a gazebo for example, also look really pretty.

Remember the Wildlife

Whilst getting your garden ready for summer, remember the wildlife too! Take care when mowing that there are no creatures hiding anywhere, and also spare a thought for their habitats when gardening. I personally like to leave a section of garden growing freely to encourage wildlife into our garden as well.

Bird baths and feeders, bat boxes, hedgehog hideaways and insect hotels are an asset to your garden all year round. Being around nature is relaxing and therapuetic; you will likely find you enjoy your garden even more when you share it!

Bird house hanging from a branch of a tree

What are your top tips for the perfect summer garden? Share in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Simple

If you’re one of the growing numbers of people who are becoming more and more concerned about the use of pesticides in the food chain, and you’re thinking of feeding your own family by growing your own healthy organic vegetables, here are some tips that will make the whole process much simpler for you…

 Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Simple title on faded background image

Get Yourself in a Greenhouse

If you get yourself one of the greenhouses from https://www.swgreenhouses.co.uk/greenhouses-for-sale.html, you will be able to grow a wider range of vegetables for a long period of time. You may even be able to grow some of your favourite fruits and veggies out of season.

Prepare the Soil Carefully

If you want your vegetables to grow and thrive, then you need to ensure that your soil is rich in organic nutrients. That means, before you even think about planting anything, you should ensure that you have worked plenty of organically created compost into the soil. If you do nothing else, then do this because it will ensure not only a bumper crop but a tastier one too.

Delicious looking cabbages growing in the soil

Choose Foods That Will Thrive Where You Live

It’s an obvious one, but there is little point in choosing to plant vegetables that are unlikely to thrive in the kind of weather conditions you’re dealing with. If you’re unsure which veggies are likely to thrive in your garden space, ask an expert at your local garden centre, read a book like the one at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Allotment-Almanac or talk to local gardeners in your area. They will typically know what’s best for you, and most will be only too happy to share their knowledge.

A bumper crop of fruit

Heirloom Veggies are Best

There are lots of things that get better with age – like fine wines and vegetables. No, I’m not talking mouldy old vegetables; but seeds! Heirloom seeds are seeds collected from older varieties of produce, and they are almost always cheaper and more flavoursome, not to mention nutritious, than modern versions. They can sometimes be difficult to find, but it’s worth the effort trying to source them.

Flowers are a Veggie Garden’s Best Friends

You might be wondering why you would want to take up precious organic veggie growing space with flowers, apart from the fact they’re pretty that is, but the fact is that flowers will attract bees and bees will pollinate your veggies, so that you don’t have to do quite so much of the work yourself manually. Plant them around the borders, and you will soon see lots of little pollinators coming to pay a visit.

Worms are Fantastic

When it comes to organic gardening, you should absolutely be creating your own compost, and you know what makes really good compost and garden mulch? Worms. Invest in a wormery, and you’ll never want for high-quality compost again. Seriously, they make way better compost than you’d get just by collecting your scraps in a bin.

Check Seeds are certified Organic

Not all seeds are organic, so when it comes to buying the stock you plan to grow in your garden and greenhouse, you should always seek to verify that your seeds are indeed organic. If you don’t do this, then your veggies simply won’t be organic, despite your best efforts, so it is important to do the checks.

A raised planting bed

Raised Beds Extend the Season

If you plant your veggies in raised beds, using the richest soil you can find, you can probably extend the season of your produces, sometimes quite dramatically. It’s also much easier to weed veggies in boxes because they aren’t as close to the ground. Of course, you need to make sure that any beds you use are made from natural untreated wood, or there could be some chemical leakage into the soil.

Alternatively, you might want to think about growing things vertically using cages or trellis, which means you have more space to increase your yields and better circulation that can help to prevent blight and other diseases.

Plant Companions

Nature is smart, and it creates plants that thrive well together. By identifying these companions and planting them close together, you can cut down on the amount of insects who attempt to lunch on your veggies, grow more volume and cut down on the risk of disease, to name but a few benefits. So do your homework, work out which veggies are best friends and plant them accordingly.

Time to get your wellies on and get gardening! What are you growing this year?

*This is a collaborative post.

How to Style Your Garden Furniture for Seasonal Changes

Garden furniture deserves some thought and yet, we so often simply opt for what we see as a ‘bargain’. But it can be so much more than this, which is why you need this guide to making seasonal changes with your garden furniture!

A picture of garden furniture and decor.

It’s a long-standing joke in many gardening circles that we spend hundreds of a garden bench never to sit on it. The same goes for some of the more expensive pieces of garden furniture we opt for. We spend so much time keeping them covered and free from the effects of the weather that we rarely take the chance to use them.

But times are changing and with new technologies and manufacturing techniques, garden furniture is now truly all-weather. And so you can have the rattan cube garden furniture out in the garden to enjoy, whether it is bright sunshine or a cool spring evening.

Fabrics
As seasons change, we round up the garden furniture and hide it away, unsure whether the autumn rains will see it melt. But it won’t because there is a new fabric on the block that is making a huge difference.

A material used and developed for yachts is now used in garden furniture for soft furnishings. Fantastic at being able to withstand all kinds of weather, the only real enemy of sail fabric is the sun, more so when the fabric is crumpled, with rain and damp not allowed to evaporate. A wash down with warm soapy water and allow to dry – choose a breezy, warm day – and it’ll look as good as new.

Protective covers are an ideal investment, especially those that fit over the furniture exactly as this increases their protective abilities. But again, before you cover it for the winter months, make sure that the furniture is dry.

Design
Whether you hold summer garden parties for friends, family and neighbours or you consider your garden your own private sanctuary, there is no excuse not to style your garden – and that includes choosing the design of your garden furniture. When summer is in full swing, you will nothing more than a jug of your favourite summer cocktail and maybe the odd scatter cushion or two or your all-weather garden sofa. Come late summer or even early spring, add style and aplomb, as well as a hint of practicality with a few pretty and warm throws.

Warmth
An eco- friendly shortwave infrared electric outdoor heater is an ideal choice to warm your garden so that you can enjoy your garden longer into the evenings. Patio heaters are another option and a common sight in outdoor cafes and pubs. However, if you are concerned about environmental impact, you might need to take a look as to whether a patio heater, fuelled by canned gas, is the best option for you. Expensive to run, they are an investment that many, however, choose to make.

Materials
Waterproof fabrics make life so much easier when it comes to garden furniture but as well as the soft furnishings, you need to make sure you have the best in structural materials of outdoor chairs, tables and sofas.
There are only two real contenders:

Rattan
A natural material, most rattan is sourced and imported from sustainable sources. A thorny plant that grows fast and strikingly tall, its long fronds are allowed to dry naturally in the sun. They are then weaved together around a frame, made from wood or bamboo, or something a metal structure, to create fantastic stylish pieces for the garden.

Hardwood
There is no compensation for investing in hardwood tables and chairs as dining sets for the great outdoors. Cheaper imitations are made from softwood, the grain of which is much bigger and looser. This means that you can literally leave a dent in it with your thumbnail, the texture is so soft and malleable.

But, there is one issue with both: they don’t like the cold. Both materials come from hot climates and thus, water finding its way into the structure, which then freezes on a cold day or night is not good for structural integrity. Keep both covered if the winter months are icy or frosty.

Seasonal changes impact on your garden furniture but, choose the right material and take a little care over it every now and then, and you will have garden furniture that allows you to continue to enjoy your garden.

Rattan Direct understand that the garden is not just for summer and so, these fantastic seasonal changes are available from their online store. Connect with them on Twitter to remain ahead of the game @RattanDirectLtd

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.