Protecting Patio Furniture and Garden Equipment Over Winter – Stop Rain, Wind & Snow Damage

As we know in the UK, rain is a regular occurrence. It can damage gardens, houses and of course soak through and cause problems with outside furniture. Patio tables and chairs are often constructed from wood, metal and similar materials and must not be left out in harsh weather; furniture can easily rust, be damaged by the wind and become brittle and weak.

Covering Furniture Outdoors

The easiest way is to store all your furniture together; find an area that is most protected from the weather in your garden. Stack the items neatly and make sure everything is secure. You may wish to tie the items together to keep them stable and stop any loose items from blowing away. You will need to purchase a strong tarpaulin (if you don’t already have one); ideally it will be at least 200gsm. Make sure the sheet you buy has eyelets around the outside and is UV stabilised. Cover your furniture completely and use a length of bungee to tie the tarpaulin around the bottom. Loop the cord through the eyelets and tie up to keep it tight and secure at the bottom. Make sure there is a substantial run-off for water and your items should be protected all winter through rain, wind or snow!

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Quick & Easy Guide to Protecting Your Young Small Trees from Wind & Bad Weather

Strong winds and heavy weather will be hitting the UK over the autumn, winter and some of the spring; it is important that you protect your garden fully. In this post we will focus on small or young trees as they are one of the most vulnerable items when it comes to bad weather. Snow, rain and especially wind can cause permanent damage.

Here are a few ways to prepare for the months ahead –

  • You may have seen young trees being held up by stakes and perhaps metal poles. We believe the best way to implement this is to put a stake in the ground, preferably around the height of the tree itself, about 25cm away from the trunk. Use either loops of plastic, cable ties or rope to connect the two (see diagram below). Please allow for reasonable movement as the tree will swing naturally in the wind and the loops stop it from swinging too much. Pad the loops for protection.
  • Creating a loop of windbreak netting all around will diminish the amount of breeze. Use poles/stakes to create a circle and attach the netting as shown below. A heavy duty net is recommended (diagram below).
  • If there is going to be an especially cold snap then it is ideal to use garden fleece as a cover. The fleece will create a warmer climate and help to prevent against freezing or heavy rain damage.
  • These methods can also be used with plants and perhaps garden structures. Gardening is a grind and it is a shame when weather completely destroys your hard work.

Small tree windbreak

How To Create A Temporary Window – Using Heavy Duty Plastic – Home-made Double Glazing

At this time of year in the UK it seems to be rain, rain and more rain. You may have some building work or have some repairs to do that mean you will need temporary windows or perhaps you want to make your house more insulated and eco-friendly with makeshift-double glazing. There are many options that you can use, but I am going to concentrate on the easiest and quite possibly the cheapest.

Covering an open window frame with clear polythene is a very simple way of keeping the weather out and heat in . Here are some simple steps and tips to help you –

  • When purchasing the plastic polythene make sure that it is heavy duty (at least 250mu), UV stabilised and also waterproof; here is an example.
  • You need to cut the polythene a couple of inches over the size of the frame you want to cover (on all sides).
  • Put the plastic either side of the window (preferably on the inside) and tape it into the place. As mentioned it should extend past the frame.
  • You can use a number of fixing methods but it is usually accepted that it is nailed into place (as in the diagram below)
  • Then tape over the nailed edges with specialist tape to seal the temporary window.

Plastic temporary window

 

When you have finished with the plastic you can peel off the tape and then extract the nails. The polythene should be fit for use again if it is not damaged

Market Stalls – A Beginners Set-up Guide!

Stall picture 

A guide to setting up your stall from purchasing the frame to selecting the correct cover.

 

Market stalls are a very popular and economical way of selling products; they are inexpensive and easy to run. The good thing is they can be set up almost anywhere and can be extremely portable and used in all weathers. A lot of business owners find the fact that, when compared with a static shop, overheads such as electricity and staff are drastically reduced. Of course you will need any applicable licenses; permission and paperwork from the relevant authorities will be requires to set up the stall at specific locations so please do not attempt it without them.

Here is a simple list of steps to setting up your shop; hopefully it will be a good starting point to work from.

  • The first step is to buy a frame. Make sure you measure the area in which you want to set-up; many people end up buying structures that are for too big for their purpose. Frames come in a huge range of sizes and each company differs in its approach to manufacturing.
  • It sounds silly, but please take advice from the company you purchased it from regarding setting the frame up. Often shipped out as do-it-yourself kits, the structures will have to be put together and it can be tricky so be sure to practice the steps involved before your first day of trading. Try not to modify it as companies will not accept returns if you have done so.Blue/White Tarpaulin
  • Finding a cover can be difficult; some bespoke sheets can be very expensive and cannot be used for alternative purposes. Manufacturers however do often do tops for their specific design. Make sure you find a decent grade sheet (at least 150gsm) as anything less will not tend to last very long. Covers normally carry a striped pattern (green, white, blue or red), however you do not have to stick to traditional methods; all sorts of patterns and colours can be used to help stand out from the crowd. If you wish to purchase a standard tarpaulin to go over your shop (it is very popular and usually the cheapest option) there there are a few simple rules and the diagram (below) can help you pick the correct one. Please make sure there is a water run-off when installing so that rain does not pool on top and cause damage.

Striped Tarps

Picking a Tarpaulin Cover

You need to know the length, width and depth (as shown in the diagram below) in order to work out the overall size of the sheet. Most will want to leave the front part of the shop open and therefore the sheet does not need to go over this part, unless you would like it to. The formulae for the correct size are as follows.

Side 1 – Height + Width + Height

Side 2 – Depth + Height

Market Stall Set-up Diagram

 Securing Your Tarpaulin

The suggestion is to use two methods. The first is using bungee/rope through the eyelets to secure the sheet to the poles of the frame. Once it’s secure you can then use metal clamps as extra protection, clipping any loose fabric to the structure.

 

The last thing to do is start selling. Good luck!

Windbreak: Creating Home-made Wind Protection.

Windbreak; Home-made

Windbreak constructedPeople purchase windbreaks for reasons such as protecting plants, patios and social areas, use at the beach and to create a better habitat for animals and pets. Pre-built ones can be expensive, flawed, cumbersome and poorly constructed. A great way to make sure you have the protection you want is to create it yourself. Windbreaks are easy to fashion from just a few simple things. I hope to help you with building one and give some advice on materials.

Shade netting rollIn regards to the right materials I recommend the use of windbreak netting and wooden poles. You can, of course, use metal poles and sheeting created from things such as PVC or polyethylene. The problem I have with solid plastic based sheets is that with strong gusts it can get damaged easily and blow over. The mesh in windbreak netting allows a small amount of air to pass through, leaving it a lot sturdier, longer lasting and not so battered in heavy weather.

Building your windbreaker

  • Windbreak netting comes in many widths and sizes, so depending on the area you need to protect you can select the correct size. The same goes with the poles; pick the height of the poles depending on the height of the net. I recommend a diameter of around 10cm if you wish the construction to be static and smaller poles of you want it to be portable and moveable.
  • The mesh will have eyelets either side, running down the length. Use those eyelets to create a preliminary mock-up  by tying the netting to the poles; 1m apart is a good distance but depending on the weather it is going to face you may want to move them closer. Please see diagram below.
  • Once you have everything in the correct position you can either staple the net or cable tie it to the poles to increase security.
  • You can use pegs and guy ropes to help secure your structure in a static position (in the same manner as a tent).
  • Windbreak netting also doubles up as shade protection as well, so you will be able to use it for that purpose also.

 

Windbreak; Home-madeProducts available from http://www.qvsshop.co.uk

 

 

Ground warming Using Polythene / Plastic – Methods and Preparation for Your Vegetable Plot, Allotment & Garden

Plants on an allotment.

Allotment PreparationWinters in the UK can be bitterly cold and do a lot of damage to your allotment or garden. There are ways to protect your plants through the cold months that include frost fleece, greenhouses and mulching. However today we will be concentrating on the preparation of soil for planting a new crop of vegetables or plants. As the winter turns into spring you will want to plant as early as possible to make the most of your garden; one way to speed this up is to make sure the ground is at its best quality to receive seeds.

You will want to commence the warming process in the late weeks of winter/early weeks of spring. The idea is to heat the ground, which coincidentally is very good at retaining warmth, so you are able to get your crop off to an early start. Polythene sheeting is the most effective product for the job; gardeners often use clear or black. Clear poly placed over soil allows the sun’s rays to pass through and trap the heat that they cause, not dissimilar to a greenhouse. Black can be used because it absorbs the most light and therefore becomes hot. Both types of plastic are suitable and have been proven to be effective.

Polythene for ground warmingYou will need to cover the entire area of soil in polythene, making sure any heat cannot escape. When purchasing I recommend plastic that is at least .25mm thick (250mu/1000g) as it will hold in more heat and is strong enough to give a good resistance against ripping. Pegging the plastic down with groundsheet pegs or any other steel pegs and burying the edges, covering them in earth, will certainly do the trick; however gardeners do often use bricks or large stones as an economical alternative. Leave for a few weeks and it will help prevent the ground from freezing and increase the temperature ready for the spring.

Once you believe the ground is ready to plant in then you can remove the poly and hoe the earth. I recommend removing any signs of weeds or growth to give your crop the best chance. You can of course apply weed control or mulch at this stage before planting to reduce the amount of future maintenance. Do not use polythene as weed suppressant, I does not allow drainage and causes water to pool in your garden causing all sorts of trouble. Many gardeners are different and many ground treatments are used to nourish the soil; depending on your crop you may wish to look at options.

Smart Ways to Properly Maintain Your Lawn

Article by Maya Pugh

 

The importance of having a lush and healthy lawn cannot be overstated.

After all, a neatly trimmed and well tended one can provide lifestyle, economic and even environmental benefits that are hard to miss.

However, creating the lawn of your dreams can be daunting sans basic upkeep know-how.

Get your maintenance off to a good start by keeping the following essentials in mind.

Mowing

  • Unknown to many, cutting encourages healthy grass growth. As such, it is deemed ideal to mow the frequently, especially during the growing season.
  • In addition, it is advisable to complement the setup with above the ground culm as this makes the abundant distribution of the nutrients to possible.
  • Moreover, cutting encourages more photosynthesis to take place because it absorbs more sunlight which makes the grass thicker. Suffice it to say, a heavier lawn will work to your advantage as it dramatically helps in minimising the presence of weeds.
  • While cutting is considered advisable, it is important not to go overboard as doing so will prove counterproductive. Cutting shorter than what is deemed advisable has been credited as the main culprit for bald areas and dry lawns.
  • As a general rule of thumb, the ideal length during the cold season is 3 inches while 2-2.5 inches is considered perfect during the warm months.

 

Watering

  • In a nutshell, the secret to good watering is doing it heavily only when the need calls for it.
  • In essence, what is necessary is a heavy pour that’s good enough to go down deep in the soil and encourage the roots to grow.
  • When the grass turns bluish grey, consider it a foolproof evidence it badly needs watering.
  • During the hot season however, it is crucial to keep your things in check. In line with this, it is advisable to do the watering in the mornings as it will help cool down the grass once the temperature rises.

Fertilising

  • To keep everything in superb shape, adding fertilisers is a must. Consider it the much needed ‘health booster’ of sorts.
  • If you are going to use commercial fertilisers, you have to decide if you prefer the regular water-soluble spray fertiliser, or the slow-acting granular kind. You can expect immediate results from the former, while it will take longer for the latter to manifest the results you desire.
  • As an additional tip, it is advisable to apply only minimal doses in mid spring and early fall to give time for the soil microorganisms to break down the nutrients and distribute it accordingly.

Proper maintenance can be challenging, but it’s not rocket science either. Arm yourself with the basic know-how and the right nursery supplies and you will be enjoying the lawn of your dreams in no time.

 

 

 

How to Clear a Large Overgrown Area; Weeds, Treestumps, Common Pests.

Overgrown AreaAllotments, fields and gardens can easily become overrun with weeds, trees, grass and much more. Clearing these pieces of land can be tricky and without a guide to the steps required, it can seem like an endless job. Here are a few methods and guidelines to show how to go about getting rid of various pests.

Tree StumpTree Stumps – These can be a real nuisance; taking up space, they can restrict you from planting in certain areas and are in danger of becoming diseased. You will need a liquid tree stump killer – there are plenty on the market, some stronger than others. Apply it to the freshly cut top surface and follow the instructions on the packet. This is best used over the winter period. Cover the stump after application to protect it from rain and bad weather and leave it to work.

Strimmer In UseBrambles, Hedges and Other Wooded Weeds – You have two options with these. The first is to scythe or use a strimmer to clear the bulk of them and then apply a heavy duty weedkiller to what is left (often the tree stump killers will double up as a heavy duty weed killer). Remember to apply to freshly cut surfaces for it to be most effective. The second option is to strim the area and then pull up the roots by hand. You will probably end up using a combination of all these methods.

Large Areas of Grass and Perennials – If you are short on time then the easiest method is to start by mowing or strimming the area in question; clear as much as you can by hand. You then have two options, the first is to apply a liquid weedkiller to the area (two or more applications may be necessary), or you can cover the area in a geotextile membrane. The membrane will block out all light, killing everything underneath. Please make sure the geotextile you lay down allows water to pass through, this will keep the soil rich underneath and also help to prevent any flooding. The benefit of the fabric is that you can leave it down and plant, lay turf or have gravel on top.

Final Steps – To make sure the job is completed properly, after the all the previous steps have been taken, turn the ground over and enrich it with some compost. This will give you a blank canvas to work with and mean that you can replenish the soil with anything it needs. Before planting check that you have the right crops or flowers for your soil type.