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

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 Do I Stop Slugs From Eating My Plants?

Slug on leafIf you are a gardener, landscaper, allotment owner or botanist you will be fully aware of the problems slugs cause. They not only chew up your beautiful fruit and veg, they lay eggs and create horrible slime trails. Luckily there are a number of solutions to the problem; whether it be natural or chemical there is always a way.

There are a large variety of slugs in the UK, of varying shapes and colours. Species include the Common Garden, Ash-Grey, Lemon, Shelled slug and many more. In most cases gardeners and allotment owners will not be interested in the variety, but how much damage each particular one does, they will only have a goal of keeping them away from their crops and therefore that is what I will concentrate on. There are a wide range of natural and chemical deterrents and methods to deal with the problem; I will explore a few of these and allow the reader to decide which is more suitable for them.

 Natural

 Chuckem’– Seeking them out in the garden and disposing of them by hand is your first option. It may be a little time consuming, but it works. This is obviously provided that you have ample time and willpower. Make sure you take the pests as far away as possible from your and other people’s gardens. This method makes sure none of them die, if that is a concern. (Leaving left over fruit and veg on a tray in the garden is a great way to catch them, leave it overnight and discard the slugs that are sitting on it in the morning.)

SaltPouring salt on them will help to dry them out. Once again, most of the work will be done by searching out the slugs to apply the salt.

Cornmeal – Putting some cornmeal into a jar and tipping it on its side is a natural trap. Leaving it in the garden, near to the crops you wish to protect, will lure the slugs in. The cornmeal is too strong for them and it will kill them eventually.

BeerCreating a beer trap is also very effective. Leave a glass of half water half beer sunken into the ground at floor level. This will give off a sweet smell and work as a trap.

 

Frogs – If you have a pond, plant your crops near it. The reason for this is that frogs are a natural predator and will do the work for you. This has proven a brilliant way of using the ecosystem as natural plant protection.

Copper Tape – This is one of my favourite ways of creating a deterrent. If put around flower pots and stuck to the floor or other surfaces it will create a defensive barrier. Once a slug touches it the reaction causes a nasty shock which keeps it away from you plants. This is a safe way to stop your crops getting eaten.

 

 ChemicalSlug Gel

Pellets These are a very popular and easy way of helping to solve the problem. Sprinkling them around the area of fruit and veg you wish to protect will cause any passing slug to ingest them and kill them. Please make sure the variety you use is safe for your garden.

GelThis creates a barrier around your garden, pots etc….. The gel creates a defensive border, keeping pests away from your lettuce, carrots and other plants.

You are able to get some of these pellets and gels made with organic ingredients so they are not so harmful to have around the yard.

If there are any further tips and hints you have then please let everyone know below in the comments box.

 

 

Home-made Boat Cover: Save Some Hard Earned Cash!

Adverse weather conditions can have a variety of different effects on boat hulls, regardless of their construction. For something that is designed to spend a great deal of its life partly submerged in water they are remarkably susceptible to damage from rain, frost, and sunlight. If you’ve spent your entire life savings on one you’re going to want to make sure it doesn’t perish at the first sign of a rain cloud and there’s several ways in which you can do this. Most good marinas offer excellent storage options depending on the size of your vessel. For smaller boats, the option of a dry stack is available to you at the right storage facility. This offers protection from rain and damaging ultraviolet light from the sun, not to mention thieves and vandals who will struggle to damage a boat that’s several metres off the ground. Alternatively for larger craft, there’s the option of sheltered marinas which will help protect your investment from high winds. Unfortunately, dry stacks can cost upwards of several thousand pounds a year, and a sheltered marina offers no protection from rain and frost.

So you may consider purchasing a specialised cover, either custom made or one specific to your model. And there’s no doubt that they will do an excellent job, for several hundred pounds. An alternative low cost solution is a good quality heavy duty tarpaulin. There is a mind boggling range of available and hopefully this article will help you purchase the right one for the job.

Clear TarpIn terms of the tarpaulins construction, I’d recommend either one of a heavy duty polyethylene construction or one made of PVC, which are strong and puncture resistant, whilst remaining reasonably lightweight; it is also resistant to acid and oil which is perfect if your boat is to be transported by road. Any sort of tarp, regardless of its construction, will deteriorate fairly quickly in strong sunlight, so check for UV stabilisation for extra protection. If it has plastic eyelets then they will be easily damaged under tension, so make sure they’re metal ones and set in a reinforced hem. Your chosen sheet should be around 2 metres longer, and 3 times wider than your vessel. This should allow enough length to protect the entire underside of the hull, the keel and the bow.

To prevent damage from condensation you will need to allow a certain amount of air flow between the cover and the deck. The widely accepted method of allowing this is to construct a frame normally using 2 inch thick PVC piping secured to a wooden structure that will support the tarpaulin from underneath. A great money saving tip is to screw your frame together rather than nailing so it can be reused each winter. Make sure you allow sufficient padding on any sharp edges of the frame, puncturing your cover the first time you use it would not be ideal. I’d recommend securing your tarp using good quality bungee cord and hook ends across the underside of the hull and pull it as tight as possible to prevent wind intrusion, which could damage your sheet, especially during transport. You should never secure a tarpaulin using the eyelets alone, so you may wish to use shock cord over the top surface of the cover as well to reduce the risk of eyelets sustaining damage. Alternatively, you could use metal clamps, although I wouldn’t suggest doing this if your boat is to be transported by road. Regardless of how strong the clamps are there is a chance they could be shaken loose in transit.

Please find more information and products here.

How to use plastic hook ends.

Bungee Plastic Hook With CordThere is a very limited supply of  information on the net regarding these hook ends. The good thing is that installation is fairly straight forward. These specific hooks are designed to fit 6-8mm bungee cord.

Here is how to install…

  • Place the bungee cord through the grommet.
  • Put the bungee into the bottom of the hook
  • Push the grommet to meet the bottom of the hook and it should lock into place

The picture above should be a reference point, it shows the two parts of the hook.