Cook Up a Storm in an Outdoor Kitchen

At this time of year it’s all about BBQs, al-fresco dining, and lazy warm evenings. And there’s something about cooking outside that never loses its appeal. But why stop at a solitary barbecue for cooking up those outdoor feasts when you can create a proper outdoor kitchen?

Drawer Fronts: Sadolin Classic Woodstain, Ebony, from £17.90 for 2.5l; Fence: Sandtex 10 Year Exterior Satin, Seclusion, from £32 for 2.5l

Drawer Fronts: Sadolin Classic Woodstain, Ebony, from £17.90 for 2.5l; Fence: Sandtex 10 Year Exterior Satin, Seclusion, from £32 for 2.5l

Drawers and cupboards will keep all you need to hand without running backwards and forwards to the kitchen, and the top will provide a perfect work surface for outdoor food prep. The icing on the cake would be an outdoor sink for washing salads and vegetables and for washing up at the end of the meal.


Decoratively, paint your outside kitchen as you would any indoor space. Here shades of grey keep the area looking sophisticated and act as the perfect foil for all that greenery. Practically, durable, all-weather shielding woodstains provide the perfect coating for drawer fronts, work surfaces and smaller cooking accessories, whilst exterior gloss and masonry paint offer accompanying pops of colour.

Pizza Oven, Sandtex Smooth Masonry Paint, Pure Brilliant White, from £23 for 5L; Crates: Sandtex Rapid Dry Satin, Bay Tree, from £17.99 for 750ml

Pizza Oven, Sandtex Smooth Masonry Paint, Pure Brilliant White, from £23 for 5L; Crates: Sandtex Rapid Dry Satin, Bay Tree, from £17.99 for 750ml

A pizza oven would be a great addition. And don’t forget to build a space for log storage too.

Table Top: Sandtex 10 Year Exterior Satin, Cloudy Day, from £19 for 750ml

Table Top: Sandtex 10 Year Exterior Satin, Cloudy Day, from £19 for 750ml

All that’s left is to create a dining area where guests will be happy to sit and enjoy all that food.

Styling and photography courtesy of exterior decorating experts Sadolin & Sandtex

Top Tips for Choosing Your Garden Furniture

Our outdoor spaces are no longer the forgotten areas of our homes. Gardens are now becoming an extra room in which to relax, entertain and eat with the family. So whether you have a small balcony or a large terrace, a huge choice of new materials and fabrics as well as new technology can make the task of finding your perfect garden furniture anything but simple. Bramblecrest, the leading garden furniture company, have come up with five things to think about and some simple tips to help.

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Saba Italia New York Soleil Garden Furniture, Go Modern.


  •  Measure your seating area accurately – particularly if space is tight. Allow for 1m around the back of any chairs or sofas you will need to navigate, or the space will feel cramped.

  • If your seating area is small but has a suitable wall along one side, putting modular seating against it will be the best use of space.

  • If you don’t have a space for storing cushions, buy a storage sofa or storage boxes which can also be a useful hideaway for outdoor toys and tableware.


Palermo Corner Bench And Coffee Table, Danetti.


  • Make a list of how you will use your garden furniture – from al fresco entertaining, to casual family lunches and sunbathing.

  • Modular dining sets are the most flexible when it comes to seating larger groups and for casual dining.

  • Bramblecrest’s adjustable dining tables also offer flexibility – they can be instantly lowered and turned into a coffee table or vice versa.

  • If you want a more traditional dining set but also want to kick back and relax, leave room for some recliners and foot stools.


Paris Volcano/Grey Round Dining Table with 4 Paris Volcano/Grey Stacking Armchairs, Bridgeman.


  • Sales of teak garden furniture are generally in decline. Check it is sustainably sourced and be prepared to oil it once a year and store it over winter.

  • For the ultimate in comfort and convenience, choose upholstered chairs without loose cushions. Bramblecrest’s Panama range, upholstered in a new season-proof fabric, can be safely left out in the rain and only needs to be covered or stored over long periods of non-use. No other cushion storage required!

  • For low maintenance tables and chairs that are impervious to the elements, choose synthetic woven furniture (the most popular choice in Britain) or aluminium, which is light to move and very easy to clean.


Riviera Garden Chair, Cuckooland.


  • Relatively neutral colours tend to look best in most gardens, but some more definite colours can also work well.

  • Use scatter cushions, throws and rugs to add brighter colours which tie in with planting, paving and nearby architecture.


Dynasty Fire Pit Set, The Garden Furniture Centre.


  • A large, adjustable parasol protects people (as well as phones and tablets) from glare and excessive heat in the summer.

  • Some parasols have built-in LED lights to give your evenings a little extra light and sparkle.

  • Keep your guests warm, particularly in more exposed seating areas, with a dining table with a built-in firepit.

Keeping up - Top Garden Trends in 2019

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Whether you’re planning on redesigning your garden from top to bottom or simply wish to give it a new look, you have to keep up with the newest trends. From stone walls to garden zoning, I’ve put together a list that will make things so much easier for you!

Top Garden Trends in 2019 (2).jpg


Hideaways for grownups

One of the main garden trends in 2019 are summerhouses turned into gorgeous dedicated corners in your garden. You can let your imagination run wild and turn your summerhouse into whatever you want – a she shed, a man cave, a play corner for your children, a meditation spot for yoga, a reading nook, or just a place where you entertain friends during the hot summer months.

Top Garden Trends in 2019 (3).jpg


Hydrangea beauty

The idea behind this gardening trend that has been sweeping 2019 is that more and more gardeners are making safe, conscious decisions that involve planting local flowers rather than exotic ones. And hydrangeas are the number one choice!

Of course, you can mix and match your lovely garden flowers and plant lavender, magnolia, primroses, begonias, and geraniums as well.

Stone walls

This is a trend that came to us right from the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show. Stone walls are super easy to incorporate in any garden because they have such an organic feel to them. You can pretend like the wall has been in your garden all along!

You can even turn it into a bit of a DIY project and take a hammer to it. Create a few patterns and pit marks that will have it look like it has a patina or it is weather worn. For a dramatic look, you can allow poison ivy or honey suckle to grow all over it.

Garden zoning

If you’re not zoning, you’re not doing it right! This seems to be the main idea in 2019. But what does this mean? Simply using dividers such as steel panels, for example, to create spaces and zones in your garden that will serve different purposes.

One can be used for growing plants and flowers, one for vegetables and herbs, one for dining, one for your kids to play and another as a storage space. This will allow you to use the space you have to the max as well as protect it.

Top Garden Trends in 2019 (1).jpg


Conscious gardening

I’ve already touched up on this one a little when detailing hydrangeas. Conscious gardening has seen a rapid growth this year as more and more people are starting to pay attention to the environment as well as the weather when they garden.

The climate is changing and the weather is getting hotter by the minute. As a consequence, you will need to start planting flowers and shrubs that can resist the heat and long periods of drought. The same goes for irrigation which is now seen as wasteful. Go for flowers that don’t require that much water!

How to Holiday Proof Your Garden

There’s nothing worse than going away on a much needed holiday, only to return to a garden full of dead plants and a general neglected air. And that’s before you have to cope with a mountain of dirty laundry and an empty fridge! 

But luckily, horticulture experts at have compiled for us a guide to remind green fingered Brits to complete tasks like weeding and deadheading plants before jetting away.

“When you’ve spent hours in the garden pruning and preening, the thought all your hard work going to waste whilst you’re enjoying a well-earned break is slightly distressing – and rightly so. But there are several steps to take to minimise the damage, all of which are easy and straight forward”.

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Garden Trading Wooden Rake

1. Deadhead

In the week before you go away, remove any faded or dead flowers. This will force plants to concentrate their energy on new growth, resulting in lots of flowers when you get home.

2. Mow

Give your lawn a light cut the day before you go away – but don’t be tempted to cut too low or you could risk scalping the grass, leaving it susceptible to scorching from the harsh sun.


 GoodHome Durum Garden Fork, B&Q

3. Weed

The day before you leave, go round the garden and pull up any weeds you can see. Spray weeds on paths, patios, and driveways with a store-bought weed killer, or a homemade solution.

4. Cover your soil with mulch

By putting a protective layer of mulch or bark on top of soil, borders and containers will be able to retain more water or rainfall, using it later when they need to.


 Carlton Spiral Solar Lantern, Lights 4 Fun

5. Group potted plants together

Grouping potted pots and containers together will further reduce water loss by creating localised humidity, as the leaves of neighbouring plants both emit and trap the water vapour of each other. They should, if possible, be placed in a position that's shady for most of the day and where they'll still receive rain. 

6. Plant saucer

Put plant pots onto terracotta saucers with a little bit of water in the base so the plant can draw up from it if it needs to.

7. Water

Give all of your plants a good dousing of water just before you leave – every little helps!

Give Your Garden a Makeover

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Whether you’ve just moved into a new property or have grown bored of the style of your garden, there are plenty of ways to change your outside area so it becomes a warm and welcoming place for you, your family and/or your guests.


What does your garden mean to you? 

Before starting work, think about how you’ll be using your garden. If you’re fond of entertaining, create an outdoor dining room with a fire feature such as a fire-pit or barbecue. Install a waterproof speaker system so that you and your guests can enjoy some music and ensure you have soft outdoor lighting like tealights or fairy lights to create the right atmosphere. 

If your garden is your haven and a place to relax after the stresses of a busy day, make a quiet contemplation area which is secluded by the construction of fences, bushes or trees. The soothing sounds of a water feature will calm you even more. 


Preparing your ideas 

Sketch out some plans of how you envisage your new garden. Don’t forget to think in all dimensions. Too many people forget about height when they’re planning their new garden so their outdoor area looks too uniform with all greenery on the same level. Vertical planting, such as in fences or walls, will be helpful if your garden has limited space. 

Think about the colour palette of your garden too. Although flowering plants of blues, greys and mauves have long been in fashion, more and more people are now choosing more garish colours like vibrant yellows and oranges. 

Budgeting for these changes will also play a role in your decision-making. You don’t necessarily have to buy all the gardening equipment. Nowadays, tool rental is a much more cost-effective solution especially for equipment which is only needed at certain times of the year like pruning shears or chainsaws. 


Embrace Japanese wabi-sabi 

The Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi seeks beauty in the asymmetrical. Mixing perennials with bedding plants, bulbs, grasses and even vegetables will give your outdoor area a more relaxed and less artificial-looking style. It will be eye-catching and give you something to look at and admire all the year round. 
This can be achieved by creating an English country meadow in your yard. This will look much better if the garden surface is completely flat. The option of a mini digger hire will save you a lot of back-breaking labour in preparing uneven surfaces. 

A mixture of wildflowers and perennials in your garden meadow will produce a riot of colour from April to November. This stunning look is possible with the minimum of maintenance since plants will be adapted to the climate and require little or no watering. This makes it an ideal option for busy professionals who don’t have the time to spend hours working on their garden. 

Another benefit is that the use of indigenous plants will create a haven for native species of wildlife such as butterflies. 

Whatever makeover you opt for, remember that a garden is a work in progress. As it grows and matures, it will look even better in the years to come. 

Decorating Ideas for the Urban Garden

Large, leafy green gardens are often a rare commodity in urban homes, so making clever use of any available space is even more important. This might be a case of clever planting, adding some colour with paint, or simply styling the area to create a welcoming ‘outside room’ that is perfect for dining, relaxing and entertaining.

Decorating Ideas for the Urban Garden (3).jpg

Go Vertical

If space is at a premium it makes sense to use that wall space. Here a collection of old frames have been given a coat of paint and used to hold moss and succulents. A gallery wall with a difference!

Decorating Ideas for the Urban Garden (1).jpg

Use Pots

With very little soil in urban gardens it makes sense to use pots to create a green oasis. Bigger pots with bigger plants will create more drama (and need less watering), but sometimes a row of pots hanging from a railing can look equally as good. Especially when painted in a rainbow of shades.

Decorating Ideas for the Urban Garden (1).jpg

Use All Available Surfaces

Garden steps can be used to add height to your flower displays too. With the addition of cushions they can even be used as occasional seats.

Decorating Ideas for the Urban Garden (2).jpg

Add Colour With Paint

Almost anything can be painted with the right paint and preparation. Matthew Brown, the Sandtex Technical Consultant offers a couple of tips:

When decorating, ensure surfaces are clean and dry. Don’t decorate over something that isn’t sound - a good coating can’t make a poor surface into a good one!”

“Use an appropriate primer that will provide a quality foundation for the paint to sit on. Ongoing maintenance is only needed when the surfaces look dull after cleaning.”

All images and paints used are from Sandtex Exterior Paints.

Bring The Fiesta to Your Garden Party This Summer

Garden party season is here! Whether you’re celebrating summer with a south-of-the-border soirée, indulging in #tacotuesday with your closest amigos or spicing up your Cinco de Mayo, why not evoke the exuberant spirit of Mexico with a range of tableware and accessories in an Aztec-inspired palette of bold, punchy brights.

Boho Table Setting with Frida Cushion, Cups, Basket, and Chandelier

Boho Table Setting with Frida Cushion, Cups, Basket, and Chandelier

Taking inspiration from the country’s rich culture and history, Boho from Talking Tables pays homage to artist Frida Kahlo’s brazen spirit and iconic style, with trompe l’oeil embroidery, folk-style geometrics, naïve florals and lavishly costumed llamas. As well as Frida herself - emblazoned across lanterns, paper plates, cups and napkins.

Boho Table Detail Woven Basket, Plates, and Napkins

Boho Table Detail Woven Basket, Plates, and Napkins

Sling on a sombrero, grab the guac, mix those margaritas and you’re ready to roll. Viva La Frida!

Boho Outdoor Entertaining Paper Lanterns

Boho Outdoor Entertaining Paper Lanterns

Top image: Chandelier, £14, Frida Cushion, £30, Large Frida Paper Cups, £4.50 for a pack of 12.

Middle image: Global Gathering Small Woven Tray, £12, Medium Paper Plates, £4 for a pack of 12, Cocktail Napkins, £3 for a pack of 20.

Bottom image: Paper Lanterns, £10 for a pack of 3.

Below: Bunting, £10.


How Does Your Garden Glow?

As brightly as this we hope!

M&L Paints - A selection of painted milk bottles.jpg

M&L Paints has partnered with it’s sister company – the Victorian-inspired greenhouse manufacturer, Alitex – to create a palette of 15 shades that will match, complement or contrast with Alitex’s popular greenhouse colours.

M&L Paints - Bench in Juniper Green.jpg

Available in a host of interior and exterior finishes, this new collaboration will allow homeowners to create a stunning vista, with paint options available for all surfaces: from interior walls and woodwork to fencing, outdoor chairs, bird tables and benches.

The Alitex Collection by M&L Paints.jpg

The Alitex Collection by M&L Paints is inspired by the breadth of colour found in a beautifully planted English garden. Wood Sage, Passiflora, Deep Mauve, Silver Lavender and Juniper Green are all botanically influenced hues, whereas Downland Stone, Sussex Emerald, Greensand and Chalkhill Blue all take their cues from M&L Paints andAlitex’s joint home in the beautiful countryside of the South Downs.

M&L Paints will launch at The RHS Chelsea Flower Show (21-25th May).

Available exclusively from

Simple Spring Styling Ideas for the Garden

If like us you are itching to get into the garden but the recent cold snap has had you racing back indoors, there are a few things you can do now to improve the look of your outside space.

Make a Feature of the Patio

Rectangle Printed Emblem Cushion £12.99, Herringbone Throw £29.99, Rattan lantern £16.99, Various Herbs £3.99 or 3 for £10, all Dobbies Garden Centres  (Wire basket – stylists own)

Rectangle Printed Emblem Cushion £12.99, Herringbone Throw £29.99, Rattan lantern £16.99, Various Herbs £3.99 or 3 for £10, all Dobbies Garden Centres

(Wire basket – stylists own)

It may be too cold to sit outside yet but you can still make the patio look a welcoming space. It’s the spot you can see from your backdoor and windows so there’s no excuse for not tidying it up. A few potted herbs will survive the cold temperatures and be handy for when you are rustling up an Easter feast in the kitchen. Add a few cushions and a throw and you never know, you may venture outside after all.

Plant Up a Spring Box

Sempervivum (Houseleeks) £2.49 5 For £10; Various Succulents £2.49 5 For £10 all Dobbies Garden Centres

Sempervivum (Houseleeks) £2.49 5 For £10; Various Succulents £2.49 5 For £10 all Dobbies Garden Centres

A simple wooden box planted up with spring bulbs and succulents will provide a lovely, colourful feature that will catch the eye. Place it where you will see it from the house to get the biggest impact, and if frost threatens you can easily move it to a more sheltered spot.

Make a Feature of your Entrance

Rattan lantern £16.99, Carex Everest £8.99 (2 For £15 2ltr Pot), all Dobbies Garden Centres

Rattan lantern £16.99, Carex Everest £8.99 (2 For £15 2ltr Pot), all Dobbies Garden Centres

A porch or covered entrance will provide enough shelter for a few hardy potted plants. Add a few storm lanterns to the arrangement and you will have a stunning display to welcome guests over the holiday period.

All images and products from Dobbies.

Upcycling in the Garden

Now that Spring is well and truly on it’s way, it’s time to start thinking about the garden. Furniture that has been left out in the elements through winter will really benefit from a rub down and a coat of preservative. Not just to make the wood last longer but to make it look fresh and ready for the new season.

But what if your outdoor furniture really isn’t up to scratch any longer? Before you rush out and buy new, why not consider upcycling. Maybe you have some discarded furniture in the garage that you no longer have a use for. Or maybe it’s worth a trip to the local charity shop to see if they have anything suitable. With a fresh coat of varnish you could have something unique for a fraction of the cost.

Classic All Purpose Woodstain in Natural from Sadolin

Classic All Purpose Woodstain in Natural from Sadolin

An old pine table and mis-matched chairs can give your garden a lovely vintage look. Even better with an old mirror, some lace, and some freshly picked flowers. Just perfect for a good old-fashioned afternoon tea or a candlelit dinner with friends.

Classic All Purpose Woodstain in Natural from Sadolin

Classic All Purpose Woodstain in Natural from Sadolin

Old pallets can be re-purposed as the perfect rack for hanging plants. Or you can make your own rack with off-cuts of wood you may have lying around. Just add butchers hooks and some colourful pots and you have a vertical garden that will cheer up a dull corner.

Classic All Purpose Woodstain from Sadolin. Bottom to top, Ebony, Jacobean Walnut, Mahogany, Heritage Oak, and Natural.

Classic All Purpose Woodstain from Sadolin. Bottom to top, Ebony, Jacobean Walnut, Mahogany, Heritage Oak, and Natural.

Old wooden step ladders can also be used as a stand for plants. Or maybe for holding cooking utensils and herbs next to the barbecue.

Tip from an expert: “When coating natural wood, ensure the surface is clean by wiping with a damp cloth soaked in Methylated Spirit. We don’t recommend White Spirit as this tends to smear contaminants such as grease, resin and oil across the surface, rather than remove them.” Matthew Brown, Technical Consultant, Sadolin.

All images and woodstains used are from Sadolin, available at most DIY stores.

All You Need to Know About Paving Before Installation on Your Property

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It’s time that you went in for a new driveway as your current one is old, cracked and filled with potholes. Sure, you can try and handle the job on your own, but since paving asphalt requires heavy machinery, it may be a good idea to contact professional contractors, just search online for paving in Dublin, and that should get you the contact information you need. But before you call in the contractor, there are a few things that you need to know about paving. At the least, you need to know more about the process involved so that you can be sure that the contractor is doing a good job and not a half baked one.


  • Research: Before you hire the first paving contractor, it would be advisable to learn all you can about paving and the process involved. Additionally, you may want to sort through the various paving contractors, based on their experience, expertise as well as the reviews that they had received from other customers. Make a short list as this can come handy when choosing the contractor to handle your paving project.

  • Remove the old surface: The first thing that a contractor would be required to do is to remove the old driveway. He may break apart the surface with sledgehammers, drill and other equipment to remove the driveway and to expose the ground underneath.

  • To grade the driveway: Once he has removed all evidence of the old driveway, he would then grade it so that it slopes gently. He undertakes this part so that any water on the driveway runs off to the side or to the bottom, without stagnating on the driveway itself as it can cause it to weaken and collapse as well.

  • Compact the soil: Once the contractor has exposed the natural soil underneath, he would then use heavy machinery to compact the underlying soil. It is vital that the soil is properly compacted so as to reduce any air pockets underneath. Once he has compacted the soil, he would then cover it with crushed rock (8 inches), especially if the underlying soil happens to be clay. The crushed rock will allow water and other fluids to drain properly and can help provide your driveway with a strong foundation. Just remember that you need to allow for at least a week to let the soil settle once you have compacted it.

  • Asphalt size: Now that your contractor has prepared your driveway, he would get ready to pave the same with asphalt. You need to choose the thickness for the same and it is advised to opt for an aggregate that is at least ½ inch thick for residential driveways and a 3/4th inch thick for commercial driveways. As for the layer thickness, you may want to opt for 2 to 3 inches to give your driveway with a better, finish.


These are some of the things that you may want to keep in mind as you search online for paving in Dublin, and get ready to have your driveway repaved all over again. Just remember that the process is simple enough but it always pays to hire a professional to handle it unless you feel that you have the required expertise to handle it on your own. Make sure that your contractor signs an agreement before starting on the project and provides you with a timeframe by which the project would be complete. A few of them may even cut corners to try and finish the project faster and it is up to you to ensure that the work they carry out is as per specs and results in a strong and durable driveway.

How to Look After Houseplants During the Winter Months

On the whole houseplants thrive during the summer months when there’s lots of daylight and temperatures are more suited to their natural habitat. In the winter months however drafts, cold, and over-watering can kill off the hardiest specimen. So here’s our quick guide to keeping your plant pets happy until Spring arrives.

Succulent (8.5cm), from £3.99, in turquoise Janice pot, various sizes, from £5.99; Chlorophytum (12cm), £5.99, in green puck pot, various sizes, from £9.99; Asplenium Crispy Wave (12cm), £6.99, in brown Atlantic basket, various sizes, from £3.49

Succulent (8.5cm), from £3.99, in turquoise Janice pot, various sizes, from £5.99; Chlorophytum (12cm), £5.99, in green puck pot, various sizes, from £9.99; Asplenium Crispy Wave (12cm), £6.99, in brown Atlantic basket, various sizes, from £3.49

  1. All houseplants require less water in winter. Make sure you're not letting your pots stay too wet, and your plants will thank you. Try cutting the frequency of watering in half, or just water if your plants look thirsty.

  2. The ideal temperature range for most plants is 20 to 26 c during the day and 15 c at night. They will survive at lower temperatures but they won’t thrive. Don’t whatever you do leave them on a windowsill behind closed curtains.

  3. Most plants will appreciate being moved nearer to a source of light during the shorter days, but make sure you keep them away from drafts.

  4. Houseplants will be dormant at this time of year so hold off with the plant food until Spring.

  5. Low humidity is probably the biggest hurdle to overcome during winter. If you have a humidifier in your home, move your plants to a spot where they will enjoy its benefits. Clustering your plants in groups will also help.

Chair, part of Grace bistro set, £179

Chair, part of Grace bistro set, £179

Finally, don’t ignore them. Continue to check for dead leaves and any signs that your plant is in distress, but don't fuss over them or kill them with kindness. Keep an eye out for early signs of problems, which can still include insect pests, even in winter. But wait until the growing season resumes, before you re-pot them or start taking cuttings. Consider winter an off-season for your houseplants and let them rest.

Streptocarpus 10cm pot from £6.99, Thyme common 14cm pot £3.99 or 3 for £10, Succulent mix including Echeveria 5.5cm from £2.99, Pansy mauve six pack £3.99 or 3 for £9, Trailing ivy (Hedera 9cm) £1.99

Streptocarpus 10cm pot from £6.99, Thyme common 14cm pot £3.99 or 3 for £10, Succulent mix including Echeveria 5.5cm from £2.99, Pansy mauve six pack £3.99 or 3 for £9, Trailing ivy (Hedera 9cm) £1.99

All images courtesy of Dobbies who have been inspiring gardeners since 1865.

Top Tips for Getting The Garden Ready for Autumn

There’s no escaping the fact that Autumn is coming. But we happen to think that this season is a magical time of year where the landscape colours transform from lush greens to beautiful oranges, flaming reds, and yellows.  Unfortunately the typical garden never looks that pristine at this time of year, so now is the time to start to think about how to prepare your garden for the winter months.

Potting Table from Sue Ryder

Potting Table from Sue Ryder

Repair and Protect Fencing

Start looking at how you can create a robust environment which will last through the harsher winter months. Make sure your garden fencing is in good condition and able to survive strong blustery winds.   For instance, check the fence for any lose panels and repair fence posts now to avoid any potential problems caused by severe weather.

Wheely Bin Cover from Sue Ryder

Wheely Bin Cover from Sue Ryder

Store Away Garden Furniture

Over the past couple of years,’ the garden has become an extension of the home and people are investing more money in garden furniture and outdoor accessories. Don’t leave these items out in the garden. You will find that metal and even barbecues tend to rust and become discoloured when subjected to the elements.  If you have a smaller outdoor space then why not consider small sheds or garden boxes to store items away. Also, consider investing in protective covers for your furniture and outdoor equipment.

Keep your Home Mud Free

Don’t you just love it when your hallway is plastered with muddy footprints? One way to keep mucky shoes and boots at bay is to invest in a welly boot store, these can come in various guises.  Metal outdoor storage units or more closed storage cupboards as seen below and can sit outside all year long.

Boot Store from Sue Ryder

Boot Store from Sue Ryder

Tidy up the grass

Make sure that you keep weeds at bay during the Autumn months and keep the grass cut – although it doesn’t grow as fast as during the Summer months – it’s worth just giving it the odd cut now and again. Trim back perennials that have turned and also don’t forget to plant your spring bulbs; daffodils, for instance, should be planted mid-October just before the ground freezes over.

Garden Storage Shed from Sue Ryder

Garden Storage Shed from Sue Ryder

A Shed Load of Space

Sheds are fast becoming another “must have” garden accessory.  People are opting for custom made structures that can also double up as an alternative room.   Whatever size or type of shed you have, make sure your garden shed is in good repair and store away your garden equipment neatly so that you maximize the interior space.  Use hook or nails to hang tools and introduce shelving to store items away.   If you have a smaller garden then why not invest in a compact shed, that would fit into a smaller garden space but still provide you with adequate storage.

Log Storage

Having a wood store close to your home in a handy spot for topping up you log basket will prove to be a blessing on those dark nights. It can be hard work moving heavy logs from a woodpile each day and can mean several trips back a forth. Logs that are neatly stored close to your home will be far more ideal. Make sure that you have good access to your log storage and that it’s not obstructing any other paths or gates as once stocked up it will be in position for some time.

01604593674 |


Money raised from the sale of these products helps provide incredible care for people with life-changing illness. Whether it’s bringing comfort to someone’s final days or enabling them to make the most of their life, Sue Ryder is there for them and their loved ones.

Seven Tools You Need to Keep Your Lawn Looking Good

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A nice lawn makes a home look so much more attractive. But, grass does take a little bit of looking after. You need access to the right equipment and products to keep it strong, healthy and lush. Here is a list of what you will need, along with a few tips to help you to get the most out of them.

Good-quality grass seed

Top of the list is good quality grass seed. Every year, some of your existing lawn is going to die back. It could because of disease, a lack of water or general wear or tear. Whatever the reason, the way to fix this is to re-seed your lawn. Doing it every year ensures that you keep ahead of the process and ensure that your lawn continues to look good.

Buying from online sellers like The Grass People is a particularly good way to get your hands on the right type of seed. They tend to sell a bigger selection. This is important because which seed is best for your lawn is dependent on where you live, your local weather and soil conditions.


An effective mower

Keeping your lawn properly cut is also important. Doing so stimulates growth and helps to ensure that as much water as possible reaches the roots of your grass.

You should only cut your grass when it actually growing and ensure that your mower blades are sharp. Ideally, you should not cut more than a third of the blades of grass. If you cut off more of the length, you can send the grass into shock and upset its growth cycle. So, always look for a height adjustable mower.

A dethatcher

Over time, the dead material begins to clog up your lawn. It is usually a mixture of dust, dead weeds, rotting leaves and dying blades of grass. This makes it harder for water to penetrate the ground and reach the grass roots. So, once a year, you need to de-thatch your lawn. Just buy and use a de-thatching rake. They are not expensive and are very easy to use.


An aerator

Lawns need to be aerated. If you do not do this, the soil compacts more, each year. Over time, this action presses in on the roots and suffocates them. This stunts the growth of your grass and eventually kills it off. So, you need to aerate your lawn, once a year. To do this you can buy or hire an aerator or simply use a sturdy garden fork.

Rainwater butts

Rainwater is much better for grass than tap water is. So, it really is worth investing in a couple of rain butts.


Grass feed

Some people are lucky and end up with a lovely lush, green lawn without having to feed it. If you do not fall into that category visit your local garden centre and buy some of the grass feed they recommend.

A way to keep your lawn weed free

Weeding your lawn is also important. Weeds are greedy. They can easily guzzle up all of the water and nutrients. Plus, their leaves will inevitably end up overrunning your lawn and killing off your grass.

How you weed your lawn is very much a case of personal taste. You can go down the weed killer route or, if you prefer, buy a manual weeding tool. There are several available, so do a bit of research and shop around to find the best one for you.

Garden Lighting: Easy Ideas To Help Transform Your Outside Space

Collaborative Post

When it comes to garden lighting, many people think of security lights, designed to deter intruders, or perhaps of temporary installations for outdoor weddings or other parties. However, careful use of lighting can transform a garden and help make it a truly multi-functional after-dark space. Here are eight points to consider.

Outdoor wall lights

The popularity of outdoor wall lights means there is a fabulous selection of styles and designs on the market at a range of price points. Choose a supplier with an extensive choice, such as, for a good overview of what is available and what appeals to you. You may want to opt for a style that suits your home. Traditional designs made from dark metal and glass may work well with older properties. At the other end of the spectrum, contemporary designs lean towards the minimalist and tend to be sleek and unfussy. Merging the two, mid-century modernist designs will work well in just about any space. Whatever design you choose, modern technology can ensure that your lights are easy to use and efficient in their energy use. 

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Incorporate Lighting Into Any Garden Redesign

Garden lighting should not be an afterthought. If you're at the start of a garden redesign, think about lighting options now. Remember that most cabling can go beneath the hard landscaping. Judicious planting may be able to disguise cabling that is added at a later stage. 

Use The Services Of A Qualified Electrician

Ensure a qualified electrician installs any cabled lighting. This is important both from a safety perspective and to ensure the cables are protected from rabbits and other tunnelling or gnawing animals. Using tubing reinforced with mesh adds an additional layer of protection. 

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Illuminate From Above

Natural light originates from above. As a general rule, it is best to mimic this when illuminating outside spaces. Low wattage bulbs are most effective and can result in an eye-catching and memorable display. In any event, from a safety perspective it is essential to comply with the manufacturer's maximum wattage specification for any particular light fitting. LED lights can be an excellent choice. 

Subtle Illumination 

Many people are tempted to illuminate a single tree or bush by use of a spotlight. Despite their best intentions, this can lead to a security light effect that is anything but relaxing. You can avoid this by ensuring that your light is angled downwards. This will result in subtle pools of dappled light capable of illuminating a path or patio. Similarly, don't be tempted to light up an entire flight of steps. Illuminating alternate risers is usually far more aesthetically pleasing. 

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Light pollution is a common cause of discord between neighbours. It has the potential to be a statutory nuisance and, as such, fall under the remit of local government. You can avoid this becoming a problem for you by thinking about how your proposed lighting might affect any neighbours and installing your choices with care and consideration. 


Inappropriate garden lighting can adversely affect wildlife. For example, moths can be disorientated by artificial lights and birds' sleep cycles can be disrupted, causing them to start singing well before dawn. Ensuring you retain dark areas within the garden, choosing low intensity lighting and turning the lights off when not in use are some of the ways you can minimise the impact on your garden wildlife

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Garden Lighting Designers

If yours is a big space or if you are feeling unsure about how to illuminate your garden to best effect, you might want to engage the services of a professional garden lighting designer. As well as taking into account all the points raised above, they will work with you to ensure that your outside space is illuminated beautifully. Colour, lighting location, direction of lighting, installation, safety and cost of illumination all fall within their remit. 

With summer almost upon us, now is the perfect time to ensure your garden is in the best shape for you to enjoy it throughout the warmer months. Good lighting is an integral part of this. With a little thought and preparation, you can make your garden as visually appealing after dark as it is during daylight hours.

Fake It: Faux Flowers from Neptune

Faux flowers have upped their game. Gone are the days of the obviously artificial and thick fabric leaves, instead, fine silk petals that are beautifully hand-painted, supported by thick stems and glossy verdant leaves have taken their place. 

At Neptune, our Flower Shop presents floral stems, green sprigs, knobbly twigs and even potted succulents. We refer to them as being ‘life-like’ as opposed to ‘faux’ or ‘artificial’ because it’s a phrase that’s far more true to their nature. It’s not until you are but inches away that you realise they aren’t the real thing. 

Life-like florals are a simple way to give a room instant lift, standing them in attractive vases upon window sills, console tables or as a dining room’s tabletop centerpiece. They can introduce seasonal colour, or, consider using purely stems of greenery or even a bundle of Willow or Magnolia twigs for a more contemporary statement that requires zero effort to maintain. And because of their bendy stems, they can be looped together for more creative arrangements such as apple blossom as a bower or numerous stems grouped together and suspended over a table for a scene your guests will never forget...

The Heart Home Garden Shop

Fingers crossed we'll all be spending much more time in the garden over the next few months. So we've curated a collection of garden furniture and accessories to help you make sure your outside space is as stylish and comfortable as it can be. 

And don't forget, if you don't find what you're looking for below, there's much more in the Heart Home shop. Just hit the button above.

Garden Furniture: Dreaming of Summer

Winter is still in full swing and frosty days do not give up yet. Let’s dream about next summer, then, imagining fresh ideas for our new outdoor furniture!  It is time to think of how to arrange the outdoor space in order to enjoy it for pleasant moments of relaxation under the blue sky.

First of all, you must decide how you would like to use and organize your outdoor space. Would you like a garden where growing a small vegetable garden? Or would you prefer a location suitable to hold the many summer parties and dinners you will plan with your friends and relatives? Garden is for you a place where relaxing and reading, maybe while sipping your favourite drink, but also where running and playing with your children. You can combine all these needs by dividing spaces to create smaller areas with specific functions. A relax area with couches, hammocks or rocking chairs where you can rest and chat with friends, taking a break from your busy and sometimes stressful days; a space dedicated to food revolving around garden table and chairs, maybe covered by a huge beach umbrella or a canopy to protect you and your beloved ones from the sun while eating; and also a playground to entertain your children and let them enjoy sunny days. 

Obviously, once chosen the function your garden will take on, you must start considering what types of outdoor furniture you should use so as to furnish it at best from both an aesthetic and a functional point of view. You should focus on weather-resistant pieces of garden furniture, thus on garden tables and chairs resistant to sun and rain, specifically conceived not only to bring a touch of design but also to make durable your garden furniture. Currently, most of the outdoor furniture is realised with technological and synthetic materials characterised by fundamental qualities such as resistance to sunlight and weathering. Moreover, these materials are non-toxic and highly waterproof.

If you have opted for a relaxing outdoor living room, then items such as garden chairs and chaise longue are the ideal complements to create a welcoming atmosphere. An option that well harmonizes with the idea of a relax garden is to choose wood as the material for your furniture. Wood, for tables and outdoor tables, is definitely a valuable choice, as well as ideal for staying in the open air, surrounded by your bright plants and flowers. Wooden garden tables and chairs, in fact, are treated with special coatings that make them resistant to mould and mildew and, above all, waterproof. Another essential thing in a relax garden is the main symbol of summer and of the sweetness of do nothing: the hammock. By now, many models are available on the market, both the classic garden hammock to hang between two trees or two poles and the more contemporary one, equipped with its own supporting structure that allows you to place it wherever you want, even at home or in whatever indoor space. Many garden furniture, in fact, are also practical within the household, both to give a more natural feel to your interior design and to decorate a winter garden, a veranda, or, more simply, a nice balcony or terrace.

Summer is still far (unfortunately): you have plenty of time to think of how to organise at best your outdoor space and what garden furniture to choose to make perfect your own green corner.

She Sheds by Erika Kotite

Belle of the Garden. Photography: Stacy Bass Photography, p168 – “Twin trellises support the garden’s climbing roses on the Williamsburg Gardenbelle she shed. This impressive architectural structure is actually centered within the brick wall and becomes part of the landscape’s permanence.”

Belle of the Garden. Photography: Stacy Bass Photography, p168 – “Twin trellises support the garden’s climbing roses on the Williamsburg Gardenbelle she shed. This impressive architectural structure is actually centered within the brick wall and becomes part of the landscape’s permanence.”

Have you dreamed of a quiet place where you can get away from it all? Do you have a creative spirit that is searching for somewhere to thrive? Would you like to surround yourself with special things that are yours and yours alone? Do you believe that the best things come in small packages? All over the world, others have felt the same desires and discovered the solitude and splendor of a she shed. They may be described by other names, such as hen hut or lady lair, but the purpose and benefits are exactly the same. 

La casita. Photography: Cody Ulrich, p107.jpg – “A stunning chandelier that Morse made from shells hangs over the main living area of her shed. The sofa serves as her bed when she stays here. Handsome wood flooring is mostly original, painted black. Above the beams, a former air vent now serves as a small window.”

La casita. Photography: Cody Ulrich, p107.jpg – “A stunning chandelier that Morse made from shells hangs over the main living area of her shed. The sofa serves as her bed when she stays here. Handsome wood flooring is mostly original, painted black. Above the beams, a former air vent now serves as a small window.”

In She Sheds, the beautiful new book by Erika Kotite, you’ll see dozens of in-depth examples of these private spaces to inspire you in your own pursuit. Some she sheds are dedicated to making art or music, some to gardening, writing, or reading. The activities are as varied as the women who have created them. But they all share one thing in common: they began as someone’s dream and blossomed into a small slice of heaven. 

The Bridal Shed. Photography by Anne Wells, p59 – “The underside of the roof is swathed in a cotton canopy. (There is a timber roof above.) A storage area to the far end is created with a stud partition that comes out just to the center of the shed.”

The Bridal Shed. Photography by Anne Wells, p59 – “The underside of the roof is swathed in a cotton canopy. (There is a timber roof above.) A storage area to the far end is created with a stud partition that comes out just to the center of the shed.”

Erika Kotite is an editor, writer, and content developer in both print and digital media. She was editor-in-chief of Romantic Homes and Victorian Homes for many years, bringing that experience to producing books for Sterling, Quarry, and Walter Foster. Some of her titles include, Felt Fashion: Couture Projects from Apparel to Accessories, Blogging for Bliss, and The Daily Book of Photography. 

She Sheds: A Room Of Your Own by Erika Kotite is published by Cool Springs Press (£16.99). The book officially releases on 16th February and more information can be found here

​Outdoor Living By Selina Lake

Taken from her book Outdoor Living, Selina Lake shares with us her styling tips on how to create the perfect afternoon tea party.

MyStyle Tips

A long table instantly creates a special mood and works well if guests are going to be serving themselves, as they can pass refreshments and platters from one end to the other. It’s easy to create an extra-long table by dragging a couple of classic wooden picnic benches together. These are available from most home and garden stores and are a great investment for the garden. Position the tables in the best spot for early evening sunshine to catch the last rays of the day.

No pretty table outside is complete without flowers – the more, the better. Stems look great in a mix of jam jars and vases and I also like to scatter them on the table. Think about incorporating blooms in other ways, too – perhaps by decorating cakes with flower heads or hanging posies from tree branches using ribbon.

One of my favourite pastimes is collecting vintage china. I simply can’t resist a floral plate from a second-hand shop, especially if it boasts a rosy pattern and a glimmer of gold. Mismatched plates add a certain charm to a pretty table and you could team them with non-matching cutlery/flatware for a total eclectic look. 

Continue the mix-and-match theme with your glassware, too. When I see glasses I like, I tend to buy just two or three, instead of a set, and I now have quite a collection of assorted glasses. 

Add a few pieces of gold china or candlesticks for a touch of luxury and to reflect the sunlight.

Words by Selina Lake, photography by Debi Treloar

Outdoor Living by Selina Lake, photography by Debi Treloar is published by Ryland Peters & Small and is available from