The Spring- Summer 2011 Collection by Habitat takes its inspiration from the heat of the Meditteranean, fun at the seaside and lazy days in country gardens.
It’s enough to make you long for the spring and summer months. But while homeowners continue to shiver their way through the winter, atleast there’s the latest collection by Habitat to give us something to get excited about.
Bring into your home the intoxicating warmth and vibrant colours of the Mediterranean. This is a trend that brings to mind quayside tables, flickering candles, good food, and the best of friends. A great way to brighten up fitted kitchens and upholstery.
Sun-bleached hues, roughened textures and fun mix and match items are great for home interiors as well as picnics on the seashore. Take a look at Habitat’s quirky melamine crockery and plush towels. We particularly like the sherbert cotton throw (as seen right).
The Joanie range is created to reflect the designer’s burgeoning collection of tea plates both from family heirlooms and charity shops. Use it in your kitchen to inspire lots of tea parties and home baking.
To visit the official Habitat website, click here.
In the UK, November is traditionally regarded as the month in which the autumnal weather finally loses ground to winter. Although trees will continue to shed their leaves and the occasional sunny day will have an unmistakable Indian summer feel about it, November is usually the time for rain, hail and howling winds. Indeed, if there was ever a time to finally get around to fixing or replacing the garden fence it is likely to be November.
However, whilst nailing the odd panel of wood into place is not all that difficult, replacing a fence or erecting a new one can be a challenging task for those used to more comfortable home improvements. Nevertheless, ensuring that a garden fence is safely intact is important for privacy and security. Moreover, it is often best to simply pull down an existing old fence and erect a sturdy new fence in its place. In this respect, the most effective solution is to buy good quality fencing that comprises large concrete posts.
Ultimately, the best advice that can be given to someone who wants to install such a fence is that precision is everything – if the holes into which the concrete posts will be secured are not measured to perfection, the fence panels will simply not fit. Thus, it is essential that each fence panel is positioned into place, then measured carefully in order to determine exactly where the posts will sit. Holes should be outlined using a wooden stake and string to ensure a straight line, whilst holes should be dug to around 60-70cm. Then, the posts and concrete fittings can be secured into place before the fence panels are slotted into position. Before doing this, however, it is advisable to fit a gravel board directly underneath the panels in order to eliminate water absorption.
Okay, so the weather man got it wrong… again! Summer 2009 was meant to make up for the last two miserable summers, but so far the much promised (and media hyped) “stay at home, have a stay-cation and enjoy a British barbecue summer” has, surprise, surprise, yet to materialise. And, with less than four weeks of the school summer holidays left (yes, we are all counting), why not try to grab yourself a bargain for next years summer garden furniture, instead!
Much like buying a Christmas Tree on Boxing Day (when, incidently, they are reduced from £99 to £19), buying garden furniture at the end of the summer may seem crazy, but it could save you a packet. Many of the large retailers are now offering more than half price off garden furniture ranges and it’s time to strike whilst the iron is hot (and the clouds are grey!).
B&Q are offering a whopping ‘up to 70% off‘ garden furniture sale! 12ft trampolines, which were £139 are now £69 and (one of their many furniture sets on sale) their chic Vicenza glass and lightweight aluminium table and chair set is available at a saving of 70%.
Tesco also have a summer sale offering up to 50% off Garden furniture, not to mention sales from Littlewoods, Argos and Homebase, who are offering fantastic unmissable savings! Check both online and instore to get the most of the reduced price offers.
You never know if September will bring with it a much needed Indian Summer and if so, that will allow you to enjoy your bargain summer garden furniture, without having to wait until next year.
NASA announced recently details of their latest development – An ‘aeroponic’ growing system that requires just water and an energy supply, which will allow consumers to grow plants, flowers, vegetables and fruit, in their own home. Doing away with the need for pesticides, soil, compost (and the insects that come with them), the Power Plant Growing Machine is the perfect solution to anyone wanting a vegetable plot, but without the space for one!
Entering the market will be two reasonably priced models. A small unit priced at around £34 and a more substantially sized model, retailing at £60. The Power Plant Growing Machine works by spraying the seeds (and eventually the roots) of the plant with hundreds of jet streams of nutrients. This enables the plants to grow at an accelerated rate (estimated normal growth of a seeded plant is 120 days, but with this device it can be just 90 days).
The device was developed by NASA with the intention of allowing those on space missions and placed on space stations to get their required ‘five a day’. Although the nutrient solution required to spray the plants is not organic, the producers still proclaim the health benefits of having one of these devices, stating that “home grown food is wholesome, tastes good and it is good for children to learn where plants come from”.
The Power Plant Growing Machine has been available to buy state side for over year now and UK customers can purchase the smaller models on-line. The larger Professional Power Plant Growing Machine is set to hit the shops imminently, the smaller model being rolled out if sales are successful.
Recent advice from the BBC offers suggestion to enable gardeners to cut their CO2 emissions, and do their bit for the environment. Having and maintaining a garden is a step in the right ‘eco’ direction, but your gardening tools could be causing more emissions than are offset by your lovely trees and hedges!
So, if you want to help the environment and make your garden more climate friendly, then try the following hints and tips:
One of the biggest changes you can make is to swap your petrol mower for a manual one. This simple step may mean more hard graft for you, but can annually cut your carbon emissions by 36kg! (And just think of the exercise)!
Be more climate conscious with your garden furniture purchases. Check you furniture comes from sustainable wood sources, to ensure your furniture has not been made from wood obtained from illegally logged forests.
Install a rainwater butt, saving £200 on water bills and 0.6kg of Carbon, every year! (A ‘how to’ guide is available on the BBC website).
Embrace the old fashioned ways and use a watering can rather than a sprinkler!
Nitrogen-rich fertilisers emit nitrous oxide, and should be avoided, as the emissions they create are more than three hundred times more damaging, and more harmful to the environment than Co2!
Use recycled or reclaimed materials for garden paving, walls and/or garden features.
Do not use patio heaters, as they are a terrible waste of energy.
Be creative when it comes to flower beds and try to plant flowers that do not require frequent watering.
With July just around the corner, the BBC gardening experts have complied a list of things to do in your garden before the end of June. So, with less than a week to go, time to get on your gardening gloves, find your kneeling pad and get stuck into your garden!
Encourage Buds and Thin out seedlings in beddings! June is the ideal time to use a notching technique (where by you just remove a small section of bark) just above any buds that need a helping hand. This should encourage sap to flow to the bud and stimulate growth.
Flower Garden Maintenance! Add some support to Lillies, Sprinkle Roses with special fertiliser, divide Iris and Primulas, once they have finished flowering and replant any congested lumps. Since there is no longer a fear of frost, plant any delicate bedding plants (from your greenhouse).
Cut dead flower stems off Lupins and Perennials, as this can lead to a surprise second flowering!
Greenhouse maintenance – paint windows or put up shades to protect garden plants from strong summer sun. Replant cuttings, but try to use the same compost. June is a great time to take any house-plant cuttings to cultivate in the greenhouse.
General care tips include mowing lawns regularly to encourage a strong healthy grass growth, and tending to and removing any pond weed. It has also been advised to weigh up pros and cons of pesticide use, as the season of pesky pests is upon us! Also a top tip is to place netting over fruit trees, small fruit bushes or even berries being grown in potted containers.
With the world economy currently in tatters, the flagging housing market has seen homeowners unable or unwilling to sell their property at deflated prices. Whilst this has proved frustrating for many, others have taken the forward-thinking approach of investing in their homes – realising that a house unsold today remains a valuable asset for tomorrow. Indeed, availing of reduced cost materials, goods and – if negotiation skills are up to scratch – labour, now is the perfect time to carry out improvements on the home that will one day help to increase its value. One such area that ought not to be overlooked this Summer is the garden.
The British garden will surely feature heavily this year, as weather predictions all point to a scorcher! Therefore, making permanent improvements to the garden will allow a perfect British summer to be enjoyed by property owners whilst also increasing the profit margins on a future sale.
A lush green lawn offers plenty of benefits to homeowners – from sunbathing to kicking a ball about, grass is even relatively child-friendly in consideration of those inevitable knocks, bumps and falls. Nevertheless, good quality solid wood decking will provide an attractive and useful area in which to install outdoor furniture including chairs, tables, a barbecue and permanent lighting fixtures. Moreover, if the garden is of a relatively good size, a lawned area can be maintained alongside the decked area, which ought to be constructed next to the building itself.
When choosing exterior seating for the Summer, it is important to create a comfortable environment that remains entirely practical – elaborate too much with cushioning or fabrics and it could prove a waste of money after several barbecue weekends or the odd Summer storm. Therefore, elect for wooden seating with removable covers that can be washed easily.
Furthermore, ensure that permanent outdoor light fixtures are installed that enable high visibility – doing this will not only impress future potential buyers, it will quite obviously enable you and your guests to enjoy your garden long into the warm Summer night. Let’s just hope your neighbours do not mind!
According to weather forecasts – if you dare to believe them – the Summer of 2009 will see Britain basking in equatorial sunshine. Even if, in the deepest, darkest corner of our hearts we all know that Mother Nature will send low pressure and precipitation to our little island this Summer, there appears to be good reason to optimistically plan for the alternative.
Indeed, after several consecutive damp squib Summers, the British public deserves a spot of warm weather. Furthermore, what better way to enjoy the scorching heat than to invite family and friends over for a barbecue? Whether it is a few sausages, burgers and chicken breasts or a rack of juicy ribs, there is something for everyone at a barbecue – well, not counting vegetarians and vegans, that is!
Whilst a barbecue party can comprise of little more than a gas barbecue, handful of guests and a few deck chairs, the more forward-thinking amongst us will interpret this as a great opportunity to make improvements to the garden. Indeed, in a buyer’s market, home owners are reluctant to sell their property at a loss and thus many are holding out for improved financial times. This has resulted in something of a home improvement boom of late, as sellers utilise the weakened economy to improve the value of their home for the future.
A barbecue is, therefore, a perfect excuse for installing hardwood decking and undertaking a little landscaping on the rest of the garden. The decking has a nice feel on the feet, is durable in all weathers and is very aesthetically pleasing. Landscaping the garden is essential in order to choose the right kinds of plants and flowers that will deter certain insects that, like us, cannot get enough of the barbecue food.
Finally, fixed exterior lighting and heating appliances in addition to secured patio furniture would provide another selling major point, as too would a covered area under which the barbecue can be stored… and the guests can shelter when the inevitable happens…
A garden patio has become an essential element of almost any garden design, providing not only a space in which to eat, or simply to relax in comfort, but also transitional space between the exterior and interior of your home. As such, a patio needs to be large enough to accommodate you and your family and/or friends, but as a space that will be seen and used or a regular basis, it also needs to be attractive and hardwearing.
There are, of course, many different materials that you can use for the basic construction of a patio. Real stone, or lighter, less expensive, stone veneer, are popular options along with brickwork – using new or recycled brickworks – pavers, and at the less expensive end of the market concrete. Concrete need not necessarily be bland and grey and can, nowadays, be professionally stamped and coloured to resemble more expensive materials. Above anything else, however, you should try to choose a basic material that blends congruously with your home and indeed with your garden.
Similar comments apply to patio furniture, which can be chosen to match elements of your home, or of your hard landscaping. The chances are that you probably want a table and chairs, but maybe you want a bench, sun lounger, or a hammock too to wile away those sunny summer afternoons. Plastic is cheap, but not particularly aesthetically pleasing, whilst wicker or wood, is a little more expensive, but can be treated with paint, stain or oil for longevity and provides a more natural look and feel. At the other end of the scale, wrought iron patio furniture is expensive and heavy but is highly durable provided that it is treated against the elements, in which case it can be left outside all year round. Aluminium is a lighter, more portable alternative, but is once again extremely durable and easy to clean.
With Spring approaching we are all looking forward to spending more time in the garden. Indeed, this is the perfect time to consider adding a greenhouse to your garden so that you can enjoy its benefits all year round. Greenhouses make a fantastic addition to every garden, their environment is a perfect nursery for seedlings and growing plants. Greenhouses also encompass an all important potting area, and are perfect for storing pots, compost and garden equipment.
Greenhouses come in an array of different shapes and sizes. Developments in Greenhouse designs mean that all budgets and garden areas can now accommodate a greenhouse.
Stand Alone and Lean-To are the two basic designs of domestic greenhouse. For those looking for something smaller, a mini or portable greenhouse may be the answer. Greenhouse frames are usually constructed from plastic or metal, older models may be wooden. Greenhouse ‘glass’ can be either horticultural, toughened or even plastic. Horticultural glass is prone to breakage, and plastic windows can result in restricted sunlight over time.
Lean-to’s are ideally built against your house (or your garage), they are ideal for those people who are short on space and once constructed are usually permanent features. Comprising of three walls, a sloped roof, ventilation and a door, Lean-to greenhouses are ideally situated East or South facing, so they receive the most sun exposure. Benefits of having a Lean-to greenhouse include saving space and being close to water and electricity sources. Disadvantages and complications include high sun exposure and limited ventilation and space issues.
Space permitting, few gardeners can ignore the temptation of a stand alone greenhouse and this is one area where bigger really is better! An integrated electrical and heating system is preferable, and stand alone greenhouses should be situated to ensure maximum sun exposure and adequate shade. Stand alone greenhouses come in various shapes and sizes, from traditional (Wendy) house shaped greenhouses, to domes, rectangles, apexes and squares.
Accessorise your greenhouse with heaters, digital weather devices, sunshades and solar lighting. Above all else, enjoy your greenhouse all year round. For more information click here