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The Great Little Garden Blog

  1. Fifteen Fun Shed Facts - for every devoted sheddie

    Fifteen Fun Shed Facts - for every devoted sheddie

    definition of sheddie

    At Buy Fencing Direct, we admit that most of us are sheddies in some form or another.  So, for all you fellow sheddies out there who love your sheds, we've compiled this list of shed facts for you.

    According to Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words, "the affectionate term sheddie has been around for a number of years, but has only recently come into the public eye in connection with the observation that the current economic situation may in part be responsible for the growing popularity of 'garden offices'. Users of garden offices, also sometimes referred to as 'shed workers', are now often female, countering the rather hackneyed image of the shed as the last bastion of masculinity."

    Here are some more fun facts about sheds, with statistics taken from Cuprinol’s 2016 Shedeconomics survey:

    • Over 21 million people in the UK now own a shed
    • 62% of people would be deterred from buying a home if it didn’t have a shed – or even a big enough shed
    • More younger Brits are now investing in sheds, with more under 25 now owning a shed (63%) compared to 60% of 45-54 year olds
    • 11% of men admitted to planning a surprise for their partner in their shed – including holidays and proposals
    • 32% of shed owners admit their shed is so messy they can barely get through the door
    • The average shed contents is worth over £458
    • 3% of sheds house a sunbed
    • 7% of sheds have a TV
    • The most famous piece of garden shed art was created by sculptor Cornelia Parker when, in 1991, she blew up a shed and used its shrapnel to create her piece "Cold, Dark Matter: An Exploded View."
    • In Ancient Egypt, there was a god named Shed who was god of danger, deadly animals and illness
    • Rudyard Kipling, Agatha Christie and Roald Dahl all wrote in their sheds. A shed Benjamin Britten owned is now a Grade 2 listed building. 
    • In Slavic folklore, the shed is feared as it is believed to be the home of Baba Yaga, a witchlike character who flies around on a giant pestle kidnapping children.
    • The word ‘shed’ has the same origin as ‘shade’. in Anglo-saxon times a ‘scead’ was a place of rest in a shady place. 
    • Former Primer Minister David Cameron has bought a shed with the intention of using it to write his memoirs.
    • In jazz jargon, “shedding” is to diligently practice a musical instrument. It is a derivative of the slang word 'Woodshed' perhaps derived from the notion that an isolated woodshed is fit for practicing.
    So, how well do these statistics apply to you? Do you have a sunbed in your shed? Can you get through your shed door?
    Or do you have some more interesting shed facts to share? Let us know in the comments below.
    Read more »
  2. Concrete vs Wooden Posts

    Concrete vs Wooden Posts

    Imagine being an outcast on a desert island. All you can take are eight songs, a book and a luxury. Now the songs part is easy, the book simple, but the luxury? Hmmm, obviously (obviously!) it’s between a concrete or a wooden post. Now there’s a dilemma.

    Concrete will weigh in heavier. A six-foot fence panel requires a heavy frame of concrete and they do need a couple of people to handle, manoeuvre and get in place. And once in place there is absolutely no tweaking or phrases like ‘don’t worry, the screws will bring it all together.’ Once in place that is the place. Forever. Wood, however, is slightly lighter, still heavy mind you, and - as with all posts and fencing - a helper is still a great idea. There is a bit of tweak-room with wood as it is a natural material and will be slightly more forgiving of a millimetre tolerance or two.

    Forest Lightweight Concrete Fence Post

    Concrete lasts for a long time. How about a lifetime? No need to worry about upkeep there. Wooden posts can carry a 15-year guarantee against rot so can be relied upon without the need for any maintenance. Just make sure you check before you buy.

    Concrete is white. Of course, you can paint it but they usually flake after a few years. Algae will tone the colour down but fundamentally your posts will remain white. Some consider this a clean, modern look (it is!) or too brash for some gardens (again, it is!). I guess it depends on your style of garden. Wooden posts start either orangey brown or light green depending on the pressure treatment. But both quickly tone down to the colour of ash. They then blend into most garden designs. And you can easily paint or stain wooden posts using a rainbow of colours.

    Forest Planed Fence Post  

    Concrete posts require little or no maintenance. A wash down with warm soapy water will dislodge algae and moss and a pressure washer will remove stubborn colonies. Wear safety goggles if doing this. And that’s it. Wooden posts will also benefit from a yearly check over, even with that guarantee, and preservative, stain or paint re-applied where necessary.

    To get fixings into a concrete post you need a drill and fixing plugs along with screws and screwdriver. And eye protectors just in case shards of concrete go flying. Of course, the actual fence panels slide in easily but wires, hanging basket brackets and pot holders all need secure fixings. When fixing these same items to a wooden post, it’s as simple as a screw and screwdriver. For heavier items such as planting mangers you may need to plug holes, but tensioned wires for training fruit or climbers across fence panels are a doddle to sort.

    Concrete vs Wooden Fence Posts

    Concrete or wooden posts? It’s a tricky call to make. Both are the right choice depending on your garden circumstances. But if I had to choose one as my desert island luxury I reckon I’d go for …wood. I can lift it on my own, and I can always fashion it into a flagpole to attract attention. Or maybe concrete? If I’m on the island for a long time it will provide support for whatever I build around it. It’s also bright and may attract attention. But I could burn the wood if it gets cold. Concrete could be used to start building a more permanent house, yet wood could be the beginnings of a boat. Oh, I don’t know. When do I go to this island anyway? I’ve got some garden fencing to finish putting up before I leave. (And don't forget, before you leave, have a browse through our superb range of fence posts.)  

    Read more »
  3. How to make a trellis for your garden fence

    There are lots of situations where you need a little bit of extra height for your fence. But rather than taking a whole panel out and replacing with something taller, it may be more cost effective to add a little bit of trellis to the top of an existing fence. It will afford some added privacy and allow you to grow taller climbing plants. You should only fix trellis to sound fence panels - so always check for any signs of rot in panels and posts before attempting trellis projects.

    The first thing you have to consider is the weight of the trellis. Plonking trellis on top, screwing down and expecting it to stay put in even the slightest of breezes is optimistic, to say the least. You need to fix battens to the existing posts (easy if they are wooden – drilling is required if they are concrete) to provide an upright structure to which the trellis can be attached. This is because existing posts will no doubt be cut to the size of the fence panel. Once battens are in place the trellis can be easily attached using clips and screws. Always use galvanised screws as they will not rust and therefore will not cause run marks down any wood.

    The additional trellis itself can be made from any spare wood – run strips horizontally to create height without any solid blocks – great for filtering light and the wind yet still allowing plants to grow. This is good if you are happy with straight lines. If, however, you prefer a flowing wave effect off the shelf trellis is readily available and easily fitted.

    As with all fencing projects you can do it all by yourself. It is, without a doubt, easier with two!

    Read more »
  4. The best trellis ideas

    Trellis has an important job to do in the garden and has to look great at the same time. A trellis can extend the height of an existing fence panel or can be a standalone feature. Either way, it allows light to filter through and plants to grow up it. A simple square or diamond patterned trellis is popular but ever increasingly people are creating wave formations on top of their fences with decorative panels.

    Whatever you choose, do ensure it's a quality panel as you really don't want to be fixing it more than once in fifteen years (pressure treated wood carries that kind of guarantee against rot) and do ensure all fixings are galvanised so that rust marks won't ruin the look. With that sorted, you can get planning.

    A trellis can be fitted to improve the look and practicality of a fence panel. Wires can easily be fixed to the solid posts between panels, a climber planted and trained up. When the growth reaches the top, it will soon spread along the trellis. If you choose your plants carefully, you can expect blooms for many months of the year (roses and clematis are a superb combination; jasmine is great for scent or small leafed ivy for graceful evergreen cover).

    It's a simple job to break up any expanse of brickwork with a beautiful wooden trellis. Many garden designers don’t even bother planting against the wall, allowing the panel itself to be the statement. It can also be difficult to help a plant establish at the foot of a wall. The soil is dry and usually (hopefully!) there are substantial footings roots cannot penetrate.

    A trellis can also be used to create a garden room. Three large panels instantly create an enclosed area perfect for decking out with your favourite garden furniture, a chimenea, fire pit and of course lighting. Fix a roof to the whole lot and you've got a secret hideaway - but not so secret you can't find it. Decorative trellis is in itself the perfect focal point for a garden design and shouldn't be hidden away.

    Trellis is also the perfect choice for disguising the more utilitarian aspects of the garden or home. I am, of course, thinking 'bins'. A discrete arrangement of trellis can obscure bins and their like.

    Trellis is the choice when you want to simply break a view rather than block it fully. It distracts the eye rather than dominates. It is invaluable in the garden.

    Read more »
  5. How to straighten bowed deck boards

    This problem is easily corrected with a little know-how!

    • Firstly, use one nail at each end of the decking to to secure it to the end joists.
    • If the deck board bows towards the last board laid and fastened, carefully force a chisel between the two boards and pry the bowed board outwards to the correct position, then nail or screw into place.
    • If the bow curves outwards, away from the last board, you will need to drive the chisel into the joist on the outside of the curve until it is in the correct position and then nail or screw into place.

    Read more »
  6. Building the decking sub frame

    It is important to get the frame exactly right to succeed when building decking to ensure that you will have a firm and easy to maintain deck structure.

    Here are a few simple steps to take to make sure that your deck is structurally sound and will last for years.

    How to build a sub-frame

    The first step when building decking is to create the frame upon which the decking boards will be laid.

    The main joists of the frame need to run in the opposite direction to the way the deck boards are laid, at approximately 40cm apart.

    The decking level needs to be worked out prior to construction; the decking will need to be slightly sloped one way (a slope of about 1cm) for drainage purposes.

    Decking can either be built straight onto a patio or placed on top of brick pillars in order to increase the height. Bricks will need to be placed at frequent intervals of around 1.25 metres along every second joist so that the decking is not too springy once placed on top. If you are planning ion raising your decking by 3m or more, then planning permission will need to be obtained.

    If you are building a frame on top of a patio the timber to be used for the base frame should be around 5cm by 10cm.

    It is a good idea to put some weed control fabric in the decking base to stop unsightly weeds growing up between the deck boards. For added weed suppressant we would recommend also laying pea-gravel on top of the weed control fabric.

    The best way to hold all the timber together is with galvanized screws to minimise the yearly level of up keep of the decking.( You will need to drill pilot holes for galvanized screws, however if you use decking screws this will not be necessary).

    Once the frame is completed it should be strengthened using cross members.

    Read more »
  7. Choosing the right decking for your needs

    Whilst it is always great to have the inside of your home just how you want it, there will come a time when you will also want to start to make the most of the outdoor space that you have. One great way to do this is to have some decking installed so that you can relax in the sun, have friends over for parties and barbeques or simply just revel in the envy that your friends show when they have seen it.

    Having decking installed will not only allow you to make the most of your outdoor space but it will also add to the value of your home when you one day decide to move on to pastures new.

    However, once you have made the decision to get your hands dirty and install some great looking decking, you will realise that it is not as simple as just picking a colour and deciding where to put it. You will first have to decide on what sort of decking material you are going to use.

    This decision should be based on where you want to put it, what your budget is, how much use it is going to see and just how much time you will have to spend maintaining your decking.

    Simply ask yourself:

    • Do I need something durable due to being used frequently?
    • How much time will I be able to spare for cleaning and maintenance?
    • Do I want a material that can sustain the changing weather conditions?
    • Would I prefer affordability to aesthetic beauty?

    The answers to each of those questions will depend on your own situation and once you have them, you will be able to choose the ideal decking material for your home. There are a number of different materials that can be used, with each of them offering their own advantages and disadvantages.

    Different types of decking

    Natural wood

    Wood has always been the most popular choice of material for decking. This is simply because it not only looks great and is one of the more affordable options, but it is also supremely durable if it is well maintained and looked after.

    Maintenance is a big consideration with this material as it can start to weather over time when exposed to the elements. You will need to stain and seal the wood regularly if you want to prevent cracks or rotting.

    Among the other benefits to using natural wood are the facts that it stays cooler in the heat than some of the other materials and is great next to a pool compared to other materials as the surface works better as non-slip.

    Composite

    Composite decking has become increasingly popular over the past few years due to its being lightweight, easy to maintain and because it is resistant to the weather.

    It is comprised of a combination of wood fibres and recycled plastics, making it a more environmental friendly option. These materials also ensure that the decking will not crack or rot like natural wood decking, allowing for far less time needed at maintaining it.

    Additionally, there is no need to seal or stain composite decking as it will keep its colour and look pretty much the same throughout its lifetime.

    Plastic

    If you are looking for a material that requires an extremely low level of maintenance, does not scratch or stain and is resistant to mould, then PVC or plastic decking could be the material for you. Plastic may cost a little more per board but what you get is a durable decking that will be able to handle even the most extreme forms of entertainment and is easily cleaned.

    Though it obviously has some great advantages, plastic decking will in most cases not last quite as long as some of the other materials.

    Aluminium

    There are also a number of metal decking alternatives such as aluminium that provide another great option for your decking. The best parts about these types of materials are that they are fire resistant, weather resistant, and very affordable requiring pretty much no maintenance at all.

    It might not look as aesthetically pleasing as some of the other decking types but it ticks pretty much all of the other boxes. Other downsides include the fact that it can get hot when in direct sunlight and can be slippery when it is wet.

    Summary

    From the information above you should be able to make a decision based on what you need. If you want something that looks great but requires a good amount of maintenance, then wood would be for you. On the other hand, if you are after something that is cheap and low maintenance, aluminium could be the ideal material for you.
    Just take your time to consider what you feel is more important in your decking and will soon make the right choice.

    Read more »
  8. Deck board installation advice

    Before you lay the decking, we would recommend that any remaining work to the sub-structure, such as applying protective finish, is completed before starting to lay the deck boards. Take a look at our guide on building the sub-frame.

    The deck boards we supply are 28mm x 120mm in size which are the most desirable type of decking as they are less prone to sagging, warping, twisting or cupping.

    The exact size of the deck boards is dictated by the area that you are looking to cover with decking, the joist span and the layout / pattern that you choose for garden decking project.

    Before fastening any boards, lay out all but the last few boards on the joists, this way you will be able to see the final effect and make changes where necessary for the best appearance.

    Position the deck boards ''bark side'' up to minimize the splitting / warping of the wood that can occur. The way to tell that this is the right way, is that the grain of the timber will resemble a rainbow.

    For a more uniformed look, position the boards so that the top grain will run in the same direction.

    Ideally you should use deck boards that are slightly longer than the width of the deck, so that any mis-measurements can be rectified and boards cut exactly to the length required.
    If it is necessary to 'butt up' the deck boards, ensure that this is done over a joist and staggered for maximum strength and durability of your garden decking.

    Read more »
  9. Deck care and maintenance

    In time wood that is left untreated becomes that familiar silvery-grey colour with a rough, bark-like surface, as the grain gradually opens and lets in moisture. But be warned, wait this long and it may be almost impossible to reverse!

    Instead, when timber is around one-year-old, sand off any old, flaking stain or dirt from the dry surface and apply an annual coat of good quality wood preservative. This will enrich and revitalise the surface of the wood just like a skin moisturiser. They also contain anti-fungicides that will help prevent rot, mould and lichens.

    There is a wide choice of timber care products, some combining treatment with a coloured wood stain for extra impact.

    Deck maintenance

    To keep your timber decking ship-shape, you will ideally need to treat it regularly using a specialist deck treatment. We recommend that you carry this out once a year for the first two to three years after you first install the deck, and then just once every other year. Follow these four simple steps:

    • Remove all surface dirt, algae and grit. Before you start, use either a pressure washer or a stiff brush to clean off the debris – something like an old-fashioned scrubbing brush is ideal!
    • Deep clean. Specialist ‘decking cleaners’ are now available to help you remove all grease and dirt, and prevent the re-growth of algae and fungus. Remove any soapy residues by washing thoroughly with clean water – again, with a pressure washer if you have one.
    • Apply stain or preservative. When the decking is dry, a deck stain or preservative can be applied. If you have a hardwood deck you should also consider an annual treatment of revitalising decking oil.
    • Seal and protect. Finally, you need to seal the wood with a decking protector. This is a clear, water-repellent coat that contains waxes to help prevent moisture damage, a preservative to keep the surface free from decay, and an algaecide to prevent mould growth.

    Read more »
  10. Water features for the garden

    Many homeowners dream of having a water feature in their garden; this can be a fountain, pond, waterfall, or even a stream. No matter the type of feature, water is a beautiful and striking addition to any garden. There are a number of DIY water feature kits on the market to choose from, as well as any number of other DIY water feature ideas to create from scratch.

    The DIY water feature can range from a very simple project to a very elaborate scheme. No matter their simplicity or their extravagance, DIY water features can be quite soothing and eye-catching, especially when they have some form of running water. DIY water features can be relatively inexpensive and require just a bit of elbow grease or they can be quite expensive and require a lot more sweat equity. Below are two examples of DIY water features that are both practical and intermediate in difficulty. They do take a bit of elbow grease but will produce a water feature that will be the envy of the neighbours.

    DIY water features to try out

    The soothing garden pond

    Materials needed

    • Flagstone
    • Plants
    • Water
    • Plastic Liner
    • Water Pump Kit
    • Blue Tumbled Glass

    Tools needed

    • Shovel
    • Measuring Tape
    • Garden Hose

    Step 1: Dig the hole

    It is always important to check to see if there are power lines or pipes located in the area before digging. The hole should be dug to the size of the desired pond.

    Step 2: Lay the plastic liner

    The plastic liner should be laid in the hole and it should extend up and around the sides. The plastic liner should also extend the surrounding area to make sure the water will stay in the pond. This will prevent the water from seeping into the ground.

    Step 3: Lay the flagstone

    Flagstone or some other type of rock can be used to lay over the liner that surrounds the hole. The bottom of the hole, as well as any exposed liner, should be covered with stone to hold the liner down. Trim away any liner that may be left exposed.

    Step 4: Adding a fountain

    This is a step which can involve creatively adding a water fountain feature or by the creative arrangement of the stones surrounding the pond. At one end of the pond, stones can be stacked in a sloping mound. Tubing can be run underneath with a pump placed inside the pond that attaches to the tubing. Not only does this feature add interest to the pond it will also keep the water moving, which helps to keep the pond healthy.

    Step 5: Filling the pond with water

    At this point, everything should be in place. Before filling with water make sure all remaining gaps are filled with small stones. With the goal of completely hiding the plastic liner, more stones can be added to the inside wall of the pond.

    Step 6: Adding plants and rocks

    Creating a tropical oasis can be accomplished by adding aquatic plants to the pond. Tumbled blue glass rocks can be added at the bottom to create a shimmering effect.

    Stock Tank Container Pond

    Materials needed

    • Stock Tank
    • Decomposed Granite or Pavers
    • Water
    • Plants
    • Plastic Pots
    • Pea Gravel
    • Filtered Bubbler Pump
    • Stones

    Tools needed

    • Shovel
    • Measuring Tape
    • Garden Hose

    Step 1

    Purchase stock tank.

    Step 2

    Measure and dig an area a few feet larger than the stock tank to the depth of about three inches. Fill in with a decomposed granite or paver base and pat it down and make sure it is level.

    Step 3

    Fill the tank with clean water from the garden hose. Let the water sit in the tank for three or four days before adding plants so any chlorine from the water can evaporate.

    Step 4

    Choose three types of plants for the stock tank pond. They should include oxygenators (submerged plants), marginals (water's edge plants), and deep-water aquatics (plants that sit on the bottom but have leaves on the surface). Put the plants in a bucket of water once home, or plant them immediately. Use a few old plastic pots filled with clean pea gravel, placing the stems of the oxygenator plants about an inch into the pea gravel. Place these potted oxygenator plants on the bottom of the tank. The marginal plants will need to be placed on platforms such as stack stones, bricks, etc. Water lilies are the ideal deep aquatic plants to utilise. Place water lilies on the bottom of the pond if their leaves can reach the surface. Otherwise, place them on stacked stones so the leaves reach the surface. As they grow, remove the stones until the plants can be placed on the bottom of the pond and the leaves reach the surface.

    Step 5

    Install a Filtered Bubbler Pump. This can be a nice addition to the pond, creating that soothing running water sound. It will also help the water maintain its clarity, control insects, and keep plants healthy.

    Read more »
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