News

11th November 2019

BLOG: Instant Evergreen Hedging

BLOG: Instant Evergreen Hedging

Instant Evergreen Hedging

There is a big rise in interest in planting instant hedging and screening particularly in new gardens where many houses are built very close together. Instant screening not only provides privacy for the occupants it also adds a natural softness to the garden against the vast areas of new red brick visible from every aspect of the house.

Griselinia littoralis -New Zealand Laurel

With its distintive apple green and small yellow green flowers in spring, Griselinia is a great choice for a quick growing dense evergreen hedge. It is particularly tolerate of seaside conditions as salt laden winds do it little harm.  Easy to maintain, it can be kept small otherwise if it isn't pruned it will reach up to 10ft high. Plant in full sun, although semi shade is okay too with its only intolerance being heavy soil. The local birds will enjoy feeding off the purple fruits during the winter months.

 Laurel - Cherry Laurel

The most popular of hedging plants in the UK the common Cherry Laurel with its glossy green leaves and its tolerance to grow very happily in the shade. Not only is it tolerant of shade it will grown in almost all soil conditions although do not allow a newly planted hedge to dry out.  If you don't want a conifer hedge then a Cherry Laurel is the next best thing. It provides a good screen and can grown 2-3ft per year.

 Copper Beech

The Copper Beech is great either for screening purposes or for a dense natural hedge. It works well as a hedge because it can be cut back hard, which also means it will keep most of its leaves. This in turn gives your local bird life a home in the winter months. 

 How to Plant your Instant Hedge

 Dig a shallow trench, approximately 1ft deep,the length of your hedge  and make it wide enough to spread out gently the roots of each plant. Dig in some well rotted organic compost and sprinkle the trench with bonemeal. Loosen the roots around each root ball before placing in trench and covering over with the soil. Plant each shrub approximately 2ft apart. Press in soil gently - do not over compact the earth.If the weather is dry water in well and check every couple of weeks if it doesn't rain. Then leave for the roots to become established over the winter months ready for strong growth in the spring.

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30th September 2019

BLOG: Decorative Stone

BLOG: Decorative Stone

Economical & Attractive

What do you know about decorative stone? In recent years it has become very popular in our gardens due to the fact it is not only an economical alternative to laying a brick or stone path it is also helps to create attractive and low maintenance gardens. Furthermore, decorative stone can be used as an alternative to mulch as it keeps down weeds in the borders. 

So you will be pleased to learn we stock an extensive range of high quality pebbles, gravel, cobbles, rockery stone, slate and chippings supplied by Kelkay.

Colour & Texture

You can lay pebbles and aggregates over a large area, which is a great sustainable alternative to a lawn, as rainwater will naturally drain away just as it does through grass. Compliment water features by surrounding them with the colourful hues of decorative stoness, or use a mixture of sandstone setts and different size paving slabs to make an attractive and interesting path. Rockery stone and cobbles come in a number of sizes so you can create different effects along flower borders, edges and pathways. The vast selection of colours from warm Mediterranean tones to artic whites and blues means there is a decorative stone to suit any style of garden.

Transform your Garden Overnight

Paths are an integral to our whole garden, as they are not only functional but also provide focal points and boundaries, while  bringing colour and texture to soft landscaping.  You can use natural stone stepping-stones across your lawn to create patterns and to lead the eye down the garden. Perhaps you have a north facing area in your garden where nothing agrees to grow? If so, creating an imaginative area of hard landscaping will provide an attractive and low maintenance option. The best bit of all is you can lay these materials so quickly and easily you can transform your garden almost overnight!

Correct Amount

Depending on whether you are laying a path, creating a low maintenance flower border or simply creating a focal point you will need to ensure you buy enough of your chosen material to lay it to the correct level. Please do contact us for advice if you are unsure.

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9th July 2019

BLOG: Artificial Grass

BLOG: Artificial Grass

Artificial Grass & Lawns

A Little Piece of History

Only a few years ago nobody would dream of fitting artificial grass  in their gardens and until recently, for most of us, the only experience we had of artificial grass was the green baize coverings that greengrocers once used as bases for displaying fruit and vegetables. 

Artificial grass or turf was first laid in the USA in 1964 on Rhode Island. A year later it was patented and sold under the name of 'Chemgrass'. It was in 1966 when it was intalled in the Astrodome in Houston Texas that it became known as 'Astro Turf', after the world's first multi purpose domed sports stadium.

From that day it became popular in the USA and was installed on both indoor and outdoor football and baseball pitches.It was slow to take off in the UK  and it wasn't until 1981 that the football club Queen's Park Rangers installed on their pitch. It took another twenty years before Chelsea Flower Show lifted the ban on artificial lawns and allowed it to be used for one of their Show Gardens and even then true horticulturits sniffed heavily at the very idea!

Today, we are now on what is termed the 'Third Generation' of artificial turf. It now has a much more natural look, is much softer, has a much higher fibre density in addition to a longer pile. Also the colours available are much more realistic. Gone are the gaudy greens!

Low Maintenance

In recent year the demand for good artificial grass has grown rapidly. It is now available in different grades from budget through to a more luxurious turf, and deemed to be a good alternative to the real thing. so there is an artificial turf to suit any type of garden - not just urban or courtyard gardens.

It wears well, it is child and pet friendly, there are no bare patches, no mud - so no more muddy footprints or paws trawling through the house!  It is ideal for shady areas in the garden where grass refuses to grow and requries very little maintenance. No need to mow, feed or water! It just requires a brush once a month to keep the pile looking fresh and upright and you can use a garden hose to give it a clean down.

A Great Looking Lawn all year Round!

It looks great all year round, it is porous so rainfall will seep through the backing and it does not fade. Most quality brands have at least a ten-year guarantee and overall artificial lawns make life much easier and certainly tick all the boxes in for busy lifestyles today.

Pick up our Leaflet

We have our own Artificial Turf Leaflet which gives clear instructions on how to lay the turf correctly and we are proud to say we have experience spanning over 10 years in laying artifical turf and pride ourselves on being one of the first landscapers in the UK to champion artirficial lawns.over 10 years ago. So if you don't fancy attempting to lay it yourself please do call us on 01489 779998 and we'll arrange for one of our specialist to come and out see you. Or buy it here.

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24th May 2019

BLOG: Know Your Soils & Mulches

BLOG: Know Your Soils & Mulches

Do you know the difference between a soil conditioner, top soil, a mulch and compost? If not then read on. To obtain the best results for your borders, vegetable plots, fruit trees and shrubs you need to understand your soil condition and what is required to make it healthy and working hard for your garden.

Top Soil

Let's begin with top soil. Top soil is not a soil conditioner and only contains a minimum of nutrients, if any. You use top soil to bulk up your borders. Look at it as a filler. Perhaps you have removed some old trees and shrubs and it has left huge holes in your garden. Use top soil to fill in those holes or to add height to sunken beds and borders.

Soil Conditioner

You use soil conditioners to improve the structure of your soil. Generally it is composted from a blend of farm manure and tree bark and breaks down very quickly. If your soil is compacted, sandy or heavy clay then soil conditioner will help break up the density to make it more 'fluffy' and to improve drainage.  It also boosts nutrients, including vital beneficial micro-organisms as it helps to unlock compacted soil and release the existing nutrients lying dormant. It provides a source of slow releasing nutrients that adds humus (Humus is Latin for 'Soil'), which is rich dark organic matter. Finally, it will help to retain moisture in soil that already has good structure -i.e it isn't compacted or of a clay nature.

Compost

Did you know compost is often referred to as 'Black Gold'? It is organic matter (this is any material that occurs naturally in nature) that has decomposed such as leaves, twigs and farmyard manure. Compost with its valuable trace elements is the finest of materials to add to your soil. Its carbon nitrogen ratio (30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen -this is the ratio required for micro-organisms to sustain health) means there is more nitrogen to feed your plants. You can use to add to top soil and existing soil. It encourages earthworms, which in turn helps to aerate the soil.  Compost will also stabilise the PH levels and you will need to check the compost you buy as it will tell you what percentage of PH it contains and depending on your soil type i.e. acid or alkaline this will give you an indication of how much to use or whether that particular compost is right for your soil. It will also make an excellent mulch.

Mulches

Mulches are generally made up of coarse materials such as bark, wood chips, and straw. Apply to beds and borders and around the foot of shrubs and trees. Mulch allows rainwater to filter through to the soil while also helping to retain moisture. This is particularly important during the warmer months of summer or for prolonged dry spells. It will eventually break down over a period of a couple of years when it will be time to add another layer.

So to have a colourful and flourishing garden - its top soil, soil conditioner, compost then mulch!

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16th March 2019

BLOG: How to Lay Porcelain Paving

BLOG: How to Lay Porcelain Paving

Porcelain is a very attractive versatile tile for outdoor use and is becoming increasingly popular as it is scratch and fade proof and does not stain. It is a non porous material that does not need sealing. However because it is non-porous, a little more attention is required when laying these tiles.

You need :

  1. Sub Base
  2. Bedding Mortar
  3. Bonding Primer Paste
  4. Joint/tile grout 
  • Purchase all the paving you need in one batch to ensure you have a consistent colour and pattern
  • Lay tiles out on the area in a rough draft to make sure you have enough slabs.
  • Dig out area to a depth of 150mm and allow for a 100mm sub base, 30mm mortar base and the thickness of the tile
  • Make sure your paving will be 150mm below the proof course of the house if it is going to be laid up to the brickwork
  • Porcelain paving requires a fall of approximate 1:60 or 17mm of fall for every metre metre width and length of the patio
  • Erect taut string lines to ensure correct height and alighment 
  • Lay a Type 1 MOT or General Sub-Base (GSB) and rake out to create an even layer approx 30mm below your string line
  •  Use a plate compactor to compress to 50mm below the string line
  • For the bedding mortar: use a mix of 6 parts sharp sand to 1 part Portland Cement to create a workable firm consistency that will stand in peaks
  • Apply a slurry primer to the underside of the Porcelain tile making sure non makes contact with the top surface because once set it will be almost impossible to remove -keep a bucket of water and wet cloth by your side to wipe tiles clean of any residue
  • Lay prepared tile on bedding mortar and tap down with a rubber mallet to correct level using the your string line as a guide
  • Use tile spacers to create uniforn spacing
  • Use a suitable outdoor/weather repellent grout/ jointing material such as easyjoint and do not walk on for at leastr 24 hours

A few things to remember about Porcelain tiles - as they are non porous if you do not use a slurry primer the tiles will not stick to the mortar base. You can only cut Porcelain properly with a diamond blade that is specifially for cutting Porcelain. If you try to use the traditional method of a hammer and chisel you will chip the porcelain. Always being by laying your tiles from the corner and work outwards.

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21st January 2019

BLOG: Dry Dry Dry Top Soil

BLOG: Dry Dry Dry Top Soil

Top Soil

Although its January and very often the ground is hard from frosts there will be days when you will be able to add Top Soil  or organic matter to beds, borders and as a top layer for lawns. Autumn and winter when conditions allow is the best time to improve soil cultivation.

Adding Top Soil will not only help to improve the structure soils it will add valuable nutrients. It helps to break down clay soils that are heavy and tend to clump together and which also drains very badly. With sandy soils adding Top Soil or organic matter will help to retain moisture during the drier months.

Dry Dry Dry

Its most important to add dry top soil during the winter and not top soil that is wet as this means it would have lost many of its nourishing properties. A good dry soil will help protect plants and help with root growth. It insulates the earth in your borders and helps to prevent the loss of nutrients over the winter months including vital microbes.

Three Grades 

Use dry Top Soil for improving existing beds, to build new beds as a base for lawns and to create raised vegetable beds. Top Soil  normally comes in three grades: Premium, General Purpose & Economy. Its best to buy the higher quality Top Soil to avoid the problem of weed seedlings in the mixture. The premium grade will contain a higher percentage of nutrients and has a good structure.

New Build Gardens

Just moved into a new build? Some of these gardens hide a multitude of sins under a layer of landscaping soil. Often this layer of soil will disguise rubble and and discarded aggregates. This will not be conducive to growing a lawn or flower beds as the soil structure is incorrect and leads to poor rooting of plants and grass.

What Lies beneath?

With New Build gardens its best to dig out a small area to see what lies beneath. You may find you have to have the whole area dug up and have a good layer of Top Soil put down.

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15th November 2018

BLOG: Concrete Paving and Pavers

BLOG: Concrete Paving and Pavers

Interesting Fact

Do you know that even though concrete paving first came into existence in the mid 1800's  it was the Romans who first invented it. Then for a few hundred years it disappeared. In its simplest form concrete is purely a mixture of aggregates and paste. Its durability comes down to the quality of the base mix  - up to 75% of the mixture can be the aggregate or rock. Portland cement and water is added to the aggregates to form a rock like mass.

Concrete or Natural?

Deciding on whether to choose natural stone or concrete paving or indeed pavers for driveways is often based on a number of factors. Sometimes it simple comes down to personal taste. Other factors include cost, practical considerations and design options. Concrete when it is wet is malleable which means that it is more versitile than natural stone for creating different designs and shapes. Additionally, your choice of colours is wide ranging. If you are laying a patio concrete paving is much easier to cut. Today, concrete paving has become more sophisticated and it is often very difficult to tell the different, especially from a distance. You can buy a range of terracotta concrete paving that looks just like the real thing!

Pavers

Concrete paving and pavers hold up well to traffic. While brick pavers may chip or crack concrete wears only very gradually, however you may find the colours may fade after some years. You can buy concrete pavers that mimic stone such as theTegual Deco Cinder which is made by MarshallsConcrete pavers are now recognised as high quality products particularly for their strentgh and durability.

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8th October 2018

BLOG: How to Lay Stepping Stones

BLOG: How to Lay Stepping Stones

How to Lay Stepping stones

 A stepping stone path can be an attractive feature in it’s own right. If you find your lawn suffering from constant wear or bare patches, than stepping stones set in the ground at regular paced-out intervals can be an inexpensive solution. 

You will need:

  1. Stepping Stones
  2. Garden Fork
  3. Garden Spade
  4. Rubber Mallet
  5. Straight Edge
  6. Sharp Sand

Method

1. Lay the stones out so that you can walk comfortably on them without over-stretching. Score or mark around the stones and loosen the compacted earth with a fork. 
2. Dig a neat hole for each of your stepping stones approximately an inch deeper than the height of the stone. Spread an even layer of sharp sand in the hole so that the stone sits slightly lower than the surrounding soil. Tap down firmly with the mallet avoiding hitting directly on the edges.
3. Place your straight edge over the stone to check that it is slightly lower than the level of the lawn. This ensures that the blades of your lawnmower will be able to clear the stone
4. If there are any gaps around the stone then gently sieve some soil around the edges and push down well with your fingers. Over time the grass will gradually come back or you could  always seed any bare patches to hurry things along!

If in constant use is likely to wear bare patches in a lawn, stepping-stones can be an inexpensive and quick solution!

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20th July 2018

BLOG: Wooden Planters

BLOG: Wooden Planters

Why Wood? 

Contemporary modern gardens are what most people are looking for today and wooden planters add instant style to sleek garden design. Most wooden planters are square or rectanguar so suit contemporary lines. A traditional material in a variety of natural woods which can be left in its natural state or be painted in a colour that blends in with the design of the overall garden.

Flexible & Fibrous

In addition to the design dynamics, there are many advantages to using wooden planters in your garden, on the patio or to line paths. This includes the fact it is a flexible and fibrous material which does not damage in heavy frosts and also provides good heat insulation to the soil. Wood is also slow to dry out during the summer months. It is a versatile material that is great for using for vegetable gardens and for herbs.

Keep in control

As wooden planters are generally more spacious they are ideal for using with plants that spread rapidly. Such plants include bamboo and mint. If you want instant screening bamboo is ideal and by using a large wooden planter you can keep the roots under control.

Space Savers

If you have limited space you can plant small decorative trees and topiary together with seasonal plants and seasonal bedding for extra colour. This gives you an instant garden in a planter!

Extend the life

To ensure you get the most life out of your wooden planters it is best to line them to avoid early decay. Use a permeable landscaping fabric and pierce with a couple of holes for drainage.

Would like to know more? Contact us 

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19th June 2018

BLOG: How to lay Natural Stone Block paving

BLOG: How to lay Natural Stone Block paving

In the beginning

If laying a new driveway or patio planning permission is not required providing the rain or surplus water does not run on to the highway. The most cost effective way is to ensure the water runs off onto a lawn, gravel area or a drain.

All block paving of patios or driveways are made up of three layers:

  1. Sub base of free draining material known as ‘Type 1’ of approx 150mm deep for drives and 100mm for patios
  2. Sharp sand -40mm deep
  3. Paving blocks

 To edge or not to edge

If the area being paved is being laid against an existing wall, this will serve as the edging restraint. If not, a restraining edge will need to be built first. Firstly, set up a taut line of string to act as a guide for alignment and level guide. Place the edge course blocks on a 100-125mm bed of either semi-dry or moist mix of concrete, tapping down with a rubber mallet. This first process is very important and needs to be firmly constructed as it provides support for the whole patio or driveway.

 Keep it level

Level out the sub base material ensuring it has a regular thickness and then add the sharp sand spreading evenly. The finished screed needs to leave the blocks 5-8mm high so they can be compacted down. Before you begin laying make sure you are working ‘up hill’. Natural stone varies in tone and colour and often texture, so its important to ensure enough stone is ordered to complete the work. Also, mix up the stone from each pack or pallet. Place each block carefully on the laying course leaving a gap of approximately 2-5mm. to make it easier use pre-formed spacers.

 Kiln Dried Sand

Once completed sweep kiln dried sand over the surface to fill all gaps between the stone pavers. Finally compact the area with a vibrating plate compactor. Check joints again and sweep in more jointing sand if necessary and check again in a month’s time once the sand has settled.

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