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Spring garden tidy up – gardening tips 

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

When spring is on the horizon, most gardeners’ minds turn towards tidying up their garden. The GardenAdvice team have created a few pointers to help you save time and improve the look of your garden.

 

Compost heaps

It is tempting to dive into your compost heap at this time of year for mulches and planting. But just spare a thought for the wildlife in your garden that might have been overwintering in your compost heap such as hedgehogs and grass snakes that often lay the first clutch of eggs in a warm compost heap. So, before you dig into your compost heap, be sure to check first.

 

Lawns 

After cold or wet winter lawns benefit from a good raking with a wire rake or light scarification by machine. Over the winter the grass gets pushed down and matted, and fungal disease can start to take hold. Raking or scarification helps air to circulate around the grass plants and has an effect called “tillering” that allows the grass plants to produce additional shoots per grass plant making for a thicker lawn in the summer. Early spring is a good time to feed a lawn but hold out on using fertilisers that are high in nitrates. Try to choose a more organic lower nitrate food.

 

Flower borders  

Most gardeners in early spring focus on flower borders. It’s a good idea, before your perennial plants start to shoot, to weed and top up with a mulch such as spent mushroom compost or bark. One great tip for giving your borders a smart look is to re-cut the border edges that are against lawns to provide them with a sharp, stylish look.

 

Glasshouses  

Early spring is an excellent time to clean your glasshouse before you start to use it for seedlings and other plants. Wash the glass, frame and staging with disinfectant and then use a sulphur candle to help kill all the overwintering pest eggs and disease spores.

 

Garden ponds 

Early spring is a good time to tidy up your garden pond. Cut back the dead growth from pond plants like bull reeds and yellow iris and take the time to thin out pondweed. Care must be taken not to disturb your pond’s wildlife – frogs will lay their eggs in early spring.

Another crucial task at this time of year is to clean the filters and remove any pondweed that surrounds submersible pumps for water features and ponds.

 

Vegetable gardens 

Normally, late spring is the best time to start sowing seeds in your vegetable garden. But you can get your vegetable garden ready at this time of year by weeding and covering areas with black plastic to collect the sun’s heat and start to warm up the soil before you start sowing seeds.

 

Fruit gardens 

At this time of year, most of the work in your fruit garden should be already completed, but your fruit trees and bushes will benefit from a spring feeding and the sowing of companion plants like marigold seeds.  They’ll help to support beneficial insects such as lacewings.

 

Roses  

Now the harsher weather has passed, you can inspect your roses for any broken or diseased stems that need to be cut back. You can also feed and apply mulch to your roses.

 

Conifers and other evergreen plants

Pruning and trimming your conifers and evergreen plants in the winter is never a good idea because the frosty freezing weather can damage the cut end but now that the weather is starting to warm up it’s the ideal time to carry out this task.

5 Ways To Deal With Road Noise

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Road noise is one of the several cons you have to deal with when living near civilization. Even the most expensive and most beautiful properties in the neighborhood have to deal with traffic/road noise. This is anything from screeching tires, car horns, loud stereos, or even the sound of rubber (tires) running against the pavement/asphalt.

To some, the sound of traffic is relaxing. Most people however find traffic noise irritating. Many people living near roads choose to invest in indoor water features or even white noise machines to help muffle the noises. If you find road noise irritating, simple landscaping can help reduce the noise levels. Outlined below are a few tips and ideas on the matter and if you want more details check out this piece on how to reduce road noise at home..

 

  1. Erect Solid Barriers

While this may sound cliche, solid barriers provide a cheap and effective way to deflect sound away from the business, home, or garden. A solid wall about 2 meters tall would be the perfect solution for anyone looking to reduce traffic noise. This option might however costly for you, or not even feasible within your area. If that’s the case, you can then choose to go with solid wood fencing. This option takes up less space, is affordable, and even easier to put up.

The solid barrier doesn’t necessarily have to be 2 meters high.  A waist-high solid wall is equally effective if erected close to the source of the sound, e.g., road. This may however be practical if your house if farther away. A large and high enough solid barrier might be the only solution for such a case.

 

  1. Plant Some Vegetation

If a tall wall isn’t an option, you might then want to introduce tall vegetation to act as a barrier. Vegetation works notably better than a solid wall. One of the advantages of using vegetation is that it acts as a physical barrier between you and the source of the sound, hence deflecting sound waves away from your ears. In addition to this, the soft leaves and vegetation absorb much of the sound, thus reducing its effects significantly. If any noise manages to pass through, it will be mild and something you can handle. This however isn’t the case with solid walls that produce echo should the sound pass through.

While soft vegetation may not be as effective as a solid wall or fence, it should help reduce dampen the noise.  You also do not need to get permission to plant vegetation around your property. This also provides a cost-effective way of dealing with road noise.

Using both a solid wall and vegetation provides a practical solution to road pollution. The wall will deflect the sound while the vegetation absorbs any that passes through. This reduces the risk of echoing.

 

  1. Masking

There are instances where introducing tall vegetation, or even erecting a solid wall aren’t an option. Masking the noise might work particularly well too.  As mentioned earlier, most people choose to use white noise machines, as well as water features to help mask noise. Indoor water features mainly come in handy in absorbing and even creating soothing sounds that dampen external sounds. Waterfalls, water fountains, etc. are good examples of water features you can use to mask road noise.

Using plants around the property can also help mask road noise. Pampas grass and bamboo are good examples of vegetation that duces audible but soothing noises at the smallest breeze. The rustling sound of leaves should help reduce and even mask the noise significantly.

 

  1. Trellis

Trellis or a string garden wire can also help mask road noise. Introducing a climbing plant, e.g., jasmine or honeysuckle to weave around the mesh also helps create a sound barrier. Jasmine and other climbing plants will not only help mask the noises but also produce a sweet natural smell that helps neutralize odor and other kinds of air pollution/

 

  1. Acoustic Fencing

If you have some money to work with, you can then invest in acoustic fencing for the best performance. The thick solid fence is a good sound barrier which also reflects sound waves. This leaves your garden peaceful and quiet, just the way you like it.

It is almost impossible to get rid of traffic noise from your home or garden completely. This, however, doesn’t mean you cannot get the tranquility and peacefulness everyone needs in their homes. The solutions and ideas outlined above should help you deal with road noise effectively.

 

 

Balcony Garden Planters Guide

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Dicentra spectabilis – great plant for early season colour in containers for balconies.

 

Many people these days live in apartments and flats, but that does not mean that they cannot be involved and enjoy doing some gardening on their balcony. Recently we discussed planters on the patio and many of the points of creating balcony gardens are similar when creating balcony planters as well.

Conditions of Balcony Planters  

One of the more important things that you need to remember when you are planning which outdoor planters are the best for your house is the weather conditions. That is critical since it directly affects the species that are able to survive as well as thrive on balconies.

Sunlight

What amount of sunlight does your balcony receive on a daily basis? If the area gets plenty of sunlight you will have a different selection of plants that are available for you to use compared to if the area gets less sunlight. Maybe part of your balcony receives more sunlight than the other parts. In that case, you will need to plan which garden planters to put there. Planters that are fixed to railings or hung will likely receive more sun and will need to be watered on a more frequent basis, especially in the summer.

Wind  

Depending on the exposure and height of your building you might find that your planters are affected by winds that can dictate the option of plants that are available for you. If your balcony is especially exposed to high winds then mesh or screen can be used to block it somewhat. Doing that can help to create a micro-climate to offer a broader range of range that can survive in it.

Natural Water

Unless you happen to be on your building’s top floor you will frequently have an overhanging building or balcony that can limit how much rainwater that your balcony planters receive. If that is the case then you need to be aware of watering the balcony planters frequently and that it’s possible that you might need to add some plant food because of the limited nutrients that tap water contain.  

 

Different Kinds of Balcony Planters

 

Hanging Planters

If you have a very small balcony, then you will have to maximize your available space. If your balcony is similar to this then you may want to consider using hanging planters that go well on railings or maybe from the ceiling is there is an overhanging from the floor over you. It is worth it to note that if you have a weight restriction that you can buy lightweight compost and soils that are made for this specific reason.

Potted Planters

This one is the most obvious choice and is similar to what you see on garden patios. Containers and pots come in many different sizes and shapes and you can choose the ones that suit your taste the best. If you are choosing heavy balcony planters you should place them near load-bearing joists or walls.

Vertical and Stacked Planters

We discussed recently how to create vertical gardens, and that can come in very handing when making a balcony garden. There many different space-saving ways and enjoy an entire range of plants like attaching window boxes on the wall, or use wooden pallets or old furniture to bring your balcony completely to life.

 

What Are the Best Types of Plants to Use for Balcony Gardens?

 

Plants That Are Weather Tolerant

The result of likely added wind and sun exposure means that it is very important to find plants that are wind and drought tolerant. If your balcony happens to be susceptible to those conditions then the best plants for you to use may include Cordylines, Wollemi Pines, and Cedars. If you are unsure then choose low growing plants since they are all wind resistant for the most part.  

Evergreen Plants

Deciduous plants are less tolerant of wind and heat, but they are also are not that aesthetically attractive during the winter. If you are considering using your balcony during the wintertime with an outdoor heater and comfortable seating, and it is preferable to having some year-round greenery to keep things interesting for you.  

Well-Suited for Potted Life

It might appear to be obvious, but you have to keep in mind that your plants will be in planters for their entire lives, so they need to be well-suited for this purpose. At a minimum, you should choose slow-growing plants that are able to be pot bound for many years. Using a soil based compost for planting is a good idea as this will help to retain moisture.

 

The Benefits of a Garden Office

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

 

Building a garden office is not the same as converting your cramped spare bedroom into a home office that you can run your business from or a side hustle. The key difference is that you can invest in a garden office at a sensible budget.There are various benefits of an affordable Garden Office

 

You Can Get a Garden Office at A Sensible Budget

One of the greatest benefits you can accrue from garden offices is their affordability. Visit Urban Pods to find a Garden Office that suits you. Creating a home office on a limited budget can be a daunting task. Plenty of companies go out of business very early due to overspending in the early stages of the business life, even before money starts coming in. However, if you invest in one of the affordable garden offices you get to save a lot while enjoying a great product.

 

It Allows You to Separate Your Domestic Life And Your Professional Life

As you might appreciate, working from home can be a daunting task. There are plenty of distractions all around. It could be your dog that wants to play all day, a TV show that seems interesting, or even a pre-recorded game that lingers in your mind. The distraction level goes a notch higher when you have small kids who always seek attention. Concentrating on the work at hand is difficult.

The best way to concentrate on your work is to somewhat seclude yourself from all the distractions. Having a private office space separated from the main house means you do not have to hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign. Every distraction will simply have to wait for you to finish your business.

If you want additional tips on attaining better and deeper focus, read Deep Work a business book by Cal Newport.

 

Leave the Spare Bedroom for Friends and Family

When you have a spare bedroom, not in use by your kids yet, you are tempted to use it as a spare bedroom. However, converting the spare bedroom to an office space leaves nowhere for your friends or family to stay when they visit for Christmas, birthdays, and other events. They end up staying at an expensive hotel or your local B&B.

Having a spare bedroom for your friends or family members to stay can be great for both of you, allow to spend more time together and connect. As such, if you host your family or friends, you should consider keeping the spare bedroom as it and instead invest in an office garden. That way, everyone stays happy

 

You Can Use a Minimalist Office Environment to Enhance Your Focus on Work

The minimalist philosophy is catching on owing to the simplicity it comes with. The more stuff you have around your office space, the greater the clutter. Moreover, things get messy very fast when you cram your office with stuff. To avoid this, you can opt for a minimalist office.

To this end, you can invest in tools that perform more than one specialized task. For instance, your printer should have a flatbed scanner too. You should store only essential items in your office. The combination of these strategies will keep your office well organized and compact.

 

 

Wireless Communications Between Your House and Garden Office

Wired internet connection is best used for fast internet connection. However, the advent of Wi-Fi and the improvement of the N class and AC wireless network support, the signal strength has increased tremendously. Moreover, you can use signal boosters to improve the quality and strength of the signal over long distances.

For your phone connection, you can forward a dedicated business line to your mobile phone. This means you do not have to invest in communication installations. You can extend what you already have to your garden office, helping you keep in touch with your clients.

 

Enjoy A Relaxing Aroma and An Outside View

When you convert a bedroom to an office, you get an office space that is not optimized for working. The view can be that overlooking the road or your neighbours. On the other hand, with a garden office, your view is your garden. In fact, the office is in some ways an extension of the garden. You can open the office doors and windows and be in nature. You get to enjoy the trees, the grass, the flowers and you readily take in the relaxing aromas they ooze.

 

Increasingly, people are deciding to set up side-hustles or create full-time businesses from their home. You might offer consulting services, trade in stocks, or work part-time at home, the home office is an important tool. While finding an office can be tricky, with a garden office, it is no longer the case.

 

Time to Prepare for Garden Gatherings with Friends and Family

In CategoryGarden event
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

As winter turns into spring, it’s a great time to start to plan your garden gatherings for friends and family. Your first event of the season is a great way to motivate yourself to get your garden in order after the winter season.
Planning your garden event or gathering should not be left until the last moment. Over the summer the GardenAdvice team plan lots of events for our MyGardenTeam members and have created the following checklist.

 

 

 

Food and barbecues – The golden rule with barbecues is to start them early in the day and have plenty of fuel at hand so that by the time you come to cook your food you are cooking on hot embers or coals rather than smoking and burning your food which can create a health risk.
With food preparation allow lots of time and ideally prepare food the night before such as marinating steaks and mincing to create homemade burgers.

Drinks – estimating the number of drinks required for your gathering or event is easy but often people underestimate the glasses needed so it’s a good idea to have some standby glasses at hand just in case you run out.
In addition, where you have drinks you need ice, lots of ice and ice can be expensive to buy at the last minute so think ahead and start making your own in the freezer with some cheap ice cube trays. If you want to get creative, then you can freeze some herbs such as mint or lemon balm into the cubes. The freezing breaks the cells in the plant structure and as the ice melts in the drink it releases the herbs flavour into the drink

Seating – If you require seating and tables etc. your local hire centre is a good source to hire them with collection and delivery at a reasonable price.

Lighting – if your gathering or event is in the evening often additional light in your garden is a good idea. A cost-effective way to light your garden is to use solar lighting or an oil-fuelled garden flair light generally positioned on a stake to gain some height.

Plant protection – most gardeners have prize plants and these plants can gain additional protection by cutting some long willow or hazel canes and bedding them over your plant and pushing the ends into the ground to create a type of open wigwam effect.

Steps and paths – Check your steps and paths making sure you have no slippery areas in wet weather and no trip points on steps. If you have areas that could cause problems planting some temperature pots with some colourful plants on these areas can restrict the use of these spaces until your gathering or event is over.

Planning for the weather – rain, and Sun, the weather is never going to be perfect its either going to be too sunny, too hot or too cold or just too breezy! Gazebos from Garden Camping are a great addition to a gathering or event providing you with some additional shelter and protection against the wind, rain and sun.

Planning a new garden pond then get your Heron in early

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

If you are planning to build a new garden pond with some fish then your first move should be to establish a statue of a heron ideally even before you start digging the pond. A Heron can clean out your pond of fish within a matter of hours but they are very territorial and will not normally intrude on other herons patch so by adding a statue of a heron before you add the fish serves as a mark that your pond is taken already by an existing heron.

If you have already suffered an attack by a heron on your fish it’s often too late to add a heron statue to discourage further attacks

Controlling ground elder thats taken over your garden

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

 

Controlling ground elder in your garden once it has a hold can be a real problem. If you do not wish to use chemical weedkiller to control it smothering  it with a good quality ground sheeting can be a good method of controlling it but it does take time and persistence 

  • dig up most of the perennial plants you wish to save and pot them up trying to remove most of the ground elder around the roots.
  • Then apply a ground sheeting onto the beds and cover with bark cutting it around the existing shrubs here is a link https://www.gardenadvice.co.uk/blog/installing-ground-sheeting-to-help-prevent-weed-in-your-garden/
  • It’s important the ground sheeting is woven and does not allow light through and with the bark we normally try to arrange local wood chips which have been composted to save people money as bark can be quite expensive on larger areas.
  • This means the ground elder just grows around the edges of the sheeting and means you have to keep weeding these are or just cutting it back so it losses energy then after a year you can replant through the ground sheeting with the new plants or the plants you have saved
  • With the plants you have saved in the pots you should keep weeding them
  • When weeding the ground elder it’s pointless trying to remove the roots but as long as you keep removing the foliage the ground elder will become week and will die back

If you have any question on ground elder control or just need some general advice click here for our gardening advice service.

6 Benefits of Regular Tree Trimming and Removal

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Being a homeowner comes with many responsibilities. You need to keep the environment beautiful and clean throughout. You need tree services because trimming the trees is one of the things you must do every after a few weeks. It ensures that your compound is clean and members of your family are assured of your safety. Notice that when trees are well maintained, they establish elegance and grow healthier. In this post, we look at the benefits of trimming trees.

1. The trees become healthy

When you make it a habit to trim your trees regularly, they grow healthier. Trimming removes branches with diseases and stops them from spreading to other parts of the plant. When you remove the small branches, they no longer compete for food with the bigger ones. The remaining branches grow stronger and can withstand the storm.

2. It adds value to the environment

Trimming trees helps to add value to the environment. It allows branches to grow uniformly giving the tree a good appearance. It adds value to the environment. Also, it helps the trees to maintain good, nice shape and more appealing to visitors. It increases the value of your home.

3. It helps to detect diseases

When you trim trees regularly, you will be able to detect diseases that eat them up. Early detection of the diseases gives you time to look for a specialist in treating and preventing the diseases from spreading to other trees.

4. Can damaging your property. 

Letting tree branches to hang over your home is dangerous and can be fatal when it is stormy. Strong winds can force a branch to break and slam it onto the house. Also, when the branches burry themselves into the shingles, they may cause roof leaks. To avoid damage to the property, it is necessary that you trim the trees often. 

 

 

 

5. For safety reason

When you don’t trim trees, the branches add a lot of weight to the stem. When they are uprooted they may damage power lines and other utilities. Also, they may injure people who are around them. Cracked and hanging trees can fall and injure people on your property. So trimming them reduces liability associated with such accidents.  Note that when trees destroy utility such as power lines, the tree owner will be required to repair the lines at their own expenses. This could be expensive. 

6. Improves productivity of the tree

If you have planted trees for harvesting fruits for domestic or commercial purposes it is necessary you ensure that they are trimmed regularly.  It helps to increase both the quality and the size of the fruits. Trees with fewer branches are healthier. Also, the fruits have enough food; thus they increase in both quality and quantity.

From this discussion, it is clear that the benefits of pruning trees are many and varied. Pruned trees increase the aesthetic value of the home and make it safer. Also, regular trimming of trees can help you identify plants that are infested with diseases and eliminate them. Lastly, trimming reduces accidents and makes trees produce quality fruits.  

 

Lawn Care Secrets: How to Prepare Your Yard for Spring

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Many homeowners and gardeners wait until late spring or the start of summer before getting the lawn in good condition. To ensure a healthy and vibrant lawn, you should be maintaining it all year round and start preparing it in early spring. Having a well-maintained garden throughout the year will mean you can spend more time relaxing when the sun is shining. We have put together some advice for those looking to get a head start on the perfect spring lawn.

Getting Started

Many lawns get neglected in the winter months as we use it far less, and most naturally lose interest in maintaining it. Before you start preparing the grass for the summer remove all leaves and debris which may have accumulated. Any children’s toys should have been kept off the lawn in wintertime as dead spots will appear when the grass cannot get consistent light. Before getting the lawn mower out, you should re-define the grass edges and break up compacted soil on the flower beds around the lawn. 

Let the Lawn Breathe

A common problem a gardener will need to address is thatching, and this is when dead stems and grass has compacted and acts as a thatch roof over the soil. Thatching will severely hinder the grass’ ability to breathe and get sunlight. You can get a specific tool from a garden centre so you can lightly rake the thatch off without causing harm to the grass. Keeping control of thatching is crucial for a healthy lawn. Eliminating the thatch in early spring will give the lawn the best chance of being healthy and vibrant when you start to sit outside in warmer times. 

Seed Sparse Areas

During times when the ground is cold, wet and having regular frost, the grass will go into a hibernation mode. When grass is in hibernation mode it will not seed so every lawn will suffer from some sparse areas that will need reseeding. Before scattering seed make sure you have removed the thatch build up and have mowed the yard, so the seed won’t be in the shadows. Choosing what grass seed to grow will depend on where you live and how you use your lawn. Never start to seed a lawn if there is still a risk of frost or if heavy rain is forecast. 

Regular Mowing

In the summertime, it is a common sight to see everyone mowing their lawns; in cooler times we tend to overlook mowing. The types of people who are keen to mow their lawns are intriguing, men turn out to be less inclined to mow as they get older, but women show the opposite trait. Those ladies and gentlemen who do want an attractive summer lawn should start rolling up their sleeves when the grass is dry, and regularly trim if the lawn is dry enough for a mower to cut. In the springtime, heavy rainfall can be a common occurrence so do not cut the grass too short, check your packaging for guidelines. As the temperatures rise you can start to lower the cut height a little as long grass in hot spells will dry out and die very quickly. 

Give Grass a Drink

Watering your lawn is not just for the warm times; grass needs a drink all year round. For many, the watering aspect is catered for naturally with rainfall in autumn through to spring. High winds and a few dry days can mean you will need to start helping with watering the lawn. Don’t get the hosepipe out until you have fixed the issues mentioned above, watering before getting the lawn ready will not support the growth of the grass. The type of grass, your location and weather conditions will determine how much you should water the grass. If there is no rainfall it is good practice to water every few days – don’t soak the grass, just give it a good drink. 

Fertilizing Before Summer

Knowing when, or if, to fertilize a lawn is a contentious issue in the horticultural community. In early spring your grass is focussed on developing its roots systems and use all the resources to achieve that. When we add fertilizer, we are asking the grass to concentrate on blade growth so fertilizing too early may damage the roots systems. Wait until late spring before using any fertilizer as this is when the grass will start to use its energy to promote blade growth, only one dose of fertilizer will be enough. Using fertilizer before the rain will help to circulate the nutrients down to the roots for the grass to feed on. 

By paying attention to what your lawn needs you can limit the workload and have more time to enjoy the garden. When weeds pop up, it should be taken care of promptly rather than letting it spread across the lawn. Keep bikes, toys and other garden furniture off the grass when not in use to prevent dead spots. Mowing the lawn should be done as late as possible before winter and as soon as it is dry enough in spring. By following these few common-sense suggestions, you can have a garden that is safe and enjoyable for the family to enjoy, weather permitting.

Installing ground sheeting to help prevent weed in your garden

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Currently on the market lots of different ground sheeting is available for the use of preventing weed growth. Unfortunately a lot of the ground sheeting products on the market at present are not fit for purpose as they are to thin allowing light through which in turn allows the more invasive weeds to grow through the sheeting such as ground elder. 

The best weed sheeting is a woven product which does not allow light through. It comes is different widths and is easy to cut to shape with scissors. 

https://www.toolstation.com/search?q=Heavy%20Duty%20Landscape%20Fabric

When laying ground sheet laying ground sheeting it should be over lapped by 100mm and held dow with pegs which will hold it in place before the fabric is cover with a bark much or any other covering. 

Although you can buy pegs for the purpose they can be expensive considering the numbers that will be required. Its better to buy a roll of wire and cut it into 200 lengths to create pegs which can be pushed through the ground sheeting. 

https://www.screwfix.com/p/apollo-2-5mm-galvanised-garden-wire-25m/57999

Before installing the ground sheeting its a good idea to spread a general garden fertiliser such as Growmore about a handful per meter in the areas that planting is going to take place. 

https://www.diy.com/departments/westland-growmore-granular-garden-fertiliser-10kg/1318588_BQ.prd

Also before installing the ground sheeting its worth considering laying some soaker hose under the sheeting in the areas that will be planted up. The hozelock soaker pipe is especially useful because because you can use the control at the start of the hose to regulate the water flow. 

https://www.toolstation.com/hozelock-soaker-hose/p13349