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Vegetable Gardening For Dummies – A Novice’s Guide.

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

If you are looking to grow your own vegetables this guide written for novices will get you started in the right direction with lots of information and tips on such items as laying out your vegetable garden and individual crop guides. For further reading visit http://redshed.co.uk/blog/vegetable-gardening/

Save Yourself A Small Fortune On Skip Hire.

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe
If you are planning a large garden development then its almost certain that one of your first major expenses will be skip hire. Skips are expensive Its not than the owner of the skip hire company is making a fortune its just that the cost of tipping a tip in a landfill site over the last few years has risen dramatically. So how to save money on skip us less of them, sounds easy and to be honest it is with a little effort and lateral  thinking on you part. Here are the GardenAdvice teams top tips on saving yourself a small fortune on skip hire
  • think about what’s going in the skip if its clean hardcore i.e  old bricks and/or slabs with no metal or plastics then its worth asking the skip company for a discount as they are likely not to have to pay as much for tipping this type of material. And if its good quality topsoil you should get a further discount.
  • Remember your rubbish is another gardeners gold – again if its paving slabs even if they are broken try sticking them on ebay fee collection only. Its often the case that they will be taken for shed bases and patios. In the past the number of unwanted items the GardenAdvice team have disposed of by this method without a skip is impressive for example  old ridged pond liners, garden furniture, firewood, cars!! the list just goes on and on.
  • Think about how you fill the skip use all the space do not place boxes at the bottom of the skip and place metal strips on the top of the boxes for example as you will find that you end up with a lot of unused space in the bottom of the skip.
  • Also its worth hunting around for the best price The GardenAdvice team in the past have managed to get some Cheap Skip Hire from Skip Hire UK
  • Ask for advice – if you are not sure about what and what not can go in a skip ask the local council or skip firm they are normally very approachable and helpful.




Finding The Right Tools To Help Develop Your Garden.

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Its not as easy as it sounds, the GardenAdvice team will have helped you design your garden, provided you loads of advice with our online garden design course or MyGardenTeam service and you are all ready to start your garden development,  the next stage is to find the right tools or equipment for the job.
In developing a garden most people will start with the ground modeling, that’s just a fancy term for shifting soil around to create the levels in the garden you require. The easiest way to do this is to use a spade and a rotavator, you can dig out the path bases for example and rotavate over the soil you have dug out then rake it around to form the levels you require or you can rotavate areas
to break up the soil and then dig the soil out spreading it on other areas of the garden. This is easier than just digging out the soil and stacking it in a heap or a expensive skip.
Finding the right tools for the job is essential to save you some back breaking labour. To obtaining the right tools for the job its best to hire equipment from a good tool hire company who  understand your needs.  For example the first question you are likely to be asked when hiring a rotavator is do you want a rotavator or a tiller, just to complicate the question the term rotavator and tiller can refer to the same type of machine. In general a tiller has blades that can be seen revolving and a rotavator has blades revolving in a box structure at the back of the machine. Both have different uses

Tiller / small rotavator – blades that can be seen revolving
This type of machine is great for producing spring seed beds on soil that’s been overwintered or creating the final tilth for an area in your garden that’s going to be a lawn from seed or turf.

Larger rotavator  – blades revolving in a box structure at the back of the machine
This is a heavy duty machine where the blades pick up the soil and smash it against the sides of the box the blades are contained in breaking up the soil. Ideally for heavier jobs and breaking soil up to a greater depth. This type of machine is often used on areas that have not been worked for many years such as a rough patch of ground or an existing established lawn.

When hiring a tools or equipment you need to look for the signs of a good tool hire company

  • Ask loads of questions see if the tool hire staff understand the tools they hire
  • Does the tool hire company advise on safety equipment
  • Are the tools or equipment the company hire in good condition and has it been cleaned  and safety tested after its last hire
  • Are you offered a demonstration and advice on how to use the tools or equipment on delivery or collection


New Garden Design And Landscaping Service From Gardenadvice.

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Garden design and landscaping service

For clients using the MyGardenTeam garden design and landscaping service the MyGardenTeam service is free for the first year.

Gardens of all shapes and sizes built through our creative process designed to create you the garden of your dreams.

* New gardens for modern and old houses
* Gardens renovated and re-designed
* Country gardens with a traditional soft on contemporary style
* Courtyard and city gardens
* Wildlife gardens
* Garden planting scheme for all year interest
* Walled gardens
* Water gardens
* Garden lighting schemes

We are a highly skilled team of gardeners with many years experience in creating some of the most stunning gardens on budget and on time for projects both small and large.

Using our unique MyGardenTeam service we will undertake to

* Create you a garden design for your garden unique to your requirements after an initial consultancy to discover what style of garden you wish to create and what practical requirements the garden has to satisfy.

* Present you with a fixed price quote to create your new garden and a number of scheduling options to build the garden in a period of time to suit from 30 days or up to 3 years if you wish to develop your garden in stages

* Whilst building your garden we will use our MyGardenTeam service to schedule in all the aftercare elements of your garden such as feeding and pruning your new plants and you will receive updates by email or SMS message when its time to carry out tasks.

* Our MyGardenteam provides you with your own personal gardening expert for ongoing advice, support and garden visits, plus other included service such as free lawn care, and a winter plant swap facility with the services other members to help you increase the variety of plants in your garden for free.

* And if you would wish to take your gardening to the next stage we also provide free one day and weekend course on gardening to educate you on how to get more out of your new garden


How To Create A Garden Feature With A Light Mirror.

In CategoryTim Whitcombe

One of the most existing ways to create a garden feature is to use a planter plant in front of the mirror against a wall or place on a mirror with up lighting on the ground. Using a wall the planters refection is projected into the garden and when the light mirror has the planter placed onto it, it seems to be sitting in a pool of water as the planter refection can be seen in the mirror.

This is a great effect which can be used to create interest in smaller courtyard gardens were space is at a premium. Some suitable plants to use in the planter as bold well structured plants that create strong shadows such as Skimmias and clipped buxus or box plants.

Why We Recommend John Innes Composts So Often.

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

For a large amount of the advice we provide John Innes compost is the best tool for the job of growing plants because it easier for the gardener to maintain the correct level of moisture in the compost which is available to the plant creating a more balanced growth and better overall plant structure. Here are a few notes on the development and benefits of John Innes composts


Before the introduction of John Innes Composts, gardeners generally used a different compost for each species of plant. Usually the soil was not sterilised or heat pasteurised and consequently plant seedlings were often attacked and destroyed by soil-borne diseases and insects. Also the plant foods being added to the traditional composts were usually unbalanced, causing the plants to be either too “soft” in their growth and liable to diseases, or very “hard” and slow growing.

In the 1930’s two research workers at the John Innes Horticultural Institute, William Lawrence and John Newell, set out to overcome these problems and to formulate composts that would give consistently good and reliable results. After six years of experiments they determined the physical properties and nutrition necessary in composts to achieve optimum rates of plant growth. They also introduced methods of heat sterilising the soil that eliminated pests and diseases, but did not cause any checks to plant growth.

The result of this work was the introduction of two standard composts, one for seed sowing and one for potting. These “John Innes” composts revolutionised not only the ways in which composts were produced, but also the growing of plants in pots. Now, after being used very widely for over 50 years, the basic formulae remain the same – tried and tested and still popular amongst discerning gardeners for growing the best quality plants with the minimum of attention. Naturally, the plant nutrients have been updated to gain the benefits of improved fertiliser technology.


John Innes Composts are a blend of carefully selected loam or topsoil, sphagnum moss peat, coarse sand or grit and fertilisers. The loam is screened and sterilised and then thoroughly mixed with the other ingredients in proportions designed to achieve the optimum air and water-holding capacity and nutrient content for different types and sizes of plants. The basic John Innes Composts are:-

JOHN INNES SEED COMPOST – the traditional mix for sowing almost any type of seed, with sufficient nutrient for early development. May also be used for rooting soft cuttings.

JOHN INNES POTTING COMPOST No.1 – for pricking out or potting-up young seedlings or rooted cuttings. This composts has a carefully balanced nutrient content to suit most young plants.

JOHN INNES POTTING COMPOST No.2 – for general potting of most house plants and vegetable plants into medium size pots or boxes. Contains double the amount of nutrient in JI No 1 to suit established plants.

JOHN INNES POTTING COMPOST No.3 – a richer mixture for final re-potting of gross feeding vegetable plants and for mature foliage plants and shrubs in interior planters or outdoor containers.

JOHN INNES ERICACEOUS COMPOST – A specially formulated sterilised loam-based, lime-free compost with essential plant foods for most lime-hating subjects, such as Azaleas, Heathers and Rhododendrons, etc. 


The function of each of the ingredients in John Innes is briefly as follows:-

LOAM – Loam is the most important ingredient in the compost as it provides the main “body” of the compost. It also forms the base of plant nutrition by supplying clay, which has a cation and anion exchange capacity, that is, it absorbs and releases plant nutrients as required. Loam also contains essential micro-elements and some organic matter which provides a slow release of nitrogen to the plant.

PEAT – Sphagnum Moss Peat in the John Innes Compost increases the total porosity and improves both the aeration and the water-retaining capacity. Peat decomposes slowly into humus.

SAND – The coarse sand or grit is used as a physical conditioner to allow excess water to drain from the compost and thus prevent water-logging. It also helps to provide stability for larger plants.

FERTILISER – The compound fertiliser in John Innes Compost provides a wide spectrum of plant nutrients needed for balanced growth, including :-

  • NITROGEN – for top growth 
  • PHOSPHATES – for root growth 
  • POTASH – for flowering and fruiting 
  • TRACE ELEMENTS – for colour and flavour


As John Innes Composts have been used by growers and gardeners for over 50 years, they have clearly stood the test of time, and they are still popular for the following reasons:-

Loam-based – John Innes Composts are loam-based – a natural medium for growing plants. Loam contains clay, humus and trace elements which provide a natural reserve of plant foods and also an excellent buffering capacity – so that it can cope with some degree of over- or under-feeding of the plants.

Air/Water Balance – Loam, peat and coarse sand provide a good balance between the amount of water held by the compost and the amount of air space after it has drained. It is easier to achieve this when three main ingredients are utilised, than when the compost is made from only one material such as peat.

Easy to re-wet – The loam and coarse grit content makes a John Innes Compost very easy to re-wet after drying out, compared with all-peat composts.

Natural pH – The pH level of John Innes Composts is at the natural level for most plants, except the lime-hating varieties such as Azaleas, Heathers and Rhododendrons.

Higher Nutrient Levels – Because of the loam content in John Innes Composts, the fertiliser levels can be increased to suit the vigour or growth rate of the plant, which would not be safe in peat-based composts.

Longer Lasting – John Innes Composts last for a longer time than soil-less composts before it becomes necessary to water and feed plants in pots or containers.

Greater Tolerance – With both short and long term fertiliser release, natural drainage and water retention, a John Innes Composts has greater tolerance and gives the amateur gardener better all round results than soil-less composts.


John Innes Composts mean easier management and better plant growth particularly for:-

  • Bedding plants and vegetable seedlings
  • Tomatoes, cucumbers and melons
  • House plants and interior planters
  • Tubs, troughs, patio planters and window boxes.

Top Tips For Merging Your Outdoor And Indoor Spaces.

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

When the weather is nice outside, or even if it’s just a fresh day and you want to get some air into the house, merging the indoor and outdoor spaces can be a great way of opening things up a bit. Here are some top tips on the best way to merge the two areas of your home, creating space, adding light and bringing the best of nature inside.

Open up the view

By using French doors or timber patio doors, you can create more light and a better view from inside your home. Large window or door panels mean that you will feel like the outside is coming in, even if everything is sealed or shut. Here in the UK, this can sometimes be a very good thing – especially in winter.

Deck it out

Rather than having a lawn or patio space, use decking to create a warmer feel outside. If you can walk straight outside onto the decking then it lessens the transition between the two spaces, making the outside a more developed space. This works even better if you can level out the inside floor and decking, so that you have a flow of flooring from inside to out.

Dress up the outdoors

If you have a covered outside space, why not dress it up with some elegant furniture? Again, this being the UK means you might need to take some care of it and cover up in times of bad weather. However, when the sun is shining, having some comfortable furniture out there really makes a difference.


A single, solitary bulb on the patio is not very inviting. Work on the lighting outside and give yourself a range of options for outside entertainment. With better lighting outside, you can control the mood and make it feel more like an inside space.

Use it

The only real way to merge the outdoor and indoor spaces is to use it. If you have French doors or sliding patio doors, get them open and move the table outside. As soon as the weather allows, you should make the most of your outside space. Opening up the doors and windows will freshen up the house and create a sensation of space

Watering Your Garden.

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe
Its the last item you will be thinking about especially after a long wet winter and spring but its a certainty that at some stage you are going to need to water your garden as we reach a dry weather period.

The key with watering is to firstly consider what type of plants you are watering some plants need a humid atmosphere in the case of ferns and Japanese acers both having thin exposed leaf blades and other plants need dry air conditions because of hairy leaves that can collect water which can cause damage such as stachys lanata a silver leaved plant where the silver effect or colour is cased by a large number of hairs on the leaves. For the first you could us a standard sprinkler and for the second the stachys lanata you could use a drip line or leaky hose.

Other good advice when watering a garden is to make sure you provide a good soaking and water every few days or once a week rather than a light watering every day. This is because often light watering can cause a lot of plants including grass and hedge plants to become only surface rooted.  By soaking the the soil and then leaving it this encourages plants to root deeper down towards the sub soil.

With changing weather conditions and weather patterns the key to a lot of gardening in the future is going to be the ability to collect water and an effective irrigation system. To create such facilities for your garden you are best to seek the advice of a provisional plumber to help work out the volumes of water you can collect from a drainage system into under ground tanks or a large pond and what size pumps to install to use the collected water in a piped irrigation system to feed drip irrigation and pop up sprinklers etc.

Most irrigation systems now come with a timer allowing you to selected the time you wish to water your garden without you being present. The best time is normally after the sun has gone down because watering in full sun can cause burning the the plants leaves as the suns rays are magnified through the water droplets which form on the plants leaves from the irrigation water.

One other point about watering you garden not often mentioned is that the action of watering a garden can often damage the structure of your soil and the water droplets smash the soil crumbs into smaller particles often leading to compact destructed soil. The solution is to make sure you soil has a good amount of organic mater or humist dug into it or added as a mulch each year in the form of garden compost or well roted manure for example. This will help maintain the structure of the soil and maintain a healthy soil.

Garden Border Design Part Of Our MyGardenTeam Service.

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Send Us The Shape And Size Of Your Border And We Will Design It For You. The border design service is part of our garden design section. Your border will be designed by our fully qualified and time served garden designers. You can send an email or fax us a simple sketch on a sheet of A4 paper or download our design sheet at the bottom of this page

This is a service available to our myGardenTeam members for garden borders up to 50 square metres.

MyGardenTeam Membership – £99 per anum

  • Your own personal online garden expert to help you with your gardening projects and plans by visit, phone and email
  • Online garden log to keep all your notes and a record of the progress of your garden.
  • Online calendars created by your garden expert including pruning dates, vegetable sowing times, pest alerts etc also includes unlimted email and/or sms/text alerts
  • Estimating service included up to 5 hours every 6 months
  • Garden advisor visit in your own garden .
  • Free lawn care up to 75 square metres of lawn
  • Garden design and Landscaping service
  • Free Garden insurance
  • Free soil tests
  • One day gardening course included in the MyGardenTeam membership plus 50 percent off a further 5 of our one day gardening courses

Instructions for our border design service:

Produce a sketch plan or download the design sheet from the foot of this section or produce a sketch on a sheet of A4 paper.

  1. Provide as much information as possible about the area you wish to have designed. It would be useful if you could provide the following information:
    1. Soil type [if you are not sure we will send you a free soil testing service kit for you to provide a soil sample]
    2. Site aspects ie shady, sunny, windy, near the sea
    3. Is the proposed border site very wet in winter?
  2. We will need an idea of the style of border you wish to have designed ie. cottage style, winter colour, shrub border or may even an annual border
  3. Any plants you would like to include
  4. Pictures: It is a great help if you could provide any pictures showing the existing or proposed area for the border, or images that you might have showing borders you have seen in the past you wish us to recreate in your border design. Your pictures will be returned.
  5. Ensure we have your name and details on the plan including a telephone number just in case our garden designers have any questions, together with a scale key for example 3cm to 1 metre.
  6. Email it back to us a admin@gardenadvice.co.uk

Download and View design sheet.

Conveyancing For Your New House And Garden.

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

When buying a new house its more important than ever to get conveyancing right especially with regards to the garden and the boundaries which are normally made up of fences etc. As property value rise people become more concerned with making sure that they have access and the right to use and sell the land they have purchased with a house.  Whilst getting it wrong can lead to disputes with the people next door over very small amounts of land often a fence line in the wrong place by 100 to 150mm can lead to problems when sighting a new house extension or a new garden building.
For conveyancing you need to get an expert on the case how is well used to checking the deeds in relation to gardens especially if its an old property, often passed owners of a house have given part of a garden to a neighbor on nothing more than a hand shade and a “pint ”

A typical conveyancing transaction contains two major landmarks: the exchange of contracts (whereby equitable title passes) and completion (whereby legal title passes). Conveyancing occurs in three stages: before contract, before completion and after completion.
A buyer of real property must ensure that he or she obtains a good and marketable ‘title’ to the land; i.e., that the seller is the owner, has the right to sell the property, and there is no factor which would impede a mortgage or re-sale.
For advice on house conveyancing and an online conveyancing quote search on the internet for specialist firms