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Alpine Sink For An Old Bathroom Or Kitchen Sink.

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Creating an alpine trough from and old bathroom or kitchen sink is not as hard as you think. Traditionally alpine trough used in gardens as a feature have been created from a number of natural stones such as tuffer rock and sandstone. The
best type of rock being the porous type that the plants root can anchor themselves into.  To create a alpine trough from an old enamel bathroom or kitchen sink first start by scratching the existing enamel so the new surface you are going to apply will  bond with the old sinks surface. Next remove any taps in the sink, but be careful the GardenAdvice team recently created an old alpine trough from a bathroom sink and found that the bathroom taps were quite valuable and reusable. This is a link to the type of taps we managed to save

With the sink ready and the taps removed you can start to apply a coating to make the sink look like an old alpine trough. Mix one two parts sand, one part cement and one part organic compost and then start to apply to the sink one side at a time. This will cover the sink and create the effect you want.
When the sink has been covered and allowed to dry next comes the planting which largely depends to the type of plants you are using in the new alpine trough but as a general rule the compost you use needs to be free draining.


Buying Evergreen Root Balled Plants In The Autumn And Winter.

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe
When you are buying evergreen root balled plants in the autumn and winter often a nursery will grow a number of plants and buy in rootballed plants from abroad so ask if its a locally grown plant or if they have been brought in. The advantage being that locally grown plants are already used to your conditions, if they have been grown in the South of Italy they are in for a bit of a shock.
Traditionally plants where transplanted in the autumn and winter from nurseries to gardens. Plants that are not to happy on having the roots exposed where and still are dug up with soil still around the roots and wrapped in a sacking or netting. Firstly you need to make sure the rootball is damp and the soil around the roots not crumbling or falling away. This is critical especially on larger plants such as conifers for hedging over 3 metres in height.
On evergreen plants look for signs of burn on the leaves from wind or lack of water this indicates that the root balling has not worked and the plant is suffering.
Ideally select you bare rooted plants in the field before they are dug up by the nursery.
Ask for for a replacement guarantee most nurseries will provide one if they are sure of the stock they are selling and also ask then for after care information.
Finally look for a good sized root ball and also ask if the plants have been under cut in the previous years to produce more fibrous roots. This is where the plant growing in the field has had its roots cut in the autumn or winter around the base to encourage more fibrous roots nearer to the stem which make a plant easier to transplant.
If you need any additional help just contact the GardenAdvice advisor’s

The Other Side Doesn’t Have To Be Greener!

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Artificial Turf can save you a whole heap of time and effort when trying to maintain a perfectly manicured lawn. This could be the solution to a public domain with heavily trafficked areas, or in your home where you have the kids and pets running rampage! Or do you have an area in your garden where turf will not grow, for example in a heavily shaded area? Indeed, are you fed up of trying time and again to mow a really difficult to reach section of the garden? We have found the solution: www.namgrass.co.uk

Its easy to install, easy to clean, and now lasts up to 10 years! And with the recent advances in technology, it now looks more realistic than ever. The grass truly can be greener on your side!


Create Your Own Lake – JCB Diggers Toys For Boys.

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

If you have the space in your garden, a spare half acre or so you should consider building your own lake, its a great boys project with all the machinery such as JBC diggers etc and all the macho earth-moving involved in building a lake, its just not a girly kind of a project, ( if girls start building lakes then whats next they might even start eating Yorkie bars !! )

So how to start your lake project – a plan is a good start, but its going to be a rough basic plan because as you will soon find out with lakes, the design changes once you start. Your rough plan should layout the shape and the different depths and levels in the lake, ideally there should be sloping beach areas and deep areas over 2 metres deep. As a general rule some deep areas help to even out the water temperature and help avoid algae problems, if the lake is to shallow you will find out that the water heats up quickly in the summer causing algae blooms. With the rough plan you can work out the volume of soil and sub soil that’s going to be removed, this is key because you are going to have to figure out were all this material is going to go. Ideally all the soil removed to form the lake can be used on site to form mounds and hills as part of an overall ground modelling scheme. Remember soil even good soil is expensive to get hauled away from your site by lorry, so look for other solutions. As a general rule a compacted fresh dug cubic metre of soil weighs a tonne and when dug expands 2 to 3 times so you end up with 2 to 3 cubic metres when dug

Now for the fun bit – toys for boys, in this case its a JCB digger or similar, wheeled or a tracked machine, they can be hired with or  without a driver or purchased if you have enough spare cash. Buying your own digger for a large project is not a bad option as the machine will have a resale value and it will allow you additional time to play around with the shape of your lake. For some ideas on JCB that are available try Scot JCB  If you have never driven a digger before then you need to practice in the middle of a large field with no over head wires, its all about the spacial awareness of the digger and your surroundings, if you have problem reversing you car out of a drive or parking a car then operating the digger is not for you get a driver either with a hired machine or find a good driver locally.
If you need to find a good driver the way to tell if they can do what they say is to get them to dig a square hole with a digger, not as easy as it sounds.

With the lake dug out the next consideration is a liner unless you are lucky and the area is spring feed. Traditionally a lake was lined with pubbled clay to create a lining that sealed the lake to hold the water, but these days pubbling clay is not to easy to find so your best bet is a butyl liner with a protective cover underneath and one over the top, finished with a covering of soil. The soil covering is important because it helps give the lake a natural look and helps the water to balance with regards to achieving a clear natural state.

This is just a quick overview of building your own lake, if you have a project in mind drop our advisor team a line and we will be sure to give you some advice to point you in the right direction.

8 Steps To Planning A Vegetable Patch.

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

8 Steps to planning a vegetable patch

At  GardenAdvice we want to make planning your veg patch easy so we have written 8 simple steps to ensure that you will get the most out of your veg patch.
1. Getting the right spot
You need to begin by finding a space in your garden. The area you plan to plant your vegetables is key as It can completely make or break the success of your veg patch. A space not to exposed to the elements with lots of sunlight is ideal.
2. What do you want to grown
Pick your vegetables; there are two different kinds of veg that you need to consider your slow maturing crops that take longer to grow vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and spinach and your catch crops that will grow quicker in between your other crops, these include spring onions, radishes, and leeks. The Veg garden will get two lots of catch crop to every slow maturing crop this means they make the most of their veg patch.
3. Preparing the ground
You need to dig some soil out of your patch so you can use it for layering your veg patch. Fork the earth and make sure you have plenty of worms. If you don’t you need to get some lob worms. Lob worms will keep the soil aerated and alive; blood worms the ones in your compost bins will die in your soil and won’t be much good.
4. Getting the right the compost for your soil
You need to test your soil PH, the kind of soil you have will determine what kind of compost is best for you to use on your veg patch. For instance an acidic soil needs spent mushroom compost as it is full of alkali. If you have an alkali soil you need to use manure based compost as it will increase the acidity of the soil.
5. Layering up your soil
Layer your compost and soil with grow more fertiliser (link) this will insure you achieve the perfect soil balance.
6. Planning your patch
You need two plans for your veg patch as rotating the veg yearly is key to keeping pests from building up. Keeping your veg all in rows will also encourage pest as they find it easy to navigate its best to create a mixture of row’s and squares to discourage plants and pests altogether.
7. Sowing seeds
To sow your seeds create a well in the soil twice the length of the seed and then pop the seed in. Make sure the seed is covered tightly as air pockets surrounding the seeds will cause them to dry out and they won’t create roots.
8. Companion planting
This is a great organic way of keeping pests at bay and it will keep your veg garden looking pretty. Marigolds will attract lady birds and flies that will eat aphids.


GardenAdvice.co.uk – Garden Rangers.

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

The Garden Rangers know a thing or two about going places. It doesn’t matter how difficult it is to get there. It might be crossing the Sahara, rappelling down a cliff, slogging through a swamp, backpacking through the jungle or taking a simple a trip to downtown LA. The Garden Rangers will get there.


Garden Rangers are tasked with carrying the advice and knowledge from the experts at GardenAdvice to people around the world, many of whom are in some of the most out-of-the way places. The help and assistance they provide is often life changing for the people on the receiving end, especially after major environmental events. Their motto is “Always ready to assist.”


Each Garden Ranger team is made up of people with different skills. Just think for a moment about the United states Marines. Each member of the crew on a mission has a different area of expertise that is needed to get the team where it’s going. The Garden Rangers operate on the same principle.


One team member might focus on the mechanics of traveling tough terrains, another navigates, a third handles communication, a fourth takes care of any first aid requirements along the way, and a fifth takes care of all the food for their journey. Each team member is vital to the journey, and each has a role to play. A few of the most recent additions to the Garden Rangers are retired U.S. Marines. Their expertise in getting to difficult places is crucial to the goal of the Garden Rangers.


Those who want to become a Garden Ranger must undergo a rigorous test showing that they have the necessary skills to reach these difficult places. The tests are conducted in teams, just as if they were heading out on a real expedition. Each group member plays a role. The test is called the Three Peaks. They’ve got to be able to travel 26 miles of varying terrain in eight hours or less. The retired Marines who took the test did it in less than six hours, including a lengthy break in the middle of it to take in the sights at the local pub!


The test to become a Garden Ranger is about more than just making sure you have the necessary skills. If you fail the test once, you just take it over and over again until you pass. Each time you take it, you’ll have more confidence than the last time because you will have been there before. It’s about building your confidence so that when you’re in a real situation, you know what to do.


Before a Garden Ranger team sets off, a good deal of research is undertaken in relation to the place they are going, often by the Junior Rangers who are part of the GardenAdvice young gardeners program. The Junior Ranger program shows them just how much the Internet can be used to communicate, research, and publish information.


Although Garden Rangers are heading into some very rugged and faraway terrain, they are not alone. They’ve got a team back at home base helping them out. When they get where they’re going, they use the latest tech to access the Internet and get additional information and advice for the people they are assisting. If they’ve never seen a certain kind of soil before or there’s a pest problem that falls outside their experience, all they do is send a picture back and have a specialist member of the GardenAdvice team look into it.


Being a Garden Ranger is certainly not for the fainthearted, but it is for those who can ask the simple question of themselves ‘Why not?’

Design A garden To Sell A Property.

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Selling your house – Landscaping or improving your garden to help sell your house.


Although improving your garden in itself does not improve your properties value it has been proven by research to help sell your house in a short period of time and help you achieve the asking price for the property.
First impressions count, whether its a possible purchaser viewing your property by a viewing visit or seeing pictures of your property on the internet for the first time on such sites as findaproperty A well designed garden can add the “wow factor” to any house increasing its impact and making it stand out within a group of other houses for sale within the same area and price range.


The GardenAdvice team have produced a number of short points for you to follow in producing a garden that will help sell your property

  • First set a time period when you are likely to place your house on the market. This will allow you to use a number of plants that will be at their most colourful then your property is for sale increasing your properties impact.
  • Garden Shapes and views – If you have a narrow garden or L Shaped garden by splitting it into different areas and introducing pergolas or archways it possible to give the garden the look of a far larger garden than it actilay it.
  • Consider your buyers – think about your possible buyers, if the property is in an area with good schools it might be worth focusing some of the garden on a child friendly water feature or if the property is in a coastal area popular with retired people it might be worth installing a ramp in place of some existing steps
  • See what other property styles are selling in your area. If modern looking house are selling in your area you can create a modern looking garden with pots and structured plants such as grasses and evergreen plants such as skimmia japonica
  • Lawns – a great way to add life to a garden is to relay a lawn using first class turf and mulch the beds around the lawn with bark mulch to set off the new lawn.
  • Drives – Old tarmac drives can be treated with a tarmac restorer paint and brick paving drives can be re-sealed in both cases this will improve the look of a drive and provide a new look
  • Scented plants – using mildly scented plants near your front door such as sweet peas is a great way to make a favourable first impression.

Work with your agent and such web sites as make such they publish not only picture of your house but also the garden as this will help make your property stand out.      Read More 

Stop Those Scoffing Squirrels!

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

According to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) there’s an influx of grey squirrels in Britain’s gardens this autumn due to declining seed and nut crops in the countryside – more than a third more squirrels can be found in gardens compared to the same period over the previous two years. This is a blow to those of us who prefer to feed the birds rather than greedy squirrels. The situation is exacerbated by the prolific numbers of pigeons who also hoover up more than their fair share of bird food. So if you’re feeling under siege, it might be time to look at investing in squirrel resistant and squirrel proof feeders which will deter both squirrels and tubby large birds. Ernest Charles, online and catalogue  wild bird care specialist, has a wide range of bird feeders to deter squirrels and larger birds. For example, there’s a stainless steel squirrel proof feeder which uses gravity to confuse squirrels. A spring weighted metal sheath drops as they leap on to it, covering the feeder (£19.99). The squirrel resistant globe feeder has a metal cage through which small birds can pass through to get to the bird food but adult squirrels and larger birds find it difficult to squeeze through (£19.99). There is also the smooth squirrel baffle which is a dome attached to the feeder to help give squirrels the slip (also £19.99). The BTO also has other tips to put off these greedy chompers of bird food. Adding chilli powder dusted on bird food will send squirrels on their way, and if everything you try still doesn’t work, give them their own restaurant away from your bird feeders.


Bulbs – The Quality Of The Flower Can Be Seen In The Bulb.

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

A bulb such as a tulip or daffodil can tell you you great deal if you understand what to look for.  Bulbs are one of the largest sectors in gardening but also one of the most specialist areas. Over the last few years the large retailers in the UK and Europe have driven down the cost of bulbs to such a degree that in most cases the quality has suffered to the point its almost a pointless exersie in buy cheap bulbs which after waiting  several months after planting produce only mediocre  flowers.
For example with tulps the key is often the size of the bulbs larger bulbs will produce better flower, it seems logical when you think about it larger bulbs contain more food which helps the plant produce bigger and better flowers. Over the next few weeks the GardenAdvice team with our recommended supplier of bulbs www.bulbsandbeyond.com will be producing a number of articles that will form a guide to getting the most from bulbs with regards to producing the best flowers, value for money and bulbs for every season.

Gardening An Inspiration For Young Writers.

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe
To be a great writer or playwright takes a creative and inventive imagination developed from a young age. Gardening or time spent in a garden often helps develop this imagination, gardens and gardening allow an unstructured mind of a young person to explore and create through play without the normal boundaries of other areas such as school where teachers create rules and boundaries simply to stay in control and to keep play safe. If you consider for a moment some of the most loved books you will see how they could link to a writers childhood experiences in a garden at play such as winnie the poo and pooh stick, The loin, the witch and the wardrobe and Alice in wonderland, all have a strong reference to gardens and gardening.
For a young child a garden offers endless possibilities to explore and expand a growing imagination through play, such as building dams, playing pooh sticks and creating mini kingdoms with the family pets such as the pet rabbit. Very few writers are born with a gift for writing its often more about ability shaped by experience, especially the experience of youth.
From the GardenAdvice teams point of view most of us started young in the family garden growing our imagination and just never stopped we just keep imaging and design gardens for our clients for 6 to 90 years old. Some people are good with figures and concepts but if you are as creative as a writer or designer then a garden is a great place to allow your imagination to run wild and grow.
I often wonder is Julia Donalsdon spent a lot of time in the garden as a young child to develop her imagination. In a recent interview Julia Donalsdon she recommends to a group of aspiring young writers to read Watership Down which I often think is based on the writers Richard Adams childhood experiences in a garden combined with later experiences in life. You can watch the interview with Julia Donalsdon on the Scottish Friendly web site.  
To get your young child s imagination started in the garden you could have a look at some of the projects the Gardenadvice team have created with the Gardenadvice Young gardeners club such as hairy monster pots and wildlife log piles guaranteed to attract stage beetle which are enough to fire up every ones imagination. And as for Julia Donalsdon as the former Children’s Laureate we can look forward to a some more classic childrens books such as The Gruffalo