Gardening Advice

  • Gardening and wellbeing in 2020

    We asked Annabelle Padwick, the founder of Life at No.27 to share her expert advice on how gardening is a powerful therapy for positive wellbeing. Annabelle is a professional gardener, wellbeing therapist, gardening writer, public speaker and potato growing addict. Her therapeutic and educational programmes for children and adults, are proven to build confidence, teach new skills, help you make new friends and ultimately, have fun….

    Gardening has incredible powers; it’s healing, comforting, joyful, exciting and totally absorbing. Getting out in the garden builds your confidence, gives you time for yourself, keeps you active, feels good between your toes and makes you both physically and mentally healthier.

    It is also hard work at times and doesn’t always go to plan, just like life. I will always praise how gardening can help improve your life, as it totally changed mine. But I also recognise it isn’t always bright sunflowers, perfect roses and juicy tomatoes. This is exactly why I teach gardening to children and adults, alongside wellbeing discussions and games. Growing your own food safely teaches resilience; if a seed doesn’t germinate or a plant dies, you can try work out why and just try again. Sowing little seeds teach the power of self-care, love and nurture; give a seedling or yourself the right amount of water, food, sunlight, shade and love, then see what happens. You thrive! Plants and humans are very similar, some might just say that we have more complicated emotions. But, through experience with some of my plants, I think I find them very complicated too.

    Here is just a few of my tips on how gardening can benefit you:

    Time out

    We aren’t designed to cope with the chaos, demand, expectations and pressures we put on ourselves. In order to cope mentally and physically, we need to take time out. Whether you choose to get out in the garden, read a book or watch a movie; we all need to take time to slow down. Personally though, I love to get lost in the actions, colours, smells and tastes of the garden. My thoughts disappear and my smile reappears.

    Grow confidence

    You don’t need to set out to re-design your whole garden for a confidence boost! Start simple by planting up a few pots, raised beds or borders. As your plants begin to grow, so will your confidence. Take your time and gradually build up to more complicated tasks like sowing seeds and pruning. If you ever get stuck, ask a friend or local garden centre for help.

    Get active

    We all want to be physically fitter, which in turn can help make us mentally healthier. Gardening gets your body moving at your own pace, boosts your metabolism up a gear and increases your heart rate. What’s great about gardening for fitness is that it is cheaper than the gym (unless you are a plant addict), you get double the rewards and it is adaptable for many abilities and lifestyles! Raised beds are great if moving around and working the ground isn’t possible. You can sit on the edge or in a chair by the side and still get stuck in. The arms, abs and shoulders are working and your plants are growing. WIN, WIN!

    Meet new people

    Gardening is great to do on your own, but sometimes it can be even better in a group. When you want to make new friends, gardening with others gives you an automatic common interest to start up conversations. You can get lost in the plants, say a few words, then get back to the soil. There isn’t any awkward silences and you can build up conversations when you are ready.

    Eat healthier

    I love running outside to the containers and raised beds full of vegetables, immediately snacking on the nearest bean or tomato… yummy! Growing and storing your own produce keeps the winter stews coming too. The odd takeaway treat or junk cupboard dash will always stay I’m sure, but learning to grow your own food makes delicious goodness easier to grab, cook and eat!

    If Annbelle's tips have given you the urge to grow something, start gardening or just make the most of your own garden then check out some of our other helpful blogs or head to the main website to find out more about about beautiful and easy to build raised beds.

    To find out more about the work Annabelle does as part of the Life at No.27 social enterprise click  the logo below.

  • Planning your 2020 garden - Our free design service

    Designing an entire garden or even just a certain area can be a daunting prospect which is why we have made our free design service as quick and simple as possible.

    Whether you’re a new homeowner, the owner of a new build home with a fresh plot to put your stamp on, or have an established garden that needs a new lease of life, our modular system can help you transform it into a beautiful and functional space.

    Our skilled designers have worked with customers to create full garden layouts and bespoke designs that fit their gardens perfectly using our modular system which can be used to build strong and long-lasting raised beds, planters, ponds, walls, steps, seating or a combination of all. Each structure can be built on any surface, even hills and slopes are no problem and the design potential is limitless.

    WoodBlocX garden designs

    Top considerations before making changes to the garden

    • Note down the areas that get sunlight at certain times of the day, this is important if you want to include a seating area of if you plan on growing certain types of sun nor shade loving plants or you plan to grow edibles
    • Are you overlooked by other properties and do you have any views you would like to maximise?
    • Think about what you would like to grow and how much you are able to realistically manage
    • What elements you would like to include; grass/lawns, seating, walls, beds and borders, water features, paths, patios, steps etc?
    • Do you want to encourage wildlife into the garden?
    • What style do you want to achieve? Modern, rustic etc

    Once you have an idea of what you want to include within the space head to our garden design service page and fill in our super quick feedback form, which has been designed to take minimal time to complete (five minutes maximum) and we will do the rest, all of the information provided will help us to build a bigger picture of your project and we can begin creating a design that is totally bespoke to your garden.

    Recent bespoke designs

    The benefits of using WoodBlocX timber structures to update your garden

    • Free design service
    • Easy build with lightweight pieces and step by step instructions
    • Strong and durable - the blocks are locked together using strong dowels
    • Build on any surface
    • Pressure treated wood that will not leach nasty chemicals into the soil
    • Long-lasting and durable - structures will not crack or warp
    • Unlimited design potential thanks to the modular blocks
    • Superior quality to railway sleepers and wooden boards

    If you have a project in mind or you’re just not sure of exactly what you need for your garden click her to start using our free design service 

  • Planning your 2020 garden

    We asked expert gardener, gardening writer and multiple WoodBlocX raised bed owner Rob Smith from Rob’s Allotment to share his top tips for planning your 2020 garden and he has not disappointed. If you want to get ahead for the coming year read on…

    It may sound crazy, but winter is the best time to start planning your garden.  Not only do you not have the distraction of tending to your plants, but you can see the bones of the garden including all the shapes, divots, jumps and bumps. This makes it easier to decide what you want where, especially if you are going to build any structures or raised beds.  By preparing beds, paths and fences in winter you will benefit 10 fold in the spring as you’ll be ready to concentrate on sowing and growing, rather than a mad rush to prepare before you can even get a seed in the ground.

    Quick tips for planning ahead

    • write a list of everything you want to grow
    • either label on paper or actually label each bed so you know what’s going to go where
    • add manure or organic matter to all your beds, this will allow it to break down and be ready for your plants to feed from next year (just remember not to do this for carrots and parsnips as they will warp and fork, that’s why you plan for each bed is handy)
    • start ordering seeds now as it’s the perfect time to sit with your favourite tipple, warm in the house while flicking through seed catalogues
    • try and fill new raised beds with organic matter now, as the soil level will sink as the soil settles. By filling them now you will be able to top them up in the spring before you sow your first seed, meaning the bed will be nice and full rather than only half full after it’s sunk!
    • there’s still time to plan and plant your fruit garden with bare root trees/bushes. These can be planted until they begin to show signs of life in spring, so why not add a blueberry to a raised bed, after all you can make sure it’s growing in the ericaceous soil it lives in a raised bed, while in the open ground they don’t always grow as well.
    • it’s also a good idea to buy strawberry runners now, planting them straight away in preparation for picking in June.
    • maintain fences, paths and sheds, painting and repairing where needed

    Plan ahead with our free design service

    Our free design service makes planning your garden even easier, simply send our team your measurements and ideas and we will create a design that fits your space perfectly, whether you have a sloped garden, an unused corner or you want to integrate seating, walls, steps and ponds.

    Each WoodBlocX kit is self-assembly and includes wooden blocks of varying sizes, pre-drilled with holes, to add a series of strong dowels. Simply build the structure up layer-by-layer by referring to the step-by-step instructions for where the dowels need to be placed.

  • Installing a raised bed in autumn and winter

    We’re not suggesting you go out into the garden on a freezing cold day and build a WoodBlocX raised bed...however, if you are planning on getting one in place ahead of the growing season then now is a good time to start planning in order to plant out seedlings or sow directly into the soil.

    WoodBlocX timber raised beds are ideal for growing your own fruit and vegetables, they can be built to a height to suit you perfectly making tending, planting, weeding, watering, pest control and fertilising much more accessible, not only are they all of those things, but they also warm up quicker when the temperature changes compared to open ground, and they are a fantastic pest or dog deterrent!

    Raised beds aren’t just the staple of veg growers, they are also brilliant for growing shrubs and ornamentals too, either to create a stand out section in the garden or, if you fancy yourself as the next gold award winning Chelsea garden designer, you could try your hand a little bit of experimental planting.

    Plan ahead

    Check the weather, if you can see there’s going to be a good run of weather plan your build around this. WoodBlocX timber raised beds can be built on any surface including directly on top of soil or grass but if the weather has been particularly wet just standing and moving around on the ground can start to make it uneven and boggy so wait for a few days after a wet spell.

    Keep an eye on how much light the area where you plan to install your wooden raised bed gets as this could make a big difference to your growing success if you plan to grow edibles the area doesn’t get a great deal of sunshine you may want to consider moving its position.

    Order your soil, if you don’t already have some soil to fill your raised bed, work out how much you need using this simple sum:  length(m) x width(m) x height(cm), but if you are adding a drainage layer to the bottom subtract the height of the layer from the equation so you don’t over order. and contact your local suppliers and compare quotes.

    Building your structure

    When you receive your WoodBlocX raised bed kit you will also receive a set of instructions that are bespoke to the design that you choose, simply follow the steps and you will have built your raised bed in no time at all.

    If you need any extra help we have read a series of short how-to videos that are designed to answer all possible questions with a visual answer, and as always, if you need to speak to a human being, give us call on 0800 389 1420.

    What can I sow in my WoodBlocX raised bed now?

    February is the month to get started and there is plenty of veg that you can sow directly into the soil including garlic, shallots, board beans, carrot, parsnips, peas, spinach - loose soil is ideal for these crops so fresh bought-in soil used to fill the bed will work perfectly.

    To get an instant price for a raised bed for your garden click here or if you would like something a little bit different and need to discuss your ideas with one of our designers click here to use our free design service.

  • Ideas for small gardens - Raised garden beds and planters

    Small gardens can be tricky spaces to work with and there are lots of raised beds and containers available that have been designed specifically for smaller gardens, however most are either made from plastic, poor quality materials or come highly treated with chemical preservatives.

    Our raised beds and planters are long-lasting, each is guaranteed for 15 years thanks to the high quality wood we use and our water-based preservative which won't leach harmful chemicals into your soil, the structures easy to build, look fantastic and are ideal for gardens of all shapes and sizes, even the smallest of plots. Take a look at how some of our customers have used our modular timber system to transform their gardens.

    Multifunctional

    Tall planting

    Get creative with the space you have available and think about ways you can incorporate different elements into the space. This bench is nestled within a raised bed providing a space to grow plants and herbs and place to sit and relax without taking up too much room. This design could also be adapted to include a small pond, or if your plot is on a hill switch the bench for steps.

    Tall planters create the illusion of space, due to their height they free up floor space. Plus if you keep with width to a minimum, like the example above, you can still add colour and interest to small space, plus planting, weeding and watering is super simple thanks to the accessible height. WoodBlocX structures can be painted too if your plot is in need of a splash of colour.

    Corners

    Small section

    Our modular system can help you to make the most of corners, choose from standard single-height raised beds or add some tiers and cascading plants to really add some interest to your garden. Corner raised beds take up less space too. Equally, if you small garden is angular use our free bespoke design service to get a shape that suits to the space perfectly.

    By taking a small section of space from one side of the garden can really make a difference and won't impact too much on the entire space you have available. Installing a raised bed from one side of the garden to the other provides a large growing space without encroaching into rest of the garden, it makes a really nice feature too. Place your raised bed in front of a fence, wall or along the side of the house.

    Our top three WoodBlocX planters for small gardens

    A contemporary and stylish feature for your patio or decking, the Small Cubic Garden Planter is an ideal way to introduce a touch of nature into your living space. This smaller design is suitable to showcase a variety of small shrubs, heathers and even some hostas who enjoy more shaded areas.

    With its modest design the Slender Garden Planter is ideal for more narrow spaces or fence lines and provides a sleek foundation for a trellis feature for climbing plants.

    Unlike a square or rectangular shaped planter the Hexagonal Garden Planter offers a modern alternative design that can feature as a centrepiece in your garden. This multi-sided design can also prove as an effective shape to fit into less conventional shaped garden spaces.

    Free bespoke design service

    Use our free bespoke design service to ensure your raised bed fits the space perfectly, we can also take into account any slopes. Just send us your measurements and we'll do the calculations for you, to find out more about the service click here.

  • WoodBlocX Planters

    Our maintenance-free wooden planters are ideal for patios, driveways and balconies, made from high quality Scots pine, which is treated with a water-based preservative to make them hardwearing and long lasting.

    If you’re looking to reduce the amount of plastic products you use in the garden a WoodBlocX planter is an excellent choice and it will look great surrounded by terracotta pots too. Here’s six reasons to choose a WoodBlocX planter for your next container purchase.

    Make a statement

    Doorways flanked with planters either side make for an inviting entrance, twisted bay trees, fragrant lavender bushes or shaped buxus. Our Large Planters are ideal for making a statement at the front and rear of the house or at the base of steps and in front of gates.

    Small spaces

    Our planters are available in range of shapes and sizes, they are ideal for gardens of all sizes. The square Small and Large garden planters are popular options for smaller gardens, patios and balconies, whilst the Slender Planter can run along a wall or be used to divide a space.

    Versatile

    WoodBlocX planters are really quick to build thanks to our unique modular system, the lightweight wooden blocks and the simple dowel system means that planters can be built really quickly, in less than an hour in some cases. The lightweight pieces make our planters idea for use on balconies as parts can be easily carried up stairs.

    Indoor and outdoor planting

    Our Small Garden Planters are not restricted to just being outdoors either, conservatories, garden, sun rooms even hallways and kitchens to bring natural planting indoors. Use as a pot for indoor plants such as yuccas, cheese plants, or for olive trees that can be placed outside during the warmer weather and brought indoors when the temperature drops.

    Traditional and modern finishes

    Tailor your planter to your garden style with a choice of capping options, the traditional capping overhangs the planter lightly and is our bestseller. The modern option finishes flush with the rest of the structure providing a more minimalist finish; our Contemporary Planter Bench is a great example of our flush capping.

    Colour

    WoodBlocX planters can be customised with colour, choose a paint colour to brighten up your outdoor space or simply plant them up with plants that provide colour through the seasons, add cascading varieties to really utilise the space.

    Customer photos

    We offer a free bespoke design service to all of our customers so if you need to tweak your planter design slightly to suit you and your garden simply call or email us ad we will be happy to help.

  • Natural gardening - Pest Control

    One of the most important garden trends of 2019 is natural gardening, to create a completely natural garden takes a lot of time and a lot of effort, but there are small changes you can make to help you become a little greener in your garden in 2019. We’re looking at pest control and some of the natural ways you keep them under control without reaching for the chemicals and if you do make sure you choose a good alternative that has good environmental credentials.

    Ponds and water features

    Ponds are magnets for attracting wildlife to the garden, especially the type that will eat some of your unwanted garden pests including birds and frogs. You could also install a birdbath or feeder to encourage more birds or a low-level bowl of water for hedgehogs to drink from. A WoodBlocX timber pond is not only made from natural and sustainable wood that is treated with a water-based preservative, but they can also include an extra inner-layer for planting, flowers or herbs around the edges to make the pond even more of a magnet for wildlife. To view our range or to get an instant price for a pond using your own bespoke sizes click here.

    Crop protection

    Pests will always find a way to get to your plants but crop protectors are a fantastic preventative measure for lots of different pests. If you’re growing vegetables caterpillars can be a big problem, butterflies tend to lay their eggs between March and April and good mesh will keep them from laying eggs on the leaves of plants in your vegetable patch, it will also stop slugs and snails slithering in, it will stop the birds from pecking at your freshly sprouted seedlings and keep the cats from digging up your nicely weeded, freshly dug soil. WoodBlocX crop protectors are easy to use and look great, simply stake them into the soil and add netting to keep the pests at bay.

    Raised beds

    If you have a rabbit problem in your garden and want to grow edibles you need a wooden raised bed, the extra height will prevent them from snacking on your produce. Slugs and snails will always manage to get to your plants but if they have further to travel up a raised bed you have more chances to catch them! Our raised bed calculator tools will indicate whether or not the structure is tall enough to keep rabbits out and it will also give you an instant price for a wooden raised bed built to your size requirements. In addition to specifying your own sizes, you can also use our free design service or browse the different shapes and sizes.

    For a chance to win some great prizes including some alternative pest control products plus a battery powered multi-tool for the garden enter our Garden Detox competition.

  • Our guide to Retaining Walls

    Our guide to Retaining Walls

    If all gardens were flat they would be very boring! That’s not to say a flat garden is boring, but many of us have gardens with challenging terrains, slopes and sheer drops to contend with.

    This is where garden retaining walls come into play, and there are many benefits of retaining walls; from simply serving the purpose of retaining an area of earth or to landscape a garden creating flat platforms and interesting focal points.

    There are already many styles of retaining walls in the UK so there are lots of different options you can go for. Our modular system has proved very popular with customers looking for an alternative to brick, stone, gabions and railway sleeper retaining walls. Below we’ve provided a rundown of the materials you can use to build retaining walls in your garden and how the WoodBlocX™ retaining wall stacks up against them.

    Brick and Stone

    Brick and stone retaining walls are a common choice, but these materials can prove very expensive and need regular maintenance. You will need to include foundations to build on to create a stable structure. To build it yourself would really be a challenge, you need to ensure the bricks are laid straight and level and the mortar mix is correct. If you’re not experienced in bricklaying it is best to enlist the help of a skilled tradesperson. This can be costly and is another added expense you wouldn't get with a DIY product.

    Gabions

    Gabion retaining walls are made using gabion baskets and cages. They provide a more industrial look and are generally used for retaining earth where water is close by and for extremely high retaining walls. No foundations are needed with gabions, but you will need some heavy individual stones to fill the baskets which can be very hard if you are building by yourself.

    Railway Sleepers

    Railway sleeper retaining walls are popular and single lengths of railway sleepers can be used to build a wood retaining wall for the garden; but the individual pieces can be very large and heavy. To secure the lengths in place you will need reinforcing bars and a large drill bit to create the holes for the bars. The old treated sleepers contain harmful chemicals too, which can have an unpleasant odour and leach into the soil. New untreated versions are available, but they will become susceptible to rot after only a few years.

    WoodBlocX

    WoodBlocX™ supplies wooden/timber retaining walls for the garden. The quick-to-build retaining walls offer a fantastic alternative to brick, stone, gabion and railway sleepers.

    Our retaining walls are the natural and beautiful choice for landscaping your garden, and with everything you need supplied directly to your door there’s no need for foundations or substantial groundworks to build the walls. The BlocX™ themselves are light and easy to handle and building requires no heavy lifting. WoodBlocX™ use wood from sustainable sources and we only use a water-based preservative. You can rest assured that your new easy to build retaining wall is eco-friendly, and suitable for organic growing too.

    WoodBlocX™ can help you with your next project with our free design service; either speak to our team of designers who will work with you to create something that is totally bespoke to your garden or use our new retaining wall calculator which will give you an instant price for the size of retaining wall that you need. We provide a full retaining wall building design guide and general instructions with all purchases.

    For retaining wall ideas and design guides and to see how to build a garden retaining wall using WoodBlocX™, simply head over to the retaining wall section on the website or speak to one of our friendly customer service team on 0800 389 1420 if you have any questions. 

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    Full 2

    For more helpful garden tips and inspiration check out our blog page, and to find out more about our timber raised beds, planters, walls, garden furniture, ponds and more all made in Great Britain, head to our home page.

  • Detox your garden in 2019

    January is the perfect time to make plans and simple changes that you will see the benefits of in the months to come, we’re not talking about the usual New Year fads of diets and exercise, not on this blog! We’re talking about detoxing your garden to create a healthier environment for relaxing and growing plants and veg.

    Swap petrol to electric

    Whilst petrol products including lawnmowers, strimmers and hedge trimmers are known to get the job done quicker and provide extra power, they’re heavy, smelly, noisy and need a lot of maintenance. There are some great battery and electric options available some that even offer the same power as petrol and are well worth researching next time you need to buy one.

    Switch plastic for terracotta and wood

    If you’ve got a lot of plastic plant pots in your garden slowly start swapping them for alternative options such as terracotta or wooden planters, pots and containers made from these materials are more expensive than the plastic versions so keep your eyes peeled for garden centre sales, where you could snap up some bargains...make sure you recycle the plastic pots where possible.

    Use fewer chemicals

    There will always be pests in the garden, so to reduce the use of your bug killer spray or treatment create little habitats for beneficial wildlife such as bug houses, they’re fun to make yourself or you can buy them. The more beneficial creatures that you can encourage to your garden the more aphids, white fly and black fly will get eaten! If you need to use a bug killer choose one that is neonicotinoid free which is better for bees.

    Beds and borders

    Using railway sleepers for raised beds can be detrimental to the health of your garden, they tend to be treated with chemicals that can leach into the soil, which isn't ideal if you're growing fruit and vegetables. Flimsy wooden boards will rot quickly and need to be replaced regularly. WoodBlocX raised beds are not treated with any nasty chemicals nor will they need any treatments or maintenance to keep them looking good, they offer a longlasting planting solution made from sustainable materials.

    Compost

    Save money on bags of compost and start making your own, this isn’t a quick fix though, if you start recycling your vegetable peelings, tea bags, egg boxes, newspapers and garden waste now into a small compost heap you may be able to start using it within six months to a year. However, you will reduce the amount of waste you throw away and by putting it back into the garden you will provide some great nutrients for the soil.

    For more helpful garden tips and inspiration check out our blog page and to find out more about our timber raised beds, planters, walls, garden furniture, ponds and more made in Great Britain head to our home page

  • Protecting crops over winter

    There has certainly been a change in the weather over the past few weeks with most of the UK already experiencing some overnight frost.

    Whilst the heating will be on inside to keep you and your family warm some plants in the garden can benefit from some extra protection too. If you’ve worked hard in the garden this year or if you would like to carry on growing edibles over winter then you need to think about crop protection options.

    Lift

    Protecting plants grown in containers is really simple; if the pots are light enough to pick up and carry they can be moved to a sheltered spot in the garden or placed inside a greenhouse. Plants such as dahlias should be lifted to protect them from the effects of the winter weather and stored in a dormant state in a greenhouse or shed. Other varieties that can benefit from lifting include pelargoniums, geraniums, begonias, gladioli and cannas.

    Mulch

    Spreading a good mulch around sensitive perennials will provide insulation and protect their sensitive root systems, a hardwood mulch is the best option, scatter it in borders and raised beds, building up a good protective layer, you could also use compost or straw. Don't wait until it is too cold to apply your mulch, add it whilst the soil is still moist and slightly warmer.

    Protect

    Larger containers and timber raised beds can be protected from the wind, rain and frost by ‘overwintering’. Simply wrap a protective cover around the structure, different materials can be used from hessian to fleece, your local garden centre will stock a good selection and will be able to advise which is best for the plants you need to protect.

    You can protect your crops all year round with WoodBlocX Crop Protectors. These attractive, rustic and functional rods enable to keep pests such at bay in the spring and summer with a covering of netting or to fix winter fleece or hessian protection too.

    Grow

    There are still crops that can be grown outside now in wooden raised beds, containers or open ground including onions, peas, broad beans and garlic. If you’re keen to get growing this winter check out our range of easy to build and hardwearing raised beds. Choose from all shapes and sizes to suit your garden.

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