Gardening Advice

  • 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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    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.

  • Autumn garden updates

    With the hot summer days making way for the cooler autumnal weather, September and October are great months for making the changes in the garden that you didn’t get round to doing in the spring and summer. Here are few tips from us to get you started...

    Tidy up

    Lots of plants fell victim to the hot dry weather in June and July whilst others will have flourished, by now the garden will have lost its bright and fresh glow and be looking a little be bedraggled. Arm yourself with a good pair of secateurs and set to work cutting back old growth of spent plants and flowers, remove any dead plants, cut back rapid-growing herbs such as oregano and mint, hard prune roses and weed beds and borders. Lawns will have begun to spring back to life now, mow them and tidy up bushy and overgrown edges. 

    Update at your own pace

    Now that the BBQ and alfresco dining season is well and truly over it's a great time to think about making updates to the garden. There’s less pressure than in spring or summer to have the garden ready for a certain time so you can move at your own pace, however fast or slow that may be.

    If you’re looking at starting a complete garden redesign our design team can help you by creating a WoodBlocX design that is totally bespoke to your garden free of charge. Simply call, 
    email or fill in the quick design survey and we will do the rest for you. Our versatile system can be used to create fully integrated gardens that include planters steps, raised beds and retaining walls, the can be built by you saving £££s on labour costs. If you a complete garden redesign is out of the question check out our 'Transform your garden in a weekend' blog.

    Maintenance 

    Painting sheds and fences, cleaning greenhouse glass, trimming bushes, replacing rotten raised beds and repairing patios are all jobs that cannot wait until next spring. Make a list of the jobs you need to do in your garden and tackle them starting with the most important. Keep your eyes peeled for special offers of paints and materials at DIY stores and garden centres. For rotten raised beds made from wooden boards or railway sleepers consider upgrading to a hardwearing and long-lasting WoodBlocX timber raised bed, no annual maintenance is needed as the wood is pressure treated making it super durable.

    For ideas and inspiration for your next garden update visit our website.

  • Accessible gardening

    Gardens can present a multitude of problems for people with mobility issues, uneven surfaces, low-level planting and narrow pathways can make getting out and enjoying the garden impossible for some. However, by making a few simple updates and creating a low-maintenance space can make the world of difference.

    Uneven surfaces and paths

    Flat, smooth and debris-free surfaces are a must for anyone with mobility issues, an uneven surface can increase the risk of falls, paved/hard landscaped areas are ideal as grass, mud and gravel surfaces can become dangerous after a spell of wet weather.

    Ensure fallen leaves and other garden debris is cleared on a regular basis. Pathways need to be wide enough to suit the user.

    Planting

    Anyone with back pain will know that ground or low level planting is difficult, kneeling and bending to tend and weed the areas can cause more pain. Consider lifting planted areas by installing raised beds. Our hardwearing timber beds can be built to a height to suit you, each structure is hardwearing and sturdy enough to lean or sit on. If mobility is preventing you from venturing right out into the garden, consider installing smaller raised planters close to the house. Read about our recommendations for raised bed heights here.

    Seating

    Seating in one form or another is an essential part of any garden, creating an area to sit and enjoy the garden or to take a break from gardening. The positioning of garden furniture is key and of course it needs to be easy to access, if you prefer a sunny spot make sure you note where the sun falls at the time of day that you are most likely to use the space. Our timber garden benches and seating can be incorporated into a raised bed design or installed separately.

    Storage and watering

    Some sport of storage is a must for all gardens, some traditional sheds can be narrow and difficult to access for storing garden tools, watering cans, hose pipes and other garden essentials, a good option for anyone needing easy access is a lean-to shed that sits directly on the patio with wide double doors which can be opened up taking away the need to step inside.

    For larger gardens a good irrigation system for the dryer months will not only save lugging a watering can around the garden, it will also save a lot of time too and ideal for dry summer weather.

    Check out our accessibility page and the raised bed kits that we recommend

  • Healthy Gardening

    To celebrate the Soil Association’s Organic September, we’ve put some tips together for ‘healthy gardening’. Maintaining a garden is hard work and it can be easy to reach for the chemicals to control weeds and pests as a quick and convenient fix, but there some quick switches you can make to work towards creating a healthier garden...

    The growing space

    Many gardeners opt to grow plants and veg in wooden raised beds either at low level to clearly divide a space up or to add extra height, making the area more accessible. Railway sleepers are a popular choice but many are chemically treated and over time the chemicals can leach into the soil. WoodBlocX raised beds use sustainable wood that is pressure treated without chemicals making them a great clean option. 

    Control products

    There are lots of products available that offer alternatives to harsh chemicals, look for products in garden centres and retailers that show either the Soil Association or Organic Farmers & Growers logos, these products will include kinder alternative ingredients and generally work just as well as the chemical versions.

    Weeding - If you’re lucky enough to not have too many weeds to deal with they can be controlled by hand, but it can be a thankless task so it's always good to have a treatment to hand. There has been lots of debate about the use of glyphosate in weedkillers recently due and its potentially harmful effects on our health, most weedkillers will clearly state on the bottle whether they are glyphosate-free, look for the products that feature natural active ingredients.

    Pest control - Encourage natural pest control in your garden, make a bug hotel to attract beneficial insects which will feed on other insect pests. The tiny gaps between the blocks in our raised beds are also great hiding places for beneficial bugs. Birds and hedgehogs are great pest controllers, install feeders and baths for birds and make sure hedgehogs can get in and out of the garden. Chickens are also a good option but they can scratch and peck away at the plants and veg you've grown! If you do need some extra help in the form of a bug killer spray or concentrate look for neonicotinoid-free treatment, neonicotinoids are used in pest control and are harmful to bees.

    Feeding - There are lots of organic solid and liquid fertilisers available or you can make your own compost, whilst this won’t be fully organic it is a great way to utilise kitchen waste and is much more sustainable than using shop-bought compost.

    For made to measure raised beds for growing plants and edibles, made from clean and sustainable timber, head over to the website.

  • Five summer holiday garden activities

    The school summer holidays are here and anyone with children or grandchildren will welcome ideas to keep them entertained without spending a small fortune.

    We’ve put together five ideas that will keep youngsters entertained and help them to learn about plants, insects and gardening.

    Build an insect house

    Insect houses can be built out of lots of different materials that are either lying about in the garden or can be easily foraged. Raid the shed or garage for some spare pallet wood and/or a few bricks. You can also collect pine cones, bark and branches from the local park or woodland areas. The RSPB has a great step-by-step guide to follow - here.

    Collect seeds

    August is a great time for collecting seeds from plants around the garden. This activity can be made even more interactive by getting the kids to make seed packs using paper, sticky tape and scissors. Once the packets are ready, send the kids out into the garden to search for seeds, encourage them to draw the plant the seeds came from on the packet.

    Own patch

    Set aside an area of the garden that the kids can call their own. Get them to either work directly in the ground or within a raised bed, and encourage them to weed the area and prepare the soil ready for planting. Veggies including broad beans, spinach, onions and spring onions can be sown in August.

    Build a WoodBlocX raised bed

    This is a WoodBlocX blog after all! Our wooden raised bed kits are ideal for building with kids, there’s no sharp tools or heavy lifting needed, just a little adult supervision. From preparing the ground to laying out the base layer, youngsters love building our timber structures and get a real sense of achievement out of it…and so do the adults!

    Insect spotting

    The garden is full of life at this time of year, with butterflies, grasshoppers, ants, garden spiders, bees, ladybirds and more going about their business. Encourage the kids to search them out and write a list of the different varieties they find and draw pictures of their favourites.

     

    For inspiration for your summer holiday garden project and to see how simple it is to build with WoodBlocX click below.

  • The benefits of using WoodBlocX for retaining walls

    Our modular system is ideal for building retaining walls, making it a great alternative to bricks, stone and railway sleepers. Here we explain why…  

    Why use WoodBlocX for retaining walls?

    Whether your garden is sloping or hilly, landscaping areas using WoodBlocX is cost effective and the finished article is safe, sturdy, durable and looks natural and beautiful. Made from pressure treated British wood, our retaining walls will not rot or distort. Plus, if you’re using the earth behind the wall for growing you can be assured that the wood will not leach nasty chemicals like those used to treat railway sleepers.

    How much can they retain?

    WoodBlocX structures are joined with a series of dowels to create a rigid structure. Each dowel can withstand a tension force of up to 0.9 tonnes.

    A single WoodBlocX timber retaining wall can retain earth up to one metre (approx. 3”). For customers that require higher walls we recommend using a terrace design, which looks great and creates additional planting areas.

    How to make more out of your WoodBlocX retaining wall

    We pride ourselves on offering a versatile system that adapts perfectly to your garden. A WoodBlocX retaining wall never has to be just a retaining wall! We can seamlessly integrate steps, seating and planting areas into the design.

    Cost saving

    Our customers find building our structures straightforward and enjoyable and a WoodBlocX timber retaining wall is no exception. All of our kits can be built in the same way and we provide step-by-step instructions to guide you through.
     

    Many of our retaining wall customers have told us that by using our system and building it themselves they have saved a considerable amount of money. Check out Ryan’s story; he originally asked a building company for a quote to build his terraced walls. The cost was way too high, but thankfully he found us! Click here to read the case study.

  • Transform your garden in a weekend

    With so many distractions in our lives these days, time is one thing we all wish we had a little more of. At WoodBlocX our aim is to help you save time, so you’ve got more of it to spend doing the things you love. We make ordering, delivering and building our products as quick and simple as possible; but it's not all rushing about. Our customers tell us that building with WoodBlocX is actually enjoyable, with many completing their projects in just one weekend.
     
    Here’s four simple steps to transforming your garden quickly:

    Let us do the thinking

    We offer all of our customers a free design service. We take away the head-scratching - all we need is a few minutes of your time to tell us your measurements, what kind of structure you’re looking for and a quick overview of what style you’re looking for and our experienced design team will do the rest.

     

    Simple ordering

    Once we’ve made any changes to your design and you’re ready to order we'll send you a link to purchase it you simply need to select a day for delivery that suits you. You'll be kept up to date via email on the status of your order.

    Delivery

    Your order will be delivered to you on a pallet and will contain a set of simple-to-follow instructions that have been tailored to the design of the structure. If you need to move your kit to a different area in the garden the pieces are light-weight making them quick and easy to move.

     

    The build

    Many of our structures can be built and planted out in as little as a day or in a weekend. Simply prepare the ground and lay out the base layer of your structure. Whether it’s a raised bed, retaining wall or pond the process is the same. Once the base layer is in place and you’re happy with the positioning, simply build the structure up according to the instructions. Once you’ve reached the top just add the capping and your structure is complete… it is that simple!
    Watch our How To Build video to see for yourself!

    Fill the bed with quality soil and start planning out which plants or veg to grow and once its complete sit back and admire your work and enjoy the compliments from friends and family!

  • Plan your dream garden this spring bank holiday

    The weather has been spot-on recently and for most of the UK the upcoming Spring Bank Holiday weekend is looking sunny and warm.

     

    If the coverage of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show has got your creative-garden-juices flowing and if you, like many others, prefer to dodge the crowds during the bank holiday and stay at home to get vital jobs around the house and garden underway then we have some ideas to get your creative-garden-juices flowing.

    Below you will find ideas and inspiration for all different garden sizes based on our customer designs. Most have used our FREE DESIGN SERVICE to ensure they make the most of their space and get exactly what they need, others either pick a pre-determined size to suit them from the kits available on our website or used our handy calculator tool.

     

    Ideas for small gardens

    A small garden, patio area or even a front garden can be transformed in less than a day thanks to our simple and versatile system. Incorporate raised beds, retaining walls and steps to transform a small space into an easy-to-maintain and functional space. Or upgrade plastic planters to WoodBlocX for longevity and style.

    Fill your new raised bed with simple planting, sticking to a colour scheme and mixing it up with ornamentals and herbs.

    Ideas for medium sized gardens

    A slightly bigger space gives you more options; you can create a separate area for growing your own vegetables, fruits and cut flowers in easy access raised beds built to a height to suit you.

    Or you can create something totally bespoke that fits your garden and your needs perfectly, whether it’s a combination of planters, retaining walls, steps and curbing. Use our free design service and we’ll help you get the best from your space.

    Ideas for large gardens

    Whether your garden is fully established and you’re looking to update a tired area or if you have enough space to create different areas of interest, consider creating different areas for entertaining, growing and relaxing. This will make updating the space much simpler and you can tackle it in smaller and more manageable sections.

    A large corner area can be utilised for planting and seating and the introduction of angles and curves can completely change the dynamics of the garden, create beautiful large planters, or make smaller changes here and there to upgrade and update certain areas.

    For more ideas and inspiration browse the different product sections on our website: raised beds, walls and steps, ponds, seats

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