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  • 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.

  • Raised bed Q&A

    A garden full raised beds or just one or two can bring so many benefits whether you’re a keen gardener or not. Before installing raised beds there are a few things to consider to ensure you get the best fit for you and your garden.

    Here are some of the top questions our customers ask us:

    Q. What is the best position for a raised bed?

    A. Once you have decided where you would like to build your raised bed, note where the sun rises and sets, the amount of light that falls on that particular spot will help you decide whether it is the best place to build it or not, for example, if your raised bed has shade cast over it for most of the day and you plan to grow certain plants or vegetables you might struggle.

    Q. What surface can a raised bed be built on?

    WoodBlocX raised beds can be built on any surface and there is no need for foundations or cement, build them directly on soil, grass, paving, tarmac, concrete or even sloped gardens, their unique design, which incorporates a series of strong dowels means structures can withstand ground movement when built on a reasonable surface.

    Q. What soil should I fill my raised bed with?

    A. This totally depends on what you plan to grow. Raised beds are a great solution for gardens with poor soil as you can select the type you use. Filling the space with a rich compost mixture would work really well but would also be very expensive. We advise customers to use a good topsoil mix and add a soil improver or compost mix to the top layers. Sandy soil is the best all-rounder. Using a bought-in topsoil rather than using up any surplus from the garden gives you much more control over weeds. Soils can be made richer through using your own homemade compost or manure, but check whether these mixes are suitable for what you plan to grow and remember plants and vegetables can be supported with soil and liquid fertilisers too.

    Q. What can I grow in a raised bed?

    A. You can grow almost anything in a raised bed! Many of our customers favour them for growing edibles because the extra height makes the regular cycle of sowing, maintaining, weeding and harvesting really easy. Depending on the surface that your raised bed is built on you may need to consider planting deeper rooted varieties in taller beds rather than low-level beds.

    Raised beds are ideal for organic growing as you can control exactly what is used in them, also ericaceous plants such as rhododendron and camellia can also be planted using an acidic soil mixture.

    Q. How do I calculate the soil quantity for my raised bed?

    A. If you are filling your raised bed completely then a simple way to work out how many litres is 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.

    Q. How do I maintain my raised bed?

    A. Our raised beds are maintenance free, the wood is pre-drilled and then pressure treated, we expect them to last 15 years or more without rotting, cracking or warping. Our structures are joined by a series of dowels that help to create a rigid structure which can withstand tension forces (each dowel joint will withstand up to 0.9 tonnes of shear force in our tests).

    Q. Can I build raised beds on a sloped garden?

    A. Yes! WoodBlocX raised beds are ideal for sloped gardens, the beds can be designed to match the contours of your garden and with the addition of ground spikes, which will help hold the structure down on slopes, helping to prevent the structure from slipping sideways down the hill. Ground spikes are placed on the first layer of all WoodBlocX structures and are also located in every buttress. Many of our customers also use WoodBlocX for retaining walls to landscape their gardens.
    To browse our full range of wooden raised beds, ponds, planters, walls, seats and more or to find out about our FREE design service click below
  • What is the best material for making a raised bed?

    There are many different types of materials that can be used to build raised garden beds from wood through to brick, our customers tell us they spend time researching the options to find out which material is best suited for what they want to achieve in their garden. The aim of this blog is to include all of the information you need in one place to save you time searching and to help you make the right choice for your next garden project.

    We’ve listed the different materials you could use and included approximate costs based on raised beds of similar sizes, Options listed are in price order.

    1. Brick raised beds

    Raised beds can be made from either brand new or reclaimed bricks, you will need to include foundations to build on to create a stable structure. To build it you could set yourself a challenge but to ensure the bricks are laid straight and level and the mortar mix is correct, but if you’re not experienced in bricklaying it is best to enlist the help of a skilled tradesperson.

    Brick raised bed maintenance- 
    Repointing of mortar joints, plus frost-damaged bricks may need to be replaced as and when
    Materials - Bricks, concrete for the footings, sand, cement and, coping stones
    Costs - Based on L 2.25m x W 1.5m x H 0.45m - approx £500 for materials (if buying directly) and additional for labour costs

    2. Railway sleeper raised beds

    Building raised beds out railway sleepers is fairly straightforward, you can buy lengths from timber merchants or garden and DIY retailers in hardwood and softwood varieties (pine or oak), the lengths will need to be cut to size, and you will need to drill holes down through the sleepers and insert reinforcing bars to hold them together. Most new railway sleepers are pre-treated with a preservative, older sleepers or reclaimed sleepers tend to be treated with creosote which is harmful and not recommended for using in the garden.


    Railway sleeper raised bed maintenance - 
    Use an annual wood preservative treatment to prevent rotting, creocote (not creosote mentioned above) is the recommended option for this. Railways sleepers are not recommended for organic growing as the chemicals from the preservative can leach into the soil
    Materials - Sleepers, reinforcing bars
    Costs - Based on L 2.25m x W 1.5m x H 0.45m - approx £25 per sleeper, most popular length is 2.4m, £375 and £100 for reinforcing bars

    3. WoodBlocX raised beds

    An easy-to-build, waste-free option, no cutting or drilling is required, the pieces are similar to Lego and are built up like brick-work and held together with a series of dowels, these combined with the layers of blocks make a strong structure which will last for 15 years or more. No special skills or tools are needed to build a WoodBlocX raised bed and each kit comes with a set of step by step instructions.


    WoodBlocX raised bed maintenance - 
    No annual maintenance required, the blocks are pre-drill and then pressure treated making the wood extra strong and durable
    Materials - (All included in your kit) wooden blocks, capping, dowels and wedges, angle plates, step by step instructions
    Costs - Based on L 2.25m x W 1.5m x H 0.45m - £412.50 https://www.woodblocx.co.uk/rectangular-raised-bed

    Wooden board raised beds

    By far the cheapest option for building raised beds, however, wooden boards are only suitable for low-level planting as the boards are not strong enough to hold the weight of large amounts of soil. Simply cut the boards to size and use 3” 2” timber as stakes and to reinforce the corners and to create a frame to build to.

    Wooden board raised bed maintenance - Replacing rotten and warped boards, every few years, painting
    Materials - Lengths of board available in a variety of sizes, 3” 2” timber for securing the boards in place, screws of varying lengths
    Costs - Based on L 2.25m x W 1.5m x H 0.45m - approx £110 for boards, £10 3” 2” timber and £10 for the screws

    5. Other materials

    There are metal raised bed options available, made from galvanised steel, kits are fairly simple to put together using bolts and prices start at around £450. There are also plastic options for low- level planting but these are not built to last.

    To browse our wide range of wooden raised beds, planters, railway sleeper style raised beds, ponds, seats, retaining wall kits, or to use our free bespoke design service click the button below.

  • Our guide to raised beds

    We know a thing or two about raised beds, after all, we have been designing and manufacturing them for the best part of a decade, here are just some of the many benefits they bring…

    Grow plants and edibles in fresh soil

    Many people choose wooden raised beds for growing vegetables and fruit because the extra height makes watering, weeding and pest control much easier. New beds need to be filled and you have a choice of using surplus soil from your garden or adding brand new soil, if you choose the latter you will generally receive a fresh, weed-free mix which nutrient-boosting soil improvers or compost can be added to, giving you greater control over what your produce is grown in.

    Raised beds can also be used to grow annuals and perennials, shrubs and even plants that need to be grown in specific soil, including ericaceous varieties such as azaleas, rhododendron and camellia as you can adapt the soil to suit. Raised beds are a great addition for boggy or clay soil too as, providing improved drainage.

    Built at a depth to suit you

    The depth or height of a raised bed is totally dependent on its end use and end user. Low level raised beds (0.25m) are ideal for dividing up growing areas and growing shallow-rooted plants. For controlling pests such as rabbits or for keeping pet dogs away from your planting, a raised bed up to 0.45m will keep them at bay, and for ease of access, a tall raised bed from 0.55m is ideal. Read more over at our Size Matters blog.

    Sustainable and non-toxic materials

    Wood is one of the best materials for raised beds and ours are made from the highest quality timber, the wood is pressure-treated and because WoodBlocX are pre-drilled, the non-toxic treatment penetrates to almost 100% of the wood, making our structures durable, long-lasting, and a great alternative to railway sleepers which tend to be chemically-treated. We use rough-sawn wood which will naturally fade to a grey over the years and doesn’t need any maintenance or treatment. 

    Improved drainage

    Raised beds built directly on soil or grass do not require any drainage, those built on patios, tarmac and concrete could benefit from a drainage layer at the bottom if the bed - stones or gravel can be used for this. WoodBlocX raised beds of all sizes allow for drainage through the air gaps between each block.

    Raised beds can be accessed without having to walk on them, this prevents soil compaction, helping plant roots to grow more freely and take on more nutrients, which helps them to become more resilient to disease and frost.

    To find out more about our wide range of wooden raised beds and planters and to find out how simple it is to build beautiful long lasting structures for your garden click the button below

  • Size matters - choosing the right height planter to suit you

    Raised beds not only need to look good in the garden, be durable and long lasting, they also need to be convenient, therefore selecting the right height to suit you is one of the most important considerations. Here’s our recommendations...

    Some people use our raised beds to divide up the growing space in their gardens at ground level to tidy up their plots. This is ideal for growing shallow-rooted plants and vegetables, and a height of 0.25m is ideal for this.

     

    If you have young children and would like a growing space for them, the raised bed doesn't need to be very high at all. We know from our work with schools that youngsters prefer gardening within a boundary rather than in direct ground, so a low-level raised bed between 0.25 and 0.35m will work extremely well.

    Rabbits can be a problem in a lot of gardens and a short raised bed built at a certain height (anything from 0.45m), will guarantee to keep them out. This will also do the trick if you have an unruly dog who likes to dig up your garden!

     

    It doesn’t matter how old you are, an hour or so sowing, tending to or weeding at ground level can put a strain on your back. The beauty of a tall raised bed is that you can work your way around it very easily; you can even sit on the edges and reach over to perform most tasks. We recommend heights from 0.55m in height.

     

    Our handy raised bed calculator tool allows you to input your preferred measurements and will instantly tell you what benefits the different heights offer.

  • Sit back and enjoy the summer with our beautifully crafted benches

    When the summer weather is good we tend to spend a lot of time outside in our gardens. Whatever the size or shape, they act as an extension to our living space and it's important to make the most of it.

    There are lots of options for garden furniture; from metal to plastic, but naturally we prefer wood! It’s long-lasting, renewable and looks beautiful in the garden.

    Why are our seating options better than the rest?

    • Our wood is clean and unlike other new or recycled timber, requires no initial or year-on-year treatment 
    • The wood will age naturally to a soft grey, or they can be painted any colour you like
    • Our seats can be placed on both soft and hard surfaces, so they can be put anywhere in the garden: on grass, bare earth, paving, tarmac or concrete
    • The components are light and easy to build into the seat. No power tools or technical knowledge is needed to assemble. All the components are supplied
    • WoodBlocX are made from pressure-treated, British, wood and are guaranteed to last for at least 20 years without rotting or distorting, so you can be sure your seat is safe, sturdy and durable

    Off the shelf

    We have a popular range of seating options that can be purchased directly from our website, from simple benches to stunning planters with integrated seating.

     

    Bespoke

    Many of our customers require something that fits their garden perfectly, so we offer a free design service to help each customer get the best result for their garden. The beauty of the WoodBlocX is the unique patented system means the design options are virtually limitless.

    Seating can be integrated into raised beds, ponds and retaining walls or can be seamlessly integrated into a complete garden redesign. We can help you achieve the ultimate bespoke design for your garden to enjoy this summer.

     

    To find out more head to the seats section of our website

  • Hard Landscaping is nothing to be afraid of!

    Landscaping: a word that has many negative connotations including cowboy gardeners and boring municipal plantings, but which really only means to create a planted area. There are two types – soft landscaping is the planting part, and hard landscaping is the creation of patios, paths and beds, and which usually comes first in the process.

    Most domestic gardeners would assume that hard landscaping comes at a heavy cost if you hire someone else to do it, or that it would require a substantial skillset and power tool collection to do it yourself, but that’s just not true!

    WoodBlocX is a product that can transform your garden in a variety of ways, and requires absolutely no technical knowledge or power tools to put together. It’s also cheaper than many of the other options. Here are a few ways you could improve your garden using hard landscaping:

    • Edging. A wooden – curved or straight – edge to lawns and beds really neatens the whole look of the garden, and makes maintaining the edge much easier. A good edge on a driveway or path also adds kerb appeal, and keeps gravel where it’s supposed to be.
    • TerracingDespite not needing any power tools to build, and being light and easy to handle, the WoodBlocX system can also be used to build strong and durable retaining walls and terracing, bringing flat garden lawns and beds to previously unmanageable slopes.
    • PlantersRather than a large pot, why not use a wooden planter? They will not crack like terracotta, and can easily accommodate small trees or large shrubs, which would make a striking centrepiece to a lawn or patio. Alternatively, use them for fragrant plants such as daphnes, lavenders and nemesias in a front garden or by a doorway, where their scent will be most appreciated.
    • Seats. Durable, attractive and comfortable, WoodBlocX seats are a brilliant alternative to benches, which can quickly become rickety and unsafe. Kits range from a simple bench style to seats that incorporate planters at either end.
    • Ponds. Having a water feature in a garden is perhaps the most advanced kind of hard landscaping, but not one that needs to be difficult, especially when WoodBlocX will even tell you what size liner you will need! The raised ponds are also a great option if you only have a courtyard, and can’t dig a pond into the ground.

    Raised beds bring your flowers and veggies to within easy reach, and into view from windows, and can bring greenery and life to patios and courtyards.

  • More than just raised beds...

    We’re often referred to as the company that offers raised beds, and rightly so, as it’s our speciality. However, the beauty of WoodBlocX is that our unique modular system can be adapted and transformed into lots of different structures for the garden. Here are just a few examples of what we’ve helped our customers to achieve.

     

    Retaining walls and kerbing
    Terraced, sloping or gardens featuring different levels can be landscaped with our modular system. From low kerbing to medium or high retaining walls, WoodBlocX is strong; a single wall can retain earth up to the height of one metre and multiple terracing can retain slopes of greater heights.

    Steps
    Steps can be integrated seamlessly into a WoodBlocX structure, bringing pillars and planters or retaining walls together, while keeping the design consistent. Alternatively, steps can be added independently and paving slabs or natural stone can be laid on top to complete the design.

    Seating
    A great alternative to plastic and metal garden furniture, WoodBlocX seating is clean and doesn’t need any annual maintenance; the structures can be left as they are to age naturally or be painted to suit the colour scheme of your garden.

    Full garden transformations
    Our modular system is ideal for complete garden makeovers, incorporating raised beds, seating and retaining walls. Customers that have done this have found WoodBlocX to be much more cost-effective than buying materials separately or having structures built using brick or stone

  • Our top five from 2017

    Our design team thrives on creating bespoke solutions for challenging projects to create long-lasting and maintenance free structures for the garden. Here’s a few of our favourites from 2017.

    Ryan’s Garden

    Ryan’s terraced back garden was in need of a facelift, so he wanted to improve it with a retaining wall. An outrageous quote from a builder just to build a standard wall sent him in search of something more cost effective and visually appealing. He was able to completely transform his garden with WoodBlocX retaining walls, which also double up as planters and steps

    RHS Malvern

    An amazing project to work on was at RHS Malvern, where we worked with garden designer and gardening expert Jekka McVicar. It was a huge design as part of  the Health & Wellbeing Garden in support of the Pathways charity, and incorportated large curved planters that revealed a central seating area.

    Jerry’s Italian Garden

    If only we were blessed with more sunshine here in the UK…Jerry is certainly making the most of it in the Italian Apennines, combining planters and steps to landscape his sloping plot and make the most of the stunning views.

    Ian’s curved staged garden

    We’ve all got an area in the garden that could look better or needs a bit of work. Ian had this problem but he also had an access problem; all materials would need to be transported through his house. This wasn’t a real issue as the WoodBlocX system is modular, making it really simple to move from the front to the back of the house by hand. Ian’s design included low-rise retaining walls that included steps and planters to bring the design together.

    Filton Community Garden

    This is a brilliant example of a community coming together to create something they can all share. The layout needed to be easy to access with seating included. The finished design combined four large octagonal planters bordered with seating and planters, and because WoodBlocX are maintenance free they can be left to age naturally.

    Contact us today with an outline of your next garden project using our

     FREE BESPOKE DESIGN SERVICE

  • Durability of Retaining Walls and Terracing

    When it comes to retaining walls and terracing, safety and durability are the main concerns. Construction in stone may be the obvious first choice, but it is expensive, especially once the cost of the builders has been factored in. The cheapest option is timber boards, but these will warp and distort over time. They’re also often impregnated with nasty preservatives and are not very aesthetically pleasing. However, modular timber constructions, such as the unique WoodBlocX system, have none of these problems.

    The beauty of modular systems is that they can be adapted to suit any size of project and budget, and because they are cheaper than stone or brick and better quality than other timber products, they are an ideal choice. They are also really easy to put together, so it’s possible to do all of the work yourself if you want – which can save thousands of pounds compared with the cost of getting builders or landscapers in to build a stone wall.

    With WoodBlocX, all you need for the wall is supplied to you, so there are no hidden costs, and no need to calculate timber or stone requirements or factor in offcuts because all of that is done for you. Plus there’s no need for foundations or mortar. The BlocX can be left to weather naturally, which is great for a rustic look, or they can be painted if you prefer.

    There are pre-designedoff-the-shelf, terracing and retaining wall options on the website, but if none of them fit the needs of your particular garden, use the online calculator to work out a rough cost for your project. Alternatively, send WoodBlocX the measurements and your requirements and they will design it all for you and work out exactly what you need, all free of charge and with no obligation to buy.

    If you’re still unsure about whether WoodBlocX are for you, here are some facts and statistics:

    • WoodBlocX walls are built with many individual pieces of timber (rather like long bricks), that are pinned together using plastic dowels.
    • Each piece of timber – selected from only the strongest parts of the tree and never the heart - is pressure treated twice and because they are pre-drilled, the treatment penetrates almost 100% of the wood.
    • A WoodBlocX wall can be expected to last for at least 15 years, probably more.
    • The dowels can each withstand 0.9 tonnes of sheer force, and the walls are strong under both tension and compression, so in some cases, they are actually stronger than the stone alternative.
    • The many joints of the BlocX assembly system means that the walls are flexible enough to withstand frosts and ground movement, and won’t distort or crack under pressure.
    • A single wall (each BlocX is 7.5cm wide) will hold earth to a height of 1m, and the narrow BlocX means that there is a lot more planting or path space above and below than there would be with something like bulky railway sleepers.

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