• Winter WoodBlocX getting you ready for spring

    In the south, there have been very few really hard frosts, so even some tender bedding plants like geraniums have survived and it means that many of the bugs and other nasties are also thriving! So now is the time to go slug and snail hunting and dispose of them! Really we do need a good old cold snap to freshen things up.

    The constant damp and heavy recent rainfall is not good for the garden, resulting in waterlogged muddy beds that are difficult to work. So stick to ordering seeds, maintaining your garden, re-edging borders, pruning fruit trees, clearing out the potting shed and repairing your equipment ready for upcoming spring activity!

    Maybe this year you should think about a “No-Dig” system for your veggie patch or  raised beds? It is a low maintenance system, ideal for organic enthusiasts and if combined with a WoodBlocXraised bed, will make growing your own veg easier and less of a chore!

    Basically you remove any surface weeds and dig out perennials (in Autumn) then simply spread a generous quantity of well rotted manure or home made compost, on top of the raised bed (at least 4 inches deep) and leave it to nature. The mulch over the surface helps to keep the soil warm and, therefore, the worms active, drawing the compost into the ground. Later on, when you are watering your raised bed crops, you will find that on an un-dug bed it is easier because it soaks away through this organic matter whilst a bed that has been dug often has a surface that will smear and cause run-off.

    Apart from maybe sowing some shallots, radish, carrots and parsnips under cloches, you are better to wait til the end of February before sowing any seeds, as despite the unseasonably warm weather, low light levels will suppress growth. Carrot Marion is a good Nantes variety which is suitable for all year growing. Towards the end of Feb you can sow early salad crops in the green house and peas and broad beans without heat, but under cover. One of the oldest and most nutritious of all cultivated vegetables, hundreds of years ago broad beans provided protein in a meat poor diet! Try Sciabola Verde or Red Epicure (both from Marshalls-seeds.co.uk)

    Grow Your Own Anywhere!
    Whilst you are planning what new vegetable seeds to order from the catalogues, why not try growing some Dwarf French beans in a WoodBlocX planter? Maxi is a good variety to try and also new White Aubergine- Ivory (what else!) is another crop that can be successfully grown in a planter.

    Have a look at the various WoodBlocX planter options and see how you can create your own small kitchen garden anywhere.

  • How easy are modular systems to put together?

    Do you need to spruce up your garden fast? Perhaps you need to make some improvements before a big event? Or do you just want to add some finishing touches to a garden without the hassle of too much work? Plants are by far the easiest and best way to bring a bit of life to a bare outdoor area, and what better way to display them than in a neat, attractive timber bed?

    The simplest and fastest way to incorporate a lot of planting to a paved or decked area is to use large planters or raised beds, and the WoodBlocX system is an ideal choice. The beds can be put on any surface very easily, so there’s no need for extensive preparation, and there is a wide choice of off-the-shelf products that can be delivered to your home in as little as four days.

    The modular beds can be configured to fit almost any space; they can be squarerectangular, hexagonal and circular or pretty much any shape you want. You can also choose from a variety of heights to suit the designated area. There are also raised bed designs that include seating, or you can build and add separate benches. Because all WoodBlocX products use the same materials they can really tie a look together.

    All the materials needed for a WoodBlocX construction are supplied together, on pallets, so you save time on running around different shops trying to find just what you need. WoodBlocX calculate exactly what you need for each bed, making it easy for you. Once they arrive, they couldn’t be simpler to put together. All the specific instructions for each construction are supplied with the materials and there are also online videos. It’s just like building a Lego kit – and once you’re underway the BlocX are really very quick to go together.

    Once the bed is constructed, that’s it – job done, it doesn’t need any treating with varnish or preservatives. It could be painted if you want to add some colour, or leave the natural wood to fade to a soft grey over the years. Fill the beds with topsoil and add plants to transform the area. Just add garden party guests!

  • An easy and effective garden solution

    All too often a great design idea has to be amended beyond recognition because of the practicalities and realities of the garden and the budget. Perhaps all the materials for the garden have to be taken through the house, perhaps there are pets or young children around, or perhaps you’re on a deadline – all these logistical problems and more can mean that the original vision is compromised. However, whether you want to add planters or raised beds, benches or more to a problematic area, the solution can be found in a modular timber system such as WoodBlocX.

    Modular systems, because they are delivered in pieces rather than unwieldy pre-built wholes, can be taken into the garden much more easily. All the WoodBlocX components can be easily carried by one person, so even in the tightest of places there’s space to squeeze them through. They are delivered on pallets, which can be easily moved to get as close to the construction area as possible, saving time and effort in moving things around. This is also helpful when the garden build has to take place around household life – the components do not take up much space, so disruption can be minimised.

    Modular systems built from small components are also light and can be easily carried up steps. This means that it is also possible to build quite large planters on rooftops, and incorporate a rooftop garden to bring some life to a dull area.

    So, WoodBlocX are easy to get onto the site, but they are also easy to work with once the components are there. All the individual pieces are pre-fabricated to exactly the right size, and pre-drilled and mitred as well. Therefore you will not need any power tools to build up the BlocX themselves – no drilling, cutting or sawing is necessary. The BlocX are quick and easy to put together, and there is very little noise created in the process, keeping the disruption to family and neighbours to a minimum. Furthermore, the pre-cut modular system also means there is no dust or mess and virtually no waste to dispose of (and what waste there is can be easily moved and transported to the tip), saving time and money again.

    Modular timber systems like WoodBlocX are the smart choice for any garden, but especially those with access problems. Call our team for a chat about your project and how we can help.

  • What’s the most durable material for your garden?

    When you are building a garden project it’s reassuring to know that it will last for a good number of years, and that’s where using materials from a specific supplier is useful. Whereas it might be difficult to estimate the lifespan of a raised bed or other construction made from timber planking or recycled sleepers, WoodBlocX guarantee their products for 15 years.

    In fact, any raised beds, ponds, edging, terracing or retaining walls, steps and seats built from WoodBlocX will probably last much longer than this, but the company has only been trading since 2001, so they’ve only been tested for that length of time! The modular system not only means that the timber can be put together in many different ways, but it also means that each individual component is as strong and hard-wearing as it can be.

    WoodBlocX are so durable because of the way the timber is treated. First, they use only the strongest wood – never the heartwood – from the tree. This is either Scottish or Latvian slow-grown pine. Each block is pre-drilled and pressure treated twice using a water-based preservative that fixes in the cells of the timber as it dries (and certified as completely organic by the Soil Association). The BlocX are then dried in a vacuum and pressurised. The result is that the preservative penetrates almost 100% of the wood. Unlike other flimsier timber products on the market, this means that should some of the wood’s surface be worn away by foot traffic or weather, there is no possibility of the timber rotting.

    There are many reasons that built areas of a garden might start to fail over time.

    • Ground movement and frost can push out and distort walls. However, WoodBlocX are built from many individual pieces that together make such a strong and flexible wall that it will not crack or distort under pressure.
    • The weather can erode the face of timber, and mortar joints between stone and bric There is no mortar needed for WoodBlocX and the timber is treated almost all the way through.
    • Pins and nails can rus WoodBlocX are joined together with recycled plastic dowels and fixed to the ground where appropriate using stainless steel plates and ground spikes, so there is no chance of rusting components

    Not only will the BlocX stand up to the weather, they will also stand up to the wear and tear of the everyday. Be they raised beds or benches that get regularly sat upon, steps or retaining walls and terracing, the wood will withstand the erosion very well. The BlocX also fit together seamlessly and the dowels expand within the joints, so there is little chance of annoying cracks appearing.

    The wood does not need varnishing and can either be left to weather naturally (it will fade to a soft grey), or painted. If your garden project will be used by children, or is a seat where a smooth surface would be preferable, you can easily give the BlocX a sand.

    Whatever your garden needs, if you build it from WoodBlocX you can be sure that it will last.

    Not only will the BlocX stand up to the weather, they will stand up to the wear and tear of the everyday. Be they raised beds or benches that get regularly sat on, steps, or retaining walls and terracing, the wood will withstand the erosion very well. The BlocX also fit together seamlessly, and the dowels expand within the joints, so there is little chance of annoying cracks appearing.

    The wood does not need varnishing and can either be left to weather naturally (it will fade to a soft grey), or painted. If your garden project will be used by children, or is a seat where a smooth surface would be preferable, you can give the BlocXs a sand.

    Whatever your garden needs, if you build it from WoodBlocX you can be sure that it will last.

  • 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.
  • How to Build a Flexible Design

    Are you struggling with a design for a difficult area of your garden or do you just need something a little out of the ordinary? Have you considered using a modular timber system such as WoodBlocX? Other options in these situations – such as old railway sleepers – could struggle with the dimensions that your ideas require. Modular systems are almost infinitely adaptable and can create designs that you might find surprising.

    The beauty of modular systems is that they can be tailored to almost any situation. Perhaps there is a narrow passageway or awkward corner that needs some plants to brighten it up? The WoodBlocX product is narrow in itself, unlike bulky sleepers, so raised beds built with the system provide much more planting space. Each component is also easy to get into the garden because they are light, clean, small and easy to move in awkward spaces – great if you have to take all the materials through your house.

    Modular timber systems can also be used to create a wide range of shapes – not just squares and rectangles. Circles, hexagons, pentagons and octagons are all available in the pre-designed kits, or you can specify exactly what you need. They are cheaper too, especially when it comes to curved designs that would otherwise have to use stone or brick, and are all guaranteed for at least 15 years. Corner beds and L-shapes are easily achievable too. This is not just for raised beds either – pondssteps, walls (perhaps with inbuilt seating) and garden edging are all much simpler to install with a modular system.

    Perhaps your garden needs a multi-level design? Terracing and stepped beds made from sleepers, brick or stone can make the expense (and the weight) really add up; but modular timber systems provide a durable alternative at a much lower cost. They are easy to put together too – there’s no need to hire builders to do it for you, which will also save you a lot of money.

    If you are working with an awkward area, off-the-shelf products and fixed dimensions may not work for you. WoodBlocX offer a design service for all of their products, so that you can create a bespoke project for your unique requirements. Better still, this service is entirely free and you have no obligation to buy. Alternatively, try the online calculators on the WoodBlocX website – just put in the measurements to get an idea of what you will need and the cost.

    Perhaps you want to create an inspiring play area for your children, or a tree house – well, WoodBlocX have been used to build pirate ships and a model elephant over 6ft tall. Really the only limit is your imagination – WoodBlocX would love to work with you to create something amazing!

  • Planting Late Summer Seeds… Choi Sum

    There are a whole range of remarkably cold hardy oriental greens. They are ideal to keep your plot going through the depths of winter, particularly if you don't have the space or time for traditional winter veg like brussels.

    Many are good both in salads and cooked - try Pak Choi, Mizuna, Chinese Cabbage, Mibuna, Tatsoi and Mispoona, all of which can be sown from the end of June through to end September (you can keep on sowing through into the winter if you have a polytunnel on you raised bed to).

    Choi Sum (Brassica parachinensis) is a member of the Mustard family is also referred to as a flowering pak choy or choy sum. Its green leaves are juicy and tender. If allowed to mature and bolt, yellow flowers will shoot and the plant becomes sweeter and more succulent. The whole plant is edible, which is why we are such a fan!

  • Reducing the cost of Garden Projects

    Whether you are just putting in a couple of beds for a vegetable garden or terracing the whole garden, it’s always good to be able to see all the costs of a project up front. Using a modular timber system for raised beds and other landscaping means that the material costs are really easy to calculate, and there’s no need to pay for someone else to do the work. Modular systems from WoodBlocX are available either as off-the-shelf pre-designed kits, or free bespoke designs can be created for your particular site.

    For example a set of three raised beds, each 2250 x 1125 x 450mm, could be used for a fruit, vegetable and cut flower patch, or for flower borders. The price of these off-the-shelf kits are less than £300 each. Larger projects such as driveway edging are easily calculated – a 250mm high edge for example, is less than £100 per 3m stretch. Delivery is cheap and easy because all the components easily fit onto pallets. Check out our online calculator to get a quick quote for your project.

    If there is nothing suitable for your garden project in the wide range of pre-designed beds, why not get WoodBlocX to design something to your exact specifications? The design service is free, and because they do it all for you there’s no need to worry about anything! WoodBlocX make sure that your design is safe, that it will work, and that you have all the right components so you are ready to build - no running to the shops for extra pieces – everything is supplied with the kit, along with some spares as well just in case. The design service also extends to ponds, edging, seats, retaining walls and steps. Alternatively, use the online calculators to work out what you’ll need for yourself. There’s no obligation to buy after using either service.

    When using a system like WoodBlocX, even daunting and complicated projects can be made easy – and it’s possible to do all the work yourself. Rather than get in builders or landscapers to do different parts of a project, such as terracing or retaining walls, and then look at putting in beds and steps afterwards, the whole thing can be done by you with WoodBlocX. This can save a lot of money, you get the satisfaction of having built it yourself, and it’s as simple as knocking together layers of BlocX: a win-win solution.

  • Successional Sowing: How to Get The Most From Your Raised Beds

    Sometimes less is more, so whether you have an allotment, a large kitchen garden or just a single raised bed, you should use successional sowing to ensure a steady, regular and appropriate supply of vegetables throughout the growing season, rather than experiencing a glut all at once. Basically, using the principle of little and often, it involves extending your harvest by sowing a row every few weeks or so. Quick growing crops such as French beans, peas, spinach, salads and carrots lend themselves to this way of cultivation. In this way you can ensure a regular, fresh supply of vegetables that otherwise would perish quickly under storage conditions.

    Other varieties that are prone to bolting (growing less leaves and moving into flower and seed production) such as rocket, spinach, broccoli, cilantro, basil, cabbage and lettuce especially need to be sown successionally.

    If you sow the longer fruiting crops such as courgette, cucumbers and runner beans and sweet corn in two batches, spaced a few weeks apart, you can optimise produce availability well into the autumn.

    There are four key methods for successional planting.

    1) Same crop, staggered plantings.

    Here you need to space out your plantings of the same crop, to around every 2-4 weeks, or when the plants from the preceding sowings are well developed, with four true leaves for leafy crops, or are around 5cm (2 inches) high in the case of peas or 10cm tall (four inches) for beans. Many vegetables put all their effort into producing a first flush of produce and then fade throughout the season, giving smaller and weaker yields. By employing a staggered approach, sowing more seeds as the first plants start to fade, you will ensure a regular supply of optimum produce over a longer period. Harvest mature, whole plants once they reach their peak. This will get light, water and space to neighbouring plants and make room for more sowings.

    2) Different vegetables

    Some crops like peas have a short growing season, so the area that they previously took up can be used to grow a later season plant like aubergine.

    3) Shared space

    Many a vegetable can be grown side by side quite well, and may even help to control pests. Try growing quick maturing radishes, which loosen the soil, ready for late sprouting carrots. Plus growing leeks or spring onions next to carrots may help to deter carrot fly. If you are really short of space, why not sow some veggies between your flowers in the borders. There are no rules to say you have to keep them separate and a few lettuce plants can look very good interspersed amongst the flowers

    Variety is the spice of life and if you want to keep a regular supply of salads going throughout summer, choose a range of varieties for continuous cropping. Lettuce ‘Little Gem’ and ‘Red Gem’ variety ‘Dazzle’ and carrot ‘Marion’ are ideal for successional sowing, and the later maturing varieties are also capable of being sown little and often. Once mature, they will also remain in good condition for longer.


    If sowing outdoors, sowings can be made every one to four weeks, from mid-April through to late summer. Indoors spring sowing can begin in March.

    Sow seeds thinly, in short rows, and if the seed is very fine, use shallow drills, watered first, prior to sowing. Don’t forget to label your rows, and space apart according to the instructions on the seed packet. By keeping an eye on how well the seeds are growing, you can work out when to re-sow. Don’t forget to keep your plants well-watered.

    WoodBlocX raised beds are ideal for sowing short rows in succession, and make for easier harvesting too. As with any sowing, ensure the soil is well dug in with organic matter (except for carrot sowing, as it makes them fork and grow into weird shapes).

    For the smaller sized wooden planters that WoodBlocX offer, use baby varieties such as carrot ‘Atlas’, an early maturing type that has round smooth roots that can be harvested at 2-3cm diameter. It grows well in any soil and has a good fungal resistance. ‘Baby Beet Action’ is a very sweet and tender variety, which still retains its round shape if sown quite thickly, and they can be harvested when they are about one inch in diameter.

    Wooden planters are also ideal for growing salads on a ‘cut and come again’ basis, harvesting the larger leaves by cutting them as required, leaving the smaller leaves to continue growing for cutting later on. Then sow another crop about three weeks later.

    Some cultivars do not need to be sown successionally, such as aubergines, peppers and tomatoes because they produce fruits over a long period, so are hence self-regulating. Similarly, those that store well, like onions and garlic, do not need to be sown successionally either, and neither do varieties that need longer to mature, like sprouts and leeks, which are best left to over-winter in the ground for picking as and when required.

  • Getting active with Gardening

    We are really proud to be involved with Macmillan Cancer Support and the Move More Edinburgh Project, by supplying the new WoodBlocX Raised Beds at the Botanic Gardens for the group to use.

    Move More Edinburgh is a programme to help and encourage people affected by cancer to get moving. With various activities including gentle movement classes, walking, gardening and group activity classes, there is something for everyone. It’s not about running marathons; it’s about taking those small steps to get people outdoors and becoming active again. All the activities are free of charge and participants share time with others who are going through similar experiences.

    The ‘official’ advice used to be that ‘rest was best’, however modern research shows that moving about more can actually help with recovery and make patients feel better.

    Move More Edinburgh is a partnership between Macmillan Cancer Support and Edinburgh Leisure and many of the classes take place within Edinburgh Leisure venues, as well as local community spaces. Support is provided by instructors and volunteers.

    To find out more about the group, or to get involved visit:


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