Get ahead for autumn


Here’s five ways to prep your garden for the season ahead

After a long, hot summer we’re finally starting to wind down and head towards autumn. While September typically does see days of balmy temperatures, there’s also darker, cooler nights and misty mornings to signal that autumn is around the corner. This transitional stage is a great time to take stock in your garden and get a few things in place before the next season arrives.

Watering well

Extend flowering of your plants, especially those in pots by continuing to water them, even when there's been wetter days. Rainwater tends not to permeate the soil, so plants still need watering to prolong their lifespan - it's an easy way to ensure some autumn colour in the garden.

Revive your roses

We often think of roses as a summer flower, but they can actually flower well into the autumn if you give them a little TLC now. Deadhead them now before autumn arrives to encourage them to continue to bloom. It's also a good idea to check for any black spots on leaves and remove any affected leaves, too.

Prep your pond

Falling leaves in your pond can cause sludge and will rot, so to avoid a bigger job later down the line, trim back any overhanging trees and plants. You could also install netting over the top of the pond to catch leaves and stop them falling into the water. Tap water can cause algae to form in the pond due to the chlorine, so where possible try to use rain water to top up your pond. If you don’t have a water butt in the garden then installing one now is also a good idea before autumn, as with the wetter winter weather you should be able to build up some good reserves.

Get your lawn in order

It’ll soon be time to stop mowing for the year but before you do, spend a bit of time creating tidy edges - you'll thank yourself in the spring! It's also worth investing in some autumn lawn treatment to help protect your grass over the colder months - it'll act to retain moisture and give your lawn the vital nutrients it needs.

Wood working

Over the year, wooden fixtures in the garden can get tired and broken. Before the harsh weather sets in and causes more issues, take a look at your fences, raised beds, compost bins and sheds and fix any obvious damage, remove old, chipped paint and add any weather proofing materials that might have become less effective over time. Or, if it's time to invest in some new fixtures, take a look at our raised bed kits and compost bins.

Top of the class


Well, we’re not entirely sure how it happened, but somehow the summer holidays have come to an end and we’ve reached September - the month that sees a change in season and a change in focus in the garden. With the kids heading back to school this month, we thought we’d offer a helping hand with any of those burning gardening questions they might have - you just never know when compost facts might crop up in class, after all! (Or, for the adults it might serve as helpful pub quiz content…)

What do plants eat?

Much like us humans need food and water to survive, plants also need food and drink - but it’s not the same as us eating some cereal or drinking some juice. Plants are actually really clever and are able to make their own food - they’re one of the only living organisms on the planet that are able to do this, and most of the earth’s creatures eat plants so there’s lots of people and animals relying on them! During the day, plants breathe in carbon dioxide through their leaves. They use sunlight and the green from their leaves to make sugars from the carbon dioxide, which gives them energy to grow. This is called photosynthesis. Plants also need water for photosynthesis - they absorb water and other nutrients through their roots, and this water is then used by the plant to help make the sugars they need.

What is soil?

Soil is the loose surface we find outside where plants grow, but it’s more than just dirt. It actually takes thousands of years to form, and it’s made up of all kinds of things, from decayed plants and animals to rocks and minerals. Plants use soil to help them grow - their roots grow into the soil, and then the nutrients in the soil help to feed the plants. Soil is also where lots of insects and animals live - earthworms, ants and some beetles all live in the ground. Sometimes, the soil we have in our gardens isn’t the right type to grow the plants we want to grow, so we can add different mixes to the soil to give the plants a helping hand.

Why are worms good for the garden?

Earthworms are really good for the garden because they help to keep the soil healthy. They eat decaying plants but they don’t damage plants and flowers like slugs and snails do. Worms are also really helpful in the garden if you’re making your own compost, because they can help to speed up the composting process by eating food scraps and then digesting them, which turns them into compost.

What is compost?

Compost is usually made from food and garden waste - so that’s the things you’re getting rid of, like old vegetables or flowers you’ve dug up in the garden. All of the ingredients mix together and over time they start to decompose. Then, the compost mixture can be used on your soil to help improve it because it has lots of nutrients in it, which help plants to grow. You can make your own compost in your garden or you can get ready made composts which can help if you have a particularly tricky soil where you can’t plant some flowers and plants.

How do you make your own compost?

It’s easy to make your own compost, you just need the right mix of materials to make it work. Good compost is made up of half green materials (things like grass or hedge trimmings), and half brown materials (things like twigs or cardboard). Choose a sunny area of the garden, and if you’re making a compost bin, put it here - but make sure to place it directly onto the earth as this speeds up the composting process and helps worms and other creatures easily get into the compost to help break it down. Turn the compost occasionally and also be sure to keep the rain out so it doesn’t turn into a sludgy mess! The compost should take about 6 months to be ready. Once it’s done you can use it in the garden on your soil to help grow flowers, plants and vegetables.

How do you grow your own vegetables?

Firstly, pick which fruits and vegetables you like to eat, because these will be the most fun to grow. Vegetables like courgettes, beans and tomatoes are all easy to grow, or you could even try planting some strawberries. Lots of fruits and vegetables can be grown in pots and in small spaces, but if you have the space in your garden it’s a good idea to create a dedicated vegetable patch. You can also make a raised bed to grow your fruits and vegetables in, which will help keep the weeds away and keep your crops separate from the rest of the garden. Different vegetables grow at different times of year. If you’re growing courgettes you can plant them from seeds and you’ll want to do this by starting them indoors in the springtime (around April) and then sowing them into the ground in May once it’s no longer frosty. For carrots, these seeds can be planted straight into the ground any time from March to June. Tomatoes grow best in pots or containers, and a peat free compost works best. Plant tomatoes in late spring (May/June) when the weather is warming up. They take about 12 weeks to ripen, and then you’ll have your own crop of juicy tomatoes to enjoy.

6 ways to make your garden more sustainable


With the cost of living on the rise, there’s never been a better time to look at how to make your garden a little greener. No, we’re not just talking about watering the lawn (hosepipe ban notwithstanding), but it’s also important to focus on how to make gardening more eco-friendly and sustainable. From tapping into your rain reserves to selecting sustainable soils, here we look at six ways you can work towards growing a more eco-friendly garden

Reuse your rain

With this summer seeing droughts and hosepipe bans, keeping the garden hydrated has been tricky, but installing a water butt is a simple way to give your thirsty plants and grass some refreshment. Generally, water butts are inexpensive but can save you money on your water bills - something that many of us would probably appreciate at the moment. Simple to fit, the water butt works by collecting and storing rainwater so that you can use it in your garden as you wish. Just place it outside within reach of your downpipe and connect it up using a diverter (many water butt kits come with all the equipment you need to do this). Then, when the showers do arrive, you’ll be able to start conserving that water and begin working towards a more eco conscious gardening approach.

Retain your reserves

As well as collecting your rainwater to keep the garden hydrated, you’ll also want to think about water retention as another way of gardening sustainably. By using mulch on your soil, you could reduce the amount you have to water by as much as two-thirds. Mulch offers shade for your soil, which aids water retention and helps to conserve soil moisture.

Scrap single use

Next time you’re buying new plants or bulbs for your garden, have a think about how they’re packaged. Many plants come in plastic, single-use pots, while bulbs, compost and other garden products are in plastic bags or wrapping. If you can, try to purchase more eco-friendly options, such as plants in reusable pots or bulbs in boxes. Investing in some planters might be more expensive in the short term but they’ll last you years and will look much more aesthetically pleasing than black plastic plant pots, too. Speaking of those plastic pots - generally they can’t be placed in your recycling bin because they contain pigments which make them undetectable to the sorting machinery used to sort plastics. However, many local authorities do offer collections so it’s worth checking with yours to see if they can sustainably remove and even reuse your unwanted pots.

Consider your compost

Making your own compost is not only an excellent way to easily get rid of your garden waste, but it’s also very eco-friendly, too. Every 1kg of homemade compost typically saves over 0.1kg of fossil CO2 emissions, as well as helping to enrich your soil and offering a place for various creatures to live. If you’re considering making your own compost, check out our pallet compost bin kits for everything you need to contain your green waste. Buying compost? Peat free compost is generally thought to be more environmentally friendly because peatlands release carbon when the peat is removed for use in gardens. In fact, scientists believe that peatlands in Britain are releasing approximately 23 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent each year.

Power up

Petrol mowers and power tools might be convenient, but they’re not always the most environmentally friendly, and with fuel costs at an all time high, it could be worth switching to something more sustainable. According to the RHS, if just 21% of UK gardeners who use power tools switched from fossil fuel to green energy electric-powered tools, it would save enough carbon equivalent to drive around the planet 29,820 times. Or, if your energy bills are also higher than usual this year, perhaps it’s time to go back to basics with some manual tools?

Stay local

Planting flowers, trees and plants in your garden that are native to your local area or to the UK is an easy way to be sustainable. No importing from overseas means you’re helping to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions. Not only that, but by planting native species, you’ll encourage more wildlife to visit, such as bees and other pollinating insects.

The Greenhouse Effect


With the cost of living rising and more people turning to growing their own fruit and vegetables, it’s probably no surprise that greenhouse popularity has grown. These garden structures provide much more than somewhere to escape - they open up a wealth of possibilities and the opportunity to grow fruits, vegetables and flowers that would otherwise struggle in our temperamental British weather.

Here’s everything you need to know about greenhouse gardening…

Why should I consider a greenhouse for my garden?

To be honest, it would probably be easier for us to list the reasons not to get a greenhouse, because the positives to getting one are many.

For one, having a greenhouse gives you the opportunity to grow plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables that wouldn’t survive in your typical English garden. By being able to control the climate and the soil, you have the opportunity to grow all manner of tropical and exotic species.

Secondly, a greenhouse offers protection to your plants, especially in winter when cold weather can kill off some of the more fragile plants.

Pest prevention is another factor to consider - a benefit of a greenhouse is it offers a place where you can keep the crops you’ve worked so hard to grow away from pesky garden visitors who might have other plans for them.

For keen gardeners who struggle to garden in the colder months (who doesn’t?) a greenhouse offers additional warmth for both you and the plants, and gives you the chance to grow all year round rather than being ruled by the seasons. It’s also often possible to get a headstart on growing your spring plants by seeding them earlier in a greenhouse.

What’s the best greenhouse to go for?

There are several types of greenhouse, and the best depends on your budget, needs and style preferences.

A wooden greenhouse is the more traditional choice and is what many greenhouses were historically made from. The wood acts as a great insulator, helping to keep the greenhouse warm in the winter and cooler in the summer. However, these greenhouses are usually the pricier choice compared with aluminum framed structures.

Metal greenhouses are the alternative to a wooden greenhouse, and these are often made from aluminum due to its durability (it won’t rust) and its practicality - it’s much easier than wood to assemble yourself if you’re going down the DIY route for your greenhouse. Another advantage is they’re much simpler to dismantle and reassemble should you need to.

Where should I put my greenhouse?

Your greenhouse will need to be sited in a well-drained area of the garden, on a firm, hard surface. You may need to consider putting a base down.

Choose an area that’s fairly sheltered from the wind, but that enjoys plenty of sun during the day. Be careful not to place it where shadows will block the light or where debris could fall from trees and damage the greenhouse.

If you’re installing a lean-to style greenhouse, then the wall it’s located on should ideally be south facing, for maximum sun exposure.

Consider what you’ll need in your greenhouse - electricity, water and compost could all be useful to have nearby, so try to build your greenhouse with these things in mind.

What can I grow in my greenhouse?

There’s scope to grow so many things in a greenhouse, the trouble will be finding space for them all.

Probably the most popular choice for many greenhouse gardeners is growing fruits and vegetables, especially those that are more tender and struggle to grow in colder conditions.

Ornamental plants are another popular choice because their growing climate can be controlled, as can other conditions. This makes it easier to do things like grow plants from cuttings or multiply them.

Tropical plants and cacti that wouldn’t normally grow in the UK can be another good greenhouse choice, especially if you like the idea of experimenting with new techniques, climates and conditions. Try orchids or venus fly traps, or exotic fruits like bananas.

Top tips for growing vegetables in a greenhouse

Growing vegetables in a greenhouse gives them lots of extra light and warmth, but keeps away any animals that might want to snack on your supply, and stops the unpredictable British weather ruining your hard work.

All manner of vegetables can be grown in a greenhouse, from salad staples like cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce, to melons, aubergines, chillies, herbs and more.

Planning is key when it comes to making the most of your greenhouse and produce. Check you have enough space to grow everything you want to before you invest in your seeds and plants. Factor in the space that grow bags will take up, and how much room you’ll need for pots and trays too. Then, work out when each vegetable will need to be planted - some, like cabbage and onions are hardier so can be planted in the late winter, while others, like courgettes and sweetcorn are tender and won’t be ready to plant until mid-spring.

If your greenhouse is unheated then help your tender plants by fleecing and protecting them during colder spells of weather - they need to be kept frost-free, but still benefit from plenty of light.

During the summer months, ensure you water your vegetables daily and keep the greenhouse ventilated to stop plants overheating. Provide shade where you can, too. In the winter, insulation is useful to help protect your plants. You could also invest in a heated propagator to help your crops germinate in the winter

Five ways to protect your garden during a heatwave


In Britain, we’re never happier than when we can moan about the weather. And while we might be grateful when we don’t get a washout summer, the opposite can cause some serious stress on the garden. Heatwaves are great for when you’re on the beach with a pina colada in hand, but not so wonderful when your hydrangeas are dehydrated. But, luckily there are some simple ways to look after your garden when the heat hits. From repurposing the parasol to saying no to mowing, here are five ways to protect your garden during a heatwave

Water well

In extreme temperatures, it might seem logical to give your plants lots more water, but there’s actually a delicate balancing act between offering hydration, and oversaturating them. Firstly, get your timing right - plants need to be watered when the temperatures are cooler so that they have the chance to drink up as much water as possible before the ground gets too warm. The best time to do this is in the early morning before the garden heats up.

When it comes to how much to give them, less is actually more. If you give your plants too much water in the heat it can hinder them acclimatising to the warmer weather, and can cause them to get stressed. To check if you need to water your plants, stick your index finger into the soil near to the root. If the soil is wet below the surface then the plant doesn’t need more water.

Add a layer of protection

Just like we reach for the SPF when it’s hot, you can help to protect your plants by adding a layer of mulch - it’ll act like a barrier against the sun, and will also help to relieve the pressure the sun puts on the plants and flowers, by retaining some of the moisture in the soil. Apply a layer at least a couple of inches deep on top of your soil to protect your plant’s roots.

No mow

There’s probably nothing you fancy doing less in the heat than mowing the lawn, and the good news is it’s actually beneficial not to. That’s right - we officially give you the go ahead to do nothing. Keeping the grass a little bit longer helps it to protect itself because the blades will cast shadows on other blades as the sun moves around the garden. Also don’t worry about watering your grass even if it starts to look a bit brown and dishevelled - it’ll return to its former glory once the weather cools down and we have some rain. If you want to give it a helping hand come autumn, use a lawn care fertiliser to aid disease resistance and cold hardiness as well as improving drought tolerance.

Mix in some media Adding growing media to your soil helps to increase water and nutrient retention, which is essential in hotter temperatures. If you have container plants, then the addition of some growing media could be particularly beneficial, as these plants can struggle in the heat to keep the soil moist.

Sort some shade

Parasols and beach umbrellas are usually there to stop us scorching while we enjoy an al fresco lunch, but they can be put to other uses too - like protecting your plants from the intense rays of the sun in a heatwave. It might not be possible to shade all of your plants, especially if you have a large garden, but anything that’s delicate and requires a lot of TLC should be your priority - you can use umbrellas, tarpaulin, garden parasols or even your bbq cover to create areas of shade where your plants can enjoy a little respite from the sun.