Landscaping

Decking Buying Guide

A quality deck will last 10-30 years, so it’s worthwhile doing research before you buy to make sure that your deck suits your family’s needs and your maintenance preferences. That’s why we’ve put together this simple buying guide to help you choose the right decking materials and type for you.

In this guide we’ll look at:

  • Decking materials
  • Whether to repair or replace
  • Making the most of your deck
  • Keeping your deck looking its best

Decking Materials

The majority of people choose timber for their decking – it’s easy to install, fairly simple to maintain, and you can repair parts of it rather than replacing if you experience any issues, breaks, or even rot. However, composite decking is gaining popularity thanks to the reduced maintenance requirements.

Wood Decking

Pros Cons

Tactile
Authentic
Can be repaired rather than replaced
Suitable for any budget – softwood is cheaper, hardwood is more expensive
Environmentally friendly
Comes in a variety of colours (and can be painted/stained)
Easy to install
Strong
Longlasting

Tends to fade
Can crack or splinter or warp
Requires re-staining/oiling and annual maintenance

 

Is it for you? If you’d like a natural, tactile deck that blends well with the natural environment and you’re happy to give it some TLC, timber decking is an excellent choice.

Composite Decking

Pros Cons

Minimal maintenance required
Slip resistant
Does not splinter
Comes in a variety of colours and finishes
Looks the same year after year

Requires more support (weaker than wood)
Cannot be repaired – requires replacement once damaged
Less environmentally friendly
More expensive than wood

Is it for you? If you’d like a safe, non-slip deck that will look the same for years without the need for annual maintenance, composite decking is an excellent solution for you.

Should You Repair or Replace Your Decking?

If you’re decking has seen better days, it can be difficult to decide whether to repair or replace it. A lot of wooden decks can look as good as new with a simple sand and stain, which is one of the major benefits of timber over composite decking. If you’re experiencing rot, you can even replace those specific boards rather than the entire deck. However, it’s important to ensure that your deck is safe.

Safety checks:

  • Make sure that your deck does not flex more than it should – if a particular area is bouncing or bending more than others, it will need reinforcement or replacing
  • Check for rot to ensure that areas aren’t weakening under your feet – you can do this by pressing a metal tool such as screwdriver into the wood to see whether it gives way
  • Consider whether your deck was built before 2004 – if it was, you may want to replace it since the timber may have been treated with chromated copper arsenate (which is toxic)
  • Check for splinters or rusted nails
  • Make sure railings and banisters are all secure
  • Check steps and stairs to ensure that they are not creaking or moving when you step on them

If your decking fails some of these safety checks, such as the splinter check, it is still possible to sand down and repair your deck. However, more serious problems such as excessive movement when you walk on it need to be dealt with by replacing both the decking and the joists underneath.

If your deck has passed all of the safety checks, it’s worth considering the cost of simply updating it vs. replacing it. In some instances, sanding down the entire deck and re-staining or oiling it may take more time and effort than simply replacing it.

Making the Most of Your Deck

The best-looking decks complement the style of the house and the rest of the garden. You can add a number of design elements to your decking, including railings, benches, planters, and even sunken seating (if it is a raised deck) and pergolas to make your decking area more attractive to look at and spend time in.

It’s worth asking yourself these questions before buying so that you can design the right deck for your home:

  • Will you have BBQs on your deck? If so, you need a large enough decking area to keep the BBQ a safe distance from trees and the house.
  • Do you have children in the house or visiting regularly? Railings are a good idea in households with children to avoid them falling off raised decks or going into other areas of the garden unsupervised.
  • Will you buy garden furniture or do you want to install seating?
  • Do you want a shaded area on the deck?
  • Have you decided on a decking pattern? If not, take a look at our simple guide.
  • Can neighbours easily overlook your deck? If so, you may want to build a pergola or just add some trellis to the top of your fencing to increase privacy.

If you want more than just a deck in your garden, you can add beautiful features like an outdoor fireplace, firepit, or even a pergola with a hot tub. It all depends on your style, budget, and imagination.

Keep Your Deck Looking Its Best

When you invest in home improvements, you want to make sure that they look their best for as long as possible. Timber and composite decking have different maintenance requirements, so this guide should help you decide what you are willing to do on a regular basis as well as helping you maintain a good looking deck.

Regardless of your decking material, you should always:

  • Ensure a minimum of 6” ventilation under your deck and between the joists
  • Ensure that the area under your deck drains well
  • Clean your deck at least twice per year
  • Sweep dry debris (such as leaves and branches) off the surface of your deck – rain can wet this debris and cause it to rot or mulch on the surface of your deck, which can cause staining or damage
  • Keep debris out of the gaps of your decking so that water can run off easily
  • Move items that are on the decking (such as plant pots and benches) to prevent staining
  • Avoid place wrought iron furniture directly onto the deck as it can stain

Composite Decking Maintenance

Composite decking needs very little maintenance – most of the regular maintenance just involves keeping the deck clean. It’s best to remove dirt or marks as soon as possible (especially if you have a tree that drops sap or berries, or somebody has spilled a drink or dropped food on the deck). This can be done using a mild cleaner and water – stickier marks or messes need to be scrubbed well and rinsed with water.

Although composite decking is very resilient, pressure washers are not always the best way to keep your deck clean. Avoid using pressure washers at over 1,300 psi or bringing the nozzle closer than 12” to the surface of your deck.

Timber Decking Maintenance

In addition to the items above, timber decking requires oiling or staining to prevent water damage. Every few years it is also a good idea to strip and re-finish your deck, which involves using a deck finish stripper or sander to take off the surface of your deck and then apply a stain, preservative, or oil to ensure that the wood does not absorb excessive moisture when it rains.

You can test whether your deck needs to be re-sealed by sprinkling a few drops of water onto the surface. If it soaks into the wood, it needs to be re-sealed. Your sealant should ideally have a UV blocker or pigment to prevent discolouration of the wood.

Wood is a fantastic material – it has great thermal qualities, it’s pleasing to the touch, it’s attractive, and it’s a renewable material so building out of wood has a very limited impact on the environment (and can, in some cases, improve it). However, unlike plastics and other manmade materials, it does need a little more maintenance and care to keep it looking its best. Wood can be susceptible to splitting, rotting, wood boring insects, and fungus, so it’s important to care for it properly to ensure that your timber products last for decades rather than just years.

Why Does Wood Need Maintenance?

As a natural product and an essential part of our ecosystem, wood can provide a habitat for insects and fauna, as well as degrading in some circumstances – of course if you’ve built out of wood, you want to avoid this and ensure that your timber is fulfilling the function you bought it for, not creating a home for insects or plants.

The first year is the toughest for new wood – even pressure treated and kiln dried wood needs to adjust to its environment and moisture content. If your wood has been kept in a much drier area than your home or outdoor area, it will have contracted – this wood will then slowly absorb moisture and expand. If it has been rained on, the wood will absorb water and expand with the rain and then contract as it dries, which can cause splitting and warping. One of the main challenges when maintaining timber is limiting the amount of water it absorbs and therefore limiting how much it expands and contracts, as well as avoiding rot, which happens when the wood is submerged in water for too long.

Avoiding Water Damage

Regardless of whether your wood has been pressure treated, it’s important to seal it off a little and help it weather gradually – this means controlling the amount of moisture the wood absorbs over time, rather than letting it absorb as much water as possible from its immediate environment. You should paint it completely with a deep penetrating treatment that closes off the wood’s pores and prevent it from becoming water logged. It’s a good idea to use a product with fungicide as well, to cover all bases.

Controlling the Appearance of Your Wood

Controlling the water content won’t have a dramatic impact on your wood’s appearance – it is just for maintaining quality. If you would like to stain your wood, many wood stains have built in preservatives so you can kill two birds with one stone. If you prefer to see your natural wood colours and even watch it weather and silver (if, for example, you have Cedar cladding), avoid staining your wood and just focus on sealing it regularly. You can use deep penetrating oils that go into the wood rather than staying on the surface if you like the natural look, or if you would like to change the colour you can choose from a range of stains and even paints to get the effect you’d like.

Removing Old Stains and Treatment

Depending on the age of the wood and type of treatment, you may be able to take off older treatments and add your own touch. Sanding down your wood and retreating it is often part of a good maintenance cycle if you have suffered some weather damage on the surface, but the structure is still intact and the wood is still safe. Alternatively, in some cases you are likely to seriously damage your tools by trying to remove treatments (particularly if they have tar content or are particularly sticky) – in those cases, it is just best to completely replace the timber.

Regularly Checking Your Wood

Checking for rot and problems with your external timber means that you can do repairs quickly rather than having to replace damaged items completely. You should do this with timber windows and doors, as well as cladding, sheds, fences, and any other external wood in your home. Keep an eye out for differences in surface texture, colour, and shape – splitting, swelling, and darker areas are key signs that something is wrong. Try pushing the end of a screw driver into any dark patches, if it sinks easily that area is already rotted and should be removed and filled to prevent the rot from spreading to the rest of the wood. Splits should be treated to avoid water absorption, and if you see a lot of small holes it’s likely you will need to use a fungicide or pesticide, depending on the problem.

Keeping Your Deck & Shed Looking Good

Prevention is just as important as cure. You can avoid a lot of wood problems entirely by taking a few further precautions:

  • Put planters and plants into waterproof trays and raise them off the surface of your deck or away from your shed walls
  • Move plant pots around to prevent rings from forming
  • Do not place BBQs directly on your deck to avoid burn marks or fat stains – a thin sheet of metal or even sheet of timber is sufficient
  • Clean rust from your nails as soon as you see it to avoid stains
  • Take care to seal all cut surfaces and drilled holes, since these have gone through the sealed surface of your wood and allow more water absorption

If you need advice on treatment types and keeping your timber looking its best, speak to our team. Lawsons is one of the largest timber merchants in London and the South East, and we pride ourselves on our wide range of timber and wood care products

Now summer has arrived it is now time to be thinking about that new patio. Just imagine how proud you will feel when you invite your friends round for that traditional barbeque. Here is our easy to follow guide for forming that perfect area

Tools you will need to lay your garden patio paving

  • String / Ranging Line - key to a straight base.
  • Rubber Mallet - knock the patio slabs in place without cracking them
  • Shovel - clear out and prepare the foundation.
  • Spirit Level - you need to make sure the levels are right.
  • Trowel for pointing - for the finishing touches.
  • Stiff Broom - brush away all the excess mess.
  • PPE Personal Protection Equipment such as Goggles and Gloves - safety first!

How to lay a Garden Patio using Decorative Concrete Slabs or Natural Stone Paving

  1. Make your choice: Lawsons carry a comprehensive range of both Natural Stone and Concrete Paving so your first job is choosing the right range and then ordering, this can be done online or by visiting one of our many branches. Always remember to allow a few extra to allow for any cutting that may be required. Whilst ordering your paving don’t forget to also order your bedding material i.e. M.O.T Type 1 Sub-base, 20mm Ballast, Sharp Sand, Soft Building Sand and Cement.
  2. Prepare the area: Once you’ve decided on the area, mark out with timber stakes (Site Pegs) and loop a ranging line (string) outlining the area, alternatively use timber boarding nailed to stakes. If you are butting up to your house make sure your finished level is at least 150mm below your damp course (dpc). Dig out to a depth of 150mm and don’t forget to incorporate a slight slope, 1 in 60, away from your property, this will prevent puddles forming.
  3. Laying the Base: Once you have removed all unrequired material it is now time to create your base foundation. This can be done be using a Ballast and Cement mix (6 parts Ballast to 1 part Cement with just enough water to form a semi dry mix) or Type 1 compacted with a ‘wacker plate’ which can be hired from your local plant hire company. Use enough material to form 75mm finished thickness, if using the Ballast mix tamp down with a length or substantial timber.
  4. Mortar Bed: Mix a 6:1 (6 parts Sharp Sand and 1 part Cement) laying mortar being careful not to make too wet as slab should be supported without sinking.
  5. Paving Laying: Set string lines from side to side as a depth guide and ones from back to front as a guide to the fall. Starting in a corner, usually against the property, apply enough laying mortar to cover a slightly larger area of the entire slab, use enough to allow for levelling which is done by tapping down the slab with a Rubber Mallet. Once you are happy with the position and level move onto the next slab, working outwards from the corner, and don’t forget to allow the required joint width between slabs for pointing later.  Please allow at least a full day before walking on as this will allow the mortar to harden sufficiently.
  6. Pointing: Pointing can be done by using one of the readymixed pointing mortars or by a 3:1 (3 parts Sand and 1 part Cement) mix of Soft Building Sand and Cement. Add enough water to form a smooth paste and trowel into the joints taking care not to getting any onto the slab surface, should this occur purchase some mortar stain remover and wash off when dry.
  7. Finally: Once your pointing has hardened, give a good sweep, step back and admire your perfect patio.

See Our Range Of Patio Supplies Online.

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Using decking to create a raised area gives you an ideal place for entertaining your friends & family for those long summer evenings.  It does not matter if your garden is on a slope or level, timber decking can offer an attractive area for seating.

Tools you will need for to install your garden decking

  • Spirit Level  - you need to make sure the levels are right.
  • Saw - the decking needs to be cut cleanly so a good saw is important.
  • Posthole Digger / Spade - key to making a sturdy base.
  • String / Ranging Line - key to a straight base.
  • Gloves / Goggles - safety always comes first.

How to Lay Wooden Garden Decking

  1. Decking area: Work out the area you want to cover with decking and mark it out with pegs and a line making sure all the corners are perfectly square.  Clear away all debris, vegetation and grass and level the area as best you can.
  2. Fixing: If your decking is to be connected to the wall of your house you can attach it using a ‘timber wall plate’ secured with masonry bolts at 400mm intervals. Good practise is to make sure the finished level of the deck is at least 2 brick courses below your house’s damp course level. Dig holes 600mm deep for each of the decking frame posts and concrete them in with Post Fix making sure all the posts are perfectly vertical. It is usual practise for posts to be set in at 1.2m intervals to each other throughout the deck, and the posts around the perimeter are offset to one side to allow for the decking frame’s perimeter joists to be secured. Once all the posts are set fast, the marking out lines and pegs can be removed.
  3. Weed control: It is a good idea to cover the ground with a weed control fabric at this point. It can be held down with shingle and will aid drainage as well as prevent vegetation growing under your new deck.
  4. Main framework: Making the decking frame is your next job. Fix timber joists to the outer side of each of the corner posts to create a perimeter frame. Next infill the frame with joists at 400mm centres. Remember the joists run in the opposite direction to the decking.
  5. Balustrading choice: Balustrading will add that touch of class to your decking so before attaching boards you should make this your next job. Firstly work out spacing of newel posts which are usually set at a maximum of 2.4m apart. The corner ones can be slotted in the gap left when constructing the decking frame and secured with coach screws. You can fix intermediate ones using same method with just one coach screws at this point to allow for adjustment when fitting balustrade panels. Cut your base and top rail to size and drill pilot holes through both base rail and top rail fillet to enable balusters to be secured, usually at 100 to 120mm centres. Fix balusters firstly to the top handrail fillet and then to the base rail using 50/75mm galvanised screws.  The balustrade panels can be fixed to the posts by means of 12mm timber dowels glued in making sure to leave a 50mm gap under the base rail.
  6. Boarding the deck: Now fit the Decking boards. Start from the outer edge and work inwards cutting notches to fit around posts on edge boards and allow the decking boards to cover the outer edge of the frame. Make sure your first board is level with edge of the framework and fix it with two 65mm long decking screws, attaching the decking to each of the frame joists below. Remember to leave at least a 5mm gap between each decking board to allow for timber expansion. If your decking boards meet in length, make sure these butt joints are supported by the decking frame below and stagger these joints throughout the deck to maintain a strong structure.
  7. Safety: If you have a large gap beneath the deck it is a good idea to fix trellis panels or decking to the perimeter to stop pets and children getting trapped under your platform.
  8. Treatment: It is always a good idea to give your decking a regular coat of a sealing product or stain, this will ensure it always looks its best throughout the year.
  9. Planning Permission: Usually decking installations which cover no more than 50 percent of the garden or are no more than 30cm above the ground are sanctioned within permitted development allowances.  However if you are unsure we suggest you check with your local planning office.
  

See Our Range Of Decking Online.

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There’s nothing like a crackling fire on a summer evening to draw friends and family together. A well-built fire pit can extend the amount of time you spend outdoors and improve your garden as a social area. They’re also surprisingly easy to build, even if you’ve never tried bricklaying before.

Always check whether there are any local ordinances or restrictions before you begin a major building or landscaping project.

Dig Your Pit

To begin your fire pit, you need to mark out where you’d like to dig it. It’s important to get in touch with your utility company to find out whether there are any parts of your garden to avoid, and make sure that you have plenty of clearance so that you’re not in danger of setting fire to any trees or a pergola.

A 900mm (3ft) diameter fire pit is an excellent size – it offers a large fire but doesn’t space people too far apart. Once you’ve marked your circle, dig a hole around 200mm (8”) deep and 75-100mm (3-4”) wider than you want the interior of the pit to be.

Pour a Concrete Base

A concrete base will keep the sides of your pit from cracking as the ground moves over time. Stake the forms into the pit that you’ve dug – the first (outer) circle should be 1200mm (4ft) in diameter and the second (inner) circle should be 900mm (3ft) in diameter. This means you have a 300mm (1ft) circle in between to pour the concrete into. Fill the forms halfway and press a rebar ring into the concrete for strength. Finish by filling the forms up to the top and tap the tubes with a club hammer until the concrete is level.

Let the concrete set overnight and remove the forms.

Build Up Inner Firebrick Walls

It’s a good idea to use firebrick or refractory brick to build the inner walls of your fire pit – this is because regular bricks crack at high temperatures. Fire bricks are denser than regular bricks and are kilned to withstand the heat of a fire pit. It’s a more expensive option but it means that your fire pit will last longer. You’ll need around 25 firebricks for a 900mm (3ft) fire pit.

Mortar the bricks with refractory cement, which usually comes pre-mixed. Trowel the cement on in a thin layer and use the tightest joints you can to reduce the amount of air in between the bricks. Remember to place gaps for draw holes at four opposite points around your fire pit. Check that the bricks are level regularly so that you can still adjust while the cement is wet.

Build the Outer Walls

You have a lot more flexibility in the outer wall materials since they won’t be subject to such extreme temperatures. Some people like to build them out of the same material as their paving or other garden walls to make sure that everything matches. You’ll need around 80 standard-sized bricks for a 900mm (3ft) pit.

Level your bricks in between courses by tapping down when necessary. Again, check the level regularly to make adjustments while the mortar is wet.

Finish the Top Lip

To finish your pit, use the same brick as the outer wall to create a cap that covers both the outer and inner walls. This will protect the wall joints from rain and keep any sparks contained within the pit. It also means you’ll have a warm ledge to rest your feet on or put your plate on.

You’ll need to give your brand new fire pit around a week to set before you can light a fire. Make sure to pour a few inches of gravel into the base for drainage, and don’t forget to buy a few marshmallows. 

Railway sleepers are one of the most popular gardening trends of 2016 – designers and gardeners are using them for everything from creating paths, retaining walls and to building planters.

There is a range of railway sleepers available – they vary in colour, wood, and size, but there are also used and new sleepers on the market so it can be difficult to decide which to buy. That’s why we’ve created this short overview so that you can find out about the main differences between new and used railway sleepers.

New Railway Sleepers

New railway sleepers tend to be made from softwoods such as pine or spruce, but you can also find new oak sleepers at a higher price. Softwood sleepers are not quite as durable as the used, hardwood sleepers but they do have straight edges and no wear, so they’re suitable for projects where you want a crisp edge and consistent sizes or finishes.

You can also choose from a range of colours or treatments. In most instances, you can’t do this with used sleepers since they have their own patina rather than a stained colour.

Because the majority of new sleepers are made from softwoods, they tend to be lighter than used sleepers, so they’re easier to handle. They’re also a little cheaper due to the material.

New oak railway sleepers are usually more expensive than the used ones but are far easier to treat and paint than their used counterparts.

Used Railway Sleepers

Used railway sleepers are the top choice for gardeners and designers who would like to add some character to their project. Since hardwoods are more durable, you’ll find that the majority of used sleepers that are in good condition will be made from oak. While there are some used softwood sleepers on the market, they often have very broken edges and are in much worse condition. If you are looking for a softwood sleeper, it’s best to go for new ones.

Used sleepers are dark or medium brown in colour as generally have been treated with an oil based preservative.. Sizing for used sleepers is only approximate, unlike new sleepers, since they may have been cut decades ago. This means that the sizing may only be very rough and weather has made its own changes to the wood. If you need exact accuracy in your project, softwood sleepers are the best choice again.

Making Your Choice

Sleepers are an excellent material – they’re durable, relatively easy to use (if you don’t mind heavy lifting), and extremely versatile. As with any material, it’s important that it’s suitable for your project. Typically, if you need exact sizing and clean edges, new sleepers are the way to go. If you’d like a little character and the ‘distressed’ look, used sleepers will deliver that for you. Finally, if you’re on a budget and just want to try out an idea, it’s probably best to use new, softwood sleepers so that you can buy everything you need for less. 

Concrete can be a little intimidating as a material, especially to novice gardeners and DIY enthusiasts, but it’s an extremely versatile material and you may be surprised at how many different things you can make with concrete. You can buy a large bag inexpensively and you know that your finished items will definitely last!

Always remember to wear gloves and a mask when you’re handling concrete and don’t add too much water at the beginning. If you make sure to add water gradually and mix your concrete thoroughly, you’ll have a smooth usable material for your projects.

Concrete Spheres

These spheres are surprisingly delicate for something made out of concrete and really easy to make. They make fantastic plant pots or even candle holders for late summer nights.

If you remember covering balloons in papier mâché in school, the technique for these spheres will be very familiar. All you need to do is cover your ball in Vaseline and drape concrete-covered material over the ball, letting each layer dry before you add the next. This will take a couple of days to complete since you need to stop in between each layer, but finally you can deflate the ball and use some left-over cement to fill in any small cracks you can see.

You can leave your hollow sphere bare or paint it to match the rest of your garden furniture.

Draped Concrete Plant Pots

Or if you have some old tea towels to throw away, you could turn them into these beautiful draped planters. This project is even easier than the spheres and should only take you around a day or two (depending on your drying times). All you need to do is mix your concrete and soak the towel in it. Then drape it over an old bucket (one you don’t mind getting concrete on) and leave it to dry.

You can even pour concrete into it to make a table if you prefer, or turn them upside down to make unusual plant pots.

Concrete Hands

Unlike the other crafts here, these concrete hands are solid rather than hollow. They’re easily made by filling rubber gloves with concrete and moulding them into the shape you’d like the hands to be (you may need to use string or wire to hold them in place while they dry). Then just cut away the gloves and add your plants.

Images from http://amygreving.blogspot.ca/, http://www.apartmenttherapy.com, http://www.hometalk.com/, and http://infoyoushouldknow.net

Why Use Artificial Grass

Namgrass is an excellent alternative to grass if you’d like a low-maintenance lawn that looks fantastic all year round. There’s no mowing, no watering, and no mud – you can just relax on your pristine lawn and know that even if the kids are out playing on it, you won’t have mud dragged across your carpets.

It’s suitable for both indoor and outdoor use and you can opt for professional installation if you prefer. If you’re a little more hands-on, here are the last instructions you’ll need for your lawn. Once installed, Namgrass comes with a minimum of a 10 year warranty, so you won’t need to work on it again for at least a decade.

How to Install Namgrass

Installing Namgrass is quick and easy. It can take anything from a few hours to around 24 hours, depending on the weather conditions and the size of your lawn. Here’s a video to take you through the process and help you create a lawn that looks perfect in every season.

The first step is to dig up your existing lawn and edge the area – you can use timber, concrete, brick, or even metal edging systems to contain your new lawn. Once that’s been installed, you’ll need to lay the base. If you need to build up a lot, it’s best to use heavy gauge type 1 material, but in most instances you can use fine type 1 – rake and level it before compacting to make sure that you have an even surface.

Once your base is ready, spray it with water to reduce dust and lay a weed membrane over the whole area to prevent weeds from growing through. Then you should roll out your new grass so that the sides overlap the entire area. Leave it for an hour or so to acclimatise and settle.

If you need to join your Namgrass (which is common if with larger gardens), fold the sides together and count in 4 stitches. Cut between the stitch lines and bring both sides together until they’re around 1-2mm apart and the join is invisible from a distance. Once you’re happy with how that looks, put jointing tape shiny side up underneath the join and apply your adhesive. Then carefully fold the grass down onto the tape and walk over it to compress.

Finally, cut around any obstacles and along the edges, taking your time to ensure a good fit. You’ll need to let your lawn settle to again and leave the glue to cure, which will take 2-24 hours depending on the weather.

You’re almost finished now! You just need to add the top sand and brush up the grass to finish. Applying top sand stabilises the grass and makes it more durable – it’s best to use around 5kg of kiln dried sand per square metre. Then just brush up the pile to settle the sand and get your lawn looking its best. The video uses a mechanical brush but you can use a broom if you don’t have one.

Then all you need to do is admire and enjoy your new fuss-free lawn. 

Raised planters are a fantastic way to separate your flowers or vegetables from the rest of your garden – they offer a way to save space, maintain healthier soil for your plants, and even mean that you don’t need to bend down as much when tending to your garden if you have a bad back.

Fortunately, they’re also extremely simple to make – essentially they’re just boxes with a soil mix added to them. You can choose from a huge number of materials when making them, and you can tailor your soil mix to whatever you’re growing without having to dig up your entire garden.

DIY Raised Garden Beds

While you can buy raised garden planter kits, you don’t necessarily benefit from doing so. You’ll need to work with the materials in the kit – rather than what’s best for your garden – and you’ll be restricted when it comes to size or shape. Starting from scratch doesn’t require much more effort but you’ll get exactly what you want.

First, decide on your size and placement – if you’re putting your planters on a roof terrace or in your garden, you still need to decide where they’re going and how large the planters can be. It’s generally easier to make fewer, large planters than lots of small ones but the arrangement is entirely down to your preferences.

Then you need to find out what materials are best for you and your garden. Our clients have used everything from bricks and paving slabs, through to timber and railway sleepers. Sleepers have the added benefit of not needing cement to put them together – you can just stack your sleepers and fill the box with your soil!

Once you’ve got your measurements and materials, you’ll need to start making your planters! Remember to make them at a comfortable height – if your aim is to look after your garden with minimal bending down, it’s a good idea to build them up to waist height so that you can achieve that.

If you’d like to build using timber, this wikihow will be helpful.

And if you’re building with bricks, this will help you with the technique and steps.

Remember, if you’re using railway sleepers or paving stones, you won’t need to spend as much time putting your planters together since the materials are heavy enough to stack together and stay put.

Finally, you’ll need to decide on a soil mix and add that to your planter. The most expensive option is to use all purchased materials, with varied composts, peat moss, and vermiculite. If you’re building extra tall planters, it’s best to use the ‘lasagne method’ which means that you bulk out the bottom of your planter with leaves, grass clippings, or hay. This bottom layer will eventually turn to compost and give you extremely rich soil without having to pay as much for it. Once that layer is built, add a compostable barrier (like untreated cardboard) to stop your quality soil from moving down too quickly, then add your growing soil mix to the very top 6-12 inches. You’ll notice the soil sinking over the next year or so – all you need to do at that point is add a fresh layer of compost to keep your planter topped up. 

Raised planters are a fantastic way to separate your flowers or vegetables from the rest of your garden – they offer a way to save space, maintain healthier soil for your plants, and even mean that you don’t need to bend down as much when tending to your garden if you have a bad back.

Fortunately, they’re also extremely simple to make – essentially they’re just boxes with a soil mix added to them. You can choose from a huge number of materials when making them, and you can tailor your soil mix to whatever you’re growing without having to dig up your entire garden.

DIY Raised Garden Beds

While you can buy raised garden planter kits, you don’t necessarily benefit from doing so. You’ll need to work with the materials in the kit – rather than what’s best for your garden – and you’ll be restricted when it comes to size or shape. Starting from scratch doesn’t require much more effort but you’ll get exactly what you want.

First, decide on your size and placement – if you’re putting your planters on a roof terrace or in your garden, you still need to decide where they’re going and how large the planters can be. It’s generally easier to make fewer, large planters than lots of small ones but the arrangement is entirely down to your preferences.

Then you need to find out what materials are best for you and your garden. Our clients have used everything from bricks and paving slabs, through to timber and railway sleepers. Sleepers have the added benefit of not needing cement to put them together – you can just stack your sleepers and fill the box with your soil!

Once you’ve got your measurements and materials, you’ll need to start making your planters! Remember to make them at a comfortable height – if your aim is to look after your garden with minimal bending down, it’s a good idea to build them up to waist height so that you can achieve that.

If you’d like to build using timber, this wikihow will be helpful. [http://www.wikihow.com/Build-a-Wooden-Planter-Box]

And if you’re building with bricks, this will help you with the technique and steps. [http://www.bhg.com/gardening/yard/garden-care/brick-raised-bed/]

Remember, if you’re using railway sleepers or paving stones, you won’t need to spend as much time putting your planters together since the materials are heavy enough to stack together and stay put.

Finally, you’ll need to decide on a soil mix and add that to your planter. The most expensive option is to use all purchased materials, with varied composts, peat moss, and vermiculite. If you’re building extra tall planters, it’s best to use the ‘lasagne method’ which means that you bulk out the bottom of your planter with leaves, grass clippings, or hay. This bottom layer will eventually turn to compost and give you extremely rich soil without having to pay as much for it. Once that layer is built, add a compostable barrier (like untreated cardboard) to stop your quality soil from moving down too quickly, then add your growing soil mix to the very top 6-12 inches. You’ll notice the soil sinking over the next year or so – all you need to do at that point is add a fresh layer of compost to keep your planter topped up.