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Build a Sandpit for the Kids

If you don’t live near the beach but still want the kids to enjoy making sandcastles, creating a sandpit is an easy and safe way to let them indulge and keep them entertained in the summer. You don’t have the risks you do in communal sandpits of having rubbish (or worse) in the sand, and can make it as big or as small as you want depending on the size of your garden.

All you need is:

Creating your sandbox is relatively simple, and should just take an afternoon.

  1. Measure out your area and cut the sleepers to fit: it’s best to at least use the length of the railway sleepers to cut down on sawing. You may need to cut one of the sleepers in half to make the shorter edges of your sandpit if you don’t want a square.
  2. Seal the ends of the cut sleepers with wood preserver.
  3. Put the edges of your sandbox together and make sure you’re happy with their positions and size. Then dig out the area for your sandbox, removing around 25-30mm of soil. Remove any stones and make sure it’s smooth and safe.
  4. Put your sleepers around along the edges of your dug-out area (they should be within the dug out rectangle, not outside it) and use the spirit level to check that they’re not tilting. 
  5. Remove the sleepers and cover the bottom of your sandpit with weed fabric, to prevent anything growing through the sand. You can secure the fabric with nails if you’d like, but laying sleepers on it should keep it in place.
  6. Put your sleepers back into position, making sure not to knock the edges of the weed fabric, and screw them into place to secure them. Make sure that the screws are recessed to prevent scraps and avoid problems with sanding.
  7. Sand down the corners and edges of the sleepers to keep them smooth and avoid scrapes or splinters.
  8. Fill your pit with sand, and let the kids try it out! You may want to use a cover for it for when it’s not in use to avoid leaves filling the pit or attracting the local cats. Tarp is the cheaper solution, or you can use plywood for something solid. 
7 of Our Favourite Garden DIYs to Make the Most of Summer

Summer’s coming to an end but it’s not quite over yet – there are still a few sunny weekends coming up when you can make the most of the warm weather and improve your home or garden. Here are a few of our favourite DIY projects from around the net – you can make almost all of them with items from your local builders’ or timber merchant, but may need to supplement a few specialist parts from elsewhere.

Make a DIY Greenhouse

If you don’t quite grow enough to justify a full greenhouse or don’t have the room in the garden, you can make a small ‘lean to’ type of greenhouse with wood and old windows. Timber is generally best for the entire structure to let the plants breathe and prevent too much moisture build up. You just need some timber and can either make the windows yourself with wood and glass (there’s no need to double-glaze!) or try to source some second hand windows online or at a salvage yard. It’s perfect for small grow projects or compact gardens.

Build a House Arbor

Arbors can be impressive structures but aren’t necessarily difficult to make –  the entire structure can be made from wood and completed in a day. You can use the frame to grow climbing plants to eventually cover it, or just stain the wood to match the look of your home.


Create a Garden Fireplace

There’s something luxurious and primal about a garden fireplace – it’s rare to find one in the UK but they’re perfect for winding down summer evenings or even roasting marshmallows in winter. It’s fairly easy to install too – the main materials are pavers for the flooring around your fire and timber for the bench.


Organise Your Patio

This is definitely one of the more impressive projects we’ve seen – an organised space that’s almost like a pantry for the outdoors. You can build in a log store, install a small BBQ with sideboards, and even have a space on the patio to keep your herb garden. This project takes more expertise and skill than the others to get a good finish, but the main material is still timber with a lick of paint.


Make Your Trees More Inviting

Sitting under a tree reading a book seems like a lovely way to spend an afternoon, but damp earth and uncomfortable roots can quickly hamper that. A simple solution is to build some decking around your tree so that you can sit comfortably and enjoy more of your garden throughout the summer. We stock everything you need for this decking project apart from the elbow grease.

Start Your Compost Heap

If you’d like to improve your garden soil and reduce waste at home, a compost heap will kill two birds with one stone. You can build a compost bin in an afternoon to contain the heap and stop it from spilling out elsewhere in the garden.

Add Grass to Your Urban Garden

If all of these projects are too big and you’d really just like to make the most of your urban garden, why not create a daybed that lets you lie on the grass? Instead of choosing between a patio and lawn, you can have both. If you don’t want to maintain the grass, you can even use an artificial alternative that won’t ever need mowing or watering. 

How to Improve Your Garden Soil

Good soil is the foundation for any successful growing project, whether you want to improve your borders or even start growing your own food. Britain’s land is hugely varied, so it’s important to pay close attention to your soil before you start planting to ensure that it drains well, allows room to grow, and has the nutrients you need for your chosen plants to grow.

Use Good Topsoil

Topsoil is a simple fix in many cases. If your soil is very shallow or if you’d like to fill some planters, this is what you need on the top layer to give your plants the best start. Topsoil can be screened – which means it’s free from stones, roots, and weeds – which is ideal for projects where quality is more important than quantity. If you just need to fill large areas, economy topsoil is usually the best choice.

Using pre-bought top soil means that you won’t need to till it quite as much, can have a top layer that’s free from weeds or rocks, and don’t need to break up lumps of clay or worry that the soil is preventing growth. However, topsoil doesn’t necessarily have enough nutrients to properly sustain your plants and let them thrive, which is why it’s important to use compost in conjunction with it.

Create a Compost Heap

Composting is probably one of the best-known gardening practices, and it’s a fantastic way of increasing the amount of organic matter (and nutrients) in your soil without having to spend anything on your garden. Even better, you reduce waste in your home and be more environmentally-friendly in the process.

The aim of composting is to introduce more nitrogen and carbon back into your soil – you can do this by adding table scraps, fruit/vegetables, eggshells, leaves, grass clippings, wood ash, tea leaves, newspaper, and even dryer lint to your heap. It’s best to compost in a bin or container to stop the smell from seeping into the rest of the garden, but try to start your heap on bare earth to give worms and other organisms a way to aerate your compost heap.

Add Organic Matter Straight to the Garden

If you don’t have the room for a compost heap or just don’t want the ongoing work of maintaining one, you can add scraps straight to your garden if you approach it intelligently. You can add finely-cut banana skins, coffee grounds, and egg shells straight to your soil without waiting for them to break down first.

Egg shells improve drainage in your garden and the calcium promotes plant growth, as well as helping to prevent blossom end rot in tomatoes and squash plants. They even work as a deterrent for slugs and snails that might ruin your crop.

Coffee grounds act as a fertiliser and add nitrogen to your soil, as well as keeping earthworms happy, while banana skins add a cocktail of different nutrients to the soil including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium – all of which help to keep your plants healthy and boost growth.  

Block Pave Paths, Patios and Drives

Tools required:

  • Compacting Plate (Available to hire from most plant hire companies)
  • Block Cutting Tool (Available to hire from most plant hire companies)
  • Long Straight Edge for levelling sand and adjusting falls (Long straight edge timber plank or scaffold pole)
  • Rubber Mallet
  • String Lines and Setting Out Pegs
  • Soft Broom
  • Protective Gloves & Goggles
  • Trowel for Kerb and Edging laying
  • Shovel
  • Spirit Level
  • Plastic Float
  • Bolster
  • Knee Pads


Block Paving, also known as Paviours or Pavers, can be used in almost all paving applications be it large commercial projects, such as car parks and docks, right down to a simple garden path or patio. It is a good alternative to traditional concrete and tarmac as offers greater flexibility in design and is aesthetically more pleasing. Being interlocking in their design makes them extremely strong for use in trafficked areas.


Concrete is the main material used in the manufacture of block paving and thicknesses of 50mm, 60mm and 80mm are most common. Many designs and colours are available which include smooth finish, textured top, tumbled or rustic to give that worn appearance and top-mix or face-mix blocks which offer a cost effective solution if you are looking for a natural stone effect.

Clay is the other material pavers can be made from and generally come on either 50mm or 65mm in thickness and are mostly 200mm x 100mm in size although other sizes are available. The advantage of clay pavers is that the material does not fade with age so will always keep that fresh look as long as maintained by regular cleaning.

SUDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems). This is block paving with larger spacing lugs which are filled with a grit, once laid, and therefore allows water to permeate straight through to the specially constructed sub-base and then into the water table, or an attenuation system, thus helping to improve the environment. The main reason for this requirement is that it deals with the run-off at source rather than it draining into a sewage system or water course which helps alleviate flooding. Check with your local building control to see whether this system is required for your particular application.

How many will I require?

This will vary on the size and shape of the blocks you choose but if using the most popular size of 200 x 100mm there are 50 per square metre. Make sure you allow between 2 and 5 percent for wastage as edge blocks will generally require cutting. For coverage of other sizes you would need to check the manufacturer’s literature or contact your nearest Lawsons branch.


The most important part of any paving project is in the preparation of the area. A solid sub-base must be constructed which will generally be of a well compacted Type 1 material at least 100mm deep depending on loading required and type of system. Then a 50mm layer of levelled Sharp Sand to cover the entire area. Depending on ground conditions and application a Geotextile layer may be required between the sub-base and sub-soil for stabilisation purposes. Make sure you have a solid edging around the entire perimeter which should be constructed with either Block Paving Kerbs or Concrete Path Edgings laid and haunched with a C20 concrete.

Laying the Pavers

Once the Sharp Sand base is prepared and levelled the blocks can be laid, by hand, in the desired design and pattern. Always lay from an edge and avoid treading on the sand base. Another important point is to select blocks from at least 3 different packs which will help with any colour variation which may occur from different packs.

Once all the blocks are laid sweep in Kiln Dried Jointing Sand to all the joints (Joint Grit in a SUDS system) and run over the whole area with a vibrating compacting plate to bed the blocks in firmly. It is often necessary to repeat the Jointing Sand process to ensure all joints are completely filled.


Paving blocks can be sealed, once laid, with a proprietary sealer, this will help to maintain colour and as well as supressing weed growth will help prevent staining from such things as oil.

Joints may require additional sanding over the years and certainly will if the area is pressure washed. Other than that the occasional sweep is all that will be required.


The lowest cost blocks are generally the standard rectangular 200 x 100 x 50mm type and the most expensive can be the clay type. But, bear in mind that the most expensive part of the project will be in the preparation and sub-base construction so even going for the more expensive type blocks may only add 10% to the price of the whole project.

Build a Perfect BBQ Garden

Realistically, the UK only enjoys about a month of BBQ weather per year, so we need to make the most of it. This is when Britons get the most enjoyment out of their gardens and beautiful lawns – enjoying good (possibly burnt) food with family and friends while soaking in the sun. A well-designed BBQ garden gives you space to cook on, eat on, and socialise, without turning the entire area into a patio. It’s surprisingly easy to design a garden that helps you make the most of summer while cutting down on maintenance throughout the rest of the year.

Build the Right Decking

Decking is the perfect way to make your garden more usable and turn it into a social space. Even if it rained 10 minutes before your BBQ, you can still sit out and enjoy the sun when it comes out. Create a deck that takes up no more than 1/3 to ½ of your garden so that you can still enjoy a lawn and vegetation, while creating enough room for the grill and a generous seating area for yourself, family, and guests.

Add Garden Walls and Rails

Putting your drinks and food down on the floor is quite unappealing and spills are inevitable. Creating thick garden walls or even decking with a balustrade offers places to rest drinks, plates, and sunglasses while you chat and mingle with guests. It’s incredibly easy to add these details to your garden, especially when Lawsons’ bricks start from just £0.68 each. You can use walls to create barriers, separate flowers from vegetables, or just define different areas in your garden while giving guests additional spaces to sit and put down drinks.

Create a Built-In BBQ

If you’re serious about grilling, a permanent BBQ is a must-have for your garden. You can build most of it with bricks and cement, but will need to add the metal grills and possibly a coal/log store to start the fire. No more fighting to get the BBQ out of the back of your shed, worrying it might be broken, or cursing yourself for not buying the bigger model – you can create a custom BBQ space over a single weekend. 

Update Your Driveway for Real Kerb Appeal

Your driveway is one of the first things you see when approaching your home – it can add kerb appeal, security, and elegance to your home without having to gain planning permission or affect your day to day life during the building work.

Choosing the Right Materials

Your driveway material is one of the most important decisions you’ll make – it will affect the look for your drive, utility, and security. There are a number of options available, each depending on your priorities and preferences.


Gravel drives are the best option for good home security. The noise of the drive, even when walking, can be a deterrent to would-be thieves, especially if you then create a path around your home so it’s difficult to approach or look into your windows without making a sound. You can also choose from a range of materials including limestone chippings and slate, depending on your preferences and budget.

However, gravel drives ultimately require more maintenance – driving on gravel can create furrows and ruts, which then fill with water. They can also suffer from weeds growing through the gravel, or need recovering when gravel has been tamped into the ground or just displaced over a number of years. In addition to recovering, you will need to rake the gravel regularly to make sure that the driveway has an even covering.

Brick or Pavers

Brick or paved driveways are typically more expensive than gravel, but feel more luxurious. You can comfortably walk on your drive barefoot, but they do not offer the same level of home security since you can walk or drive on bricks without creating a lot of additional noise.

Despite the additional cost, a brick or paved driveway requires less maintenance in the long-run so you may save money since a brick drive will last considerably longer than a gravel one without required recovering. The paving will just require cleaning every so often, without the need to continually top up the materials as you would with a gravel driveway.

Whether you’d like a gravel, brick, pavers, or a natural stone driveway, Lawsons can provide the materials you need for the project. Take a look at our options and buy online, or call your local branch to arrange quick delivery. 

Everything you need to Know about Railway Sleepers
The Deck of Your Dreams

No matter how beautiful your garden is, without a deck it’s missing an integral focal point in terms of both looks and practicality.

A decked area is more than a handy spot for relaxing in the sun; it’s a point of centrality, a beautiful oasis in the middle of your lawn which surrounded by trees, shrubs and flowers, makes what is essentially the sitting room for your outdoor living.

Enjoying your garden from the comfort of an attractive, timber deck allows you to really relax when it comes to eating alfresco. The appearance of your garden is improved and enhanced thanks to the splash of warmth provided by the deck and you can really go to town when it comes to furniture too.

Where to place your deck

If possible, decks are usually best off placed as close to the main access point into the garden from indoors as possible.

This means that in poor weather, when you most want to maintain the deck through cleaning and sweeping it free of leaves and water, you won’t need to traipse across wet grass or slippery paving stones to get to it.

It also means that you’ll find it very convenient when you’re entertaining and want to come in and out with plates or food.

Of course this isn’t always possible and if you need to place your deck in a spot a little further away from the house, this is fine but it’s a good idea to consider a roofed area so that the deck is a little protected rather than marooned in the middle of the garden.

How to make your deck into a glamourous and attractive outdoor living area

Your deck has the potential to act as another room; during the warmer months it can provide that extra space for entertaining or simply somewhere to sit and read.

Choose comfortable outdoor furniture and add extra lighting in the form of solar lanterns and fairy lights. This way you can enjoy the deck even after dark during the warmer months. Perhaps add a chimenea for the chilly Autumn period when you’re not quite ready to hang up your summer hat!

Lawsons stock a wide variety of decking materials, oils and tools; visit Lawsons today to discover more about how a deck could improve your garden.

How to lay the Perfect Garden Patio

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.

Buy Patio Supplies Online
Distinctive Decking for Your Garden

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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