5 articles Articles posted in Garden

Making Your Garden Surfaces Kid Friendly

It might seem utterly bonkers to say that grass could be ‘out of fashion’, but there’s been a definite shift in recent years away from the traditional lawn and towards more modern solutions which can be used all year round. Grass is great in many ways, but is probably the single-most high maintenance flooring for a garden as it needs to be mowed, edged, fed, watered and weeded on a regular basis. Also, if you have pets it can be hard to clean up after them if their main toilet area is grass. Today, I thought I’d show you some really great alternatives to a grass lawn so that you can be inspired for your own lawn makeover.

Rubber Mulch Play Area

You know those squidgy rubber floors that you see in play parks, usually beneath apparatus like swings and slides? Well, it’s possible to use those on a more domestic level, too. It’s clean, safe, easy to maintain and will give your kids a safe area for playing on. It also comes in different colours and textures; find yourself a rubber mulch play area specialist and they’ll be able to advise you on all the options available.

Astroturf

Astroturf or fake grass is a great option if you still want to maintain the LOOK of a lawn, without all the maintenance. It’s a little on the expensive side but we know several people who’ve replaced their lawns with fake grass and they feel like it’s one of the best decor decisions they’ve ever made.

Bark Chips

Bark flooring is also something you see a lot in parks and playgrounds and it can be a great option at home as it’s largely something that you can buy and lay all by yourself. It can be expensive if you have a large area to cover and you’ll probably need to top it up every now and again to account for chips which get washed away in wind or rain, but it can look really nice and give the area a rustic feel, if you aren’t a fan of the super-modern.

Shingle

Shingle is a great choice if you are trying to cover a large area on a budget, but it’s not so great for play areas of if you have pets. It’s good for people who just want to make a relatively under-used area look a bit smarter and is easy to top up with an extra bag every now and again, making it a popular choice for people who are trying to sell a house and smarten up the exterior.

Slate Chips

Slate chips are really popular at the moment because they are usually grey, a colour which has soared in popularity for decoration and masonry in recent years. Slate gives a really premium look to a driveway or patio area and although it’s not cheap it doesn’t need to be topped up as often because each chips is heavier and doesn’t get brushed away as easily.

Common Garden Problems

I’ve blogged about our garden a few times in the past; it’s a really decent size with a large lawn and a patio area and it’s one of my favourite things about this house. There’s more than enough space for a massive trampoline, the girls’ paddling pool in the summer and various other slides/tents/swingball-type things, without ever feeling cluttered. However, although it might seem like a big blank space would be easy to manage, we still find various common garden issues which make it harder to maintain. We’re not afraid to get stuck in and get our hands dirty to sort things out ourselves, but sometimes you have to admit that you’re beyond your level of expertise and pass the job to someone who knows exactly what they’re doing. Here’s a few of the things we’ve struggled with:

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese knotweed is probably one of THE most common problems here in UK gardens and although it might seem tricky to deal with for the average gardener, there are companies out there who have the expertise to deal with japanese knotweed eradication with relative ease. Knotweed can look unsightly but if it’s left to go wild, it can even cause structural issues with your buildings, so asking the professionals to deal with it is a really good idea!

Slugs

Last year, I thought I’d have a go at growing some tomatoes, strawberries and a few herbs. They were all doing really well, until a bunch of slugs came along and made a very quick meal of them! I don’t like using strong chemicals, but my mother in law swears by putting crushed eggshells around her seedlings as the slugs don’t like to crawl across them, and so will leave your plants alone.

Ivy

Our next door neighbours seem to have a love affair with ivy – it grows over almost their whole property and they seem to be quite happy to let it do so. This was fine, until the burgeoning growth started to push one of our fences down. The trouble with ivy is that it’s seriously hardy and even harsh chemicals don’t always kill it off. Ivy needs to be attacked from the root and some people advocate using a mixture of boiling water, white vinegar and salt to kill it without using pesticides.

Mosquitoes

Living by a body of water, as we do, means that we have mosquitoes buzzing around for about 9 months of the year, and only the super cold weather kills them off. Lots of people use citronella but the sheer amount of them here would never be put off by a candle. We also don’t like spraying DEET on the kids because it’s such a harsh chemical and they’d need to be showered in it on a daily basis to have a decent effect here. We’ve invested in an electric fly killer, which sits in the hallways and also deals with other flying beasties, and it’s the first summer where we’ve had a moment’s peace!

Wildlife

Living in the countryside means that as well as the usual cats and foxes that everyone has to deal with, we also regularly encounter moles, voles, badgers, bats, egrets, herons and many more animals on a daily basis! We love them usually, but they do sometimes bring problems. Largely we let them go about their business, but it does get annoying keeping our lawn in good order only to wake up to a dozen molehills over the grass! We haven’t come up with a kind solution to this yet, so for now we’re just trying to live peacefully with them.

Common Garden Problems

I’ve blogged about our garden a few times in the past; it’s a really decent size with a large lawn and a patio area and it’s one of my favourite things about this house. There’s more than enough space for a massive trampoline, the girls paddling pool in the summer and various other slides/tents/swingball-type things, without ever feeling cluttered. However, although it might seem like a big blank space would be easy to manage, we still find various common garden issues which make it harder to maintain. Here’s a few of the things we’ve struggled with:

Japanese Knotweed

 Japanese knotweed is probably one of THE most common problems here in UK gardens and although it might seem tricky to deal with for the average gardener, there are companies out there who have the expertise to deal with japanese knotweed eradication with relative ease. Knotweed can look unsightly but if it’s left to go wild, it can even cause structural issues with your buildings to asking the professionals to deal with it is a really good idea!

Slugs

Last year, I thought I’d have a go at growing some tomatoes, strawberries and a few herbs. They were all doing really well, until a bunch of slugs came along and made a very quick meal of them! I don’t like using strong chemicals, but my mother in law swears by putting crushed eggshells around her seedlings as the slungs don’t like to crawl across is and will leave your plants alone.

Ivy

Our next door neighbours seem to have a love-affair with ivy – it grows over almost their whole property and they sem to be quite happy to let it do so. This was fine, until the burgeoning growth started to push one of our fences down. The trouble with ivy is that it’s seriously hardy and even harsh chemicals don’t always kill it off. Ive needs to be attacked from the root and some people advocate using a mixture of boiling water, white vinegar and salt to kill it without using pesticides.

Mosquitoes

Living by a body of water, as we do, means that we have mosquitoes buzzing around for about 9 months of the year, and only the super cold weather ever kills them off. Lots of people use citronella but the sheer amount of them here would never be put off by a candle! We’ve invested in an electric fly killer which also deals with other flying beasties and it’s the first summer where we’ve had a moments peace!

Wildlife

Living in the countryside means that as well as the usual cats and foxes that everyone has to deal with, we also regularly encounter moles, voles, badgers, bats, egrets, herons and many more animals on a daily basis! We love them usually, but they do sometimes bring problems. Largely we let them go about their business, but it does get annoying keeping our lawn in good order only to wake up to a dozen molehills over the grass! We haven’t come up with a kind solution to this yet, so for now we’re just trying to live peacefully with them.

Creating a Proper Family Garden

We’ve lived in our current house for almost two years now and this year we’re planning to do a bit of a makeover in the back garden. It’s a pretty big space and is very basic, with a large lawn and a patio area, and it’s completely functional as-is, just a little uninspiring. We’re planning to live in this house for years to come so it stands to reason that we should be optimising the space that we have for us as a family. HouseBeautiful have written a great article about making the most of your garden and it’s got me thinking.

Borders

At the moment, our lawn is just one large, plain space, but we’ve been toying with the idea of edging all along one side and adding a flowery border. It would add some much needed colour to the space and would break up the huge expanse of green that the eye sees. We’re also big fans of anything that attracts bees so we’ll definitely be looking into what to plant for a bee-friendly garden.

Shelter

Given the fact that this is Essex and not Marbella, having a shelter in the garden would make it so much more usable because we wouldn’t be at the mercy of the unpredictable English weather. Oeco make a range of garden rooms which would provide us with an amazing outdoor space to allow us to be indoors and outdoors at the same time.

Lighting

Outdoor lighting is something that I get REALLY excited about (I know, I’m tragic) and I’m planning to get some solar powered string lights to give the garden a beautiful Midsummer Night’s Dream feel to it. Our current outdoor light is a fixed-point, motion sensor floodlight which is NOT conducive to relaxed evenings in the garden.

Furniture

Our current garden furniture consists of an old picnic bench which was left be the previous tenants and some plastic garden chairs which were passed on by my mother in law, The current stuff is okay, but it really doesn’t inspire you to spend any time sitting on it! What I’d really like is one of the outdoor sofa sets which would allow us to sit in the garden as a family, as well as enjoying a meal and having guests over too.

Design Touches

I think one of the things which makes our garden look totally plain is the complete lack of design touches, like pots or plants and ornaments. It’s my birthday in June and I’m hoping for vouchers for a garden centre so that I can buy some bits to make our garden look fabulous.

What have you done to make your garden a better space for your family?

Gardening and DIY with Kids This Spring

When it gets to this time of year, where the weather is a bit more clement, my mind is always full of all of the DIY and garden stuff that I’d like to do and now that the kids are older and a little more able to get involved (don’t worry, I won’t let Burrito Baby hold any power tools!) I’ve been thinking about things we can do together. Luckily, my friends from the blogging world are the BEST source of inspiration, so I thought I’d share some brilliant posts with you of my favourite projects that they’ve done.

How to Make a Tardis Wardrobe

I’ve you’ve got a gaggle of mini Whovians living in your house then this guide to making a tardis wardrobe is perfect for you. Husband and I really encourage the girls to have their interests and try to indulge them as far as possible so I absolutely love the fact that Penny at Parentshaped has nurtured her daughter’s love for all things Doctor Who with her bedroom furniture.

CD Fish Bird Scarers

CD fish bird scarers

I absolutely LOVE this idea for DIY bird-scarers that Liz over at Me and My Shadow made with her daughter to protect their home garden patch. As well as upcycling and making use of old CDs, thus keeping them out of landfill, they look really pretty too. Such a great project to do with kid as you can be as creative as you like with how you decorate them.

DIY Matchbox Drawer Chest

Red Ted Art DIY matchbox drawers

Something that we ALWAYS need more of in our house is storage, so I love the idea of making ourselves some storage solutions out of other things. These cute little drawers from Red Ted Art are the perfect place to keep art supplies and school stuff, and I’ll definitely be making some of these with the girls.

Top Tips for Gardening With Children

At the risk of going a bit meta, Carolin at Mummy Alarm has put together another rundown post, sharing a whole load of other posts about gardening with kids. It’s a real wealth of information which will be useful in the months to come and I’m going to go through and read all of it with interest.

Bedroom in a Box

Dulux Bedroom in a BoxMaking design decisions can be really tricky, especially when you’re trying to stick to a theme, which is why Dulux decided to make the “Bedroom in a Box”, which Sian at Helpful Mum reviewed. She chose a jungle theme for her kids and takes us through exactly how she dealt with the makeover, as well as giving her opinion on the results.

Five Easy Foods to Grow with Kids

If you’re planning on growing veg this spring and summer with your kids, Emma at The Syders has got some excellent suggestions of what you can grow. When I was a kid, I loved nothing more than helping my grandad to pick the peas and runner beans he’d grown in the garden and I think it’s really important for kids to see where food comes from…plus, NOTHING tastes better than strawberries grown in your own garden!

Planting and Sowing

Emmy’s Mummy has got another great gardening post about how to get the kids involved with the planting and sowing stage of gardening, perfect for this time of year. They’re growing a whole variety of different fruit and veg which will be a fabulous crop once they’re all grown and ready for harvest.

Easy DIY Crepe Paper Tulips Craft Tutorial

Tulips are one of my favourite flowers (have you ever seen the black ones?!) and this tulip craft is absolutely perfect for this time of year when the flowers are starting to bloom. As Katie says, they’d be the perfect centrepiece for an Easter dinner, but I also think they’d be ideal for Mother’s Day too, especially if your Mum has allergies and can’t have real flowers.