Decoration, Garden Furniture, Gary, How To

wood treatment

We spend a lot of time and money making our gardens look great. Wooden furniture and fittings are some of the most versatile and popular methods of garden decoration in the UK, but like any natural product, a little maintenance is needed to ensure that all your time and effort hasn’t been put to waste.

What happens if I don’t look after my wood?

Wooden furniture can last for years if looked after properly, but like any natural product, its quality can be affected by the weather. Most people will first see the decline in quality in the spring when they begin to use their outside spaces again and assume that the damage was done during the winter. Whilst the winter weather does cause most of the damage, it’s only because of conditions in the summer; a long, hot season of bright sunshine and occasional high humidity and showers can cause a lot of strain on the fibres in the wood. This strain makes it more likely that a combination of water and cold in the winter will cause either mould or mildew to form, which causes weaknesses and rot in the wood.

How often should I treat wood?

Treating your wooden products should be a priority, and depending on your local conditions and wood type this may need to be done from once every 3 months, to once every 12 months. Failure to do this may lead to decay and damage caused by exposure to rain and the elements.

Wood Stain

Preservation – the basic method

The key to wood preservation is the prevention of water getting into the wood. There are a few key steps in achieving this and this method can be applied to furniture, fence panels, sheds and exterior wooden window frames. These steps can be undertaken at any point in the year and should be done in as dry conditions as possible.

Step 1 – Clean your surface: Over the summer, your furniture will naturally accumulate a layer of dirt and residue. This detritus not only looks bad, but it can be a carrier of moulds and spores that can seep into and destroy the wood. To do this, simply wipe down your furniture with a damp cloth and some soapy water. Be thorough and get into all cracks and crevices, particularly screw holes and hinges. Larger items like fence panels and sheds may be cleaned with a pressure washer – but always check if this method is suitable first.

Step 2 – Wax and varnish: To treat wood you will require treatment products specific to the material, be that teak, oak, pine or wicker. Apply it thoroughly, making sure you apply it to all sides of the furniture, over and under. Check with the manufacturer if you are unsure. Make sure the surface you are trying to treat is dry before applying your treatment product and follow the product’s instructions.

Step 3 – Dry and cover: Once your furniture is clean and protected, allow it to dry, and find an appropriate place to let it sit over the winter.

  • Sheds and garages are ideal places to put small items of wooden furniture as they are generally drier than the outdoor alternative.
  • For those items too big for a shed, consider investing in a cover to keep them dry over the winter.
  • Remove soft furnishings and cushions from the furniture and store these inside.

These are the basic steps that need to be taken to protect the wooden furnishings in your garden. Some other things you can do include putting pieces of wooden furniture on a pallet to allow for the circulation of air and reduced risk of standing groundwater and making sure that any covers are secured with bricks or pegs so they won’t become uncovered by strong winds. If you take these steps every year you will be extending the life of your wooden furniture by about half. Some types of wood can be bought pre-treated, however, this does not mean that they do not need any further treatment once bought, and different types of treatment will require different levels of upkeep.

Untreated fence

  • Untreated wood – Untreated wood is the most susceptible to rot, fungi, and general weathering and should be treated as soon as possible with the method above.
  • Dip treated & paint stained – Protection may begin to fade after 6-12 months and may offer little or no more protection against the weather than it originally did when purchased. This kind of wood can be treated at any time of the year and treatment should be reapplied about once a year.
  • Pressure treated – If your wood has been pressure treated (a premium wood preservation technique), it will have longer lasting protection than a wood treated with a base layer preservative. Pressure treatment forces the preservatives into the lumber through the use of a vacuum. However, pressure treated wood is not waterproof; a weather-proofing top coat or base layer preservative is recommended every 12 months to fully protect timber through the winter months. However, it may not be best to treat pressure-treated timber straight away, as it needs to weathered (this should take 2-3 months).

Wood treatment is an often overlooked part of annual garden maintenance, but neglecting it can often lead to higher expenses in the future as you will more than likely have to replace damaged wood in a few years. The steps outlined here are the basics of preserving your furniture or wooden buildings. Some wooden products may require extra protection, and it is best to always check any instructions that came with the item. Either way looking after the wood in your garden properly and at the right time will mean when it comes to it, you will be able to spend long sunny days relaxing in your pristine garden.

Gary ClarkeGary works in the Primrose product loading team, writing product descriptions and other copy. With seven years as a professional chef under his belt, he can usually be found experimenting in the kitchen or sat reading a book.

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Gardening, Gardens, Greenhouses, How To, Tyler

Making sure you use all the space you have efficiently in your greenhouse can be a great deal. This will allow you to be more organised and productive with the task at hand. Find out ways to organise your greenhouse in this blog and as they say; clear greenhouse, clear mind…

organise-your-greenhouse

Organisational Zones

Organising your greenhouse into zones is one of the best tips I would suggest. This method will help with using space efficiently and you’ll know exactly where everything is! Some of the zones you could have can be a storage zone, waste zone, potting zone.

Talking about plants, be sure consider what your plants need and work your zoning around that so that your plants can flourish the best they can. To make it easier, consider grouping them by water requirements or types to make life a little easier!

Staging and Shelving

Staging and Shelving is a fantastic way to use the full height of your greenhouse. These are ideal to use as tables to store all your potted plants and early propagation. There are plenty of Staging and Shelving you can choose from. These include wooden or metal, different colours and comes in many sizes to ensure you have the perfect one for your greenhouse.

Not only does it saves space, it can be re-positioned in any way you like as your preference may change throughout the year.

garden-tool-bucket

Storage tubs/Bucket

Storage tubs/buckets can be very useful to store all your tools and bags of compost that have been open. Say goodbye to hassle of having to move everything to get your tools out as a storage bucket will allow you to store and use your tools anytime you like! Try and get a bucket/tub with a handle too; it’ll make it easier moving your tools around the garden and greenhouse.

Care of Waste

Taking care of waste is vital when wanting to keep your greenhouse clean and organised. As mentioned in the zoning paragraph, be sure to have a corner zone for your waste. I would suggest splitting this up by waste you can throw in a compost and one for general rubbish. You can use bins (if your greenhouse is large enough) or buckets to ensure everything is in order.

Tyler at PrimroseTyler works in the Primrose Marketing team, mainly working on Social Media and Online Marketing.

Tyler is a big fan on everything sports and supports Arsenal Football Club. When not writing Primrose blogs and tweets, you can find Tyler playing for his local Sunday football team or in the gym.

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Annie, Celebrations And Holidays, Christmas, Trees

christmas tree story

Winter is coming and the first signs of Christmas are beginning to appear. Christmas adverts are back on TV, shops are hanging up their decorations and blaring festive music as people buy gifts for their loved ones. As Christmas draws ever closer people will start to decorate their homes with one of the most recognisable symbols of this festive period, the Christmas tree. The tree in its current form has become such an integral part of the yuletide tradition that it is hard to believe that it hasn’t always been this way. In fact, the Christmas tree as we know it only really became popular in the Victorian era. However, throughout history evergreen plants have played an important role in winter festivals and as cultures and traditions have changed, so has the role of the Christmas tree.

Winter Solstice

christmas tree

The Christmas tree is something that we associate with Christianity. However, long before this religion emerged evergreen plants played an important role in ancient traditions. In many cultures, people would hang up evergreen boughs to keep away illness, evil spirits, ghosts and witches. Evergreen foliage was particularly significant as the winter solstice approached. Many different cultures believed that there was a sun god who would become ill every year and when he did winter would arrive. Once the sun god recovered from his illness and became stronger summer would return. The winter solstice on the 21st or 22nd December marked the beginning of that recovery. People would fill their homes with evergreen plants to remind them that life would triumph over death and things would begin to grow again.

The ancient Egyptians certainly believed this. They worshipped a sun god that they called Ra and would bring palm rushes into their homes at the solstice to celebrate life beating death. The Egyptians weren’t the only ancient people to do this. In fact, the Druids would decorate their temples with evergreen boughs to symbolise everlasting life. The Vikings also believed in a sun god, who they called Balder, and thought that evergreens were special to him. So even though these evergreen boughs are not the Christmas trees that we recognise today, the tradition of using greenery to celebrate during winter festivals is one that has endured.

The Early Christmas Tree

early christmas tree

It wasn’t until the 16th century that the Christmas tree as we know it started to come into fashion. It is believed that this tradition began in Germany. Many devout Christians would bring a fir tree into their home on the 24th December, the religious feast day of Adam and Eve, and would decorate it. This tree was known as the ‘paradise tree’ and symbolised the Garden of Eden. The tree had originally been a prop in a medieval play about Adam and Eve and was decorated with apples. However, many Germans began to set up paradise trees in their homes and would decorate them with wafers (to represent the Eucharistic host) as well. Eventually, the wafers were replaced with biscuits of many shapes and sizes and candles would be placed on the tree as well.

At the same time that ‘paradise’ trees were appearing in German homes, wooden Christmas pyramids were also gaining popularity. These wooden pyramids would be decorated with evergreen foliage, Christmas figurines, candles and would also have a star. At some point during the 16th century, these two traditions merged and became the Christmas tree. However, this tradition was only really popular among Lutherans in Germany. It wasn’t until the 19th century that it became a widespread custom throughout Germany and in other countries.

A Very Victorian Christmas

candle in tree

In Britain, the Christmas tree only started to become a tradition during the mid 19th century. Queen Victoria was married to Prince Albert, who was German, and she also had a German mother. As a result, the Royal Family did follow the German custom of bringing a tree inside on Christmas Eve and decorating it. Some even said that rather than having a servant decorate the tree Victoria and Albert would do it themselves. However, this custom did not gain widespread popularity in Britain until 1846, when a sketch of Queen Victoria and her family standing around a Christmas tree appeared in Illustrated London News. As a result of the image, Christmas trees grew in popularity and having one became very fashionable. Victorian trees were often heavily decorated and would feature toys, candles, cakes, sweets, small gifts and even strings of popcorn hung from the branches by paper chains or ribbons.

Christmas Trees Around The World

decorated tree

It was also during this period that the Christmas tree gained popularity in other areas of the world. In North America, Christmas trees had been introduced by German settlers as early as the 17th century. However, it was only during the 1800s it became a tradition and by 1870 many people in Britain and North America would decorate their tree using blown glass ornaments. In Europe during the 19th-century trees also became fashionable in Poland, Austria, Switzerland and even the Netherlands. In Japan and China, Christmas trees had been introduced by missionaries and were adorned with paper decorations. By the turn of the 20th-century Christmas trees had become a recognisable Christmas tradition with many different countries adopting it.

Christmas Trees Today

Nowadays, Christmas would not be the same for a lot of people if they did not have a tree. They have become a huge part of the Christmas tradition and have become one of the most recognisable symbols of Christmas. Christmas trees can be found throughout the world from Japan to Australia. While the tree in its current form was originally a very Christian tradition, they have since been adopted by many different cultures and faiths. They are still a key part in winter celebrations and their beauty brings much joy and happiness to people throughout the world.

presents under tree

Annie CorcoranAnnie works for the Primrose product loading team mainly creating web pages and writing product descriptions. When not at her desk you can find her writing for The Independent, re-reading Harry Potter or out for a walk.

See all of Annie’s posts.

Animals, Conservation, George, Pest Advice, Wildlife

Badgers are one of the most iconic and well loved wild animals of Britain, though for some they can be seen as a garden pest. So whether you’re keen to spot more or you’re fed up with them digging up your lawn, we have everything you need to know about badgers in the garden.

Badgers in the garden

Signs of badgers

Badgers can be a little more destructive than most wildlife on their travels through your garden, leaving notable signs behind. They’re creatures of habit, following the same routes from their setts (underground tunnel complexes where they live in families) through local gardens in the search for food. You may see tunnels dug under your fences or chunks clawed out of the lawn. These are caused by the badgers digging for larvae below the turf, most common in spring time. You may also find they’ve burrowed into vegetable patches or flowerbeds – hunting for bulbs – when food is scarce. They are strong animals, so can also break into bins and compost heaps.

Like a lot of territorial creatures, badgers mark their area with urine and faeces, for which they’ll often dig latrines. You may spot one of these in your garden – it’ll be a trench about 15cm deep and 15cm wide.

Badgers rarely build their setts close to humans as they’re generally scared of us. But if you think they may be digging one in your garden – look out for tunnels of about 25cm diameter – then contact the Badger Trust immediately for advice.

Badger sett
A badger sett

Legal protections for badgers

It’s worth noting that badgers are the most protected of all British wildlife under strict laws, specifically the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. This makes it illegal to trap, harm or kill a badger, or to interfere with its sett. You could face up to 6 months in prison and an unlimited fine if you do so.

How to prevent badger damage in the garden

Given that badgers are so protected, you must be careful about any measures you take to control them on your property. You can try to make your garden less attractive to them or, in some cases, restrict their access.

The main reason badgers come into your garden is in search of food. So to discourage them, make sure any tasty treats like spilled birdseed (especially peanuts) or fallen fruit are cleared up each night. If you have a compost bin, ensure it’s sealed against pests.

Badgers dig up your lawn in search of insect larvae, but a well-drained and moss-free lawn is best for reducing insects laying larvae there. You can also embed a wire mesh over the lawn to make it harder for badgers to dig up.

If your garden is on a badger path, it’s common to find they dig under fences. They’re also strong – and determined – enough to climb over or tear down a weak fence. You can restrict their access by using electric fencing (including a timer to only turn it on at night) or reinforcing your fence with a strong wire mesh underground as illustrated below:

Securing fence against badgers

You must be careful with these methods though, as blocking up an entry point into your garden could be an offense if it prevents a badger getting to its sett. You may be better off putting a two-way hatch in the fence to allow badgers to pass through without digging or damage.

Lastly, no chemical deterrents for badgers are legally approved and the effects of ultrasonic repellers are unknown on them (although they are audible and used as a deterrent for a wide range of other pests).

Benefits of badgers

Badgers aren’t all bad in the garden. In fact, if you take the steps above to minimise their damage, they can be beneficial. Occasionally badgers will eat other pests like rats and mice. Plus, they are fascinating to watch and great for educating young children about wildlife and nature.

Group of badgers

Tips for spotting badgers

Badgers are beautiful creatures and – at up to 1m long – some of the largest wildlife to visit your garden. If you’re keen to catch sight of one outside, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances.

Try putting out some of their favourite food like peanuts, raisins, bread or soft fruit on your patio – but no milk or meat. Of course, if they learn that your garden is a source of food, they’ll come back determined to find more whether you put it out or not! And this may attract unwanted pests to your garden too.

As badgers are nocturnal, you’re going to look out for them at nighttime. They have poor eyesight but good hearing, so if you sit quietly you may be able to watch them up close. Or if you don’t fancy staying up, you could invest in a wildlife camera instead.

George at PrimroseGeorge works in the Primrose marketing team. As a lover of all things filmic, he also gets involved with our TV ads and web videos.

George’s idea of the perfect time in the garden is a long afternoon sitting in the shade with a good book. A cool breeze, peace and quiet… But of course, he’s usually disturbed by his energetic wire fox terrier, Poppy!

He writes about his misadventures in repotting plants and new discoveries about cat repellers.

See all of George’s posts.