Composting, George, How To, Mice & Rats, Pest Advice, Pest Control

Composting is a great way to reduce the waste you send to landfill and produce organic fertiliser for your plants. One of the biggest concerns around having a compost bin in the garden is whether it might attract pests or vermin. The short answer is yes, it can. But that’s why we’ve gathered advice to ensure you can build a pest-proof compost bin and enjoy all its benefits without the pain.

pest proof compost

Why are pests attracted to compost bins?

The most likely pests to seek out you compost are rats and mice. They are a common part of a residential ecosystem and look for two things: food and shelter. This is why rodents are particularly attracted to compost heaps, especially in winter. It provides them with food and a warm, sheltered spot to sleep in.

Insects, however, are generally nothing to worry about in compost heaps. Worms, slugs, millipedes, spiders, beetles and more are regular guests. They are a crucial part of the decomposition process, so embrace the bugs!

slug compost

Tips for deterring pests

  1. Avoid putting any meat or dairy products in your compost, including fatty oils or bones. This would smell like a feast to rats.
  2. Over autumn and winter keep your compost bin damp – this will help with the decomposition process and make it less attractive to rodents.
  3. They also don’t like disturbance, so be sure to turn your compost regularly or give the bin a kick when you walk past!
  4. Cover food scraps with dry leaves or soil in the bin to conceal the smell of decaying food.
  5. Rodents are reportedly put off by the aroma of mint, so try sprinkling peppermint oil on your compost or planting mint nearby.

mouse in garden

How to protect your compost bin

It’s very hard to completely protect a compost bin against vermin as mice can squeeze through holes as small as a penny, and rats can chew through almost anything. Compost bins are much easier to seal against invading pests than open heaps, so if you’re worried about rodents then they’re the better choice. Surrounding your bin with rocks and bricks can make it a bit more fortified.

If you have a plastic bin, this is easiest to seal. The best time is before you start using it as you’ll need to line the bottom with wire mesh. Ensure the holes are only small enough for bugs to get through, not burrowing mice.

If you have a wooden bin, again you’ll need to line the bottom and sides with wire mesh. Make sure this is sealed firmly round all the edges with no gaps.

compost

Last resorts

Hopefully these tips will make your compost bin as unattractive to pests as possible. While the best defense is prevention, if you’re still experiencing issues then it might be time to look into pest control, such as traps.

Happy composting!

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.

Gardening Year, George, How To, Watering, Weeding

prepare your garden for holiday

If you’re going away this summer, the last thing you want is to come back to find your garden overgrown or worse – dying. All your hard work throughout the start of the year gone to waste. So we’ve gathered the top tips on how to prepare your garden before going on holiday. These will give your garden the greatest chance of staying on its best form for your return.

1 – Mowing

A day or two before you leave, make sure to mow the lawn. Avoid the temptation to cut it too short as in hot weather this can cause it to dry out and go brown.

2 – Watering

Keeping your plants hydrated is the biggest challenge of leaving them while you’re away. If you can, ask a friend to go round and water them for you. Otherwise, you could set up an automated watering system with hoses and timers.

If neither of these are possible, then give your plants a thorough watering just before you leave. Move potted plants into the shade and leave them in a saucer of water to soak up moisture throughout your time away. With smaller pots, you can even place them directly into flower beds (watering the ground around them) which helps them stay hydrated. Covering the surface with mulch is also great for locking in moisture.

watering

3 – Harvesting

It always seems a shame to go away on holiday just as your crops are coming to fruition. So pick what you can before leaving, freezing your fruit and veg for later. It’s often best to pick them early as some, like beans and courgettes, go tough if left too long. Alternatively you can welcome a friend to come and harvest while you’re not there (perhaps in exchange for watering!).

4 – Weeding

One of the toughest jobs to keep on top of in the summer months is weeding – they just grow and grow. No one wants to come back from holiday to find their garden overrun with weeds, so it’s worth clearing them out before you go. Also deadhead flowers and remove fully open ones to allow room for a fresh bloom on your return.

Weeding the patio

5 – Ventilating

Sod’s law says it’s bound to be sunny at home whenever you go away, so make sure you garden is ready for the heat. In particular, if you have a greenhouse then keep it ventilated, either with auto vents or leaving the window ajar.

6 – Security

Don’t let your empty garden become a prize for thieves. Lock up any gardening equipment in a shed or outbuilding, and cover up the windows to deter opportunists. You may also consider installing a motion activated security light to ward off robbers while you’re gone.

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.

Gardening Year, George, Greenhouses, How To

While many of us are enjoying a summer heatwave, such weather in Britain is rare. Most of the time we’re desperate to make the most of any warmth in our garden, both for entertaining and giving our plants the best chance to bloom. So we’ve done some research into how to make your garden warmer and broken it down into four main elements. Soon you’ll have your own sun trap!

how to make your garden warmer

1 – Wind

Wind is the enemy of warmth. It takes any heat from the ground and disperses it up into the atmosphere. So your garden will need decent wind protection if you want it to be warmer. The coldest winds in the UK come from the north and the east – or, if you live by the coast, the sea. Keep this in mind when you’re erecting barriers against the breeze.

A solid barrier like a wall or regular fence is not the best to prevent the effects of the wind, as it will force the air up and over the top. It then swirls back in eddies, cooling the space behind. Instead it’s best to use permeable barriers, like hurdles, that allow some of the air to pass through but cut down on the full blast of it. Some ventilation is essential for healthy growth in your plants.

wind through fences

2 – Heat

A garden warms up when objects absorb heat from the sun. Certain materials and colours will take in heat more effectively than others. Brick walls, stone paving and gravel are all great conductors – you’ve probably felt how hot they get on a summer day. So to maximise heat it’s best to place these features facing south and leave them exposed (ie uncovered by plants) to heat up as much as possible during the day.

Dark, well draining soil is also better at absorbing heat. Sparsely planted beds with gaps of bare earth will result in warmer conditions for the plants. To really maximise exposure to the sun, it’s best to have a garden sloping down towards the south. This will also help with drainage.

heat trap

3 – Water

Water evaporates in the heat, cooling down its surroundings. So if you want to make your garden warmer, it’s best to limit the amount of water present. This is another reason why well draining soil is key, as it will help the earth to stay as warm as possible. Ponds and other forms of standing water are best avoided if you want to make the garden a heat trap as these will cool you down.

4 – Cover

Covering your garden is the most extreme way to maximise heat, though clearly it would be be impractical to turn the whole thing into a giant glasshouse! But you can use shelter to create warm pockets in the garden. For example, polytunnels and greenhouses are the most effective ways to protect plants from dips in temperature. Then for entertaining, you could invest in a garden building like a summerhouse.

greenhouses for warmth

Hopefully these ideas have given you a little guidance in your journey to create a warm oasis in your backyard. Through a few adjustments you can establish your own microclimate, full of bountiful flora and the perfect sun trap to relax in all summer long.

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.

Awnings, Garden Design, Garden Screening, George, Sail Shades

As the sun finally comes out, our thoughts turn to the burning question of British summers… how can we get some shade? To help you escape the heat we’ve answered that very question with our complete list of garden shade ideas and advice. Enjoy!

garden shade ideas

Ways to make shade in your garden

1 – Awnings

The gold standard of outdoor shading, you can’t beat an awning. Generally you’ll need to fix an awning to the side of your house, so they’re perfect for making shade in an area where you spend a lot of time, like a patio. They come in a multitude of sizes and colours to suit the space you need. When you need some shade you just have to unwind the awning – this can either be done via a handle or a remote for an electric model. As well as sheltering you outdoors, these have the added benefit of shading rooms inside, keeping them cool and protecting furnishings from fading in the sun.

2 – Shade sails

A very contemporary form of shade, sails can be bright and fun or cool and classy. Layer different sails for complete shading in whichever part of the garden you need and you can make striking designs. Shade sails originated in the heat of Australia, where they’re made from breathable fabric to keep you cool. But in the UK you can also buy waterproof versions as our weather isn’t quite as reliable!

shade sails

3 – Pergolas and climbing plants

Perfect for creating a private getaway in a corner of the garden for sitting or eating under. Build your wooden structure to allow enough room underneath for whatever activity you’d like to do there. Then plant some climbers like clematis, roses or jasmine to trail over the pergola. Over time this should grow into a lovely leafy canopy offering dappled shade. You could even hang some outdoor curtains on the side of the pergola for added shade and privacy.

4 – Garden screening

Not all sun comes from directly overhead. A stylish way to add some horizontal shading to your garden is through decorative screening. Simply fix the screening rolls of your desired material (from bamboo to artificial ivy) to wire fences or balconies for instant shade. Not only will these look great, they can also make your outdoor space more private.

tree shade

5 – Trees

If you want the natural solution to escaping the sun, look no further than trees. Yes, they may take many years to grow into a fully mature source of shelter but it will be worth the wait. You’ll have a beautiful, environmentally-conscious addition to the garden offering a perfect spot for a shaded bench or table. Of course the downside is you won’t be able to move the tree to wherever you want shade, so choose your position carefully!

6 – Gazebos and marquees

Whether you’re hosting a royal wedding or family BBQ, a gazebo is the perfect pop-up outdoor room. You get shelter come rain or shine and depending on the size you choose, enough space for a dinner table or dance floor. Adding side walls to your party tent can give you some extra protection against cool breezes, which is a definite bonus as the sun goes down. If you’re keen to entertain in style this summer, look no further than our brand new Indian-style marquees.

7 – Parasols

If you’re limited on space, particularly for storage, then a parasol is likely your shade essential. Compact and stylish, it’ll fit right in the centre of your patio table or stand on the side. Many modern versions have the ability to tilt to help place the shade where you want it, but compared to the other ideas in this list, parasols usually offer a limited area of protection that can leave family members fighting over space in the shadow on a hot day.

parasol shade

Why you need garden shade

Outdoor dining

As soon as the sun comes out, we love to embrace the luxury of eating outside. But it doesn’t take long to realise that getting sticky in the heat isn’t much fun for diners or the food. Keeping your guests comfortable is key to great entertaining, so it’s worth investing in sufficient shading for your table and all the chairs. It will also help keep your food from spoiling in the sun.

Our top recommendations: awnings, marquees, parasols.

Reading or working

A good book or a bit of focused time on the laptop is wonderful when the weather permits you to take it out into the garden. Neither is ideal, however, in the glare of the sun, which makes it hard to concentrate on the page or screen. The heat can also cause headaches that just make it even harder. So naturally – shade is essential!

Our top recommendations: awnings, shade sails, parasols, trees.

reading in shade

Sun protection

As we become more aware of the potentially dangerous effects of the sun’s rays, it’s natural to want to protect ourselves outdoors. So if you want to enjoy your garden from the shade without worrying about skin cancer, then pay close attention to the UV protection rating of the shading you look at.

Our top recommendations: Primrose shade sails and awnings offer up to 98% UV protection, equivalent to UPF 50+.

Rain protection

As great as British summers can be, they’re not that reliable. We’ve all been there when a lovely sunny party is thrown into jeopardy by an unexpected shower. But what if your garden shade could also offer shelter from these other elements? Unsurprisingly, the thing you’ve got to look out for is waterproof fabric. And of course the extra consideration when planning the best shelter for your gathering – will it be able to cover enough people should the heavens open? Bear in mind too that most of these products will only provide shelter from light showers, not downpours.

Our top recommendations: waterproof shade sails, gazebos and Primrose awnings, which are all waterproof.

garden rain

Other ways to keep cool in the heat

If even the shade is leaving you in a sweat, what else can you do to keep cool? Luckily we’ve published a whole list of suggestions, from swimming pools to summer houses.

So throw some shade, escape the heat and embrace your summer in the garden!

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.

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