Awnings, Garden Design, George, How To, Sail Shades

how to shade a pool

If you’re lucky enough to have a swimming pool in your garden, you’ll want to create the best possible environment to enjoy it. You’ve got your loungers, inflatables, maybe even a minibar – but what about some shelter from the sun? It’s an important consideration, with growing concern about sun damage and skin cancer. Basic shading can offer UV reduction of up to 75%, with specialist materials increasing protection up to 98%.

Aside from the health reasons, pool shading can also be a spectacular design feature. A stylish shade structure can elevate the appearance of your pool and turn the whole area into a classy feature. So dive in and find out how to shade a pool in your garden.

Ways to shade your swimming pool

1 – Shade sail

With their oceanic connection, shade sails are the perfect fit for pool shading. There are many options you can choose from in terms of shape, colour, size – and even combining multiple shades – which make them a really flexible option for creating your desired appearance.

For safety, go for a permanent fitting option to ensure the sail will endure our variable weather conditions. The best option will probably be support poles on each side of the pool, with the sail (or sails) stretching taut across the water.

shade sail over pool

2 – Parasol

If you’re looking for some instant shade at a pool party, parasols make for an affordable and convenient option. While the shade coverage they provide is limited, the advantage is they are easy to shift round the pool as the sun moves so you can usually have a shady spot to rest in.

Parasols are great for shade around the water as well as in it – they make the perfect pairing with a sun lounger or a poolside bar.

parasol by pool

3 – Pergola

Though not often associated with garden swimming pools, a pergola spanning the water can make a magnificent feature. You can install them over an end of the pool, and cover the top with retractable shade material, wooden slats or trailing plants to create some dappled shelter from the sun.

This option is one of the most significant investments for your garden in terms of money and permanence, so it’s worth spending time on the design and checking any local planning restrictions.

pergola by swimming pool

4 – Retractable enclosure

Another elaborate option is a pool enclosure, a greenhouse-like structure that covers the whole pool and can usually be telescopically retracted. While these are often constructed to provide protection from the elements and extra warmth, they can also offer shade when paired with blinds or obscured glass.

swimming pool enclosure

5 – Floating umbrella

If you’re looking for pool shade that follows you round, free from restrictions, then why not try a floating umbrella? The shady umbrella is usually attached to a buoy to float and a weight to keep it upright. Some even have inbuilt cup holders to keep your drinks right on hand. You can’t get more relaxing than that!

floating umbrella

6 – Awning

A retractable awning is one of the most classic ways to bring shade into your garden, though due to the need to be fixed to a wall, you’re more likely to choose an awning for poolside shade than actually in the water. Unless of course your pool is very close to your house or another garden building.

You can, however, choose a freestanding awning. This is a solid frame with a double-sided retractable canopy. Place this next to the pool and then unwind the awning whenever you require a bit more shade. You can even move it around once it’s assembled to track with the sun.

awning by swimming pool

7 – Tree

Finally we come to the most natural form of shading in the garden: trees. While these are perfect for a natural garden aesthetic, you do have to be careful planting them around swimming pools. Firstly, as the trees grow (which can take a long time to become big enough for adequate shading), their roots may interfere with the pool foundations. Secondly, debris – leaves, bird mess etc – will fall from the tree and require even more pool-cleaning time.

So if you’re looking for quick and easy way to shade your swimming pool, a tree probably isn’t your best option!

trees by pool

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.

Current Issues, Events, Gardening Year, George, Hampton Court Flower Show, News, RHS

Once again it’s time to look forward to a new year, and we’ve found plenty of festivals, shows and exhibitions to get you excited. So without further ado, dive into our gardening events 2019 calendar and find your favourite.

2019 gardening calendar

January

26-28Big Garden Birdwatch – Get set for a weekend of spying the fabulous winged wildlife in your own back garden.

February

9 Feb-10 MarchKew Orchid Festival – Columbia is the theme for this year’s show, so expect vibrant displays and a ‘carnival of animals’.

March

3Forde Abbey Plant & Gardening Fair – Take in over 30 plant stalls offering stock and expertise, plus explore the abbey’s award-winning gardens.

April

12-14RHS Flower Show Cardiff –  Alongside expert talks and shopping, expect to see inspirational gardens from recent graduates and the new Blooming Borders competition.

25-28Harrogate Spring Flower Show – See the biggest floristry exhibition in the country as well as fabulous show gardens.

30 Apr-6 MayNational Gardening Week – Across the country, gardeners will be sharing their love of all things outdoors – get involved!

May

9-12RHS Malvern Spring Festival – The focus this year is on encouraging health and wellbeing, celebrating garden photography, and introducing indoor greenery.

21-25RHS Chelsea Flower Show – The most famous gardening event on the calendar, Chelsea is packed with global flower displays, fine dining with Raymond Blanc and the world’s most ambitious show gardens.

25 May-2 JunNational Children’s Gardening Week – Make gardening fun for the younger generation while supporting the charity Greenfingers.

31st May-2 JunGardening Scotland – The 20th anniversary of Edinburgh’s biggest garden celebration, packed with plants and fun for kids.

June

5-9RHS Chatsworth Flower Show – Ask floral experts your questions, shop outdoor living goodies and indulge in some afternoon tea, all in the grounds of the Chatsworth estate.

13-16Gardeners’ World Live – Your favourite magazine comes to life with talks from experts like Alan Titchmarsh and Monty Don, alongside show gardens and shopping.

22-23Woburn Abbey Garden Show – Go to see private gardens, free tours, Q&As, live music and more at Woburn Abbey.

July

2-7RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival – Explore the new Global Impact Gardens, learn about garden wellbeing, take part in workshops and pick up some great gifts.

17-21RHS Flower Show Tatton Park – Be inspired by the Young Designer of the Year competition and discover vegetable growing expertise.

August

10-11The Great Comp Summer Show – Enjoy the 17th edition of this annual spectacular with some local jazz and Pimm’s on the lawn.

15-18Southport Flower Show – Visit the UK’s largest independent flower show, where the theme this year is ‘The Garden Party’.

September

13-15Harrogate Autumn Flower Show – Plan your garden with nursery displays, demonstrations, shopping and of course the giant vegetable competition!

28-29RHS Malvern Autumn Show – Close out the season with some retail therapy, gardening demos and plants at Malvern.

We hope this calendar has whet your appetite for the coming year. If so, get the dates in your diary and start booking tickets!

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.

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.

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.