Gardening, How To, Plants, Stuart

A tree on a hill in the snow

Every schoolchild’s dream is every gardener’s nightmare – waking up to a blanket of white snow in your garden. But it doesn’t need to be the death knell for your treasured plants. Act calmly and decisively and you can stave off the worst of it – here are our top five tips for beating the snow.

Prune damaged growth
Firm plants back in the ground
Shake snow off trees
Stake split stems together
Be patient

Prune Damaged Growth

Secateurs

It’s pruning time

Snow can be unforgiving to new growth, so act quickly to stop damage from spreading. Remove unsightly, damaged parts by cutting back to a healthy side shoot or bud. It might feel wrong trimming plants that have only been out for a few weeks, but needs must when the cold fronts drive!

If you haven’t pruned your roses yet now’s a good opportunity, as they appreciate a hard pruning in spring anyway.

Firm Plants Back In The Ground

Hand pressing lawn

You probably won’t need to push grass back in

If recently planted, severe frost can sometimes heave your shrubs out of the ground exposing their precious and vulnerable roots. Simply firm them back in the soil (not necessarily barehanded like the picture), and add a small layer of compost to improve the drainage.

This’ll help the soil warm up in spring, and protects them if the frost/snow returns.

Shake Snow Off Trees

Snow on Maple

Shake, shake shake: shake your branches

Frost- or cold-damaged blossom won’t product fruit. However, for those that are still yet to bloom you should shake the snow off to keep them safe. This is good to do for all trees, blossoming or not, as snow can weigh down the branches and cause them to break.

It’s also good to wipe the snow off your greenhouse, as it can prevent your beloved plants from getting their daily dose of sunlight. The weight and changing temperature of the snow can also cause cracks to appear in the glass.

Stake Together Split Stems

Hopefully it won’t have been cold enough to split your stems, but if you’re seeing any damage just stake/tape them back together to give them their best chance to heal.

Be Patient

woman meditating in field of...lettuce?

It’s stress awareness month, so don’t let a bit of snow send you into a frenzy. Go about your garden calmly, and let your plants heal in their own time once you’ve done your pruning and staking.

For further prevention, provide cover for your flowerbeds and bring vulnerable plants indoors ahead of time. Or until May, as April clearly can’t be trusted.

Snow Tree Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash
Secateurs Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Hand Photo by MIL-TECH PHARMA LTD on Unsplash
Meditating Photo by Mor Shani on Unsplash  

Garden Furniture, How To, Stuart

Rattan Garden Furniture Corner Sofa Set

Our teams are asked a lot of questions about garden furniture, from the customer service teams to the marketing inbox and beyond. To help everyone who’s interested in buying garden furniture whether from us or elsewhere, we’ve gathered together all of the top questions and tips together in one place so you don’t have to hunt high and low to find the answers that you need.

We’ve even made a handy table of contents so you can skip to the answer you want!

Contents

What is PE rattan?
What are the different types of rattan weave?
Can I leave my furniture uncovered, outside, all year?
Do I need to buy special wood treatments?
How do I oil my garden furniture?
How do I keep my garden furniture clean?
How do I protect my furniture over winter?
Can my garden furniture go on grass/artificial grass?
Can garden furniture be painted?
How do I paint it?
Will steel garden furniture rust?
How long will my garden furniture last?
Which garden furniture is best?

What is PE rattan?

PE rattan is a synthetic rattan – instead of being made from a spiky tree grown in the tropics (read here for all things natural rattan), it’s made from polyethylene, a lightweight plastic. The benefits to this are it lasts longer and, aside from some natural expanding and contracting, will stay looking as good as it did when it arrived for years, even when left outside. There are also types of PE rattan that look just like the real thing, which means you can have a natural look without having to worry about the rot problem that plagues natural rattan (to the point it’s not often available in the UK due to the damp climate).

Natural-look PE Rattan

This is an example of double-woven half weave PE rattan

If you’re sat there thinking that rattan looks like wicker, you’re half right – rattan furniture is made using the wicker technique, but wicker furniture can be made from all sorts of material.

What are the different types of rattan weave?

There are three main types of rattan weave – flat, half and full – and each of those can be single, double, or even triple woven. Flat weave is the cheapest and most widely available, being very flat in appearance with sharp-ish edges due to the thinness of the material.

Half weave is a middle ground between the expensive fully-rounded weave and the cheap flat weave, having some of the texture of fully-rounded without being as heavy and bulky, while more comfortable to sit on than flat weave.

And fully-rounded weave is what you get if the rattan used is completely cylindrical, as though it’s made of thick string – often used for decorative edges rather than the whole furniture piece due to the cost and weight.

Different Types of Rattan WEave - Flat, Half and Full

Whether it’s single, double or triple refers to the number of strips used for the weaves – in the example image above they’re all single woven, while if they were double  you’d see twice the number of brown strips (like the photo above this diagram).

Can I leave my furniture uncovered, outside, all year?

That all depends on the furniture’s material and treatment! If it’s pressure-treated timber, powder-coated steel or aluminium it’ll last for years, often to the point of being certified against rust or rot in UK weather, but if there’s no mention of any material treatments you’ll need to get a cover or be prepared to move your furniture in bad weather.

Swing seat, wooden

Uncovered garden furniture, seen here in its natural habitat

If the furniture’s description mentions weatherproofing it’ll be resistant to weathering from the rain, but might not cope as well if it’s left soaking for days on end. It also depends on what you want your furniture to look like – treated wood may still darken or lighten over the years if a new oil or stain isn’t applied, but it’ll still stay sturdy and strong in every season when left outside.

You’ll probably want to move/cover any cushions when not in use, simply so they’re dry and ready to go whenever you next want to take a seat outdoors.

Do I need to buy special wood treatments?

If you want your furniture to look exactly like it did when you bought it, you’ll want to buy a treatment/stain so you can preserve the wood’s colour. You don’t need to break the bank though, there are plenty of affordable wood treatments that will keep colour or re-apply the weather resistance of your furniture.

Close-up of wooden decking

A prime example of wood-coloured wood

Oils replace the natural oils of your wood and restore natural colour, while stains come in different colours depending on your needs and offer protection from greying and discolouring. Both give weatherproofing and water resistance to wood, but stains last longer before needing to be re-applied

How do I oil garden furniture?

Use a brush and go with the grain (along the lines rather than against them). Use an oil that matches your wood type – a lot of garden furniture will be hardwood like oak, teak or mahogany, but pine, fir and redwood are all softwood, so take note of your wood type before you go buying.

Hand oiling wood

Imagine this is furniture rather than a block of wood and you’ve got the right idea

Try not to use so much that it drips  off your wood – you want it to soak in rather than run off – and you can apply it once or twice a year without issue.

How do I keep my garden furniture clean?

It’s pretty straightforward, a damp cloth will take the worst of it off though you can use sugar soap and a non-abrasive scrubber if you want to get in deeper. If you want to get fancy with it, you can often use car cleaning products on metal furniture. A cover will keep off the birds and their leavings,  but you don’t need to worry about getting special cleaners if you end up with a bit of muck – a good scrub with washing up liquid and a hosing off will see you right in most circumstances.

Try not to get too wet with it though, as the more water you allow to seep into your furniture the more you might chip away at any water-resisting properties your furniture has. It’ll be treated for rain showers rather than baths!

How do I protect my garden furniture over winter?

This depends on the material. Wood will weather but most of it will be protected against effects like rot, while aluminium will be unaffected by snow and cold. Materials will contract and expand, but shouldn’t suffer material degrading. You may want to brush off heavy snow to stop any melted water seeping into cracks, refreezing then expanding to cause splinters/deeper cracks, but a cover will also keep the worst of it away.

To read more about protecting your furniture over winter, check out this post from a few years ago that’s still valid today.

Can my garden furniture go on grass? Or artificial grass?

Yes, but the grass under the feet is going to get squashed – you can’t beat physics. If you move the furniture often the grass will bounce back, both real and artificial, but if the furniture is both used and left in the same place for a couple of weeks you’re going to start seeing marks in the lawn and bent artificial grass.

A garden dining set on grass

Furniture on grass without issue

Real grass needs light too, so if it’s made to be in shade due to furniture it’ll start to yellow. In the height of summer that yellowing can happen quickly – within a couple of days at its fastest – while  in cooler months you’ll get away with it for a bit longer. To fix yellowing, move the furniture and give the grass a good watering.

Can garden furniture be painted?

Absolutely! If it’s wood and treated you’ll need to give it a little sand first to take any varnish off, and give it a good clean to remove any dust. After that, just make sure your paint fits the material and you’re good to go.

We suspect this may be a pallet, but it’s still wood being painted

To  read in more detail about what to do with your furniture painting, check out this guide on personalising your furniture with paint.

How do I paint it?

Choose the right paint and start slowly, working section by section until you’ve covered every part you want to with at least one coat of paint. Work over a sheet so you don’t drip paint on your patio or lawn, and use masking tape to avoid painting anything you don’t want to. For more detail, read our  furniture painting guide.

Will steel garden furniture rust?

Rarely. Most steel garden furniture is actually powder-coated or treated in some way to stop this from happening, so keep an eye out for that in the product descriptions or spec to make sure you’re getting a quality article. That coating will usually be guaranteed for a few years, but if your steel furniture is scraped against each other that coating might get chipped. If that happens, it’ll be worth looking into a protective paint or coating you can apply at home to get that waterproofing back (it’s water that causes rust).

For more detail on whether metal garden furniture will rust and what to do about it, check out this post to read about prevention techniques and alternatives to steel.

How long will my garden furniture last?

From a minimum of a year to upwards of 20 – it all depends on the treatments your furniture has had, plus the amount of care you give it. Our Churnet Valley range is pressure treated to prevent rot for up to 20 years, while the powder-coated steel of the Hectare ranges means it’ll resist rust and weathering for several years.

All of our furniture is guaranteed for at least two years against manufacturing faults, so even if you see some weathering or discolouration the furniture still won’t fall apart.

Which garden furniture is best?

The best furniture is the sets and pieces that fit your needs. If it’s going in a conservatory you don’t need to worry about water resistance, but weatherproofing will still help with sunlight discolouration.

If it’s going outside, what kind of decor are you looking for? Both wood and metal furniture can be treated to last for years so that element’s covered,  and you’ll see sets covering a wide range of prices in either material.

Wood is considered more traditional, while metal or plastic would be more modern by comparison. And rattan sits between the two, being a traditional manufacturing method featuring modern materials.

Generally, the more expensive the ‘better’ the furniture – better in that there’s more weatherproofing, more water resistance, sturdier builds and higher quality materials so it’ll all last for longer before needing to get a new set or repairs.

8 Seater Garden Sofa Set Primrose Living

Look for tempered-glass tabletops too

On our site, the best garden furniture is the new primrose living range, because we’ve designed it specifically to be better than other rattan ranges on the market for both look and longevity.

However, if  you’re not looking for rattan then you’re best off checking our garden furniture page and refining by material/price to find the set that’s right for you.

 

Wood oil Photo by Beazy on Unsplash

Garden Design, Gardening & Landscaping, Gary, Stuart

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2021 (Monday 8th March), we’re taking a look at some visionary women who’ve had a huge impact on the modern garden. Read on if you’d like to learn more about some of the great women in gardening and some of the things they’ve brought to the horticultural world, from the British Isles’ past to fabulous present.

Gardening Greats from the Past

Gertrude Jekyll
1843 – 1921

Gertrude Jekyll ft. Begonia

Modern gardens have a lot to thank Gertrude Jekyll for. Her partnership with Edwin Lutyens lasted over 25 years and she was a key influence in Georgian garden design, while her simple approach championed colourful, easy to maintain borders and brought plants like the rose, begonia and hosta back into fashion. The way she used colour is still taught as a basic tenet of garden design today, and we can thank her for the trend of creating sections in a garden. You can still see some of her creations at Lindisfarne Castle or West Dean.

Norah Lindsay

1873 – 1948

Norah Lindsay x Cliveden

This Oxfordshire socialite made great strides in the world of gardening to become one of only a few female garden designers of her time. She was a pioneer of seasonal planting and creating gardens that would bloom all year round. The traditional country garden combination of mauve, pink and white were a signature of her design style. Her work and influence can be seen at the Blickling Estate in Norfolk, as well as at Cliveden in Buckinghamshire, Chirk Castle in Wales and Mottisfont Abbey in Hampshire amongst many other private country house gardens.

Margery Fish
1892-1969

East Lambrook

Image from Wikipedia by Ray Beer, CC BY-SA 2.0, Index

Our love affair with perennials and the traditional cottage garden can all be traced back to Margery Fish. Her design ideas became so popular that she released two books in the 1960s and had a column in Amateur Gardening magazine. Margery championed simple planting schemes, and the use of ground cover to save on labour. She was also one of the first to make extensive use of silver foliage. She was also a big fan of snowdrops and her gardens at East Lambrook have over 60 named varieties of the plant growing in them.

Vita Sackville-West
1892-1962

Vita Sackville-West and white Digitalis

Image from Wikipedia by DHRUVA SRINIVAS – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Index

A prolific fiction writer, poet and gardener, Vita Sackville-West is the brains behind the gardens of Sissinghurst Castle. A poet and writer, she was known for her art and flair. Her early career was dominated by multi-layered planting and bright colours, but her real influence on today’s design was her White Garden –  a blend of traditional colours and textures that is still very much in fashion.

Kitty Lloyd Jones
1898 – 1978

A White Astilbe, a flower from the bog garden

Born to a doctor in Swansea and the ninth of ten children, Kitty was among one of the first professional female horticulturalists. Before her, most female gardeners found work through social connections, but in 1924 she graduated with a degree in horticulture from the University of Reading – one of the first women to ever do so. Kitty gradually built up a network of clients. Her best-known work was the redesign of the gardens at Upton House where her impressive bog garden still survives today.

Gardening Greats from the Present

Ann-Marie Powell

@myrealgarden

An award-winning garden designer and writer, Ann-Marie Powell is a modern garden great who shares garden inspiration on Instagram as @myrealgarden, as well as on her own site. With her innovative ideas and designs bringing gardening greatness to the country’s aspiring gardeners, and all while being a Greenfingers charity patron, we think Ann-Marie is the bees knees!

Paula Sutton

@hillhousevintage

A fashionable city girl turned country lady, Paula Sutton has moved from the fast-paced world of London, modelling agencies and fashion magazines to the quieter climes of the English countryside, and now shares her interior and exterior designs and inspirations through her blog and on Instagram @hillhousevintage. We think her use of British design to suit all budgets crossed with her country house chic is one to watch out for, ideal for anyone who wants to bring the feeling of the UK’s great green spaces to their own back garden.

Tania Compton

@taniacompton

An accomplished landscape and garden designer, Tania Compton is a garden expert who followed up on 12 years as Garden Editor for House & Garden magazine with moving to Wiltshire, and 6 acres of clay-filled land that she transformed into romantic and naturalistic gardens. Her Spilsbury gardens are sometimes open to the public and at Longford Castle you can see her redesigned parterre. Or, if you have a spare £4m handy, you can buy Reddish House when it comes back on the market and own some Tania Compton gardens of your own!

Gardening Greats of the Future

Could these be some of the gardening greats of the future to feature in next year’s collection of female horticulturist visionaries?

 

Gardening & Landscaping, How To

A rising trend in our community is the unique ability to turn a small outdoor space into an impressive yard-ens: tiny gardens bursting with creativity and flair. We love seeing all of the compact areas being turned into sanctuaries of green goodness and hope that this trend will go well beyond 2021.

So whether you are sprucing up a balcony garden, a petite patio, or a tiny terrace, adding plants and planters of varying heights will enable you to enjoy your petite place of zen.

Create a ‘sleeper’ hit!

Here are some top tips when it comes to perfecting your tiny outdoor oasis.

Pacing, planting, and planning are key

It’s time to think like a gardening magician and plan the perfect optimal outdoor illusion. The best place to start is by thinking about what you need from your outdoor space and how to fit those elements.

When you can’t expand outwards, you have think about upwards! Walls, garages, the side of a fence—it’s all good space. Get blooms up high with containers like hanging baskets, window boxes and exquisite wall mangers.

Think about creating your own secret pockets of space within your garden using screens, trellises or walls of foliage.  Decorating each area with different plants, living wall areas and garden furniture will help differentiate sections of your tiny space.  These unique areas are perfect for hiding small seating areas and comfy garden getaways.

Smart Furniture

This is where the tiny garden experts set themselves apart from the novices. When thinking about small spaces, most people shy away from incorporating furniture as they fear space will become cluttered. But in reality, furniture can be used to significant effect in a yard-en; you just need to make smart choices. Instead of large benches or bulky seating, go for more compact options.

Attract Wildlife

You don’t need acres of land or a countryside garden to be at one with nature.

A perfect way to breathe life into your tiny garden is by creating a home for wildlife to thrive in. Bird boxes, feeding stations, and even insect hotels are a beautiful way to build a tranquil outdoor oasis for both you and wildlife to enjoy.

Offer birds a place to drink, butterflies a place to feed and don’t forget the other insects. Many garden plants need pollinating insects to produce fruit and flowers (even in a tiny garden) But their numbers are in decline, partly due to a loss of habitat. Make your garden a safe haven for essential solitary bees, ladybirds and lacewings.

Keep It Bright

Brightly coloured plants and features can make your petite patio, or city balcony seem lighter and brighter than it appears.

Golden or light-yellow colours are perfect for brightening up dark patches, or opt for bright displays of foliage and shrubs to grace your garden with a burst of eye-catching colour.

As a general rule, hot colors like reds and dark yellows make a space feel warm and intimate, while if you want your garden sanctuary to feel larger opt for cooler light purples, whites, and blues.

And even though our garden getaways are growing in the UK, don’t shy away from tropical textures to help give you a sense of holiday romance when you step away into garden retreat.

Ready to start cultivating your tiny dream garden getaway? Share the progress with us and of course the beautiful end result on social media using #MyPrimroseGarden. We can’t wait to see what you create!