Outdoor Living UK Blog

  1. Solar Water Features

    Solar Water Features

    Solar Water Features - A Guide

    In every garden, people ponder the best way to make their space stand out. It’s a common desire to want something special and unique, and to that end, people invest in all kinds of different accessories for their garden. One prominent example of a popular garden decoration is the myriad of solar water features which are available. However, not everyone knows about solar water features, what they are and what they can do. With that in mind, we’re going to be taking a look at solar water features, and how they work.

    What Is Solar Power?

    First of all, let’s make sure that everyone knows what we mean by ‘solar’. Solar power is a concept which has been around for the past century but has only really come into popularity in recent times. The idea is that we can use sunlight, a free and sometimes constant resource, to create electricity and use it in place of things like fossil fuels. It’s a clean and renewable energy source and is gathered by solar panels.

    So How Does A Solar Water Feature Work?

    With things like solar fountains or wheels being operated by sunlight, the solar water feature uses a smaller version of a solar panel, referred to as a solar cell. The technology soaks up the sunlight and converts it inside the feature to create electricity, which in turn generates the function of whatever it is that you’re trying to power. The miniature panel on your device will absorb the sunlight, and use it to complete an electrical circuit. Without this light, the circuit won’t complete, and the feature will not work.

    Things To Consider

    The benefit of a solar water feature is that it’s now fairly common technology, which brings with it a wealth of different options for how you use the device. Some solar features have pumps; some have backup batteries in case there’s not a lot of sunlight. This helps to make a solar water feature a much more adaptable and flexible system and means that regardless of weather you can enjoy its benefits. However, you need to make sure you choose the right kind of solar water feature for your system. A solar water system without a battery backup will not work at all in the shade, so you need to be cautious when installing one.

    Overall, the solar water features are a good choice for any home which sees a lot of sunlight. They help to provide a more dynamic garden and are firm favourites with a lot of people because of this. The solar water system is often used in sunny areas, but with a battery backup, it can see use in any conditions. If you’re using a solar water feature, then it’s well worth looking into all of the extra features, because they will improve your experience even more. Things like a pump or a movable solar panel are great because they enhance your experience and give you a new level of control over your solar water features.

  2. Water Features

    Water Features

    Water Features - The Benefits Of Having Them In Your Garden

    Water features have become a big part of a lot of gardens. They look really good when they’re active, and they’re a fantastic accessory for your garden. However, there are also some benefits to having outdoor water features that people don’t know about. We’re going to be looking at some of the key advantages that water features will bring, so you know exactly why they’re such a good idea.

    Health Benefits

    Surprisingly enough, having a set of outdoor water features can provide some positive health benefits. There’s a wealth of studies on the internet which suggest that having water noises and features in your garden provides you with a therapeutic environment. For example, a miniature waterfall has been linked to a decrease in anxiety and stress, providing a soothing noise which allows people the chance just to calm down and relax. The same logic can be applied to a small brook or stream.

    They Looks Nice

    Obviously, one of the main advantages of having a set of water features in your garden is that you’ve got something that looks great. We all want our gardens to look their best whenever we come out and spend time with them, and a water feature aids with that in a big way. You’ll notice quite quickly that your garden looks nicer, and feels a lot more lively. The thing about water features is that they provide you with something new to look at, and this can help when you’ve been dealing with the same design for years. Your guests will also notice how the water features brighten up the garden too, which makes social events more of a joy.

    Property Value Increase

    One thing which you will notice about having water features in your garden is that they will add to the value of your property when it comes to selling up and moving on. As a general rule, any work that you do to a property is a long-term investment, because it will stand the test of time. A home with a waterfall or a pond will be valued at a higher price than one without, and it also helps when you’re trying to put across a good first impression to potential buyers. It is true that the interior design of your property is important. However, when buyers are walking up the pathway to your home, they’re going to take notice of the outside too.

    Overall, these are just a few of the benefits which will be afforded to people who take the time to install water features in their homes. Water features are known to be great investments, but also provide other benefits such as a therapeutic atmosphere and an improved aesthetic value. These are both things which are highly sought after and mean that people can have a place to go where there’s no stress and anxiety. Plus, you’ll also find that when it comes to social events, it’s common for people to be impressed with the kinds of water features you have on offer.

  3. Creating the perfect, tranquil outdoor space

    Creating the perfect, tranquil outdoor space
    Whether you are a sun worshiper or prefer the cooler months, you can still enjoy your garden all year round if you have designed it suit your preferences.
    For the sun lovers among us, creating a tranquil outdoor living space is straightforward. A shaded area might be something as simple as an umbrella. Alternatively, you might opt for something slightly more elaborate such as an arbour or even a garden room.
    Beyond that it is simply a case of choosing the different features you find peaceful. Some of our best selling garden products are water features. Available in a wide array of different styles, sizes and materials, you’re sure to find one which suits the look you want to create. The sound of running water is extremely peaceful and the perfect escape from the stresses of a busy lifestyle.
    The summer months can be hit and miss in the UK so we all like to make the most of the heat when we do have it. With that in mind, garden lighting makes it possibly to stay outside long into the night. From string lights to vintage lamp posts, the options are extensive. Many of our lighting products are also solar which prevents increased energy bills.
    Garden ornaments are another feature you might want to consider. Whilst a traditional garden gnome might not be your thing, something a little more neutral and simple can add some character to your garden.
    When the summer months do come to an end, it isn’t necessarily the case that you have to stop using your garden. A sheltered patio or decking can be created to offer a cosy area which retains heat where an open garden won’t.
    Of course a sheltered area alone won’t create the heat you need. Our garden heaters are a constant  source and can warm an area in even the coldest months.
    Alternatively, you might prefer the relaxing option of a fire pit. Offering significant levels of heat along with calming qualities, a fire pit creates a great atmosphere for garden parties or a cosy night with your partner.
    If you require any additional information on the above products, why not give us a call? Our team will be happy to help.

  4. Choosing Garden Water Features

    Choosing Garden Water Features

    If you have already researched the reasons to incorporate a water feature into your garden, the next thing to look into is the options available. Today water features are available in a variety of sizes, designs and they can be made from an assortment of materials. This can make choosing garden water features difficult but with the right guidance, you can quickly and easily find the right feature for you.

    Water gardens are living water features, filled with and surrounded by plants to create a lush natural setting.
    Reflecting pools are usually a focal point located near a landscape feature that is reflected in the glassy surface of the water.
    Ornamental pools normally incorporate a decorative piece such as a cascading fountain or waterfall creating movement.

    Come in a variety of shapes and sizes; these can be more traditional carved stone, granite, reflective metals or use natural unfinished slate. They create sound of water tumbling and splashing on itself combined and a cool refreshing mist.

    Like fountains, waterfalls add sound and motion to the garden. Often created with natural stone slabs or boulders, but can be created using more angular smooth materials as part of a more minimalist style. They can be used as a focal point to bring a vertical dimension or link different levels within a garden.

    Streams are ideal for linking features together and creating a flow through a garden, they are ideally suited to a larger space.

    The location of features running on mains electricity is only limited by the length of the cable. By running the cable to an outdoor plug or a socket you can switch on your water feature whenever you desire or leave it running all the time. For a more eco friendly option you could choose solar which also allows the feature to be completely self contained. These water features do need a good level of sunlight, which may limit where you can place them in the garden.

  5. Attracting wildlife to your garden

    Native wildlife is under pressure like never before due to; destruction of habitats, climate change and diseases such as that affecting bees. But with a little effort we can help by encouraging hedgehogs, birds, butterflies, bees and pond life to our gardens.

    Not only are they fascinating to watch, but actually benefit our gardens through pollination of plants and natural pest control. For example hedgehogs, frogs and toads eat slugs and snails, and birds and beetles eat aphids.

    • Here are my top tips for attracting wildlife to your garden.
      Choose a selection of plants which mean you will have flowers in your garden over a long period, to encourage bees, butterflies and other plant visiting insects and ensure you have colour in your garden throughout the year.
    • Create a log pile; this will provide habitats for insects, fungi, mice, hedgehogs, frogs, toads and newts.
    • Reduce the use of pesticides, these can harm wildlife which naturally control pests in your garden such as ladybirds which eat greenfly; and frogs, toads and hedgehogs who eat slugs and snails.
    • Water features without fish provide a habitat for Frogs, Toads, Newts and Dragonflies. Even something small such as an old sink sunk into the ground will do, but there a many options for stylish water features to enhance your garden.
    • Plant wildflowers in your garden, these will not only look beautiful but will provide food and shelter for many native species.
    • Attract birds, bats and hedgehogs by providing specially built boxes for nesting and hibernation or add an insect hotel to attract insects including bees.
    • During the Autumn and Winter months put out seeds, nuts and fat balls to attract birds when food sources are scarce, they will continue to visit and help with pest control by eating bugs and greenfly during the warmer months.

  6. Water Features: Reasons to have water in your garden

    There are many reasons you might want a water feature in your garden. To add to the aesthetics, and create a focal point or to have a positive impact on wildlife or your wellbeing. Water features are available in a variety of sizes and designs and are ideal for both large gardens or for small secluded patios. Here are some reasons why you should have a water feature in your garden.

    Water Feature

    You can match the features with your style as an extension of your home
    There are many different designs of water feature. This makes it easy to find a style to complement your personal aims. For example a modern, minimalist space might incorporate Asian inspired features. This could be made from natural materials and accessorised with grasses and bamboo. For a country cottage feel garden antique style water features would fit well.

    You can use them to reflect sunlight
    Sunlight enhances water features shining through their water streams. This light can reflect off of plants and other design features to enhance their beauty and even create mini rainbows.

    Water Feature wildlife

    Water makes spaces appear larger
    Clean clear water has reflective properties which can make spaces look bigger. To maximise this reflection choose smooth surfaces and plants with smooth leaves near the feature. You could even add lights in the surrounding area or underwater to add to the effect.

    Water attracts wildlife
    Wildlife is more likely to frequent your garden when there is water available. Even a small feature can encourage birds into your garden for drinking and bathing. Ground level features such as ponds can also encourage frogs, newts and hedgehogs.

    Water creates an atmosphere of tranquility in your garden
    On a hot summer day, having running water can physically cool the garden down. Water creates a tranquil sound which can have positive health benefits including reducing blood pressure and stress levels. This can therefore improve physical and mental health.

  7. How to grow your favourite fruit and veg

    If you have never really thought about growing your own fruit and veg, don't have a greenhouse and thought that it would mean hours and hours of digging and raking huge beds which take up your whole garden. But believe it or not you can actually grow some fruit and veg in pots and hanging baskets. So why not a go at growing a few different kinds, these are some of the simplest to grow and with minimum effort.

    fruit and vegetables

    Salad and herbs

    You can buy herbs at most garden centres or even in the supermarket. Plant these in pots outside during spring and summer and most will continue to grow year round if watered regularly. Alternatively plant them in small pots and keep them near the window in your kitchen for fresh herbs year round.
    You can sow salad leaves between these herbs outdoors in summer or in an unheated greenhouse or windowsill all year round in pots or trays of moist, multipurpose compost, or even between your bedding plants. Just ensure the soil its moist and they are in sun or semi shade and harvest as required.

    fruit and veg

    Tomato plants are really quick to grow either from seed or bought as plants and can be grown outside during spring/summer months. Choose a tumbling variety like ‘Cherry Cascade’ that can be planted in hanging baskets. You only need to feed and water them and keeping them off the ground prevents slugs and snails getting to them.

    Really easy to grow! Plant potatoes during late February and March in bags or pots only part filled with compost. When the green shoots begin to appear cover them with more compost. Repeat this until the bag is full, and remember to water them. Around 15 weeks later, the foliage will die back. Empty the bag or pot out to collect up your own home grown potatoes.

  8. Choosing A Garden Water Feature

    Choosing A Garden Water Feature

    There are various factors to consider when looking to purchase a garden water feature. Cost is of course one of the most important factors. Your budget is often something which can't be compromised upon. Fortunately with such an extensive range we believe we will have the perfect water feature for your garden. This is whether you have a large or small budget to spend.

    Aside from your budget it is also important to consider the ongoing cost of running your water feature. With constant developments in efficient and reliable solar powered features, running costs can be kept to a minimum. In many cases they can be removed entirely. With modern manufacturing methods and strong materials maintenance costs can also often be kept extremely low.

    Outdoor Water Feature

    So you know your budget and the potential costs or lack of required to run and maintain a feature. The next step is to look at your garden and more specifically where your sparkly new water feature will be installed. If you own a beautiful countryside cottage with traditional external features or furniture, a stainless steel water blade or ball will stand out like a sore thumb.

    We speak to customers with traditional gardens on a daily basis. Their aim is often to purchase a water feature which will look like it has been there for as long as their home. With such an extensive range of traditional, ornate features, this is something which is easily possible. What's more, a diverse range of materials offers traditional looks but with modern day strength and durability.

    This combination means that rather than having to compromise, you truly can have the very best of both worlds. Not just a feature which looks like it belongs in your garden, but one which will remain that way for years to come.

    Alternatively you might have a newly landscaped garden with modern furniture, sharp edges, outdoor heating and a large decked or patio area. With such a contemporary outdoor living space, an ornate fountain or pond is not going to fit your desired look. This is where our modern water features are the ideal choice. We're sure you have seen stainless steel sphere water features, but what about stainless steel blades which can be integrated into a wall and provide a constant tranquil flow of running water?

  9. Kent Garden Show 2017

    Kent Garden Show 2017

    On 27th - 29th May 2017, Outdoor Living UK will be exhibiting at the Kent Garden Show. With over 300 exhibitors in attendance, the show presents a great opportunity to discover some fantastic ideas and products for your own garden.

    In addition to medal winners from the Chelsea Flower Show are various nurseries, gardening goods and water feature suppliers such as ourselves.

    In attendance this year is Jacqueline Aviolet to answer visitors’ gardening questions. Also, Jim Buttress will be signing copies of his book, The People’s Gardener on the Saturday.

    The gates open at 9:30 each day and close at 17:00. Last admission is at 16:00 except for Monday when last entry will be at 15:30. The cost for entry is £8 for adults, £7 for seniors and children under 16 go free.

    Visiting The Show

    The show will take place at Kent Showground, Detling which is directly off the A249 between the M20 (junction 7) and the M2 (junction 5).

    If you will be using a satnav to find the show, simply enter the post code ME14 3JF.

    Our team will be there offering help and information regarding all of our products. They will of course also be taking orders on the day. The Kent Garden Show is a fantastic day out and the weather looks promising too!

    With a craft pavilion, food hall, brass band and children’s rides, there is plenty to keep the whole family entertained for the entire day. We hope to see you there and please feel free to come and say hello on our stand!

    The Outdoor Living UK team.

  10. Which Garden Plants are Poisonous to Dogs?

    Which Flowers are Poisonous to Dogs?

    We all want to have a beautiful garden full of colourful flowers that help to create a relaxing outdoor space for us to enjoy. Flowers come in so many different colours, sizes, shapes and scents that the choice is almost endless.

    For those who have dogs in their household though, there are things to consider when choosing flowers such as which garden plants are poisonous to dogs? Dog lovers will know that a curious canine is part of the family and we all love to protect them against potential risks. Unfortunately there are certain flowers which can be poisonous to dogs so it’s obviously very important to avoid these.

    Which Plants are Poisonous to Dogs?

    If you’re in the process of building your dream garden from scratch, below you will find a list of plants and flowers to cross off your list immediately!

    You may however be slightly less fortunate and already have a fully blooming garden or just be moving into a house with one. If that’s the case then it’s a good idea to Google the following for images and have a good look around before letting your four legged friend roam freely.

    • Aconitum
    • Amaryllis bulbs
    • Asparagus fern
    • Azalea
    • Cyclamen
    • Daffodil bulbs
    • Day lilies
    • Delphiniums
    • Foxgloves
    • Hemlock
    • Hyacinth
    • Hydrangea
    • Ivy
    • Laburnum
    • Lily of the valley
    • Lupins
    • Morning glory
    • Nightshade
    • Oleander
    • Rhododendron
    • Rhubarb leaves
    • Sweet pea
    • Tulip bulbs
    • Umbrella plant
    • Wisteria
    • Yew

    It goes without saying that should you find your dog eating any of the above or either convulsing or appearing under the weather following time in the garden, you should seek advice from your vet immediately.

    We hope you found this blog post on "which garden plants are poisonous to dogs?" helpful. If you have, why not sign up to our newsletter to read our gardening blog posts before anyone? Alternatively, feel free to visit our main site to browse a huge range of garden water features, garden furniture and a whole lot more!