Add A Touch of Colour To Your Room with a Rug

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When you’ve finally chosen the perfect colour tone for your walls, selected the most luxurious carpet and added furniture to a newly decorated room, a new rug can be the final piece in the home decoration puzzle.

With the ability to add a touch of character or ambience to your room, a new rug can be an essential style tool and suited for any room in your home.

Choosing Between a Traditional and Modern Rug
The type of rug you choose will depend on many factors including room setting, personal style and the space available. Traditional rugs will support a room’s natural design without overpowering it. Crafted from a range of sumptuous fabrics and warm weaves, the function of a traditional rug transcends mere design. Add warmth to a wood floor, add tone to natural carpets or just create a sophisticated ambience in any room. The function of traditional style and design is multiple.

However, traditional rugs are not for everyone. If you have already selected a neutral colour or base palette for your room, a bold and colourful modern rug could be the creative spark that really brings your room to life. With a wide range of colours, styles, sizes and patterns available, the only thing holding you back is your own taste or imagination.

Weaving Magical Comfort
Once you have settled on a style, you will need to choose a fabric. Whether you want the soft feel of synthetics or the warm feeling of pure wool between your toes, you’re sure to find a rug suitable for you. Fans of a contemporary rug design will also be able to choose from our super stylish shaggy rug collection and our range of long pile rugs. As well as adding a textured dimension to any room, these rugs provide greater durability and stain resistance.

Jumpking Bounce to the Top!

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Jumpking are manufacturers of trampolines and trampoline accessories and are growing in popularity at a tremendous rate. Trampoline have been available for quite some time now, however, what Jumpking have done is manufactured trampoline to a very high standard, and taken all aspects of safety extremely seriously and used it as a major selling point.

Other great features of Jumpking include the up and under design of springs to increase bounce and slightly redesigned safety enclosure and they also have many intriguing and innovative optional extras such as play tens, camping tents, shoe holder and ladders etc.

Jumpking trampolines are not only great fun, but they are a great way to exercise while having fun, and have teamed up with the British Heart Foundation to promote the positives of  trampolining and exercise to help combat the growing problem of child obesity within the UK. This bouncing with health campaign has been endorsed by sporting celebrities such as England cricket captain Andrew Strauss and the British Lion Captain and England Rugby International Lewis Moody as they try to promote children to get active.

Trampolines however can be great fun for all the family, and are now being used as a form of training by top sports people that are part of the extreme sporting category. Such sports include wake boarding and skate boarding etc. With the addition of the Jumpkings jump board children and adults alike can practice ‘tricks’ or ‘moves’ related to their specific sport or for some just try to balance on the board while bouncing is challenging enough!

Trampoline do have a weight limit, so if you are larger in proportions then you might have to purchase one of the larger trampolines in order to get bouncing, but if you can afford it, and have the space, then always opt for as large a trampoline as possible, because they’re more fun and there’s more space to manoeuvre.

Jumpking manufacture these products and they are only available to purchase from well established, trust worthy companies, so this summer get the kids something they’ll enjoy playing with, and that will improve their health too.

How To Keep The Kids Entertained This Summer

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With the warm weather already here, and the summer holidays rapidly approaching it’s time to start thinking how to keep the kids entertained during the long summer holidays. We’ve got some suggestions that get the children outside and exercising rather than plugged into some games console.

The Jungle Gym Chalet is the perfect outdoor climbing frame, a large tower with a unique wood balcony and roof. The Chalet includes a fun phone, steering wheel and sandpit or pic-nic table underneath. Bucket module included to transport materials between ground and first floor. Climbing frame is available with a yellow, blue, green or red 3 metre slide. How better to keep kids entertained outside than with this unique climbing frame, with plenty to keep the kids entertained and active, everything from a bucket to transport things up to the balcony to a steering wheel and fun phone.

But if that is not enough for you then The Jungle Gym Chalet can be customised with extra ‘modules’ to add even more fun and excitment, everything from The Jungle Gym Rock Module that creates a challenging climbing wall which will easily attach to the climbing tower or larger ‘modules’ such as The Jungle Gym Bridge Module that includes a climbing wall, ramp with climbing rope as well as a steel suspension bridge to join to the main tower. Potentially giving unlimited hours of fun and great for those long sunny summer’s days.

Or how about a Toy Tractor? I always wanted one as a child and they have come a long way from 4 wheels and some pedals, The John Deere Ride On Tractor With Excavator features a realistic opening bonnet, spacious front loader, rear excavator and adjustable seat. The toy tractor is available in the traditional John Deere Green and Yellow finish and features anti slip pedals. Ride on toy tractors have a covered internal chain drive as well as a blow moulded structure for extra safety and strength. The Rolly Junior range has a 3 year guarantee. Various trailers and accessories are also available, such as trailers, even a Road Sweeper!

http://www.house2homemegastore.co.uk/jungle-gym-chalet

Add the Finishing touch to your Garden with a Water Feature

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When you think of water features, the first thought that comes to mind is angels pouring water or cherubs. But Water Features do not have to be twee. Below we have some contemporary suggestions to add that finishing touch to your garden.

The Kohala 3 Polished Tubes Water Feature is definately not traditional or twee, with three tall stainless steel tubes glistening in the sun as water flows down their sides. Adding perhaps some vertical definition, or standing proud of an area of bedding plants. But that’s not all, the Kohala 3 Polished Tubes Water Feature gets even better as the sun goes down.

At the base of the tubes is a set of colour changing LED’s that reflect off the flowing water to bring the water feature to life and make sure that even though the sun has gone down, the water feature can still be a focal point of the garden.

The Pièce de résistance of this water feature has to be the unique bio-ethanol reservoirs on top of each tube, these can be filled with Bio-Ethanol and set alight to give a living flame atop the water feature, meaning the Kohala 3 Polished Tubes Water Feature will be the centre of attention, night or day.

Giant 1.74m Stainless Steel Water Wall Cascade is a self contained water feature made from grade 304 stainless steel. The water feature consists of 2 halogen lights, a 10m mains cable and just needs water adding which allows easy installation indoor or outdoor. The halogen lights add further reflections off of the falling water to give real depth to this unique steel water feature.

The self-contained nature of this water feature means this water feature can freestand on the patio or in between some taller plants to really add that contemporary touch to your garden

UK house prices to rise 8% in next three years

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Global real estate firm CBRE says UK house prices could rise by up to 8% over the next three years, with London properties increasing by as much as 22%.

Although values are expected to fall marginally in 2012, CBRE’s latest house price forecast believes UK house prices will start to rise again next year. Central London properties will continue to outperform the wider housing market, with values increasing by 6% in 2012, and by a total of 22% over the next three years.

Jennet Siebrits, CBRE’s head of residential research, said: “Despite the market being characterised by monthly fluctuations, the longer-term outlook for the housing market is fairly static. We don’t expect it to pick up until the economy fundamentally improves.

“Low interest rates are continuing to stave off repossessions and forced sales, but a substantial proportion of would-be buyers remain unable to move. Ultimately, bank lending still needs to loosen further to spur on housing market activity.”

With these restrictions, people originally looking to move are choosing to improve on their existing property and spend what would now be required as a large deposit on a new mortgage onto DIY or home improvements, such as ripping out that old Fireplace and back boiler or re-do the garden or kitchen. These projects tend to have a more immediate satisfaction, certainly compared to going through the stages of buying a house!

Enjoy Alfresco Dining

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With the warmer weather rapidly approaching most of us will be turning our attention to the garden and dreams of spending a lovely summer’s afternoon out in the sunshine. We’ve got just the garden set for you.

With it’s contemporary design, the stunning Cozy Bay Provence Square Cappucino 2 Seater Set will look fantastic in any garden or conservatory. Made in an all-weather wicker finish with sturdy aluminium frame the table comes with a tempered glass top that is easy to clean and adds an air of elegances and makes maintenance a breeze. But the clever bit is that when not in use this gorgeous garden set stacks together  to form a unique garden sculpture. Ideal for when the kids want to play a game of football and you need to get everything out of the way. Garden bistro set includes 2 x Provence Square chairs with seat pad cushions and a Provence Square coffee table with 5mm tempered glass top. The side table has a width of 580mm, a depth of 580mm and a height of 480mm, while the Square chairs have a width of 580mm, a depth of 580mm and a Height of 760mm.

House 2 Home Megastore are currently offering this stunning garden set, also available in a round finish for just £399 including VAT & free delivery. Get your hands on one of these beautiful bistro sets, ideal for a balcony, terrace or a quiet corner. Stack away or leave out, Provence is always available to entertain an impromptu guest

Tumble Dryers: What you need to know

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Before you start shopping for a tumble dryer, you’ll need to decide which type will best suit your needs.

There are four types of tumble dryer – electric vented tumble dryers, electric condenser tumble dryers, gas vented tumble dryers and compact tumble dryers.

Read about the pros and cons of each type to see which one will suit you best, then check out the Which? tumble dryer reviews for the latest Which? Best Buys.

There’s a huge difference in the prices of tumble dryers. You can pay less than £100 for an entry-level model, while top-end A-rated quick-drying dryers cost closer to £1,000.

aeg-electrolux t35850 electric vented tumble dryerVented tumble dryers are cheaper than condensers

Electric vented tumble dryers

Vented tumble dryers take warm, damp air from the drum and vent it out through a hose. Almost all vented tumble dryers are electric.

  • Pros Electric vented tumble dryers are cheaper and generally use less energy than condenser models.
  • Cons Vented tumble dryers need to be positioned near a window or door to vent the air away.

Vented tumble dryer prices

About £100 will buy you an entry-level vented tumble dryer. A top-of-the range vented model will be about £700.

Best Buy vented tumble dryers start from around £180.

Electric vented tumble dryer brands

Electric vented tumble dryers are made by manufacturers including AEG, Beko, Bosch, Electrolux, Hotpoint, Indesit, Miele, Siemens and Zanussi.

aeg-electrolux t88840 electric condenser tumble dryerCondenser tumble dryers can be installed anywhere

Electric condenser tumble dryers

Electric condenser tumble dryers remove moist warm air from the drum. It’s then cooled inside the machine, and the resulting water is collected in a removable reservoir.

  • Pros A condenser tumble dryer can be installed anywhere – it doesn’t need to be near a window or wall. Because water from the drum is collected, steam isn’t an issue.
  • Cons Choose a poor condenser dryer and you’ll still have to cope with damp air and the possibility of mildew. You need to empty the reservoir regularly.

Condenser tumble dryer prices

About £150 will buy you an entry-level condenser tumble dryer. A top-of-the-range condenser model will be about £800.

Best Buy condenser tumble dryers start at around £280.

Condenser tumble dryer brands

Condenser tumble dryers are made by manufacturers including AEG, Beko, Bosch, Electrolux, Hotpoint, Indesit, Miele, Siemens and Zanussi.

White Knight eco 83a gas vented tumble dryerGas vented tumble dryers are cheap to run

Gas vented tumble dryers

Gas vented tumble dryers use gas as their heat source to dry the laundry. As with electric vented tumble dryers, damp air is vented away through a hose.

  • Pros Gas vented tumble dryers have cheap running costs and good drying performance.
  • Cons Gas dryers need to be professionally installed by a Gas Safe registered installer. Like electric vented tumble dryers, gas vented models need to be positioned near a window or door to vent the air away.

Gas vented tumble dryer prices

Two gas vented tumble dryers are available from White Knight for about £300 each.

Best Buy gas vented tumble dryers start at around £300.

Gas vented tumble dryer brands

Crosslee, manufacturers of White Knight tumble dryers, makes gas powered tumble dryers.Indesit is31v compact=

Compact tumble dryers are an option if space is tight

Compact tumble dryers

Compact tumble dryers can be vented or condenser. They’re much smaller than full-sized dryers, with correspondingly smaller drum capacities.

  • Pros These tumble dryers are compact – so, if space is tight and you need a dryer, a compact will be your only option.
  • Cons Compact tumble dryers are slower, less efficient and have capacities that are on average half the size of full-sized machines.

Compact tumble dryer prices

You can find compact vented dryers from about £100. Compact condenser dryers are more expensive at about £280.

Compact tumble dryer brands

Compact tumble dryers are available from manufacturers including Hotpoint, Indesit, White Knight and Zanussi.

Tumble dryer sizes and capacities

Using a large tumble dryer is the most energy-efficient way of drying your laundry and, per kilo, bigger machines will take less time to dry clothes than smaller or compact dryers.

A big drum size is also helpful – if your tumble dryer is as big as your washing machine, you’ll be able to move laundry from one appliance to the other, making wash day that bit easier. Each kilogram is equivalent to about five t-shirts.

Largest drum size

One of the biggest tumble dryers we’ve tested is the Bosch WTB76556, which has a massive 10kg capacity. This will be able to dry almost two washing-machine loads at once.

However, the 10kg Bosch model we tested is deeper, wider and taller than all the other machines we’ve tested, making it more at home in utility room than in a kitchen.

Large drum-size

Large dryers come with 8kg drums, which is enough to take a whole load straight from most washing machines.

Average drum drum-size

Most tumble dryers come with a 7kg capacity. This should still be big enough to dry a whole load straight from the washing machine, but bear in mind that washing machine drums are getting bigger.

Small drum-size

Compacts dryers have 3kg capacities, so aren’t ideal for getting the family’s clothes dry quickly. If you live on your own, space is very tight and you’d like a tumble dryer, a compact dryer will be able to dry small loads

20 Things You Can Do, No Planning Required

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You can undertake many home improvement projects under Permitted Development rights

What is permitted development (PD)?

Under PD you are able to undertake certain projects without needing planning permission. For more information visit planningportal.gov.uk

1. Internal Remodelling

If you are looking to find more space within your home by altering the internal layout to create an open plan aspect or simply to better suit your family’s needs, this option may be for you. If what you propose does not require you to extend the overall footprint of the dwelling, Permitted Development (PD) allows you to carry out the work without obtaining full planning permission. You will, however, need to follow Building Regulations guidance for some aspects such as structural elements and electrical works.

2. Moving Windows & Doors


You don’t normally need planning permission to put in new door or window openings — so you can be as imaginative as you want

You do not normally need planning permission to replace or add new windows in the original walls of your house — but you may need permission if conditions were attached to the original permission. Double glazing can be installed under PD, providing the building is not listed. For new or bigger windows or doors, you will need to follow Building Regulations guidance. Do also bear in mind that bay windows are classed as extensions. Planning permission to insert a new window or door opening is not required providing any upper-floor windows in the wall or roof slope forming a side elevation of the dwelling are glazed with obscured glass (level 4 or 5 obscurity) and are fixed into a non-opening frame (unless the opener is more than 1.7m above the floor of the room in which the window is installed).

3. Using Attached Buildings, e.g. Garages

As with internal remodelling, if you wish to alter the internal space within an existing part of the building, such as incorporating an integral garage, you can do so under PD, providing you are not increasing the overall footprint of the dwelling.

4. Single Storey Extensions & Conservatories

You can build various single storey extensions including conservatories without needing to obtain planning permission, providing the extension accords with the following:

  • The extension does not sit forward of the principal elevation.
  • Materials should be similar.
  • Where it is within 2m of any boundary, the eaves cannot be higher than 3m, and no more than 4m in height otherwise.
  • Rear extensions — no more than 4m in depth (detached house) or 3m in depth (semi-detached or terrace).
  • Side extensions — the width of the extension must not be greater than half the width of the original dwelling. Side extensions are not permitted on Article 1(5) Land (e.g. AONB, Conservation Areas). See planningportal.gov.uk for a full list of caveats.

5. Rooflights

Alterations can be made to the roof of a dwelling under PD, however – you guessed it – there are caveats to follow. Rooflights are not permitted under PD where they would extend forward of the roof plane on the elevation fronting a highway, but they are permitted providing they do not project more than 15cm from the roof slope. Rooflights are not permitted on a dwelling which is located in an Article 4 Direction Area. Two common examples are a Conservation Area or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

6. Loft Conversions


Provided any additional space created through a roof extension (e.g. dormer) is less than 40m3 – and meets other criteria – a loft conversion doesn’t require planning permission

Where internal space is limited and the nature of the dwelling does not allow for the typical side or rear extension, e.g. on a terraced house, going upwards may be the only feasible option. Loft conversions provide a great opportunity to create additional space within your property and may not require planning permission. Permitted Development allows for the construction of dormer windows, which would provide additional headroom within a converted attic. However, they must not sit higher than the highest part of your existing roof, or extend forward of the roof plane on the principal elevation.

There are also limitations on the cubic content allowed under PD – dependant of the type of property – but generally up to 40m3 is fine.

7. Two Storey Extensions


A two storey extension can be built to the rear of the house under Permitted Development, subject to it being no deeper than 3m from the existing rear wall, and of the same or lower ridge height than the existing house

A two storey extension can only be built under PD if it is at the rear of the dwelling (this includes the addition of a second storey onto an existing single storey part of the house). In addition, your two storey extension must not exceed 3m in depth or be within 7m of the rear boundary. Specific restrictions also apply to the glazed nature of windows in such extensions.

8. Work at Home

If you are weighing up the options of working at home, but you don’t have the space to spare, an outbuilding may be the solution for you. This would not only give you the extra space you need, but being separate from the rest of your home may also offer you a peaceful environment to concentrate in away from household distractions. However, if this is something you are considering for employees as well as yourself, there are certain regulations you would need to follow.

9. Sheds & Outbuildings


Outbuildings are a clever way to add extra space and can be added without the need for planning permission, provided they don’t cover more than 50% of the total curtilage (which doesn’t include the area covered by the main house).

Where you have a larger plot, there may be opportunities to build multiple outbuildings under PD, providing the total area covered by such buildings/enclosures does not exceed 50% of the total area of the curtilage. This 50% should take into account any extensions, but not the area covered by the main house.

Again, outbuildings cannot sit forward of the principal elevation, and there are height restrictions depending on the type of roof (4m for dual pitch roofs, 3m for other roofs, and 2.5m when the building is within 2m of the boundary). Outbuildings may only be single storey, with the maximum eaves height remaining at 2.5m. (See planningportal.gov.uk for more details).

A key factor to bear in mind when considering what you want to achieve from an outbuilding is that the use should be ‘incidental’ to that of the dwelling, e.g. gym, garage, store. Outbuildings under PD cannot be used for residential accommodation, e.g. bedrooms.

10. Converting Two Homes Into One

When you need more space and you are weighing up the options of whether to significantly extend your home or move house, it may also be worth considering the benefits of converting two houses such as a pair of semis into one, or two flats into one property. This can usually be done under PD, and would save you moving out of an area you love. However, if you were considering the option of dividing a property into two dwellings, unfortunately the same rules do not apply and you would need to apply for planning permission.

11. Porches


Provided they don’t measure more than 3m2, porches such as this by Greenwood Oak can be added without needing planning permission

Whilst many of the schemes described so far have not allowed for the development of any extensions forward of the principal elevation, you can build a porch on the front of your property without obtaining planning permission, as long as you follow certain rules. They include: no part of the porch is taller than 3m; it is not within 2m of any boundary adjacent to a highway; and the ground area (measured externally) does not exceed 3m².

12. Gates, Walls & Fences

It’s worth knowing that Permitted Development facilitates the erection, construction, maintenance, improvement or alteration to a gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure, providing such work accords with the following limitations:

  • The height would not exceed 1m when adjacent to a highway.
  • The height would not exceed 2m for any other gate, fence etc.
  • Such development is not permitted under PD around a listed building.

13. Decking


You won’t need planning permission for decking provided it isn’t at a height greater than 300mm. This decking is from Deckbuilders

Whilst a raised platform (a platform with a height greater than 300mm) would require planning permission, garden decking and other such similar structures which are of a height below this limit can be built without planning permission, providing they accord with certain criteria (available at planningportal.gov.uk).

14. Swimming Pools


Swimming pools such as this, as part of a self-built home designed by Hyde + Hyde Architects, can be built under PD providing they don’t exceed half the garden

When looking to enhance the enjoyment of your garden, what better way than to build a swimming pool for the whole family to enjoy? Under Permitted Development rights you can build a pool within your garden, provided that the total area covered by the pool does not exceed 50% of the area of the garden curtilage.

15. Some New Accesses

Planning permission is not required when creating a new vehicular access onto an unclassified road. However, permission is needed for accesses onto classified roads. For a new access onto a classified road, you will need to ensure sufficient visibility when leaving the site, as well as enough turning space to allow you to enter and exit in a forward gear.

16. Cladding

Cladding (stone, pebble dash, render, timber, etc.) is not permitted under PD on any dwelling house located on Article 1(5) land (in special areas, e.g. an AONB). Yet, on other buildings not affected by an Article 1(5) land (i.e. those not in any specially designated areas), cladding changes may fall under Permitted Development.

17. Solar Panels

With people now becoming more aware of ‘green’ issues, solar panels are increasingly common on homes, offering the homeowner free electricity or heat and the potential for added income under the Feed-in Tariff scheme. Solar panels can also be developed under PD, providing they do not protrude more than 200mm beyond the plane of the wall or roof, and that the highest part of the panel is not higher than the highest part of the roof (excluding the chimney). As you would expect, limitations apply in Conservation Areas and on listed buildings. Free-standing panels can also be developed, but are limited in size and proximity to the boundary.

18. Basements


Provided your basement conversion doesn’t require engineering works, a recent appeal decision ruled that it could be carried out under Permitted Development

If your property does not provide you with sufficient opportunities to develop extensions to your home above ground, have you ever considered building a basement? This would provide you with extra internal space, without reducing the size of your garden. In a recent appeal decision, it was considered that basements could be PD under Class A of the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO). However, PD does not allow for engineering works.

19. Parking

Class F of the GPDO refers to the provision of hard surfaces, such as parking areas. These are also permitted under PD providing that any hard surface situated between the principal elevation of a dwelling and the highway, or any surface which would exceed 5m², is made of porous materials, or provision is made to direct run-off water from the surface into a permeable/porous area within the property curtilage… not onto the highway!

20. Using Agricultural Land

You need planning permission to incorporate agricultural land into your garden. In some cases this is possible, but it depends on the site and the local area. However, you are perfectly entitled to use agricultural land for growing vegetables or planting trees. The key is that the land should not become domesticated and that a barrier, e.g. a fence, should remain between it and the garden.

A Last Word

Whilst this article provides a summary of what you may be able to do under Permitted Development, you should always check with the Local Planning Authority to ensure you do not require planning permission, as in some cases PD rights may have been removed. If you’re thinking of selling the property in the future, then it might be best to obtain a Certificate of Lawful Development, confirming the project falls within PD. They are obtainable from your local authority. An application usually costs £75.

Anne and Nigel Tomkins offer their advice if you’re thinking of redesigning your garden.

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1 First decide how you plan to use the garden. Will it be for entertaining, relaxing, growing plants, children playing and/or storage?

2 Get inspiration by visiting open garden days and checking out gardening books and magazines, then create a mood board with plants, furniture and garden features.

3 Spend the first year observing your plot during different times and seasons, noting the sunny and shady areas and the sheltered or exposed spots in the garden.

4 Ascertain what type of soil is in the garden to find out which plants will grow best.

5 Draw several designs roughly to scale, planning paths, borders and beds, compost heaps, recycling bins, sheds, patios or play areas.

6 Mark out your proposed new design on the ground using pegs and string.

7 Check that the views of the garden from indoors will be appealing visually.

Plant trolley; Alliums; The Yellow Book 2012

8 Decide what work you can do yourselves, and where expert help will be needed.

9 Collect samples of proposed hard landscaping materials, such as stone or decking, checking what they look like when wet and dry, in sun and shade, plus make sure that they blend with existing architecture.

10 Calculate rough costings to ensure that they reflect your budget.

11 Our plant trolley was an absolute essential during the project, not only for manoeuvring the oak cubes into place, but also for moving large pots and sacks of compost around the garden.

12 Choose alliums (above) for their wonderful, long-lasting colour and for attracting bees. Verbena bonariensis is a good choice too – it self-seeds all over the place and is popular with bees and butterflies in summer.

13 Visiting other people’s gardens was very inspirational. We used The National Gardens Scheme’s Yellow Book (ngs.org.uk), which lists gardens open to visitors all over the country.

Drought: a gardening survival guide for a dry season

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Much of the country is in a drought, but there’s no need to panic. Lia Leendertz has plenty of tips for making a little water go a long way .

It’s been a dry winter. I’d say an alarmingly dry winter, except that I’ve loved it: the soggy end of my garden hasn’t turned into a bog, I’ve only once been rained off at the allotment, and I’ve very seldom walked across the plot and had my wellies instantly transformed into mud-soled platform boots.

Delightful as this has been, there is always a price to pay for climate extremity. It bodes worryingly for the growing season, and water restrictions across southern and eastern England are a black cloud on the horizon – although not of the right kind. Southern Water, South East Water, Thames Water, Anglian Water, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East have all announced restrictions, including a hosepipe ban, to come into effect on April 5.

Happily, there are loads of very easy tricks that can help cut down on water use in the garden. Your first priority should be to set up as many water butts as your home can take: every downpipe and shed roof can be helping you to store up rainwater for the dry times.

Water saving is mostly common sense and simple techniques that require just a few adjustments to your thinking. A hosepipe ban may stop you spraying your garden with a hose, but that’s all it does. Here are some practical tips to keep the garden green and beat the ban.

Containers

- Pots are one of the most troubling garden features during a drought. Plants in the ground can sink their roots deeper in search of water at times of drought, but those in pots are entirely dependent on you. You stop watering, they die.

- Make life easier by starting off with generous-sized pots: small pots heat up quickly and dry out quickly, so go as big as you can afford.

- Water-retaining granules are a marvel for pots. When soaked, they swell up and then slowly release water. Mix them into the compost before planting.

- Group pots together. They can create a little humid microclimate between them which means that their leaves lose less moisture and they need less water.

- Mulch the surface of pots with something decorative, such as slate paddlestones. It looks good, keeps the compost cool and cuts down evaporation from the surface.

Vegetable gardens and allotments

Most vegetables are annuals that start off very small and need to be nurtured through the early months, so vegetable gardening can be water-intensive.

- Water seedlings for a week or two after they go into the ground, after that they should be able to fend for themselves, except in severely hot and dry spells.

- Plant thirsty plants, such as courgettes, into a dip so that water runs down towards the roots and collects. It means they get the most benefit out of showers.

- Water in the evening or the morning. In the middle of the day, water evaporates before it has had a chance to seep into the ground.

- Water deeply and infrequently, rather than little and often. A lack of water sends young roots searching deep down into the soil, where they will find reserves of moisture and be more self-sufficient. Those watered often but not deeply will only ever send out shallow, surface roots that suffer in drought times.

- Mulch the soil. Water it deeply and then cover with bark chippings or compost, to help seal it in and prevent evaporation.

Lawns

Lawns are vast consumers of water but only if you insist on having the perfect green sward all year round. Take a more laid-back approach to your lawn and it will look after itself.

- Relax and let established lawns go brown. Lawn grasses stop growing during drought, but they don’t die. Come the next rains, growth kicks in and they green up again.

- Let the grass grow. Shaggier turf creates its own shading and retains moisture more efficiently.

- Spring and autumn are the traditional times to sow lawn grasses and to lay turf, but if you can wait until autumn, do. A lawn needs plenty of water while establishing and is one of the few places where a regular soaking with a hosepipe is really needed. If a hosepipe ban kicks in during this phase, you’ll end up with a dead lawn. Seed is less demanding of water than turf, so if you must start a new lawn, use seed.

Mature borders, shrubs and trees

Established plants should need no watering at all. These are large-rooted plants that will be able to draw on reserves of moisture deep down in the soil.

- If they should really start to look like they need watering, established plants are great candidates for watering with grey water (see information box, right).

Conservatories and greenhouses

Conservatories and greenhouses get hot, no rain falls within, and many of the plants in them are in containers. You need to be particularly careful to minimise water use here.

- Set up a large water butt inside the greenhouse, filling from gutters on the outside.

- As well as giving you a great source of captured water, a large tank of water helps to regulate the temperature of the air in the greenhouse, keeping it cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

- Greenhouses overheat on hot days so it helps to use shading in summer. Paint greenhouse shading paint on to the roof and walls or drape shade netting over the roof.

- For the first time, some water companies are allowing the use of drip irrigation, even during a hosepipe ban. Others are still considering their policy on this, so do check with your own water company. It’s a very simple and efficient way of keeping plants watered.

Ponds

Water will evaporate from the surface of ponds over summer, and they will need topping up.

- Use water from a butt if you can. Rain water is gentler on wildlife and fishes than tap water.

- Invest in some aquatic plants. It is generally advised that between 50 and 75 per cent of the surface of a pond should be covered in plant growth, such as water lily leaves. This is because it helps to prevent a build-up of algae in the pond, but it also prevents rapid evaporation.

Further information

- For more water-wise gardening tips, see rhs.org.uk

- For water-saving ideas in the home, see environment-agency.co.uk

How to recycle grey water

- Grey water is water that has been used around the house, in the washing machine, bath, shower or for washing up.

- Grey water doesn’t store well and can start to smell. It is best used within 24 hours to prevent the spread of bacteria.

- The simplest way is just to scoop it out of the bath or sink with a bucket – but see below for useful collection devices.

- Never reuse water from toilets and dishwashers.

- Don’t use water on plants that is contaminated with bleach and other harsh chemicals.

- Experts usually advise that grey water should not be used on fruit or vegetable crops.

- Make sure you keep grey water containers out of the reach of children and pets.

Grey water recycling kit

- The job of siphoning your bath or shower water is made easy with a water siphon pump, £19.99. Essentially a hose pipe with a small hand pump to create a siphon, this allows water to be taken directly from the bath and sent through the hose to the garden (or water butt) via an open window

- It is also possible to reuse grey water direct from a sealed main drainage system. For example, the Water Two valve, from £19.95 (shown above) can be used to direct grey water to a water butt where, once cooled if necessary, it can be used on the garden. It can be fitted to existing piping and switched to divert grey water either to a drain or to storage.

- Long term, consider installing a rainwater harvesting system. The UK Rainwater Harvesting Association is an excellent source of information (ukrha.org).

Drip irrigation

Four water boards, Anglian, Thames, Southern and South East Water, are now allowing drip irrigation even during a hosepipe ban. This is perfectly logical as drip irrigation is far more efficient than spraying plants with a hose.

It is very useful for watering greenhouse plants, but can also be used for pots or even new plantings in the ground. A tube carries water around the plants, and above each plant is a small “dripper”. When the tap is on, water gently drips on to the soil.

It seeps in slowly, and very little is lost from the surface. All you need to do is turn on your outside tap for 10-20 minutes in the morning and evening. Even simpler, you can put a timer at the tap end that will allow water through the system for set periods each day.

This is also the best way of keeping your container and greenhouse plants watered when you go on holiday, unless you have very amenable neighbours.

Look out for self-watering planters, which are another good way of beating the ban, in your local garden centre. t’s been a dry winter. I’d say an alarmingly dry winter, except that I’ve loved it: the soggy end of my garden hasn’t turned into a bog, I’ve only once been rained off at the allotment, and I’ve very seldom walked across the plot and had my wellies instantly transformed into mud-soled platform boots.

Delightful as this has been, there is always a price to pay for climate extremity. It bodes worryingly for the growing season, and water restrictions across southern and eastern England are a black cloud on the horizon – although not of the right kind. Southern Water, South East Water, Thames Water, Anglian Water, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East have all announced restrictions, including a hosepipe ban, to come into effect on April 5.

Happily, there are loads of very easy tricks that can help cut down on water use in the garden. Your first priority should be to set up as many water butts as your home can take: every downpipe and shed roof can be helping you to store up rainwater for the dry times.

Water saving is mostly common sense and simple techniques that require just a few adjustments to your thinking. A hosepipe ban may stop you spraying your garden with a hose, but that’s all it does. Here are some practical tips to keep the garden green and beat the ban.

Containers

- Pots are one of the most troubling garden features during a drought. Plants in the ground can sink their roots deeper in search of water at times of drought, but those in pots are entirely dependent on you. You stop watering, they die.

- Make life easier by starting off with generous-sized pots: small pots heat up quickly and dry out quickly, so go as big as you can afford.

- Water-retaining granules are a marvel for pots. When soaked, they swell up and then slowly release water. Mix them into the compost before planting.

- Group pots together. They can create a little humid microclimate between them which means that their leaves lose less moisture and they need less water.

- Mulch the surface of pots with something decorative, such as slate paddlestones. It looks good, keeps the compost cool and cuts down evaporation from the surface.

Vegetable gardens and allotments

Most vegetables are annuals that start off very small and need to be nurtured through the early months, so vegetable gardening can be water-intensive.

- Water seedlings for a week or two after they go into the ground, after that they should be able to fend for themselves, except in severely hot and dry spells.

- Plant thirsty plants, such as courgettes, into a dip so that water runs down towards the roots and collects. It means they get the most benefit out of showers.

- Water in the evening or the morning. In the middle of the day, water evaporates before it has had a chance to seep into the ground.

- Water deeply and infrequently, rather than little and often. A lack of water sends young roots searching deep down into the soil, where they will find reserves of moisture and be more self-sufficient. Those watered often but not deeply will only ever send out shallow, surface roots that suffer in drought times.

- Mulch the soil. Water it deeply and then cover with bark chippings or compost, to help seal it in and prevent evaporation.

Lawns

Lawns are vast consumers of water but only if you insist on having the perfect green sward all year round. Take a more laid-back approach to your lawn and it will look after itself.

- Relax and let established lawns go brown. Lawn grasses stop growing during drought, but they don’t die. Come the next rains, growth kicks in and they green up again.

- Let the grass grow. Shaggier turf creates its own shading and retains moisture more efficiently.

- Spring and autumn are the traditional times to sow lawn grasses and to lay turf, but if you can wait until autumn, do. A lawn needs plenty of water while establishing and is one of the few places where a regular soaking with a hosepipe is really needed. If a hosepipe ban kicks in during this phase, you’ll end up with a dead lawn. Seed is less demanding of water than turf, so if you must start a new lawn, use seed.

Mature borders, shrubs and trees

Established plants should need no watering at all. These are large-rooted plants that will be able to draw on reserves of moisture deep down in the soil.

- If they should really start to look like they need watering, established plants are great candidates for watering with grey water (see information box, right).

Conservatories and greenhouses

Conservatories and greenhouses get hot, no rain falls within, and many of the plants in them are in containers. You need to be particularly careful to minimise water use here.

- Set up a large water butt inside the greenhouse, filling from gutters on the outside.

- As well as giving you a great source of captured water, a large tank of water helps to regulate the temperature of the air in the greenhouse, keeping it cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

- Greenhouses overheat on hot days so it helps to use shading in summer. Paint greenhouse shading paint on to the roof and walls or drape shade netting over the roof.

- For the first time, some water companies are allowing the use of drip irrigation, even during a hosepipe ban (see information box, right). Others are still considering their policy on this, so do check with your own water company. It’s a very simple and efficient way of keeping plants watered.

Ponds

Water will evaporate from the surface of ponds over summer, and they will need topping up.

- Use water from a butt if you can. Rain water is gentler on wildlife and fishes than tap water.

- Invest in some aquatic plants. It is generally advised that between 50 and 75 per cent of the surface of a pond should be covered in plant growth, such as water lily leaves. This is because it helps to prevent a build-up of algae in the pond, but it also prevents rapid evaporation.

Further information

- For more water-wise gardening tips, see rhs.org.uk

- For water-saving ideas in the home, see environment-agency.co.uk

How to recycle grey water

- Grey water is water that has been used around the house, in the washing machine, bath, shower or for washing up.

- Grey water doesn’t store well and can start to smell. It is best used within 24 hours to prevent the spread of bacteria.

- The simplest way is just to scoop it out of the bath or sink with a bucket – but see below for useful collection devices.

- Never reuse water from toilets and dishwashers.

- Don’t use water on plants that is contaminated with bleach and other harsh chemicals.

- Experts usually advise that grey water should not be used on fruit or vegetable crops.

- Make sure you keep grey water containers out of the reach of children and pets.

Grey water recycling kit

- The job of siphoning your bath or shower water is made easy with a water siphon pump, £19.99. Essentially a hose pipe with a small hand pump to create a siphon, this allows water to be taken directly from the bath and sent through the hose to the garden (or water butt) via an open window.

- It is also possible to reuse grey water direct from a sealed main drainage system. This can be used to direct grey water to a water butt where, once cooled if necessary, it can be used on the garden. It can be fitted to existing piping and switched to divert grey water either to a drain or to storage.

- Long term, consider installing a rainwater harvesting system. The UK Rainwater Harvesting Association is an excellent source of information (ukrha.org).

Drip irrigation

Four water boards, Anglian, Thames, Southern and South East Water, are now allowing drip irrigation even during a hosepipe ban. This is perfectly logical as drip irrigation is far more efficient than spraying plants with a hose.

It is very useful for watering greenhouse plants, but can also be used for pots or even new plantings in the ground. A tube carries water around the plants, and above each plant is a small “dripper”. When the tap is on, water gently drips on to the soil.

It seeps in slowly, and very little is lost from the surface. All you need to do is turn on your outside tap for 10-20 minutes in the morning and evening. Even simpler, you can put a timer at the tap end that will allow water through the system for set periods each day.

This is also the best way of keeping your container and greenhouse plants watered when you go on holiday, unless you have very amenable neighbours.

- Look out for self-watering planters, which are another good way of beating the ban, in your local garden centre.

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