Hedging your bets: top alternatives to box hedging

Hedging your bets: top alternatives to box hedging

Planting a hedge in your garden can have many benefits; shrubs and hedges can add privacy, security, visual interest and protection from the wind. Box has been a traditional choice to define formal garden areas. However, with the recent increase in box blight and imported pests, many gardeners are looking for other options. In this blog, our friends at the Blackwater Valley Countryside Trust share their ideas on wildlife-friendly alternatives to box hedging. Box plants are evergreen, slow-growing and can be clipped into neat shapes, such as balls, pyramids and spirals. This makes them a firm favourite in modern gardens where space is at a premium. However, blight and box tree caterpillars are proving an increasing problem. Box blight is a rapidly spreading disease that causes bare patches to leaves and stems.   Privet The humble privet is a great option instead of Box because its young growth provides valuable food for brilliant green privet moth caterpillars. These transform into one of Britain’s largest moths. If you hold back on cutting, you will be rewarded with small panicles of creamy white flowers which bees love. Later, birds will be attracted to the dark berries and they will also enjoy the cover of its twiggy growth. Even a neatly sheared privet hedge is loved by sparrows in suburban gardens.   Lonicera nitida Lonicera nitida offers similar advantages to garden wildlife. Known as ‘Poor Man’s Box’, its small evergreen leaves mean it can easily be shaped into neat edging or grown into eye-catching topiary shapes. Clipping will expose the tiny scented honeysuckle flowers and purplish/black berries as a food source. Lavender...
Create a bug hotel

Create a bug hotel

The estimated 24 million private gardens in Britain are thought to cover an area bigger than all of our national nature reserves combined. But many newer properties simply don’t have all the natural nooks and crannies that our insects need. And pollinating insects like bees are vital to the survival of many plant species. So even if your garden is small, it can be an important link to the countryside, and offer a much needed home for wildlife. Our friends at the Blackwater Valley Countryside Trust have been checking out the bug hotels created by children at RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival. Here are their ideas on how you can create your own at home. A perfect project to keep children busy in the garden this summer… Walking round Hampton Court Flower Show, it was cheering to see that today’s youngsters are definitely getting the garden bug – in more ways than one! Schools’ insect hotels were certainly drawing the crowds. The ingenuity which had gone into the construction was admirable and every house was certainly different. The basic principle was the same; to build a shelter for insects in order to improve the biodiversity of the garden. How to create your own bug home Start with a box frame filled with different layers of material. Kebur pallets are ideal (our yard usually has a good supply that you can pick up for free) Cover it with a waterproof roof Create insect holes from objects you have at home. Whatever you use, one end has to be sealed. The young architects at Hampton Court were experts in recycling all...
How to make a mini pond for your garden

How to make a mini pond for your garden

If you liked our blog on how to create a pond, and maybe didn’t have enough time or space, this post is for you. Our friends at the Blackwater Valley Countryside Trust give some top tips on how to create mini pond. Using a small container like a Belfast sink, which can be picked up easily from reclamation yard, you can make a small water feature, ideal for a patio or compact garden.   Seven simple steps to make a mini pond Make your sink watertight. If the plug has gone missing, don’t worry, a small blob of concrete will quickly make it watertight Put in a layer of gravel or stones on the bottom. This will hide your plug hole and provide habitat for small insects If you can, fill the pond from a water butt. Otherwise let the water stand for a couple of days Introduce aquatic plants. Try to choose one plant for height, such as a Cyperus or Iris Pseudacorus. Most garden centres now stock a range of plants, including vital oxygenators. For preference put plants in aquatic baskets, but just a simple pot will be enough to stop plants spreading. Put a couple of staggered bricks inside the sink to help creatures to climb out and go searching for slugs. This one also has a ramp to ground level and has been quickly colonised by frogs. Raise the sink on bricks to give toads and newts a damp and dark space to enjoy underneath. This will be especially popular if it’s surrounded by dense planting, such as wild strawberries, scented hardy geraniums or ferns....
6 ways to make your garden safer for hedgehogs

6 ways to make your garden safer for hedgehogs

At Kebur we believe we have a responsibility to care for our local environment and help our customers learn about the many ways we can support wildlife in our gardens. We were delighted last month to become Hedgehog Champions. Britain’s only spiny mammal, hedgehogs have changed little over the last 15 million years. One of our first steps as champions has been to stock hedgehog friendly gravel boards which help our prickly friends get around between gardens and reach vital sources of food and water. Hedgehog numbers in UK towns and cities have fallen by a third in the last 10 years, and by half in the countryside. One of the main reasons is that gardens are so often enclosed and don’t have enough wild spaces where the creatures can find food and shelter. This Spring is the perfect time to make your garden friendlier for hedgehogs. Start with these quick ways you can make your garden safer… 1. Link your garden with a simple hole A 13cm diameter hole in fencing or a gravel board is enough to allow hedgehogs to pass from one garden to another. The mammals typically travel one mile a night in search of food and a mate so getting around easily is really important to their survival. You can easily cut a hole in a timber fence or gravel board, or use a ready made hedgehog friendly concrete gravel board. 2. Make an escape route from a pond or pool Although hedgehogs can swim, they can become trapped in ponds or pools and drown. Make a gentle ramp from stones, wood or chicken...
Splash out on a pond!

Splash out on a pond!

If you’re looking to attract wildlife to your garden, you’ll be amazed by the difference a wildlife pond will make. Our friends at the Blackwater Valley Countryside Trust have some great ideas on how to create a pond, below… this could be the perfect project for a Spring weekend! Why create a pond? In the Spring you’ll find the tadpoles wriggling their way out of the spawn and sunning themselves in the shallows. Adult frogs are beginning to leave the water now. They’ll be hopping through the undergrowth looking for food and a damp place to hide. As the water temperature rises, you’ll recognise male smooth newts by their orange and black spotted mating colours as they slide over the stems of emerging plants. The water lilies are sending small glossy pads to the surface providing welcome cover from hungry herons. If you look closely, you might see strange circular cuts in the leaves of marsh marigolds. This is the work of the sedge caddis fly larvae. The larvae make protective cases to cover their bodies, leaving only their head and front legs exposed like a tortoise. The sword shaped leaves of flags (iris pseudacorus) begin to spike the air, ready for a burst of vibrant yellow flowers in May. Blackbirds have started to thieve the mud for nest building and the sparrows are lining up to drink or have a bath! Where is the best place for a pond? Ideally you need to locate the pond in a sunny spot away from overhanging trees. Netting in Autumn will help prevent leaves falling and decomposing in the water. Decide on...
Keep bees buzzing in your garden

Keep bees buzzing in your garden

This is the first in a series of wildlife gardening blogs we’re publishing with the kind help of our friends at the Blackwater Valley Countryside Trust. We want to do our bit to help wildlife and share some of the simple things you can do to help nature thrive in your back garden. We start with how to attract bees to your garden… Now is the time that bees are out foraging for food and returning to the colony with pollen sacs clearly filled with bounty. You can help at this crucial time of year by planting trees and flowers that bridge the gap between bees’ winter hibernation and the initial search for spring flowers. This year the first magnificent bumble bees were already visible in the garden in mid-February. Only the queens over-winter and they will be searching for new sites to lay their eggs. Compost heaps are a popular choice, so be careful when you fork over your compost pile and keep an eye open for these furry giants. What kind of plants attract bees in early Spring? Bees enjoy the early pollen source provided by Christmas roses, or hellebores and are especially attracted to blue, purple and white flowers. The open faces of single paler blooms provide an essential food source. (Pretty hybrid doubles may have the pollen and nectar bred out of them, but a mix of varieties will be good for pollinators and look stunning for months.) The bees next port of call this year were the tiny white bells of the ling, or erica carnea alba, an evergreen heath. It bloomed just at...
Create a sustainable space with your landscaping project

Create a sustainable space with your landscaping project

Thinking about how you can create a sustainable space with your landscaping project? At Kebur we strive to improve the sustainability of our business. We are continually looking at ways we can support landscapers and gardeners to have a positive impact on the environment. We want to share some ways you can select your materials carefully and boost your environmental credentials… Use recycled materials You may be surprised to know how many landscaping products are wholly or largely recycled in content, which is great news for those looking to reduce, re-use or recycle. For example, you can choose decorative stone such as slate paddlestones or marble chippings that are sourced from previously unused waste or by-products from industry. If you’re creating a deck, Saige composite decking is produced using 95% recycled materials and comes with a 10 year warranty. And we offer some stunning contemporary paving solutions using largely recycled content. Choose FSC To ensure you are able to enjoy forest products for years to come, look out for timber products with the FSC® logo. The timber used in these products is harvested to promote responsible management of forests. All our timber garden products supplied by Grange are FSC® certified, meaning you can enjoy fencing and garden structures with a clear conscience. Consider life-span Paying a little more for quality can mean your products last a lot longer. When choosing a lap panel, cheaper panels may have only three or fewer vertical batons to support them and may be more vulnerable to the wind. Paying a few pounds extra for a 6 foot lap panel with five vertical batons...