Reflections on a Hampton Court show garden

Reflections on a Hampton Court show garden

This summer has seen Kebur scoop a coveted Silver Award at RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, our first year being involved in a show garden. The garden, A Place to Meet, was designed by Cherry Carmen for the landscape industry body, the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL). As well as supplying the hard landscaping materials for the project, our professional team of installers also led the build, with 18 APL member companies involved. We talked to Craig Deeley, our Contracts Manager, who led the build, to reflect on the experience… What materials did you use? We worked with Cherry Carmen on a design that would demonstrate excellence in landscaping skills and highlight some different ways of using natural stone including a raised patio, plunge pool and wildlife pond. As we were keen to use some of our new contemporary natural stone, Cherry’s idea was to show how our Black Granite and Pearl White Leather Sandstone could be softened with naturalistic planting.   Naturalistic planting Pearl White Sandstone raised patio Contemporary black granite steps The inviting plunge pool How was the experience? Manic! I found it really positive from a personal point of view. It’s great to see how designers use planting schemes to complement hard landscaping. You have to put your life on hold the whole time you’re there. It was realistically an 8-week project so we worked 12-14 hour days for 17 days to get it done. There was very little time at home!  I loved doing it though and would love to do it again. What were the highlights? Coming together with other talented members of...
Make a mini pond for your garden

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....
Three minute guide to choosing topsoil

Three minute guide to choosing topsoil

The nature of your soil can make all the difference as to whether your plants and lawn fail or flourish. If you’re wondering what topsoil to buy, understanding a few basics about soil and organic matter will make your choice much easier. What is topsoil and when to use it? Topsoil is the very top layer of soil, which is high in nutrients and organic matter and provides the structure for plants to grow. You may need to add extra topsoil into your garden if you’re making new beds or borders or as a base for a new lawn. This is especially important where the natural soil is poor or non-existent, for example on new-build sites where the topsoil has been taken away during construction. What to think about when buying topsoil? Your plants and soil: Each type of topsoil can provide different benefits depending on what you are planting and the kind of soil you already have in your garden. Lots of plants and vegetables will do well with plenty of organic matter which provides important nutrients for their growth. Other plants like wildflowers, will thrive in poor soil without compost. Most plants like a neutral pH that is not too acid or alkali. You can test your soil pH with a simple kit from a garden centre or online. If you are planting acid-loving plants like rhododendron, azalea or conifer, they will benefit from a slightly acidic ericaceous topsoil. Level of screening: Screened topsoil has been sieved to remove larger lumps of soil, roots, stones and other debris according to size. For most purposes, screened topsoil is...
Seven ways to use decorative aggregates and how to choose them

Seven ways to use decorative aggregates and how to choose them

There are lots of reasons why you might consider using decorative stone to transform your outdoor space. From driveway shingle to rockery boulders, pebbles for ponds or a black basalt border, decorative stones and garden aggregates are versatile, great for drainage and easy to lay for quick impact.  This guide helps you think about which products are most suitable for your landscaping needs, so you can choose the right aggregate for your garden project. What can I use decorative aggregates for?   1. Improve drainage As decorative aggregates allow water to run through into the ground, they can be great for reducing the risk of your garden flooding. Use shingle or chippings as an alternative to paving or set paving stones within them to make an attractive path.   2. Create a drought-tolerant garden Rockeries, alpine gardens and gravel gardens are great options for low maintenance and well suited to poor soils and the uncertain weather patterns we’ve experienced in recent years. Most decorative aggregates can be used in this way and rockery boulders can provide dramatic structure, especially well-suited to sloping gardens. See the RHS advice on how to create a gravel garden.   3. Landscape a pond If you’re creating a pond, aggregates can be perfect for creating a ramp for wildlife and to soften the edges. Pebbles and cobbles can re-create the feel of a river or beach. Be careful to choose an aggregate suitable for fish. Some natural stone such as that with lime content will affect the PH of the water and make it unsafe for aquatic life. Although most suppliers provide pre-washed stone,...
Looking after garden decking

Looking after garden decking

Timber decking is a beautiful asset to a garden. It can be a great way of levelling out an uneven garden, creating a roof terrace or extending an inside space at the same level. Decking can provide the perfect platform for eating, entertaining or relaxing. However, like many landscape products in British weather, it can get start to look faded and get very slippery due to the build-up of damp and organic growth. In this blog we look at how you can revive and maintain the timber decking in your garden. Check your deck Firstly, it’s a good idea to check the condition of your decking regularly so you can identify any problems and decide what to do about them. The lifetime of a timber deck will vary hugely depending on how well it has been installed and looked after, how heavily it’s used and its position (eg. if near water or in a damp, shady area). Typically, a well-maintained timber deck can last for over 10-15 years. Is it safe? If left too long, leaves and other debris can hold moisture and start to rot timber boards. Look carefully for signs of structural deterioration in your boards and joists. If you need to replace any, we have a range of pressure treated timber deck boards and joists which will match up with the most commonly used decking If your decking is beyond repair and you think you may need to start again, consider composite decking, which is a great long-lasting alternative to timber. Made of wood pulp and plastic from reclaimed or recycled sources, it is 95% recycled,...
How to lay garden sleepers

How to lay garden sleepers

Why use garden sleepers? Sleepers are hugely versatile and can be used in a wide variety of building and landscaping projects. Whether you are making sleeper steps, planters, edging, terracing, screening or benches, our timber sleepers come in a range of different colours and styles so you are sure to find a sleeper suited to your garden project. How to choose garden sleepers Reclaimed Sleepers: are the sleepers that have been on the railway. They provide an attractive rustic look but caution must be taken when handling these as they can be very heavy. Avoid skin contact and don’t use in public or play areas. Treated Brown Softwood Sleepers: are lighter in weight and easy to use. These sleepers are pressure treated for long lasting protection. New Oak Sleepers: are surprisingly good value. Made from European Oak, they provide a neat modern look and have become the most popular choice in our range. New Treated Brown Hardwood Sleepers: are made of Alder, Aspen or Birch and are less likely to split than oak sleepers. How to lay garden sleepers When using sleepers for a retaining wall, or for steps or terracing, firstly, make sure your area is clear of debris and vegetation and dig down a shallow trench. Concrete the sleepers in on a 100mm deep bed. Haunch at the back end of the sleeper and if possible, the front end too. This will help fix sleepers to the ground so they remain stable. If using sleepers for a low border or planter it may well be enough to fix a wooden post or spike behind the sleepers and fix...
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...
Five ways to keep your patio clean and clear

Five ways to keep your patio clean and clear

Aside from the usual day to day maintenance, you may occasionally need to get rid of tricky patio stains or deal with weeds to keep your paving looking beautiful for years to come. Here are some of the most pesky patio problems and what you can do about them. Patio weeds A recently-laid patio shouldn’t have a problem with weeds coming through the cracks. Just to make sure you stop weeds growing in your patio, we recommend using kiln dried sand for block paving and where joints are needed, 3 parts building sand to 1 part cement. Or you can try Sika Setting Sand which hardens and acts as a weed suppressant or a brush in mortar such as EasyJoint. Drink stains Patios are there to be enjoyed and the occasional drink spillage is inevitable. If this does happen, act quickly to remove the stain as soon as possible. Scrub thoroughly with hot soapy water and a stiff brush and rise with clean water. Sealing natural stone can be a great way of protecting it against unexpected spills over time. Kebur offers a pre-seal service as well as sealers you can apply yourself. Oil The chances are, you’ll be wanting to enjoy eating al fresco on your new patio. If you should spill oil and grease, remove them as soon as possible to increase chances of success. Soak up with cloth, paper or an absorbent powder like talcum powder or cornflour. Scrub with strong detergent repeatedly and wash with plenty of water. Stubborn stains can be removed with Easy Grease and Oil Away. Leaf stains One of the most...
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...