Buying decking can be surprisingly affordable, without the need to compromise on the quality of your timber and decking boards. As long as you are a savvy shopper and know what you are looking for in your timber, there are some excellent deals to be done. Here is a brief guide to finding decking that will be affordable for you, that will offer you plenty in return for your money and that won’t require too much maintenance.
Should you choose your decking or your decking supplier first?
It can be difficult to find decking if you have got your heart set on a particular type of board, or a certain timber or material. If you know exactly what you want but haven’t seen it in a specific shop or with a supplier, then the decking look you want might not actually exist. It’s much better to look at what suppliers have available, and from there, choose the type of timber you want. You don’t have to make a decision straight away and buy the first decking kit you see on the internet. You can shop around and make sure you are perfectly happy first – but this option allows you to keep track of what is actually available on the market, and you will know that you are able to get the decking you want.
You should also be careful about the supplier you choose; make sure they offer the kind of service you would expect when buying expensive materials like decking boards. You should select a supplier that has a good reputation in the industry, and if you don’t know the industry, ask around and read online reviews. Make sure they source their decking reputably and that all materials come from sustainable sources.
Deciding on your timber
The timber you choose for your decking is one of the most important parts of the process. You must choose a timber that will be strong and resilient, such as English oak. You might want something lower cost though, or perhaps of a different appearance. You can explore many different options, like redwood or larch. Choose treated or untreated timber depending on what you want to get out of your decking boards, and whether you need any protection for the decking. Much of this will be a purely aesthetic decision.
The practicalities – decking delivery
You need to consider the practicalities of buying decking online. It’s something that you can do very easily, but that will also become increasingly difficult when there is lots of choice, or it isn’t especially convenient for you. Look at the delivery terms and conditions and check that your decking boards can be delivered to you. It’s also worth seeing whether they will come with everything they need to be fitted, as you will need certain components in order to put your deck together. If you would like to have a look at decking before you purchase, you can often get sample decking boards and tiles sent out to you.
Railway sleepers are large wooden beams that get their name due to their common usage on railway lines. You can even get reclaimed sleepers, that have previously been used on railway lines, upping your environmental credentials when you buy them. There are many creative ways that you can use sleepers in your garden and make the space all the better for it.
Have you thought about creating a rockery before? Sleepers could be used around the edges to create boarders. Equally, they could be used as edging for border flowers, or for creating raised flower beds or vegetable growing containers. You can also use them to make furniture – a rustic table made from reclaimed sleepers could make a lovely design feature. You could also use them to improve the accessibility of your garden, using sleepers in the construction of steps, or using them to create pathways and as edging for paths.
Daffodils are one of the most colourful and iconic of spring flowers – nothing quite says that warmer weather is coming like the flowering of the daffodil. They are a very easy flower to grow and you can plant them in borders or in containers, and they will do equally well as long as they are well looked after. Part of the secret to growing beautiful flowers is knowing where to buy daffodil bulbs that are from decent nurseries. The better the bulb is, the more chance you have of your daffodils being beautiful and lasting you throughout the spring months, with a radiant bloom.
So how do you know where to buy your daffodil bulbs? Look for an online shop that has a good reputation – it’s much more convenient to buy bulbs online and have them delivered to you. This also means you have to be more sure about where you are buying from, because it won’t be as easy to judge the quality without seeing the bulbs in person. Spend some time looking into the gardening company or centre and see which nurseries their bulbs come from. You might not know of them immediately, but you can look into the different nurseries and find out which ones are known for the most high quality plants and flowers. See which country they are based in, and look into the reviews of the garden centre as well to see if people have been happy with the quality of their bulbs.
These are some of the things to look out for when assessing the quality of the bulbs you receive:
- Check the appearance. The bulbs should have a uniform appearance and be generally quite small and firm. If any of the bulbs look unusual, check to see if they feel soft, and if they do, discard them.
- Check if the bulbs float in water. If you are concerned about the quality of any of the bulbs in the batch, put them into some water. Throw away the bulbs that float – rotten daffodil bulbs will be light, so this is an easy way to tell if they are healthy. Make sure you plant the bulbs quickly afterwards, otherwise they will remain damp.
- Feel the bulbs to check if they are healthy. Make sure they are firm and don’t compress when you squeeze them, because this is an indication that they are rotten.
Once you have checked your bulbs over to see if they are healthy, you are ready to plant them. You should plant your daffodil bulbs around September to October time, and then they will flower in spring, usually between February and the beginning of May. There are so many different types of bulbs to choose from, including trumpet daffodils, large cupped daffodils, small cupped daffodils, double daffodils and cyclaminieus daffodils, so see which ones appeal to you. Make sure you plant them in a spot where they are going to get plenty of sun; they will do well in spots where there is a small amount of shade as well.
Gardeners may come across different types of soil in various parts of the UK, which can have a huge implications on what they are able to grow there. There are things you can do to improve your soil, such as working in organic matter, so you should take these steps over a period of time if you find that you don’t have very high quality soil in your local area.
These are the main types of soil you will find, and how to identify them:
- Clay soil. It will feel very sticky, and hard when dried. You can plant flowers like Bergamot and flowering quince.
- Sandy. This will have fast drainage and be gritty in texture. Tulips and hibiscus might do well in sandy soil.
- Peat soil. It will be dark in colour, and will retain moisture. Try growing heather and witch hazel.
- Silty soil. Smooth and well draining, you can grow Mahonia and ornamental vine.
- Loamy soil. With good structure and drainage, this is the ideal soil. Try growing wisteria or delphinium.
- Chalky soil. With an alkaline pH and stony texture, chalky soil might support lilac and Madonna lily.
It’s easier than you might think to plant and grow strawberries in the UK climate. With a little care and attention, your strawberry plants can thrive, and produce lots of fruit for you. Here is a guide to planting and looking after your plants:
- You should plant your strawberries around late springtime, making sure you buy a healthy looking plant. This will help you to get strawberries that will thrive.
- Plant your strawberries in rows if you have more than one plant. They don’t need much to grow – just some sunlight, and good quality soil. Don’t plant strawberries where you have previously grown tomatoes, as they can spread diseases.
- You can grow strawberries in borders, planters or even in hanging baskets.
- Water your plants regularly, especially whilst they are bedding in.
- Pull out weeds in the surrounding areas to encourage your plants to grow juicy, healthy strawberries for you.