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DIY Playhouse guide by Melissa Ritchie, blogger at www.littleterracedhouse.com

As the weather is finally improving, everyone will want to get back out in the garden and make the most of the sunny days. This guide will take you through how to easily build a beautiful playhouse for kids, complete with a living roof to attract plenty of bees and butterflies to the garden.

What you will need:

DIY playhouse guide

Step 1. Preparation station

Familiarise yourself with the instructions that come with the playhouse and check all the components are included. With a pencil, mark each length of wood with its corresponding letter/number reference and organise all your components.

Prepare the components
Prepare the components

Step 2. The construction begins!

Following the instruction guide, start constructing the playhouse. We made pilot holes wherever a screw was required first, using a 3mm wood drill bit. We made sure the cladding was attached, using the screws provided, at right angles using a square.

Step 3. Sides first and foremost

Put together all the sides, following the instruction guide first.

Build the sides of the DIY playhouse
Build the sides of the DIY playhouse

Step 4. Assembly time

Next, the playhouse needs to be assembled – you will need two people for this bit. Make pilot holes first and then screw together.

Assemble the playhouse
Assemble the playhouse

Step 5. Roof it

Attach the roof cladding. If you are not adding a roof planter, simply follow the guide and overlap each length. This will help avoid water coming into the playhouse when it rains. As we decided to add a planter to our roof, the cladding was screwed flat to the roof as illustrated below.

Add the roof cladding
Add the roof cladding

Step 6. Planter it up

The roof planter was made using the spare lengths of wood that would otherwise have been used for the roof, had the cladding overlapped. The planter is simply a frame, screwed to the edges of the roof. The bottom and top of the frame will not need to be cut down – you can just use a spare roof panel. The sides of the planter can be cut to the correct length from the remaining spare panels.

We made our planter about 1cm longer than the roof. This overhanging gap allows for drainage.  

Screw the planter frame together. It can then be attached to the roof by screwing up through the roof panels and into the frame along the sides.

Roof planter for the DIY playhouse
Roof planter for the DIY playhouse

Step 7. Line the planter

The planter needs to be lined. We used a thick plastic wrap that had been used as packaging, however old compost bags or a pond liner will also work well. Position the liner over the planter and secure in place with a staple gun.

Pierce some holes in the liner where the planter frame overhangs the roof, to ensure water can drain freely.

Line the planter on the playhouse's roof
Line the planter on the playhouse’s roof

Step 8. Let’s paint!

Paint or stain the playhouse in whatever design you choose! There’s various outdoor timber paints available on the ManoMano website. We went for a beach hut style playhouse with blue and white stripes and purple window and door frames.

Personalise your DIY playhouse with a touch of paint
Personalise your DIY playhouse with a touch of paint

Step 9. A spot of roof gardening

Now it’s time to fill up the planter. As the planter itself is on an incline, we covered it with mesh to help secure the compost and plants in place. Use a staple gun to attach the mesh to the planter and then fill with compost. 

The planter can then be filled with plants of your choice. Choose shallow rooted bedding, creeping or trailing plants; we used violas, trailing lobelia and petunias. Sedums also work really well and can be purchased on a roll like turf – this is a really low maintenance option.

Playhouse roof gardening
Playhouse roof gardening

Step 10. The final touches

Finally, we added solar festoon lights around the edge of the roof to light the playhouse up in the evening. These are easily attached to a length of garden twine or wire, secured to the roof planter with small nails. Be sure to place the solar charger somewhere it’ll receive plenty of sun!

The final touches
The final touches

Whatever colour you decide to go for, your little ones are sure to love the new addition to the garden. We can’t wait to see our roof planter fill out over summer and enjoy all the pollinators it will attract to the garden.

DIY Playhouse for kids
DIY Playhouse for kids

Did you enjoy this article from Little Terraced House on how to build and design a DIY playhouse for kids? Why not read our tutorial on a DIY solar lamp made from pallets or even our tips on what plants to grow for maximum privacy.

Are you working on a DIY playhouse for your garden? Share your finished results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

Even if you’ve never grown so much as a sprout, taking up vegetable gardening isn’t as hard as it sounds.  First of all, you’ll need information about the soil in your area and even the plot of land you will be using. You can do some detective work by checking with your local council, talking to neighbours, joining a local gardening group or searching online via a soil map [http://www.landis.org.uk/soilscapes/]. Try to find out as much as possible about the surrounding soil, plants and fruit-bearing plants and trees. Even weeds will tell you a lot about your future garden’s soil type. You should also look into local fruit tree varieties, insects, animals and birds. While you will want to encourage biodiversity, you will need to know how to prevent your garden from being eaten to shreds!

Your soil: the key to successful vegetable gardening

One way to learn about your soil is to take a sample and test it for yourself. You’ll need a spade to dig and a pail to hold the soil sample. There are different kinds of soil, such as chalky, clay, loamy, peaty, sandy and silty. Knowing which one you will be planting on is crucial for choosing the best vegetables.
That said, there are things you can do to change the texture and structure of your soil. For example, clay soil is fertile, but it’s also cold, wet and heavy to work. You must work it differently if you want to grow a range of seasonal vegetables.
Larger tools, such as a tiller or a soil miller, are normally used when you are working your soil for the first time.

To lighten heavy soil, you can add a bit of sand, wood ash and even calcium. Sandy soil, on the other hand, requires a great deal more watering and maintenance in the beginning. But tilling will be easier and you can plant earlier than you would with clay soils, which take longer to warm up.

Natural factors to consider before planting

When getting started with vegetable gardening, it’s important to think about the location of the garden, including its orientation in relation to the sun, prevailing wind, exposure and any trees planted close by. 

Vegetable gardening guide for beginners
© Henry & Co.

Some fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and aubergines, need a decent amount of sun, whereas others prefer cooler, wet environments, such as chard and certain lettuce varieties.  Certain plant varieties need shade to grow or even protection from the wind. It’s also worth thinking about a greenhouse for your garden. Not only do they extend how long you can grow your crops, but they are also great for protecting edible plants from being eaten by local wildlife.

Another crucial point to consider is choosing varieties that will adapt to your garden’s environmental constraints. Choose fruits and vegetables that grow quickly and are hardy enough to withstand disease and pests.

DIY permaculture vegetable gardening

DIY permaculture vegetable gardening
© Sincerely Media

Permaculture gardening—from “permanent agriculture”—is a style of gardening that aims to build a harmonious, self-sufficient ecosystem. It usually involves creating square or rectangular plant beds using wood from pallets, as long as the wood is free of chemicals or other surface treatments. You can also use a no-dig method known as “lasagne gardening,” which produces a rich soil full of biodiversity. It’s simple to achieve by alternating layers of green organic matter, such as grass clippings or shredded leaves, with layers of brown organic matter, such as dead leaves, plant matter, wood chips or even cardboard. The method breathes new life into decomposition and provides compost for future planting. Ensure you never walk on lasagne gardens or you will compact the layers and kill off the micro-organisms aerating your soil.

Plan out your planting

Now it’s time to design the layout for your garden. 
Larger plants must be put at the back, while smaller ones should go at the front where they can get enough sun and be protected by the larger plants. It’s also important to mix crops, as this makes it harder for harmful parasites and fungi to take over. 

Plan out your planting
© Peng Wang

Feel free to get creative by mixing flowers and herbs into your garden bed as well. For example, lavender, hyssop and thyme can be used for many purposes such as herbal teas, baking and seasoning.

Try to scatter your seeds somewhat loosely in the prepared soil instead of planting in a straight line. Another tip is something called “companion planting”. In essence, some plants work well together, while others can be mutually harmful. For example, potatoes and tomatoes, which belong to the nightshade family, cannot be grown together. It’s important to find the best companions for them when you want them to thrive in your garden.

Vegetable gardening guide for beginners
© Markus Spiske

Important first steps to get your vegetable garden started

When it comes to growing fruits and vegetables, the first steps are the easiest. Start by weeding your vegetable patch or bed with a hoe. After cleaning up your plot, you can choose to leave the weeds you’ve pulled on top of the crop to provide minerals through decomposition. However, if the weeds are seedlings or dropping many seeds, you will want to compost them instead or they will keep popping back up.  

Next, lightly rake your soil and start sowing seeds or planting. Some of the most popular things to grow in spring are lettuce leaves, such as lamb’s lettuce and spinach. 

When the season changes, you just need to repeat these steps for the fruits and vegetables that grow best from summer until autumn. 

© Jonathan Hanna

As a general rule, avoid planting the same crops in the same place every year. And by planting flowers in your vegetable garden, you’ll be providing an important source of food and sustenance for pollinating insects and birds. What’s more, they’ll make sure your garden isn’t overrun by hungry aphids and caterpillars! 

Prepare the soil for your vegetable garden
© Kelly Neil 

Last but not least, all your crops should be mulched. The aim is to work the soil as little as possible while harvesting as much as possible. Mulching allows you to keep moisture in your soil, so you won’t need to water the plants as much. It not only saves time but is also better for the planet!

Grow tomatoes in the garden
© Priscilla du Preez

Happy gardening and bon appétit!

© Nick Artman

Did you enjoy this guide on beginner vegetable gardening? Perhaps you’d be interested in reading our article on how to sow a lawn from seed or seeing our 5 tips on outdoor living space design.

Are you taking up vegetable gardening? Share your finished results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

Would you like more privacy in your terrace or garden? An outdoor privacy screen through the form of a trellis planter is a great option when you want to visually separate different areas in a decorative and practical way. This tutorial will show you how to build your own outdoor privacy screen in 5 easy steps.

If you are wondering about how to divide a space, either temporarily or permanently, in order to either make more efficient use of it, hide a specific area, or make it more private, a privacy screen is the solution you are looking for.

You can use it both indoors and outdoors, and it is an ideal option for your terrace, balcony, living room or even the office. It will also add a touch of elegance to the space, especially if it includes a wooden planter, as in the case we are showing you here.

Outdoor privacy screen: Tools and Materials

Cost, time and difficulty

If you have all the necessary tools, the total cost of materials is about £40, depending on the size of the trellis or privacy screen.

It will only take you one morning or afternoon to build this planter with trellis. The level of difficulty is low, as it only requires some DIY practice. It is, for this very reason, the perfect DIY project for beginners or those with little DIY experience.

Build an outdoor privacy screen step by step

The main advantage of this trellis planter as a privacy screen is the fact that the wood has been pre-treated to be used both indoors and outdoors.

In addition, it is not very heavy, making it easy to move, although if you prefer, you can attach castor wheels to move it even more easily. Another idea is to put a few of these trellis planters in a row in order to divide a large space in an elegant way. Here is the step by step guide to build this wooden trellis planter.

Step 1 – Cut the pieces

First, cut the pine wood boards and slats, either with the mitre saw or with the hand saw and mitre box. These are the different pieces you will need:

DIY garden trellis planter
To begin, cut the pieces
  • 4 boards measuring 60 x 10 x 1 cm and 4 boards measuring 20 x 10 x 1 for the planter
  • 1 piece of plywood measuring 60 x 20 x 0.5 cm
  • 4 slats measuring 25 x 3.4 x 2.2 cm for the planter’s legs, 2 slats measuring 60 x 3.4, x 2.2 cm and another 2 measuring 16 x 3.4 x 2.2 cm for the top part of the planter

Step 2 – Assemble the pieces of the planter

Next, assemble the pieces that make up the planter. In order to do this, follow these steps:

Glue the pieces of the outdoor privacy screen together
Bring the pieces together
  1. Glue the 25 cm long strips that make up the legs.
  2. Nail two 20 cm long wooden boards to one side of the legs and another two 60 cm long boards to the other side.
  3. Nail the plywood board measuring 60 x 20 cm to the bottom.

Step 3 – Protect the wood

Protect the wood for outdoor usage
Protect the wood

The next step will be to protect and stain the wood. This type of finish is ideal for terrace and outdoor furniture, as it allows the wood to breathe as well as regulate its moisture. This prevents it from cracking due to the contraction and expansion movements typical of this material.

For this tutorial we have used a wood stain with a slight green hue that highlights the wood’s grain, and is close to the colour of the trellis that will be attached to the planter.

Step 4 – Apply the finishing touches to the edges

Next, you will need to apply the finishing touches to the top and bottom edges of the planter. In order to do this, glue the slats measuring 60 cm and 16 cm long, and then fix them with the nailer.

The finishing touches to the outdoor privacy screen
The finishing touches

Then apply a water-based wood varnish suitable for the outdoors, and fix the PVC angle profiles measuring 25 cm long to the corners or edges. 

Step 5 – Attach the trellis

The last step will be to screw the trellis to the back of the planter. For this tutorial we have chosen a wooden trellis measuring 180 x 60 cm, made of pine wood previously treated with autoclave in order to make it suitable for the outdoors.

Add the trellis to the wooden planter
Add the trellis to the wooden planter

Another option would be to build your own trellis by nailing the wooden slats and then protecting the wood with wood stain.

The last thing you need to do is just add a few plants and ornaments to decorate the trellis planter.

Add some greenery to the wooden trellis planter
Add some greenery to the wooden trellis planter

Its versatility will allow you to place it in any indoor or outdoor space to suit your particular needs.

Voilà! An outdoor privacy screen
Voilà! An outdoor privacy screen

Written by Bricoydeco

Mari Luz is the author of the Spanish blog Bricoydeco. A big DIYer and lover of recycling, she retunes and customises furniture and objects to give them a second chance – and to turn them into unique pieces.

Did you enjoy this article on how to make an outdoor privacy screen? Perhaps you’d be interested in reading our fence buying guide or seeing our tips on what plants to grow for maximum privacy.

Share your results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

Who hasn’t dreamed of enjoying their own home-grown honey? Ever dreamed of having a beehive at home? Producing honey—and contributing to bee conservation—is indeed possible. But before starting, there are a few preparatory steps you should take if you are a beginner beekeeper. In the UK, you don’t need a license for keeping bees, but you should receive training and support so that you’re all ready to welcome your new neighbours. The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) has many resources, including a search engine to help you find your local beekeeping association

While the BBKA website is full of great information, they recommend joining a local association so you can access the locally-specific expertise that’s essential for a healthy hive. Your local association will also be able to provide training and a community of knowledgeable beekeepers for support. 

While you are waiting for classes near you, here are some essential beekeeping for beginners tips & advice, from choosing a hive to producing your own honey. 

You can tell a good beekeeper by their equipment

Beehive types
(C) Annie Spratt

Getting the right setup is not easy when you don’t know all the technical terms. There are many different sizes and types of hive. We’ll be looking here at the Warré, the Kenyan Top Bar and the Dadant.

We’ll keep things simple by looking at the classic 10-frame Dadant model. This format allows swarms to expand significantly in the hive. We recommend using a plastic hive base to help the bees take off and land with plenty of nectar and pollen.
This type of floor prevents rising damp—when water from the ground enters the structure by capillary action—in winter and summer. In addition, it is super easy to clean with hot water.
You can also add an entrance reducer to limit draughts and stop pests from entering the hive.

Beekeeping for beginners
(C) Kai Wenzel

Beekeeping for beginners: designing the interior of your hive

After the base, choose a brood chamber—also known as a hive body or deep super—for your 10-frame Dadant model. This is where the bees will stay to store nectar and pollen. The queen will also take up residence here to lay eggs and build up the swarm. The brood chamber must be thick enough to insulate and protect the bees. 

Next, add 8 or 9 Dadant honey or “shallow” supers to your hive. They will allow you to collect the honey produced by the bees. We recommend getting two or three to make visits to the apiary easier. You can also use what’s called a queen excluder, which prevents the queen from going to the honey supers. She’ll only be able to lay eggs in the brood chamber, keeping the shallow supers just for the honey!

You will need to add a wax-coated feeder or a 10-frame Nicot shallow super to keep bees fed in winter and help restart the swarm in spring. 

You should also use a crown board to separate the hive roof from the supers and to make opening the hive less stressful for the bees. Next, add a flat roof or Gabled roof. Gabled models look great but can be a bit heavier to manipulate. 
Finally, don’t forget to install interior insulation in the roof area for seasonal extremes of hot and cold weather.

Insulating the beehive

The heart of the hive

Inside the hive, choose the frames and wax. You’ll need 10 frames for the deep super (brood chamber) in Dadant format. And to collect your honey, you’ll need 8 or 9 frames for your shallow super. Next, get some embossed beeswax and attach them to the frames. The honeycomb structure will help out the drones as they work in the hive. 

As a beginner at beekeeping, don’t forget to protect your hive from the elements. To do this, paint the external surfaces with several coats of linseed oil or with exterior wood paint. Avoid dark colours or your hive will overheat in summer. 

It’s time to welcome the bees! 

Time to get a swarm of bees. You can easily purchase a swarm online, but we also recommend using a professional beekeeper.
There are different breeds to choose from, including Buckfast and Carnolian.  The breed of the bee is important because it affects specific criteria such as honey consumption in winter, swarm stamina and even aggressivity.

Different types of bees for your beekeeping
(C) Ja Kubislav

Safety in and around your apiary

A full body or half body bee suit is essential when handling the hive. It will protect you from potential bee stings. Bring synthetic or leather gloves and boots that go over the suit to protect your feet and make sure there aren’t any openings.  Last but not least— the bee smoker and its fuel are indispensable to the art of beekeeping.
It is also important to choose your equipment carefully so that you are using the right sizes and quantities. For example, your smoker should have a minimum supply of one litre. 

Beekeeping for beginners: making your honey

For the honey house, you will need an extremely clean area to extract the honey. Everything must be absolutely spotless. You will need a manual or motorised extractor – 2 frames to 9 frames. This will allow the honey to be extracted from the supers without damaging them. 

Next, pass it through a double sieve; this will filter out and separate any impurities from the honey. You will then need two or three ripeners. A ripener is a container that stores the honey extracted from your frames before final packaging.

Beekeeping for beginners guide
(C) Ergita Sela

To keep things hygienic, label your jars with key information such as the expiration date and type of honey collected. This will ensure you can easily find your way around later.

Did you enjoy this article on beekeeping for beginners? Perhaps you’d be interested in learning about how to make an insect hotel or reading about how to choose your honey extractor!

Share your results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags! 

Written by Zeprodortie

A teacher in horticultural production and landscaping, Zeprodortie has been developing a permaculture and organic garden for several years and is also a beekeeper. 

An outdoor living room is a great way to take your garden to the next level to make the most of your garden. For many of us, this type of project can seem to be a complicated task and as a result can take second place to designing interior spaces. We have created these 6 easy design steps that needed cost a fortune to help guide through the process, so that everyone can transform their outdoor space and enjoy that bottle of crisp white wine on ice, while entertaining comfortably in their beautiful outdoor living room.

1/ Make your outdoor living room comfy for everyone

Get enough seats for family and friends so you can entertain safely and happily in your outdoor living room. Just because it’s outdoors, it doesn’t mean you cannot be comfortable. These sofas are the perfect base for outside, with weatherproof fabric that can withstand a beautiful British summer shower. Yes, the cushions need to be kept inside long-term, but that’s what garden sheds are for. 

4 Seater Rattan Garden Corner Sofa Set Grey SANO II from Beliani for your outdoor living room
4 Seater Rattan Garden Corner Sofa Set Grey SANO II from Beliani

2/ Add soft layers to your outdoor living room

Cushions and throws make any outdoor space feel like home and will add colour and texture to soften the look. Go for natural fibres, like linen and cotton as they feel right at home in the garden. This blue ombre design we’ve chosen is a beaut. 

Riva Home Seashore Cushion Cover (40x60cm) (Blue) by Pertemba
Riva Home Seashore Cushion Cover (40x60cm) (Blue) by Pertemba

3/ Make it personal

Add your own design touch to a greenhouse or cold frame to help it bed into your scheme. We gave this easy-to-build cold frame a lick of pale green paint and some new brass handles, making it fit perfectly into our outside living design. It is beautiful and practical, helping us to grow seeds for our veg patch. 

Outsunny 2 Shelves Wooden Cold Frame Grow House Greenhouse Outdoor Plant Storage
Outsunny 2 Shelves Wooden Cold Frame Grow House Greenhouse Outdoor Plant Storage by Aosom

4/ Zone it with a rug

Rugs are a great way to define the space as an outdoor ‘room’. This rug is for outdoor use and adds some colour too. Durable and beautiful, no wonder our Dachshund Buckley loves it. 

Outdoor Area Rug 140 x 200 cm Pink AKYAR by Beliani for your outdoor living room
Outdoor Area Rug 140 x 200 cm Pink AKYAR by Beliani

5/ Plant it up

Large planters will add architecture to the outdoor living room you are creating and give more definition and interest. Plant them up with your favourite flowers or plants to continue that houseplant obsession outdoors. We have gone for Brown turkey fig, love the leaf shape, and Hydrangea Paniculata, because it is so beautiful and the white of the giant cone-like flower heads give the look a fresh lift.  

Planter Flower Pot Concrete Design Garden Flower Balcony 26 L | 49 L | 91 L Grey, 26 Liter by Deuba
Planter Flower Pot Concrete Design Garden Flower Balcony 26 L | 49 L | 91 L Grey, 26 Liter by Deuba

6/ Light it up

An outdoor living room is not just for day time- add in some lighting for night time ambience. You needn’t have outdoor plugs or wiring either because there are lots of solar powered options available. These white solar powered ball lights are effortlessly chic and come with a spike so they can slot easily into any border or planter. 

Solar sphere Lago with LED and earth spike by Lights UK for your outdoor living room
Solar sphere Lago with LED and earth spike by Lights UK

Did you enjoy this article from 2LG Studio on how to set up your outdoor living room? Why not read more about garden design or even our guide to selecting the right garden furniture for you!

Are you designing your garden? Share your finished results with us on instagram using the #mymanomanoway and #manomanouk!