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What is a drip irrigation system?

A new way of effectively watering plants: a drip irrigation system! This is the ideal way to navigate and distribute the water used for your plants directly to their roots, as well as being able to leave your plants to become hydrated whilst unattended. So, in order to make your life easier – and especially as the holidays are coming up! – we’ve decided to show you just how easy it is to install.

 

The controller

The heart of the system is the irrigation controller. This is installed on a tap near the garden or vegetable patch and is responsible for opening and closing the flow of water according to what you have programmed in. There are many different models and prices available to satisfy the needs of all: from those that control two different areas of the garden (image 1) to those that you can control over the internet via an app (image 2). The controller is battery operated and can be left outdoors at all times without a problem.

It allows you to control two variants:

– the frequency of watering (in terms of hours or days)

– the duration (in minutes or hours)

It would be recommended to start off with a kit such as the one in this image. It contains everything you need to get started and you can always expand your collection by purchasing further parts which are sold separately.

Besides the controller, there are two types of tubing in the kits (image 3): a 16mm diameter tube (which acts as the main one) and a 4mm one, whose job is to channel the water to specific areas or to each plant pot.

These tubes are completely watertight, although some come pre-perforated (with small holes in them) or are exudative (porous along the entire length). They also are available in various lengths if you prefer to buy them separately.

 

Parts needed to install a drip irrigation system

  1. Irrigation controller
  2. Irrigation controller programmer
  3. Irrigation kit
  4. Tee connector
  5. 4-way connectors
  6. Elbows
  7. End caps
  8. Stopcock
  9. Dripper
  10. Dripper stakes
  11. 2 port manifold

Connections are made using various plastic pieces (also included in the kits): these come in the shape of a T (image 4), of an X (image 5), elbows (image 6), end caps (image 7) and even stopcocks (image 8) to be able to open or shut off specific sections according to your needs.

Start by connecting the controller directly to the tap. The pressure reducer, filter and main hose (also included in the kits) should be positioned below this.

Design your own drip irrigation system

It’s a good idea to start off with a small map of your garden or vegetable patch. Sketch out where you would want the water to go and take measurements to check how many metres of the main tubing you will need. The kits usually come with around 25 metres of 16mm tubing.

Begin by uncoiling this tubing and spread it over the selected area. It is essential so that you don’t fold or twist it at the corners. To help avoid this, use the elbow shaped pieces (image 6) which allow the water to flow more easily rather than ‘choking’ it.

The tee pieces (image 4) will help you to cut off towards various plots you may want to avoid, you close off these ‘branches’ by using the end cap (image 7) which was designed for this purpose.

If your plants are on the ground, you can pierce this tubing directly with the punch and install the dripper (image 9) above it. However if the water needs to reach plant pots or planters, it would be recommended to use the smallest tube (4mm).

Here is an analogy I like to use to make it easier to understand: the thick tube is like the arteries of this circulatory system that you’re installing. And the narrow one is like the veins that reach every corner of the body!

To gain maximum control over the amount of water that reaches your plants, drippers are used. These can be adjustable or can even be shut off completely. For plant pots I like to use drip stakes (image 10), because these are easy to jab into the soil.

As mentioned at the start, all of these items are available separately: tubes, laterals, elbows, drippers, stopcocks, connectors… But we also want to highlight a type of ‘splitter’ that turns your single tap into a double one (piece 11). This allows you to connect the drip irrigation system to one outlet, while keeping the other one for your normal garden hose, or just as a tap. Note that if you’re looking for something like this, they also come with 4 outlets.

A few tips before you install your drip irrigation system:

  1.      Don’t leave it all to the day before your holidays. Give yourself plenty of time to test how it works and make adjustments to the length and frequency of watering.
  2.      If you’re installing your system on a terrace or balcony to water pots, make sure that the minimum length of watering that can be programmed is 1 minute. If your plants need it, it’s a good idea to program the system to water them twice a day rather than to waste water because you can’t water for less time.
  3.      If you need to pierce the tubes to insert the connectors, try to make these holes as straight as possible and insert the pieces all the way in to ensure a good seal. If this is too difficult, heat up the tube a little with a lighter or hot water. The parts will then slide in more easily.

Until next time!

 

Check out our other how-tos!

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DIY Pergola Tutorial

 

Many homeowners have a lawnmower, but few know how to use it and often end up causing more damage to the grass by making simple mistakes! Read our lawn mowing tips to make sure that you cut the lawn perfectly, every time!

Lawn Mowing Tips and Tricks

thehandymano mano lawn mowing tips feature cover photo

Don’t set your mower too low!

Many don’t realise that you only need to cut the top third of the glass blades at any time, this sounds like a waste of time as you’ll have to cut it again sooner, but, longer grass blades develop a deeper root system which mean that it is easier for the roots to find water. If you cut the grass too low, you risk ‘scalping’ the lawn, which means that the roots will focus on growing upwards rather than downwards and growing longer roots. It also means that you’re more likely to get weeds, as taller grass blades shade the soil and prevent weed seeds from sprouting.

Choose your time wisely!

Many people mow their lawn on a hot afternoon, but, this can cause a lot of damage to both the lawn and the mower! We recommend mowing in early evening when the lawn is dry, as this allows enough time for the lawn to recover before the afternoon heat the following day. The lawn has to be dry otherwise you’ll risk getting an uneven trim and any wet clippings can clog your mower and, if not raked up, can end up thrown out onto your grass and result in patchy, brown spots!

Stay sharp!

For the cleanest cut every time you mow you lawn, make sure that you keep an eye on your blades and sharpen or replace them as necessary. Dull blades can do more harm than good by tearing up the grass and causing their edges to brown,leaving you with an unhappy lawn! You can find many tutorials online about how to sharpen mower blades or you can head to your local hardware store or a sharpening service.

How often?

Many people choose to mow their lawns based on a routine, ie every weekend. However, this can cause problems for your lawn, and one of our most important lawn mowing tips is to mow it as of when it seems like it needs cutting. Make sure to cut it less frequently in early spring as the grass takes longer to grow at this time of year. In late spring and summer, you may need to mow it more often (such as every week) which is possible as long as you’re never cutting off more than a third of the grass blades. In summer, we recommend leaving the grass clippings on the lawn as they can help retain moisture and add in more nutrients!

Take your time

If you mow the lawn too fast then you’re likely to miss parts of the lawn and create more work for yourself in the long run. If you rush your job, then you’re more likely to have an uneven cut and leave behind poorly mulched clippings, even if it’s dry grass!

Got green fingers for more advice? Try our other articles: 

Types of Shrubs – Seasonal Guide

Top Nine Low Maintenance Flowers

Looking for a pergola for your garden or patio but can’t get your budget to stretch far enough? This tutorial will take you step by step through how to build a DIY pergola easily and without spending too much. You can even match it to the rest of your garden furniture!

With the arrival of the good weather it’s important to have shade to protect you from too much sun (yes, even in the UK… 🙂 ) . Pergolas, arbors, or gazebos can be ideal, however, it can sometimes be difficult to find the one you want for the price that suits the size and style of your garden or patio.

To get the perfect pergola for your patio, why not make your own DIY pergola and match it to the rest of your outdoor furniture?

Tools and Materials

thehandymano mano mano DIY pergola tools needed

To make a DIY pergola such as the one in this tutorial, you will need the following tools and materials:

Cost, time and difficulty

To make your own wooden pergola for your patio or garden will cost you less than £150, which is a huge saving when compared to the price of a shop-bought one. If you need any of the tools and materials that have been used here, you can find some of them in this sample shopping basket.

However, this DIY project is easier than it looks at first sight, although, it does require a certain level of experience when it comes to carrying out DIY jobs. That’s why we’ve given this project a medium level of difficulty.

In addition, you will need a couple of days work to finish your pergola:

  • The first day is used to prepare the structure and treat the wood.
  • The second day is devoted to assembling the pergola. To do so, you will need to ask a few friends to help out.

You should also keep in mind that this project needs to be done in good weather, otherwise it will take much longer to set up.

thehandymano mano mano DIY pergola finished

How to make a wooden DIY pergola

Building a DIY pergola may seem like a complex project given its size. But, trust us, it’s a lot easier than it looks!

Step 1: Sand the wood

The first step is to sand the wooden posts and crossbeams with an orbital sander. This will produce a much more uniform surface and remove any imperfections. When sanding, it is recommended to sand with the grain (rather than against it).

On a side note, sanding helps to open the pores of the wood and so prepare it for the application of treatments that protect it from different weather conditions.

thehandymano mano mano DIY pergola sand wood

Step 2: Cut the crossbeams at an angle

Next, cut the ends of the crossbeams using the mitre saw or a handsaw and mitre box. In this specific case, the side beams have been cut to achieve a length of 2.2 metres. The rest of the crossbeams will keep their original 2.4m length.

In addition, to bring a rustic touch to the pergola, the edges have been bevelled. To do this, leave a margin of 3cm at the top of the beams and cut the rest at angle of 45º.

thehandymano mano mano DIY pergola cut wood

Step 3: Make the notches to insert the crossbeams

The next step is to make a couple of notches in each crossbeam to slot them onto the pergola’s side beams. The steps are as follows:

  1. Mark the notch in pencil, leaving a margin of 3cm from the top and 15cm from the side. To help, you can use a wooden template with the same width as the crossbeams.
  2. Use the jigsaw to cut the sides of the slot.
  3. With a chisel and hammer, tap on the top part of the notch until the surplus wood falls away.

thehandymano mano mano DIY pergola insert cross beams

Step 4: Treat and colour the wood

Next, you should apply protection and colour to the wood.

When applying the varnish, the following points should be taken into account:

  • You will need a minimum of two coats to allow the product to penetrate the wood fully and adequately protect it.
  • To achieve greater impregnability, it should be applied by brush.
  • You can choose between different colours and shades to match your terrace or deck, as varnish can be decorative as well as protective.

thehandymano mano mano DIY pergola treat and colour wood

Step 5: Attach the bases of the post

Once the varnish is dry, you will have to attach the galvanised post bases to one end of each post. These bases allow you to screw the posts to the floor of your terrace or deck, so that they are properly secured.

All you need to do is cap them on the end of the wooden posts using the rubber mallet, then screw them in with hexagonal-head coach screws.

thehandymano mano mano DIY pergola attach bases

Step 6: Assemble the DIY pergola on your terrace

This final step involves assembling the pergola. This will require the help of several people because, due to its size, the structure is difficult to move. The steps to follow are:

  1. Slot the crossbeams and the sides of the pergola together, leaving the same space between each crossbeam (in our case, 50cm).
  2. Drill the top to make it easier to insert the coach screws and prevent the wood from splitting when screwing in the screws.
  3. Turn the roof of the pergola over and screw the posts to the inner side of each corner.
  4. Turn it over again, with the help of friends or family (in our case we needed 4 people).
  5. Reposition the pergola in its end location and screw the post bases to the floor of your terrace, deck or patio.

thehandymano mano mano DIY pergola assemble

Et voila! You’ve gone and done it! As this is a huge project, we would love to see yoru take on it! Send us photos on social media @manomano.co.uk 😉

thehandymano mano mano DIY pergola finishedthehandymano mano mano DIY pergola finished drinking friends

This article was written by: Bricoydeco and translated. Mari Luz authors the blog ‘Bricoydeco’, she is a DIY fanatic, lover of recycling and customising furniture. Her passion is giving a second chance to turn once forgotten things into unique pieces!

Not ready to put your hammer down, yet? Check out our other DIY projects!

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For all foodies, having a herb garden on your windowsill can be the dream! That’s why we’ve compiled this guide of herb gardening for beginners packed with all the information you need to start growing and saving money!

General information before you start:

  • Herbs prefer natural light, so make sure you place them in a spot where they can get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily.
  • Never let your plants sit in water until their roots rot. Make sure that all plants are drained well, especially ones which prefer a dryer soil.
  • Choose plastic containers over clay containers during the summer – clay pots can dry the soil out quicker, especially in the warmer months.
  • Herbs like being at the same temperature as humans! If you’re happy, then so are they 🙂 Keep them away from radiators and direct contact with windows.

Herb gardening for beginners – Which plants should I choose?

Chives

thehandymano mano mano Herb Gardening for Beginners Chives

Recognised by their long and slender green stems, chives are easy to grow and are full of flavour for the compact size. Keep an eye out for the flowers which bloom, they are edible too!

Soil: These plants grow fastest in a rich, well-drained soil so consider adding a bit of organic fertiliser or healthy compost into the soil.

Water: Keep the soil moist, especially whilst the plant is growing roots.

Issues: Chives can become floppy and scraggly if you don’t harvest them enough. This is easy to solve by giving them a trim!

Harvest: Pick leaves at any point by cutting from the outside of the clump.

Sage

thehandymano mano mano Herb Gardening for Beginners Sage

Commonly used in sauces and poultry dishes, sage can bring a lot of flavour and fragrance to any simple dish!

Soil: Sage grows best in well-drained soils. You can consider adding sand and organic matter to the soil to provide better drainage.

Water: Keep the soil moist by topping it up with water whenever the soil is dry.

Issues: These plants need to be thinned regularly to promote air circulation, so make sure you keep on top with trimming them!

Harvest: Pick leaves at any point in the growing season, you can cut an entire stem or just pick off a few leaves.

Italian parsley

thehandymano mano mano Herb Gardening for Beginners parsley

 

A staple for any herb garden, parsley is packed with iron, Vitamins A, C and E, and can add some leafy green colour to any room!

Soil: These plants tend to grow best in rich, moist soil.

Water: They grow best with adequate moisture, but is adaptable to different types of soil, too.

Issues: Remember to leave the inner stalks when you start to harvest your leaves, that way the plant can continue growing.

Harvest: Pick the outside leaves at any point of the season, you can also use the stems for cooking as their flavour is a lot more potent than the leaves!

Rosemary

hehandymano mano mano Herb Gardening for Beginners rosemary

Rosemary is an easy to grow and a striking upright green shrub!

Soil: Keep the soil light and well-drained.

Water: Make sure you let the soil dry out between waterings, they hate wet feet!

Issues: The plant can get lanky quickly, so make sure you keep on top of the pruning and take cuttings for the next season.

Harvest: Young stems and leaves tend to taste the freshest, you can dry the leaves afterwards and store them in an airtight container.

Oregano

thehandymano mano mano Herb Gardening for Beginners oregano

A classic of Italian cuisine, this plant is not to be missed!

Soil:  Consider fertilising oregano every 2 weeks with diluted water-soluble food!

Water: Allow the soil to dry out a bit in between waterings

Issues: Make sure to give it a ‘haircut’ to keep the plant compact and producing leaves

Harvest: You can pick the leaves at any time but be aware that the flavour is most intense just before the plants bloom! Simply snip the leafy stems to your preferred length, but, make sure to leave at least an inch of the stem to work as a base for remaining leaves.

Basil

thehandymano mano mano Herb Gardening for Beginners basil

A perfect addition to salads, pizza and pasta dishes, basil plants are simple to grow indoors.

Soil: This plant needs well-drained and nutrient rich soil. Make sure to use an organic fertiliser, especially if you’re eating the leaves!

Water: Water regularly but add additional moisture using a spray bottle.

Issues: Basil can often grow vigorously meaning that you may have to repot it a few times to keep up with its growth! It also hates the cold, so make sure it never touches any windows.

Harvest: Start snipping as soon as plants show at least 4 sets of leaves, make sure to only pick the individual leaves which you’ll use straight away.

 

And there you have it! We hope that our Herb Gardening for Beginners guide inspired you to start growing your own healthy plants indoors. join the conversation with us and show us your herb garden creations on Twitter!

 

Still got green fingers and hungry for more gardening? Check out our other projects:

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If your garden is looking worn out after the never ending winter, why not spruce it up with some quirky large outdoor planters? These designs are easy to personalise and will stand out against your usual small plant pots. We recommend getting the kids involved in the designing and planting too – because why not transform your garden design into something spectacular on a sunny afternoon?

TREE STUMP PLANTER

garden design spring garden planter ideas wooden planters the handy mano manomano bark plant

Instead of getting rid of tree stumps, why not turn them into natural wooden planters? They nourish plants with additional nutrients as the wood decays over time and can leave a spot in your garden looking less sappy.

You’ll need: 

A sharp instrument such as an ax or a mattock (if you’re feeling extra handy, you can also use a chainsaw)
A drill
Some gravel
Some compost
Flowers or seeds
A tree stump!

  1. Choose your borders, we would recommend about 2-3 inches around the parameter but you alter it to a smaller planting hole if you like.
  2. Make sure you’re wearing safety glasses and start to chip away at the center of the stump, slowly working towards the edges as the hole gets bigger.
  3. Although this isn’t crucial, we suggest creating a few draining holes at the side using a drill. This helps your stump last longer and prevents issues with root rot!
  4. At this stage, you can choose to keep it oak-naturale or spruce it up with some paint
  5. Fill the hole with gravel (opt for a funky colour if you like!) and layer a mix of 30% compost and 70% potting soil on top.
  6. Now you’re set to fill it with flowers and watch it bloom!

 

WHEELBARROW PLANTER

garden design spring garden planter ideas wooden planters the handy mano manomano blue wheelbarrow plant

This portable planter is easy to move into the sunshine… so why not make the most of its rustic charm and have a center piece in your garden that wheely stands out?

You’ll need:

A wheelbarrow 
Some anti rust primer (unless you’re going for the rustic look of course…)
A power drill
Some wire mesh screen
A garden trowel
Some vegetable or fruit seeds of your choice

  1. This step is optional, but you can start by coating the wheelbarrow in anti rust primer to keep it looking dandy all summer!
  2. Flip the wheelbarrow over (so the wheels are facing up) and drill 3/4-inch drainage holes in the bottom, keeping each hole 3-6 inches apart. (This part is crucial for drainage!)
  3. Cut a piece of wire mesh screen to fit the bottom of the wheelbarrow, making sure you line the screen over the holes so that no soil can fall through.
  4. Fill the wheelbarrow to about 1 inch from the top with soil (or you can create a lighter mixture of compost and sand to make it easier to move it around your garden) and plant your seeds!

 

SINK PLANTER

garden design spring garden planter ideas wooden planters the handy mano manomano sink plant pot flowers

Is there a leek in your sink? There could be…

You’ll need:

A sink (it can be as vintage as you want or brand new)
A wire mesh screen
Some gravel

Vegetable or fruit seeds of your choice

  1. Choose where to plant your sink, and dig under the drainage hole to prevent clogging.
  2. Place some wire mesh screen in the bottom of the sink, ensuring that it is covering the drainage hole and cover with gravel.
  3. Fill your sink with good quality potting soil (such as one with a slow release fertilizer and moisture retaining particles)
  4. Plant either flowers from a hanging planter or with new seeds.

CHAIR PLANTER

garden design spring garden planter ideas wooden planters the handy mano manomano chair plant pot flowers

Everyone loves a good bit of garden fern-a-chair

You’ll need:

An old chair (wooden is better!)
A Screwdriver
A jigsaw
A drill
Paint (optional, of course)
Vegetable or fruit seeds of your choice

  1. Remove the seat by loosening the screws with a screwdriver.
  2. In the center of the seat, draw a circle of the same diameter of your chosen pot, once done, cut out the circle with the help of a jigsaw.
  3. This is the creative part! Go crazy with your paints taking note of the style of your garden and the colour of the plants which you’ll plant.
  4. Once dried, fill your pot with your favourite plants (we love upright plants as they climb up the chair!) and push it into the hole in the chair.

If you feel like your indoor plant pots need a bit of love then coat them in your very own chalk paint!

How to make chalk paint

How to Make a Lantern