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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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Up for changing your garden but unsure about what shrubs to go for? Here’s our complete guide to different types of shrubs and when to plant them! So you can finally shrub up on your knowledge 😉

What is a shrub?

Types of shrubs mano mano the handy mano

Let’s get this clear before we move on to the various types of shrubs! A shrub is mostly any woody plant that has several stems and is usually less than 3 meters tall. Think of them as small trees!

How do you plant a shrub?

Before you get all excited about the different types of shrubs which you can have all year round, you need to make sure that you know how to plant one prior to buying one! Fortunately, we put some simple instructions together for you!

Step 1: Pick a location Make sure that the shrub won’t grow to block your driveway, entrance, or become an obstruction to anyone else!
Step 2: Prepare the ground Remove any trace of weeds, grass or flowers. If you don’t remove them now then they’ll soak up your shrub’s moisture and nutrients!
Step 3: Dig a hole The hole needs to be at least double the width and depth of the bottom part of your shrub; this leaves room for roots to grow freely in the compost surrounding them
Step 4: Fill hole with compost and put the plant in! Fill the bottom of the hole with at least an inch of compost, and place your plant in the center of it. Finish by filling the area around the plant with a mixture of compost and soil. And voila!

Find our range of claw weeders and rakes here, they even come with a soil-loosening tools buying guide!

Types of shrubs to plant in summer

Hydrangea Paniculata

Types of shrubs mano mano the handy mano Hydrangea paniculata

One of the easiest shrubs to grow, the beautiful Hydrangea provides fluffy clusters of while flowers that eventually fade into shades of pink and green. They tend to blossom in late summer and autumn, and are perfect for a large container or any landscape spot!

Oleander

types of shrubs oleander the handy mano mano

You may have seen these on the road, this is due to the fact that they are so easy to grow! Throughout summer, Orleander produces pink,red,purple, yellow, lilac and sometimes white flowers. Be careful though, it is very poisonous so keep your animals off them!

Spirea

types of shrubs spirea thehandymano mano mano

Another easy-to-grow shrub is Spirea! In midsummer it produces clusters of pink flowers, however, you can also get golden or lime green leaves if you buy the ‘Goldmound’ variety!

Rose of Sharon

types of shrubs the rose of sharon thehandymano mano mano

Not all roses need to be difficult! The rose of Sharon blooms during hot seasons and produces flowers in shades of pink, lavendar, blue and white. Our top tip is to look for more sterile varieties, such as Minerva, to avoid lots of weedy seedlings which can fill up your garden!

Types of shrubs to plant in winter

Firethorn

types of shrubs the handy mano mano mano firethorn

These beautifully bright orange berries look stunning in the winter! The leaves stay green throughout summer and then turn a darlker green-brown over winter. You can use it as a hedge or against a wall or trellis!

Witch Hazel

witch hazel types of shrubs the handy mano manomano

These delicate petals bloom and curl up at night, but, on a sunny winters day they emit a strong but lovely fragrance! The flowers range from yellow to red, depending on the variety you choose.

Paperbush/Edgeworthia

Paperbush, or Edgeworthia, is a multibranched shrub that drops its leaves in mid-December to reveal its bark and white and yellow clusters of flowerbuds. Also with a strong fragrance, the Paperbush emits a lovely aroma during winter days – what more could you want in a shrub?

Want some more gardening advice, petal? Why not try these articles?

Top 8 Weird Flowers

Top Nine Low Maintenance Flowers

Are you a bit of a lazy gardener and prefer to make your garden look beautiful without the back-aching work? Although this might sound too good to be true, we can give you a hand with our guide to the top ten low maintenance flowers, no ifs or buds. 😉

Our top ten low maintenance flowers

Coreopsis

thehandymano mano mano low maintenance flowers coreopsis

If you’re looking to throw some last-minute colour into garden, then consider throwing some coreopsis seeds into a sunny patch of soil and water until germination. That’s it! Just make sure to water them occasionally (or rely on our good old British weather to do that for you) and remove dead heads by trimming them from time to time.

🌼Our top tip is to dig up your plantings every third year to thin the roots out and to calm the fast spreading of the plant down.🌼

Hosta plants

thehandymano mano mano low maintenance flowers hosta leaves

These plants do sprout fragrant flowers in the late summer, but you can munch on young hosta leaves throughout the other seasons!

🌼Our top tip is to boil, fry in tempura, or eat the leaves raw – they have a very similar flavour to lettuce and asparagus!🌼

The hosta plant is very easy to grow, and it prefers well-drained soils filled with organic matter (such as compost). As there are so many different varieties of the hosta plant, we suggest checking the shade of the leaf to determine how much sunlight it needs – the darker the foliage, the more shade they can handle!

To keep your plant growing healthily, fertilise it every now and then, but other than that you can just leaf it alone and let it get on with it! 🙂

Sedum (hylotelephium telephium)

thehandymano mano mano low maintenance flowers Hylotelephium telephium

Not only is it a mouthful of a name, but the Sedum flower can grow up to 50cm tall and up to 30cm wide! This plant is such low maintenance that you can even just lay the stem on top of the soil and you’ll see that over time it will send roots out itself!

🌼Our top tip is to hand out detached leaves to your family and friends, they can put it in their soil at home and watch how the plant begins to grow! It’s almost too easy…🌼

Daylily (Hemerocallis)

thehandymano mano mano low maintenance flowers Hylotelephium telephium daylilies

These flowers are so easy to look after, that gardeners say that they thrive from neglect (that’s clearly why it’s a part of our low maintenance flowers selection 😉 )

They need at least 6 hours of sun every day, so make sure you find a sunny spot in your garden.

The plants tolerate drought, so water them when you can but don’t worry too much if you forget a few times. Once they are up and growing, consider removing the seed pods, because if you leave them in it can delay the following year’s bloom. Fortunately, the leaves grow to be so thick that they tend to shade out surrounding weeds – what great self defense!

🌼There are so many varieties of daylilies that we recommend swapping and sharing your cuttings with families and friends to mix up some colours!🌼

Cosmos bipinnatus

thehandymano mano mano low maintenance flowers cosmos bipinnatus Garden Cosmos

These lovely flowers attack the birds, bees and butterflies to your garden and they can grow easily in both beds and containers! To start growing them, place your seed or plant transplant about a quarter of inch deep into the soil. Fortunately, they like soil which isn’t too rich, so you don’t have to worry about using fertiliser. They are a very low maintenance type of flower, but if you get connected and really want to look after them, then we suggest removing all the dead and faded flowers and growing them next to a fence so that they get extra support.

🌼If you’re planting the seeds when it’s cold, be aware that they can take up to 7 weeks to start blooming! To speed up this process, consider growing your cosmos indoors first and moving them outside when they are 5 inches tall.🌼

Butterfly weed

thehandymano mano mano low maintenance flowers asclepias plant butterfly weed

If you’re not the biggest fan of butterflies then perhaps stay away from these low maintenance flowers! Orange butterfly weed can add a bright burst of colour into any garden, especially butterfly gardens (which, if you hadn’t guessed, this plant is perfect for!). Oddly enough, this beautiful flower grows just like a weed! It produces itself readily and it’s usually best not to interrupt it at all (cue cheers from you lazy gardeners out there 😉 ) because it grows by reseeding.

🌼Ideally, plant your flower in their permanent location, but if you do need to move them then make sure that their roots are no longer than 4 inches to avoid disrupting the plant!🌼

Cleome hassleriana

the handy mano mano spider flower cleaome flower low maintenance

The crazy clusters and long petals seem to bloom forever and this spider plant can almost do just that by ripening the lower seeds and forming new buds above! Plant them directly outdoors, don’t worry if it’s a bit cold, and watch it grow until about six inches high then consider thinning it before it positively takes your whole garden and/or neighbourhood. If you leave the plant completely alone for a year, then you may have trouble taking out the plants if you ever want to trim them, therefore, make sure you keep an eye on them to check that they’re not growing out of control (too much 😉 )

🌼Due to the height of the plant, we suggest putting them in the background or as tall borders🌼

Sempervivum

the handy mano mano spider flower cleaome flower low maintenance smpervivum

Okay, not quite a ‘flower’ so we’re pollen your leg a little, but more of a flower shaped lovely plant! Sempervivum care and maintenance is almost none existent, and you can grow them on a rockery, on a vertical wall or even on driftwood (if you really want to). They are relatively easy to plant, and they are likely to look different from their offsets, meaning that you can end up with some quirky and exciting combinations!

🌼If the plants don’t germinate in 4-5 weeks then leave the pots in the fridge for an extra 2-4 weeks before taking them outside again🌼

Pasque Flower

the handy mano mano spider flower cleaome flower low maintenance pasque

Perfect for growing in rock gardens, these flowers look beautiful all year around and are covered in soft, silvery hairs. You just have to water them quite a bit at the start to help them develop a good root system – you can also remove dead flowers to really prolong the watering process. Sow seeds indoors in trays and water often, allowing the soil to dry out in between irrigations as they hate being water-logged (don’t we all)!

🌼These plants also have long roots so make sure to choose your spot wisely before planting otherwise you’ll be wrestling it later!🌼

Have these low maintenance flowers left you with green fingers? Try out our other expert articles!

How to Make Organic Compost

Indoor Herb Gardening for Beginners

Feeling like getting into gardening this Summer but have no idea where to start? Save money with our garden ideas on a budget to give you an idea on how not to splash out on the wrong things! Go on, we bee-leaf in you 😉

Garden Ideas on a Budget

Reduce, reuse, recycle…

There are many things around the house that you can use in your garden! To save a few pennies, we’ve came up with a few suggestions to get you started:

-Plastic food containers or egg carton tray to plant seeds
-Bricks or lumber to frame garden beds
-Use some old fencing to create your own compost bin
-Create little soil trays out of empty toilet rolls and plant seeds until roots start showing
-Turn a mason jar upside down and use it as a little greenhouse for seedlings and plants
-Make your own weedkiller by spraying the weeds with white distilled vinegar and reapplying on any new growth until the plants die

thehandymano mano garden ideas on a budget seedling

 

Growing cheap, radishing vegetables

Make your own compost with veg peelings, weeds, egg shells and general garden waste.

Or, if you’re not feeling like making your own, hunt down local tree-cutting companies as they often have big piles of mulch on hand that they give away for free. However, sometimes these freebies aren’t always the greatest quality (due to shredded trash or seeds of invasive species, for example) so make sure that you double-check it before using it!

Grow new vegetables using scraps! Not only are you cutting down on food waste, but you can easily regrow vegetables such as celery by placing the bottoms of the stalks in water and planting them into the ground once they grow roots

Worried about growing too much or too little at once? We recommend starting small and growing crops vertically to save space. Don’t forget that you can always give extra food to your family and friends if you accidentally grow an abundance of it!

To save money on your water bill, make the most of British weather by collecting rainwater in a container and use that to water your plants

thehandymano mano garden ideas on a budget vegetables grown in basket

Give it a new look, for less!

Did you know that gravel is much more affordable than paving and can completely change the look of your garden? To lay it in place mark out the area, scrape away loose soil or grass, pin down a permeable membrane to prevent weeds from pushing through and spread gravel over it. A large bag will cover up to 20 square metres!

We suggest colour coordinating a corner or a large section of your garden! Spruce up old planters and furniture by spray painting them with a metal paint to make your garden look coordinated and less cluttered.

Clean your patio! It sounds simple, but scrubbing your concrete patio with a hose or bucket of soapy water can give it a completely new look that it’s been dying to have for a long time

Consider adding a mirror to your garden! Regardless of the size of your lawn, a mirror can brighten up a dull corner or make the space look a lot bigger!

If you want to add a lot of greenery to your garden, and fast, we suggest growing something leafy such as mint. Simply plant one or two plants about 2 feet apart in moist soil and watch them grow to be 1 or 2 feet tall and cover the area below them!

thehandymano mano garden ideas on a budget furniture colour paint

Hungry for more garden hacks? We’ve got your back 😉

Fortunately, they are garden ideas on a budget, too!

Garden Design Ideas – Furniture Inspiration

 

Garden Design – Spring Garden Planter Ideas