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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!

How to Prevent Plant Pests

DIY Pergola Tutorial

 

Nobody likes to discover that their plants are infested with aphids, or that fungi has bloomed. That’s why here at The Handy Mano, we’ve put together some tips to help you prevent plant pests and keep your plants strong, beautiful and healthy.

How to Prevent Plant Pests

1. Fertilise your plants!

Did you know that insects have a preference for weaker plants? That’s why our first piece of advice is to fertilise them regularly. A healthy plant is less attractive to plant pests which means that it’ll bloom better for us! You can use a generic fertiliser for flowering or leafy plants. There are specific fertilisers for veggie patches, orchids, cacti and even a specific one for bonsais. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use, because excessive fertiliser can also do more harm than good!

Aphids and red spiders (pictured) prefer plants that are rich in nitrogen, meaning that any excess of this nutrient can turn your plants into something extra delicious for them, so make sure to always read the label and follow the instructions!

thehandymano mano plant pests how to prevent them leaf with red spiders

2. Check your plants regularly

Check both sides of the leaves, and keep an eye out for discolouration, small holes or webs. It’s easy to realise that you have a whitefly infestation even if you just brush past your plant, so make sure you keep checking up on them!

In doing this, over time you will be able to identify potential problems quicker and therefore be able to give your plant the correct treatment sooner. Many plant pests are cyclical, and repeat year after year, so don’t let them stress you out too much. Try to stay positive, because experience counts and if the pests come back next year, you’ll know exactly what to do.

3. Not all bugs are bad!

It can be an interesting exercise to identify the different insects swarming around our gardens, because they don’t all munch through our plants. Some prey on the plant pests that do eat them, and in such cases, these bugs are the ones we should be concerned about inviting to visit our gardens or plant beds.

That’s what plant biodiversity is all about. For example, a balcony which has only one type of plant growing there may awsell have a neon light to attract its preferred plant pests! Those of us with urban gardens know this all too well, hence we never forget to pair up certain plants with our food crops.
For example, Basil repels mosquitoes and white flies, and Nasturtium repels snails and ants (and it looks great, too!)

4. Apply preventative treatments

You can choose to treat your plants when they already have a problem, or you can apply specific products to prevent the problems from occurring in the first place. If you have geraniums and know that they struggle every year because of the butterflies that lay their eggs on them… why not try to prevent it from happening by using an insecticide?

thehandymano mano plant pests how to prevent them plant bacteria

5. Strictly follow application guidelines

When the doctor prescribes us antibiotics, he always recommends finishing the course of medication even if we feel better, right? Well, it’s the same with plants. Many insecticides work on the adult insects that swarm around the plants but they don’t kill the eggs which can hatch within 15 days.
Repeat the treatment if the instructions recommend you to do so.

6. Beware of over-watering

Most fungi appear because of excess water. This can be caused by either watering too much, or, because of the British weather!
Regardless, it doesn’t hurt to try to prevent fungi growth by using a preventative fungicide. Although we can’t stop the rain, we can at least help our plants a little and get rid of the excess fungi.

7. Dry leaves don’t always mean disease!

If you’re a newbie to gardening, don’t get too worried if you discover some yellow leaves. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your plant isn’t receiving enough nutrients.
During any plant’s growth period, it’s perfectly normal for it to shed some leaves
In such cases, look at the leaf’s position on the plant. Is it one of the biggest and oldest? If yes, relax: it has simply come to the end of its life cycle.
However, it’s okay to worry when the leaf in question is a new leaf or one of the smaller ones, as that means that it was likely to have been born with a deformity or a strange colour. You can find out the likely root of the problem by searching for the plant online and trying to identify the specific symptoms to figure out the next steps to take.
In potted plants, you might notice the leaves lack that ‘luscious green’ look. This is a common issue, and as the leaves are telling us they lack certain nutrients, it’s just up to us to invest in more nutrients and feed them!

Which plant pests worry you the most and how do you keep them at bay? Let us know!

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Lawn Mowing Tips and Tricks

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: 

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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?

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