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Garden makeover project by Bland Design

With the recent easing of Covid restrictions here in the UK I thought it was about time I got my garden ready for guests now that we’re finally allowed to meet up! Before I started, I only had an old table with a collapsed top and no chairs. All it takes is a few DIY projects and some help from ManoMano to totally transform your space ready for entertaining… That’s the plan at least!

The garden before its makeover
The garden before its makeover

I’ve split the garden makeover into 6 mini projects:

  1. DIY Garden Mirror
  2. Tips for painting wood outdoors
  3. Using arches to structure your garden
  4. DIY Garden Table 
  5. Setting up a pizza oven
  6. Making it comfy

1. Garden makeover: DIY Mirror 

The garden makeover features a DIY mirror
The garden makeover features a DIY mirror

Materials & tools

My garden is pretty small, so adding a mirror is a fun way to add a bit of dimension to the space (just be mindful of its placement so you don’t have any accidents with birds flying into it). For mine I made it to go behind the metal arbour seat against my fence to create a fun optical illusion that the garden extends further.

This one is surprisingly simple; cut the marine ply to the size you want (I left a border around mine and painted the edge black) and glue down the mirrors with the solvent free adhesive, making sure to apply even lines of glue.

Place the mirrors down firmly and leave it lying flat while the glue sets for a few hours and you’re done! To keep it in place I used a couple of wood screws to attach the top to the fence and the base is resting on the floor to take the weight.

2. Garden makeover: Painting Wood Outdoors

So, I’m slightly obsessed with painting everything black, however you can choose any colour… But before you grab your brushes, don’t make the same mistake that I did last year! I painted this bench a year ago and it’s peeling already because I didn’t sand it, but I’ve fixed it now!

Materials & tools

The bench from last year that hadn't been sanded down
The bench from last year that hadn’t been sanded down
The bench is a key part to the garden makeover
The bench is a key part to the garden makeover

I also painted the fence and raised planter, these are made from ‘sawn’ wood which is rough and easily holds on to the paint, which is handy, along with the sawn timber that I used to border the beds around the garden. The wood for the borders was actually repurposed from the old boiler tank in my loft but you can use this timber for the same thing. All you have to do is dig a little trench for them to rest in once you’ve painted/stained them.

Painting the wood
Painting the wood

My pro tips for painting wood outside:

  • If you’re repainting something that’s peeling (like my bench) you’ll need to give it a rub down with a wire brush and then a light sand to give the new paint something to grab on to
  • Smooth unfinished wood needs lightly sanding and possibly priming (if your chosen paint brand recommends it) 
  • Multiple thin coats with a very light sanding in between will last much longer than one thick coat. It’s more effort initially but totally worth it!
  • Wood outdoors will usually need retreating/touching up every couple of years, that’s just something I’ve come to accept

3. Garden makeover: Structures 

I quite like the slightly overgrown/woodland garden look, although it can look a little wild… In order to give the garden a bit of interest, I used simple metal arches to help structure the area. (Last year I build a massive pergola on my patio – if you you’re wanting to do something a bit more dramatic take a look at the blog article I did.)

Add some structure to your garden makeover
Add some structure to your garden makeover

I already had one arch next to the raised bed (which I really like) so why not add more! Along the fence where there aren’t any trellis I added a set of green arches to eventually grow climbing plants around. This will give the garden a bit more privacy, it’s really simple but effective – and they just stab into the ground!

And as if that wasn’t enough, directly in front of the original arch, I used an arched metal arbour seat in front of the arched mirror I made (I think that’s enough arches now). 

Although for the arbour I did end up putting down some spare slabs so it didn’t sink into the ground (I saved some old ones that I lifted from my patio last year) and it was easier than I thought it would be, a couple of bags of building sand and a spirit level was all I used to get them laid nice and flat!

Garden makeover step by step
Garden makeover step by step

4. Garden makeover: DIY table 

You can see from the ‘before’ photo that my old tabletop was a wreck (I used the wrong wood when I tiled it) but the metal frame was still usable, although you can do this with any wood topped table really – just make sure to prepare/paint the wood suitably! If this is the first time you’ve met me you won’t know that I’m a bit obsessed with gold leaf (I’m an artist and gilder) so that had to be a part of my project, but of course you can just paint yours.

Garden table - before
Garden table – before

Tools & materials:

If you’re starting with a readymade table then you can skip this step, but for mine I needed to cut a new top from marine ply, and sand the edges smooth once cut to size (I did cut a hole for an umbrella using a flat drill bit from my set. I also need some seating for my table so I got 2 metal benches that came with untreated wood tops which were perfect for painting, and a pair of black rattan chairs by VidaXL to match.

Using the same paint I’ve used for everything in the garden I painted the table and bench tops (2 thin coats sanding in between) and once dry I got to work on my antique gold effect. At this point you could paint a design/stripes/stencil you name it – if you want to see more of my gold nonsense check out my Instagram.

Once you’re happy with your look then you need to seal it, otherwise it’s going to be a little rough and hard to clean, using a clear varnish. You can get clear outdoor varnish in different finishes, but my preference is gloss, just make sure the paint underneath is completely dry before you varnish anything! And voila! You’ve got a stunning bespoke seating area that’s hard wearing and easy to clean.

5. Garden makeover: Pizza Oven

We all like pizza of some kind (and if you don’t then we can’t be friends) but it’s a bit daunting to dive right in to using a pizza oven! This pizza oven from Outsunny is a great place to start for a beginner like me.  It’s not huge or permanent and there is no need for gas canisters as it’s a solid fuel burner.

Pizza oven from Outsunny
Pizza oven from Outsunny

It needs a stable and level base of course, and since I was putting mine on the grass, I set a few concrete slabs down with sand underneath just like I did with the arbour mentioned above. Once that’s all done it’s ready to light! I will admit that I burned one… 

6. Garden makeover: Making it comfy 

British weather can be a bit unpredictable as we know, so to make the space a bit more comfortable and cosy when the sun isn’t out I added a table to bio ethanol fire, some solar lights, some solar fairy lights – and of course a couple of rugs and throws.

And to top it all off… Giant bean bags. I mean who didn’t dream of having one as a kid! 

Garden makeover project by Bland Design
Black rattan chairs from VidaXL

So, there we have it – now I just need to scrub the paint off of my hands, rally up my friends and have a little gathering in my new lovely garden!

Did you enjoy this article from Bland Design on how to do a garden makeover in 6 easy steps? Why not read our tutorial on a DIY solar lamp made from pallets or even our pizza oven buying guide!

Are you doing a garden makeover too? Share your finished results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

We all like to enjoy our privacy in our outdoor spaces and keep away from prying eyes or unsightly views. Here are some ideas on what privacy plants to grow alongside ways to build a plant screen for your balcony, garden or terrace so you can enjoy your outdoor oasis in private.

Privacy plants

The choices available to us for our plant screen will largely depend on the size of our balcony, terrace or garden. Bamboo, for example, is a great plant for privacy, but as it grows it can end up taking up a lot of useful space in a small balcony. 

Boxwood

shutterstock_1355766608
Privacy plants for your balcony (C) shutterstock_1355766608

Boxwood is an evergreen (it does not lose its foliage) low maintenance plant, ideal for areas where the weather allows you to enjoy the outdoors for many months. 
It can be grown in full sun and in partial shade, and it can also withstand below zero temperatures in the winter.

Bamboo

Bamboo is a luscious way for balcony privacy (C) Franco Mariuzza

Bamboo grows very fast and is a plant resistant like few others, easily withstanding both direct sunlight in the summer, and very low temperatures in the winter. Its leaves sprout from the base of the stem, so it is ideal for building tall plant screens or barriers. It can be grown in pots or planters, although its height and growth will be limited to the available space: the bigger the planter, the taller the plant will grow.

Horsetail

Horsetail is a good plant for privacy (C) Alesah Villalon

Horsetail (Equisetum hyemale) is ideal for demarcating spaces or if we want to give our outdoor space a zen look. It can be grown in direct sunlight as well as in partial shade, and requires frequent watering, especially in the summer.

Hedges

Hedges provide luscious privacy
(C) Wonderlane

We cannot fail to mention hedge plants, even though they are usually planted directly in the soil. The cherry laurel has glossy round leaves, and is perhaps the smoothest to the touch of all the hedging varieties. Thujas are much more dense, and can grow quite tall. They can all be grown in large pots or planters in order to achieve the desired density.

Climbing plants

Climbing plants can provide a privacy screen
Climbing plants provide a vertical screen

All climbing plants can create a more or less dense screen to provide some privacy. However, some of them lose their leaves in the autumn, so keep this in mind if you need your screen during the winter months as well.

Jasmine

Jasmine provides beautifully scented privacy (C) Shutterstock

Not only can jasmine provide us with a beautiful privacy screen, it will also allow us to enjoy its wonderful jasmine scent during the whole summer. It is a hardy plant, which can be grown in partial shade as well as in direct sunlight when mature. Be careful if you transplant it in the middle of summer to an outdoor area with a great deal of sunshine.

Bougainvillea

Luscious flowers for the garden
Bougainvillea (C) David Clode

This shrub can be grown in large pots or planters, and requires regular pruning if we want to guide its growth. If you have the space to grow it in a big pot, don’t hesitate to do so. Its blooming in summer is absolutely spectacular and will fill your terrace or balcony with gorgeous colour.

Ivy

(C) Dalia Mu

If your balcony or terrace receives little direct sunlight, ivy will grow there very easily. You can guide its stems so that they attach to the balcony railing, or you can grow it as a hanging plant in pots or planters. Little by little you will manage to build a dense screen to keep your terrace safe from prying eyes. We must warn you, however, that both its leaves and fruit can be toxic when ingested. This is something to keep in mind if there are children or pets in the house.

Privacy plants: vertical structures, pots and planters

Privacy plants for your garden
(C) Shutterstock

In good-sized terraces we can combine tall pots and planters to divide the space, gain height for our plants and create a good privacy screen. At ManoMano you can find a great variety of options.

Stackable pots and vertical gardens can also provide some privacy if we place them in strategic places or hang them from the railings. We can grow flowers, ferns, scented herbs and small vegetables, all depending on the amount of sunlight available.

In addition to the plants themselves, planters, pots and planting structures can help us gain some further privacy.
On a balcony with railing, for example, we can grow all kinds of plants by placing some planters on the floor and hanging others from the railing. You will need to know how each of the plants grows, in order to achieve the privacy screen that you want. Lastly, let’s not forget that some plants can take longer to grow, so they won’t be able to create a privacy screen immediately. In these cases, we can use other, more conventional, solutions to gain privacy on our terraces or balconies, such as privacy screens, retractable side awnings or even roller blinds that we can roll out and back in at our pleasure.

Best privacy plants for your garden (C) Annie Spratt

Did you enjoy this article on the best privacy plants for your balcony, terrace or garden? Perhaps you’d be interested in reading our BBQ buying guide or seeing our 4 tips on garden lighting.

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

The UK has enjoyed 3 days straight of some much-welcome sun, and there is a renewed sense of optimism as spring approaches. Now is a great time to head out into the garden and plan a colourful and lively space for the summer months ahead. We’ve collected a list of some of the essential March gardening jobs to help spark some inspiration and creativity.

FLOWER GARDEN JOBS

Grow sweet peas in the garden in March
(C) Gemma Evans
  • Now that the soil has warmed up enough to be workable, this is a great time to mulch your garden beds. One of the top March gardening jobs, mulching helps to introduce new nutrients into the soil and discourage weeds. Before getting started, make sure that your bed has been thoroughly weeded. Dig a layer organic matter at least 5 cm deep into the soil. Ensure that you leave a gap around the stem of any plants.
  • By the last week of March you should be able to plant out any young plants that you have hardened off. When planting, gently tease out some roots to encourage the plant to get established.  If the ground is already moist you don’t need to water it in, but do give it a drink of water before you remove it from the pot.
  • March is the month to plant any summer flowering bulbs you have bought. Double-check that bulbs have sufficient drainage when planting, if not they may rot. Alliums, Begonias and Gladioli are all excellent summer flowering bulbs that bring a splash of colour wherever they are placed.
  • Tending to your roses is best done in late winter before new growth has started appearing. Although pruning techniques vary between different types of roses, these are some basic guidelines. Always wear gloves to protect against thorns and keep your secateurs sharp. Make sure to leave 5mm above a bud and angle angle the cut away from the bud. For this type of pruning you are looking to cut out dead, diseased, and spindly stems.

VEGETABLE PATCH JOBS

Essential gardening jobs in March
(C) Eugenia Romanova
  • If you are raring to go and want to plant seeds out as soon as possible, then take this opportunity to start warming up the soil. Cover your beds with sheets of black plastic or cloches to give it a head start. This covering technique can also be used to encourage an early crop of strawberries or rhubarb.
  • Once the soil reaches 6°C you can start sowing your first lines of seeds outside. For these initial seeds it is best to start with broad beans or sweet peas. Help your your sweet peas by soaking them overnight before you plant them. It is possible to start growing some salad now, but plants tend to grow better when the ground has been warmed up.
  • Shallots and onion sets can be planted out in suitably warm soil. Plant them in a warm, sunny area. If you are buying any bulbs from the garden centre, avoid ones that are already shooting as these are likely to bolt during summer.
  • Now that the weather is warming up, slugs are starting to come out in force. Take this opportunity to prevent slugs from invading and eating up your young plants. There are a variety of slug deterrents and pellets widely available, but you can also use a more natural approach. Beer traps can draw slugs away from your seedlings, or you can remove them by hand and dispose of them at your discretion. Alternatively, slugs do not enjoy crawling over broken eggshells or copper, these materials can be placed as a barrier around plants.

GREENHOUSE JOBS

(C) Curro Mali
  • This is a good time to turn your attention to potted plants and give them a pot upgrade. Move plants into larger pots, and give them a generous amount of compost. As you are potting out the plants, tease out the roots out to encourage them to get established.
  • While repotting plants, take the time to check for vine weevils. At this time of year the larvae start to hatch and become active, so taking action now can prevent a more serious infestation later on. Examine the rootball of plants as you repot, looking out for small maggots that are a white-ish, creamy colour with an orange head.
  • Starts seeds for celery, celeriac, french beans and cauliflower ready to be planted out later on. You can also try growing plant plugs to get a large number of plants for relatively low cost. If you haven’t managed to get yours seeds going in time, plant plugs are a good alternative.

Source:  ww.rhs.org.uk

Did you enjoy this article on essential March gardening jobs? Why not read our article on caring for your Monstera, or Swiss Cheese, Plant or even our guide on choosing a parasol or gazebo!

Are you gardening this month? Share your finished results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway#manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

Indoor plant care tips by By Ester Casanovas

Monsteras are super trendy right now: we see them daily in Instagram posts, Pinterest, clothing, prints, paintings, and of course, in everyday life au naturel.
Its beautiful leaves are reminiscent of its origins in the jungle. Here are a few tips on how to care for two of the most common varieties of this elegant and in vogue plant: the Monstera deliciosa and the Monstera adansonii

Monstera deliciosa

In the Eighties it was not unusual to see a Monstera everywhere, indoors, and in terraces and patios. My mother had hers in the patio where it received a lot of direct sunlight and watering was controlled, as the plant was placed under a roof that prevented it from getting wet when it rained. There! I just gave you two excellent clues as to the light and watering needs of this plant. But first things first:

Indoor plant care tips: Swiss Cheese Plant

Light

Monstera plants love light, but not direct sunlight. Their ideal location is a bright room or a corner in the terrace with only a few hours of sunshine every day.

These plants prefer warm temperatures and a humid environment. In the Mediterranean region they can be left outside all year round, as they withstand minimum temperatures of 5ºC. In colder areas, they are usually grown indoors.

Substrate

It is essential that the substrate have good drainage. We can mix a universal substrate with some perlite, which will prevent waterlogging and rotting of the roots.  Every two years it can be transplanted to a larger pot, renewing part of the substrate and removing dead roots.

The Monstera deliciosa is a plant that can grow very tall, and its leaves can reach 30-40 cm wide. If you grow it indoors and don’t have a lot of space, do not transplant it immediately to a larger pot. The more space it has to develop, the bigger it will grow.

Watering

This is an undemanding plant in terms of watering, even though how often you water it will depend (as it always does) on the average temperature and the size of the pot. If the plant is in a small pot, it will require watering 1 or 2 times per week in the summer, and once every 10-15 days in the winter. Make sure that the substrate is dry before you water it. For this you can use a moisture meter or just dig your finger into the soil to assess its moisture.

If it is growing in very dry conditions, the plant will appreciate it if during the summer you regularly mist it with water. Another option is to give it a good shower in your bathtub once in a while, which will provide the perfect opportunity to clean its beautiful leaves.

Fertiliser

It is recommended that you fertilise it every 15 days with a fertiliser specific for green plants. You can use a liquid fertiliser or fertiliser nails, which are inserted into the substrate. They dissolve slowly and gradually, providing the plant with all the nutrients it needs.

Usually, fertilising is suspended during the winter, to then start again in the spring.

The leaves of the Monstera and their development

Swiss cheese holes

We love this plant precisely because of the beauty of its leaves. And there are a few things to keep in mind regarding its exquisite leaves:

  • Some of the new leaves of your Monstera plant might not show its characteristic swiss cheese holes. These only appear when the leaf is fully developed. Be patient and wait for the leaves to fully grow.
  • Clean the leaves with a cloth dampened in water. Or, as we mentioned above, give it a good shower in your bathtub with your shower hose or head.
  • If you manage to store rainwater, mist the plant with it to prevent small white dots from appearing on the leaves. These specks are lime, which leaves a residue when the water drops dry. If you can’t store rainwater, then you might want to use weak mineralisation bottled water. 
  • If the tips of the leaves turn brown, it could be due to overwatering. Make sure the substrate is completely dry before watering again.
  • But if they also have a yellowish tone, it could be due to overwatering or lack of fertiliser. Think carefully about which of the two options it could be.
  • Bear in mind that the leaves and the stems of the Monstera are toxic to humans and pets, but only if ingested.

Monstera plants are climbers. Air roots will grow along its stems, allowing you to easily guide it as well as propagate it.

In order to guide it, take a coconut fibre climbing pole and carefully tie the stems of the plant to it with garden wire or twine. Do not press the plant stems against the pole: put them next to it so that the air roots can start to grow and support themselves.

Allow the air roots to grow new plants

You can use the air roots of the Monstera to propagate it and grow new plants. All you have to do is cut one of them and put it in water.

Monstera adansonii or Swiss Cheese Plant

This variety is usually grown indoors as it is less tolerant of the cold. It prefers locations with higher humidity and without drafts.

Since I have limited space in my flat, I decided to grow a Monstera adansonii. Although it has grown quite a bit, it is still much smaller than its “delicious” sibling. I have put it on top of the cabinet and let it hang down.

This specific variety grows leaves with small openings that gradually become huge eyes as the leaf grows. This characteristic, as well as its reduced size, makes it totally different from the Monstera deliciosa, with fully opened leaves in the form of ribs (which is why it is sometimes also known as “Adam’s Rib”).

Did you enjoy this article on caring for your Monsteras? Why not read our article on identifying what’s wrong with your plants or even our guide on creating a living wall

Are you loving your indoor plants this winter? Share your results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

By Ester Casanovas

Ester is the author of the Spanish website PicaronaBlog. A self-taught vegetable gardener, she teaches urban gardening workshops, collaborates in specialised media and in 2014 published her first introductory manual: “Hortelanos de ciudad”.

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean your garden has to look drab, especially as the days are beginning to lengthen. Consider giving your garden a burst of colour with flowers and vegetables that can withstand the cold.  In fact, some plants are so hardy that they can survive low or even very low temperatures. Here are 6 handy tips for flourishing winter flowers and plants whilst the temperatures plummet.

Winter flowers that grow well in cold weather

Pansies and violas

Expert winter garden advice
(C) Fumiaki Hayashi

Pansies and violas can withstand sub-zero temperatures and will bloom beautifully. To ensure they flourish, place them in an area that gets the most sunlight and water them regularly with a fertiliser that is rich in phosphorus and potassium. 

If your region gets a lot of rainfall, add a drainage feature to prevent water stagnation. Roots react poorly to excessive moisture. This tip also applies to warmer weather and will stop mosquitoes from taking over your garden. 

Cyclamen

Gardening advice
(C) Manuel Torres

Although often overlooked for this quality, cyclamen is one of the hardiest tuberous plants out there and makes for a great winter flower. Despite their delicate appearance, they shouldn’t be grown indoors unless they are put in an unheated room. Instead, consider planting them outdoors in a bright area that gets direct sunlight. 

When the weather begins to cool, cyclamen are getting ready to bloom. It’s the perfect time to give them a helping hand by giving them fertiliser for flowering plants

Water them once a week in a bath. Put the plant in a bucket or large pot full of water for approximately 10 minutes. This will stop the tuber from taking on too much moisture, which causes rot. 

Removing dead flowers regularly will encourage new growth.  You can easily take them off with your fingers or secateurs by keeping them close as possible to the base of the plant and removing the stem as well. 

Primrose

Your garden can flourish in the cold
(C) Henry Perks

With their white, red, blue, purple or yellow flowers, primroses provide stunning displays of colour in your garden during the wintry months. 

You can extend their flowering cycle during the winter by putting them in direct sunlight or a bright area. Make sure you remove dead flowers regularly and provide fertiliser approximately every two weeks

Avoid growing them indoors, especially near a radiator. Keep in mind that all the plants featured in this article grow best outdoors. What’s more, primroses grow well when planted with the tuberous plants mentioned above. We recommend planting them at the same time. 

Cold weather care for your vegetables

Winter garden
(C) John Price

Winter is an ideal time for soil cultivation, especially if your garden has clay soil. It is much easier to turn the soil at this time, thanks to the rain and dew. Once you’ve turned it, leave it as is. Adding a little straw will help break it down. When spring arrives, the soil will be noticeably looser. You won’t regret having worked it during the winter. It’s an extra step that can be done gradually and without much effort. 

What vegetables grow best in cold weather?

Winter vegetables
(C) Jan Canty

Winter flowers also include varieties of lettuce, whose leaves are much thicker, and which can tolerate temperatures as low as -5ºC. Bear in mind that they won’t grow as quickly in the cold weather. They will flourish if you cover them with a thermal protection sheet. 

Cabbage varieties also grow very well in the cold. It’s even believed that they taste better when they’ve gone through a cold spell. Strawberries withstand the cold very well too. Cover the pots with straw and watch the leaves change from dark green to red in colour.  In the spring, the strawberries will begin growing again and quickly produce new leaves.  

If you are using a greenhouse, take advantage of any sunny winter days to open the doors or windows and let the fresh air in. 

What should I do if it snows on my flowers? 

Winter garden advice
(C) Marcus Cramer

That’s a hard question to answer because it depends on the plant.  For example, snow should be removed from plants with “soft” leaves, which can be damaged by the weight. But snow can be beneficial for some plants, as it protects them from potential frost damage. The best solution is to protect plants that are delicate by covering them with a frost protection cover. We recommend buying bags for trees and shrubs and sheets (by the metre) for the most fragile plants. 

Now your garden will have the chance to flourish throughout winter and you won’t have to wait until spring for an added burst of colour.

Did you enjoy this article on which winter flowers to plant so your garden can flourish? Why not read our article on identifying what’s wrong with your plants or even our guide on what to do in the garden in January!

Are you gardening this winter? Share your finished results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway#manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!