If you’re into creative DIY and designer furniture, don’t miss this step by step guide. Thanks to this, you’ll learn how to make a piece of furniture that doubles as a sculpture, based on a design by Sebastián Errázuriz. Wow your friends with its dynamism and uniqueness. Are you up for the challenge?
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!
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?
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!
Hungry for more gardening articles? Try out these for more tips:
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?
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
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!
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!
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
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
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!
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, 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?
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
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.🌼
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)
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…🌼
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!🌼
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.🌼
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!🌼
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🌼
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🌼
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!
Add a touch of privacy to your patio with this two-in-one pallet planter and privacy screen project, made using up cycled pallets.
You can decide the height of the screen and the depth of the planter to suit your needs and can fill it with pretty plants to provide a subtle barrier between your patio and the rest of your garden. Alternatively, you can place the pallet planter near your house to create a handy kitchen garden planted up with tasty fresh herbs and salad leaves.
Tools and Materials
Cost, time and difficulty
The approximate cost of materials for this project is £20, depending on the tools you already have. You can access the shopping cart of some of the tools and materials used here.
This project is suitable for DIYers with some experience of using power tools. Depending on your DIY skills and the tools you use, this project shouldn’t take longer 3 hours to complete.
Measure the gap between the edge of the pallet and the central supporting timber. Halve this measurement and mark a line across the pallet at this point. Use a circular saw, jigsaw or hand saw to cut along this line. This will become the top edge of your planter.
The section you’ve removed will be positioned behind the top of the planter to line the inside. The section will be slightly off-set to cover the gaps of the pallet, so you’ll ned to saw off the excess wood at the end.
Repeat steps 1 and 2 with a second pallet to create another long-side of the planter.
Use a circular saw or jig saw to cut away the supporting timber from one side of another pallet. Next, cut along the central supporting timber to create short planks. Repeat on the other side of the pallet.
Use these short planks to line the inside of the planter sides you’ve created. Use nails to attach the planks, covering the gaps in the pallet from the inside.
Use another pallet to cut two shorter sections to become the ends of the planter – ours measured 50cm but you can make them whatever depth you want the planter to be. First, cut away the overlapping edges of the pallet so that the planks are flush with the supporting timber. Repeat step 1 to create the top edge of the planter sides. Follow steps 3 and 4 to cut extra planks to cover the inside of the gaps and nail into place.
Use a sander to smooth all the outer surfaces of the planter sides.
In order to assemble your planter, you’ll need to cut away a rectangle from the supporting timber at the front corners of the short sides so that the sides fit together. Where the short sides meet the back of the long sides, you’ll need to cut away a larger section, which will provide space for the privacy screen to slot into the planter.
When constructing the planter, the supporting timbers inside the short sides should sit just below the supporting timbers of the long sides. Screw them together at the corners of the bottom and central supporting beams, with two screws in each corner.
Measure the gap inside the planter, above the central timber supports. Use this measurement to cut more planks from another pallet. Nail into place inside the planter to create a shelf.
Cut a piece of weed membrane to fit the inside of this top section of the planter. Use a stapler to attach the liner under the top edges. Fill with top soil or compost.
To make the privacy screen, use a crowbar to remove the back supports of the thin-plank pallet. Cut the pallet front down to the height you’d like your privacy screen to be. Make the uprights using two of the spare pieces of supporting timber that you cut away from the in-fill planks earlier. Use a crowbar to prise off the small pieces of wood from the supporting timbers. Add the uprights to the edges of the thin-slatted pallet front (with the extra length of the support at the bottom) and nail into place. Pop the supporting timbers onto the holes at the back of the planter and screw to the planter base, using two screws at each corner to secure the screen in place.
This article was written by Cassie Fairy. You can find Cassie’s blog ‘My Thrifty Life’ at Cassiefairy.com, where she shares daily blog posts about her home DIY projects, upcycled finds, budget recipes and plenty of inspiration for living a low-cost yet lovely life.