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  1. How to build a garden office

    More people are working from home than ever and many do so from an office in their garden. And why not? It saves all that tiresome commuting and with internet connections generally being better than ever, communication is easy. And if surrounded by plants and wildlife, surely the standard of work is better? A garden office is therefore one of the must have features of a modern garden.

    Obviously, you have to stay legal so always check with your local council to see if any permissions are needed before erecting any building. Have a chat with the neighbours at the same time – get everyone on board and the whole process is easier.

    Choosing an office for the garden is the exciting bit. Whatever you decide upon has to be right for your work and the garden. A building shouldn't dominate a garden design to the detriment of the rest of your patch yet it needs to be large enough to accommodate your needs now and for any future expansion.

    Once you have any permissions needed and have chosen the design, you need to get any required utilities to the area where the building is going to be erected. Electricity is a must and drainage a possibility. Ensure all the work is done by qualified tradespeople and get all certification wherever required.

    Siting of your garden office is vital to its success. It's tempting to pick a sunny spot and go with that – but it may make your ideal office a sauna. Equally, hidden in a dark corner, an office could become a dank, inhospitable cavern. Make a note of where the sun rises and sets at various times of the year (deciding on such an important aspect does and should take time).

    So, permissions are in, design has been agreed and utilities sorted – now it’s time to get the groundwork in shape. Depending on the style and size of garden office you may need extensive footings, or a simple frame. Whatever is required (if you need advice get a professional to quote), do it right. Never skimp on foundations as the whole success of your garden office rests on them.

    Once the foundations are in place it's often a case of slotting together pre-cut, pre-treated lengths of wood to create the workplace of your dreams. If you are doing it yourself, read all instructions carefully and get help when putting the building together. Ensure the finished building is well insulated, ventilated and – of course - kitted out with all the luxuries you would expect: coffee machine, comfy chair and plenty of internet access. Even consider a water cooler!

    One final point is that a well-stocked and furnished office is a burglar’s dream. Invest in the best security and always detail everything with your insurance company. It's better to be safe than sorry.

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  2. The best log cabin interiors

    Once installed, your log cabin could look a little bare. It's a fair bet to say you know what you want from your log cabin, unless it was a surprise present – lucky you; no matter the final use, the first step is to make sure your new space is warm in winter and cool in summer.

    Heating could be vital to the cabin’s use in the colder months. Wood burners, when correctly installed, are fantastic in log cabins: they blend in, they belong, they just look right. They also pump out an enormous amount of heat making your outdoor space toasty when there's snow and ice all around. Combine that with a comfy chair or two and you may find that you don't actually leave the cabin for days on end (if it is fully plumbed in). Your log cabin may 'just' (just!) be a play room for the family. Heat is still needed but perhaps a storage heater is more suitable than getting a wood burner stoked up and crackling.

    Conversely, blinds on windows will shade the interior from any scorching summer sun keeping the whole room cool. You could also choose shutters. A fan – floor standing or ceiling (if height allows) – is another option. A mini-fridge is a favourite addition too.

    Then, of course, there’s the space itself. If, for example, it's a rehearsal room for a wannabe teenage dancer or music star, then any furniture needs to be movable. Sound insulation may also be a wise move. There are plenty of other ideas too: home offices, home gyms, craft studios, a beauty salon, a guest room, a movie entertainment room, a home-schooling classroom or a garden pub even. The only limit is your imagination.

    The best, the very best, log cabin interiors are personal. It doesn't matter what the style police are telling you to do. If you like shabby chic, then go with that. If you want Nordic clean line design, then crack on. If recycling everything floats your boat - obtained from a local boatyard and saved from a bonfire - then fantastic. Your log cabin is yours – so make it so.

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  3. Shed base options

    It is false economy to plonk a brand new shed directly on the soil. It is inevitable that the soil will move, causing the shed to tip, slope and slant. The door won't open or shut correctly and, if made of wood, water will ingress causing premature rotting. You need a shed base and it’s best to do it before your shed goes down.

    Bearers are the name of the game for many people. They are pressure treated, pieces of wood (or bearers!) that do sit directly on the soil. The shed is then placed onto the bearers and usually bolted down. That slight gap beneath the floor allows air circulation that in turn results in a long-lasting floor. The bearers support the shed.

    The same principle applies to putting a shed on a hard surface such as paving, stone or concrete. First of all, the hard surface has to be level, firm and if mortar has been used – absolutely set (or as many builders say, 'gone off') before any weight is put on top of it. It's that levelling that is vital. After all, it is the foundation of your shed.

    Shed base kits are available and are easy to use. Put simply, small posts are secured into the ground and a framework is built off them. As long as you use a spirit level, everything is soon perfect for your shed. Plastic matting or honeycomb, grid-like systems are also available. Shed bases, whatever they are made out of, need to achieve three things:

    1. The first is to make the ground level.
    2. The second is to support the weight of your shed.
    3. The third is to allow air circulation beneath the shed.

    Investment in a quality shed base is a good use of cash. After all, once installed you will never see the base again. It just quietly gets on with its job- and an essential one at that.

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  4. Greenhouse design ideas

    A greenhouse allows you to garden earlier in the year and well into winter. In fact, there's something you can be getting on with all the year round once you have a greenhouse in place.
    Most greenhouses have to be both practical and aesthetically pleasing. That's because they are usually a focal point in a garden’s design. And so they should be – a wooden greenhouse bursting with sun ripened tomatoes is a joy to behold.

    The practicality of a good greenhouse comes down to its usable space. You want as much glass or polycarbonate as possible – then your plants can grow healthily. You also need as big a greenhouse as your space or wallet can afford. Ask any greenhouse owner and all will say that they wished that they'd gone for the next size up. Even in winter when growing is at its lowest point, you will have overwintering plants, potted up onion sets ready for the great outdoors, and seed packets dotted around ready for spring all jostling for space. In summer, well, there will be no room to move in there.

    A bigger greenhouse also reduces the massive temperature and humidity fluctuations you get with smaller structures. It can take minutes for the temperature in a tiddler of a greenhouse to zoom to dangerous levels. Likewise, plummeting temperatures affect a small one more. But not many people can have a greenhouse the size of Kew Gardens – so think carefully.

    Traditionally shaped greenhouses are still the most popular and are mainly available in wood and aluminium. It depends on your garden design as to which one looks best – wood does tend to be a little pricier but many prefer the look (and smell) of a wooden greenhouse. Any newness in the wood fades gracefully to blend in, contributing a natural feel. Aluminium greenhouses are usually powder coated to ensure longevity and do allow a blast of instant colour. Aluminium doesn't have to aluminium coloured.

    Lean-to's are great as they utilise an outside wall of the house. And as they are leaning (or bolted) to the house, they are close by for that five-minute watering session your tasty toms will need every summer’s day. It also makes it easier to run electricity to the greenhouse for all manner of gardening essentials such as electric propagators, lighting, heating and even automatic shading blinds. All of course possible with a greenhouse at the end of the garden, but cheaper to sort.

    Whatever you choose, make your interior adaptable to the time of year. In spring, you will need plenty of surface space for trays upon trays of seedlings; whereas, in summer floor space is at a premium as cucumbers, aubergines and tomatoes all mop up the space. And do fit as much automatic equipment as possible. Thermostatically controlled electric heaters are fantastic whereas old style paraffin heaters are good but you do need to light and extinguish them. Vent openers keep the temperature down and if you are out all day, an automatic version will do the job for you.

    Think about what you want to grow in your greenhouse and plan accordingly. Just remember – it will never be big enough!

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  5. Shed choices: is apex better than pent?

    When it comes to choosing the roof style of your shed, there are a few things we can point out to you; however, it is totally down to your appearance preferences, your space available and more importantly the purpose of the shed. 

    Apex sheds vs. pent sheds

    If you are looking at storing larger items, such as tall topped objects we strongly recommend an apex as they have superior head height and storage room thanks to their sloping eaves. If you are looking to store smaller to medium sized items, we recommend pent due to one sloping panel, therefore on the taller end you are able to store taller essentials and on the sloping side of the shed you are able to store the smaller things.

    In regards to quality, both sheds are capable of staying strong and this will depend on treatment and maintenance. But going back to the roof itself, your apex shed will prove to be extremely watertight as both sloping eaves make it very easy for water to run straight off, pent can also get rid of water quickly with the sloping eave on the one side, however we would recommend the most reliable being apex as the chances of water damage and internal rotting are reduced far more with two sloping eaves.

    The apex sheds are often known by many as the “classic” or “traditional” style shed to have, which I suppose, if you’re interested in what it looks like in the garden, this would be ideal, bringing a little bit of character and being known as the “classic” shed. If you aren’t too interested in appearance and the space is all you’re worried about, we recommend pent as the attractive alternative for gardens with restricted height as it has a uniquely compact appearance.

    If you want to learn more about pent and apex sheds take a look at our useful videos below.

      

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  6. How to store your bike through the winter

    Looking after your bike pays off over time. If you keep it clean, store it well and repair any damage that may occur, you will be the owner of a long lasting, quality bike. You may require cleaning products to ensure your bike is spotless before storing away, it’s recommended that you use a standard cleaning soap with warm water for the exterior and then look into chain degreaser and engine cleaners, perhaps a dose of WD-40 too. You may like to go all out and use a wax to complete the cleaning stage.

    Once it’s had a good clean, get yourself a cover to keep it protected from rain and wind. This could be a specific bike cover or another breathable, fabric sheet just acting as a protector to your bike from dust and minor scratches in the shed or garage.

    Different types of bike stores

    There are many ways you can store bikes, especially in garden bike storage places, keeping them safe from damage and staying in good condition. How about a wall mount inside of the shed/garage, it is out of the way, off the ground and can be locked for security purposes; of course this would be an option if it would be unattended for a long space of time. If you don’t like the idea of your bike(s) being kept in the shed with the lawn mower and pots everywhere or in the garage with the car and pressure washers then how about a specific store for you bike(s). 

    If you plan to use your bike quite often then you might like to consider rubber-covered storage hooks instead of a type of garden bike storage, (like a shed) which you can hang your bike from the front wheel, this allows easier access than a wall mount, but keeps the condition, off the floor and out of the way. Keeping your bike stored away through the winter is ideal, the weather during winter is never great and it will not do your bike any favours. Rain will cause rust and potential damage and the possible cold ice and snow will ruin the chain and sprockets, they will stiffen and you will need to repair and perhaps replace. So take a look at the link above at the range of bike stores we can offer to you here, I’m sure you will set your eye on something and keep that bike in tact.

    Watch our video on small storage options below to get more information on storage options for your bike:

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  7. How to bring solar power to your garden

    Outdoor solar light has become very popular and quite practical for lighting up the garden, patio area, driveway, and other areas around the home. The environmentally friendly light is warm, subtle and provides accent light for the home. Outdoor solar lighting is generally simple to install and does not require other power sources or any wiring. Since these lights do not use electricity, there will be no addition to the electricity bill when it comes.

    Solar lighting maintenance

    Safety

    Solar power options can be very safe as they do not require power cords, making them useful in outdoor situations that include installation near ponds and/or swimming pools, and even for sheds or playhouses where children may be spending their time.

    Longevity

    The rechargeable batteries that are typically used in solar light products last about two years when they are properly cared for and allowed to recharge periodically. The replacement batteries are easy to order online or from the manufacturer and the LED light bulbs used in most solar lighting run for up to 100,000 hours. Though they are not replaceable, they will likely last a lifetime.

    Care

    Direct sunlight powers solar lighting. This means the dust and/or mud must be cleaned from them periodically to allow them to easily store energy for when they are used. Certain solar light products may need to be stored indoors during rainy or snowy seasons because they do not work as well when cloudy and during the winter. When storing them switch the solar lighting off and store them in a dark place.

    Weather

    Designed for all temperatures, various solar light products are constructed with glass that should not be left outdoors when there is a lot of snow or rain. Extreme storms or windstorms can damage some solar lighting products. If there is a concern about certain solar light products being blown away, hanging fixtures can be used and do work well for lining ponds, creeks, and swimming pools.

    Uses for outdoor solar lighting

    Decking lights

    Solar lighting can add a bit of a glow to a patio area or outdoor decking. They also provide safety when walking around the areas when it is dark. At dusk most of the models turn on and will continue for about eight hours on a full day's charge. In addition to adding a sense of safety, solar lighting on decking and patios is a design element. They are available as decorative sconces, string lights, tiki torches, and various other models.

    Stair lighting

    These lights are typically less conspicuous, but very similar to decking lighting. Solar lighting illuminates the steps, which would often be dark at night and difficult to see. Small mounting screws usually come with these step lights, making them easy to install and allowing them to fit most staircases. Remember, the solar light for steps will only work if they get enough sunlight to charge them during the day. Sometimes remote solar panels are available that can be placed in the most sunlight for charging.

    Rope lights

    A simple string of rope lights can light up a fence, railing, walkway, or pool area. As an alternative to holiday lights, this energy efficient solar lighting is available in strings of thirty (30) to fifty (50) lights and come in white or multi-coloured strings. The installation of this solar lighting is nearly effortless, but like others solar lighting must receive direct sunlight to charge.

    Path lights

    For an extra bit of garden design and a bit of garden glow, these small lights can be dotted around a walkway or garden. This solar light needs to soak up as much sun as possible so make sure that trees, long stalks of grass, or tall plants to not overshadow the lights.

    Floating pool lights

    This decorative solar lighting is available in various shapes. The floating orbs can be purchased in shapes of colourful balls, transparent spheres, flower, and many others. With a sophisticated glimmer, these lights will shine and reflect off the water.

    Security lights

    This solar light option is ideal for bringing attention to suspicious movements outside homes. Solar-powered security lights do not use electricity so they do not add to energy costs. Installation is easy because there are not wires involved, unlike other floodlight and security options.

    Purchasing solar lighting

    Check with the local tax laws before buying any of these new technologies in solar lighting. There may be some tax breaks or even sales tax exemptions available. For purchasing solar lighting, many utilities companies, cities and governments are offering certain incentives. Also, check for the durability of the product before purchase. This should be the first concern when it comes to buying solar lighting. It is important to know whether the manufacturer provides a guarantee against harsh winters, extreme weather conditions, and harsh UV rays that threaten to shorten the life span of the products.

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  8. How to lay a shed floor

    One thing all gardens have in common is a shed. Sheds come in all different shapes and sizes and are standing in all different types of conditions. Some of us use our shed traditionally and store outside items such as tools, bikes and patio furniture. However, some people choose to use the shed a little differently, as a workshop, outside living space or just a general escape from the home.

    If you have a shed that isn’t really being used anymore, check out this fantastic guide that will spark ideas on how you can transform it.

    How to create and lay a shed floor

    Creating and laying a shed floor is very easy and will not break the bank as there are many budget methods you can go for.

    The first step as always is to measure the inside of your shed. This is going to require the shed being completely empty and you will need a measuring tape.

    Whilst you’re at it and have the shed clear, this is the time to fix anything broken and restore it back to working shape. Again here is a brilliant guide on how to fix a shed.

    The first and cheapest method when it comes to laying a floor would be to use carpet. Carpet is easy on the feet, will retain heat and can be sourced cheaply. Carpet can be fitted into any shed by cutting and laying down like ordinary carpet. If you are not bothered about the style you can find off-cuts pretty easily and work with what you have to make a floor.

    Creating your own timber floor is also not a hard task. If you have an older shed that is sat on a timber base then you can go ahead and remove the flooring and start fresh. You will need lengths of wood to fit width and length and create a shed base. Create a frame the same size as your shed and then add a middle strength piece both vertical and horizontal. This can be done with a simple screwdriver and long screws once the timber is measured out. Make sure it is properly measured so it fits snug. Then depending on your budget either use tongue and groove panelling and create a premium floor or purchase OSB sheeting which is less in price but also has reduced strength.

    Alternative options

    Another option if money is no issue is to purchase readymade flooring or frames. We have a range of sheds on the site that are delivered with a metal frame which allows you to add your very own flooring similar to the method above but removes all hassle of making your own.

    If your shed is beyond repair and creating your own flooring seems like too much then head over to our garden sheds range and order a new shed with flooring today.

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  9. Top shed security tips

    Do I really need to think about how I lock my shed?

    The short answer is yes. Thefts from gardens are on a rapid increase as we head into summer. Garden sheds are a favourite target for opportunist burglars. Frequently shed security is overlooked as we often underestimated the value of its contents.

    What do you have stored in your shed? Do you store away garden furniture, the lawn mower, bicycles or garden tools? These items quickly add up in value. On average, we store over £2000 worth of items in our sheds.

    But it's not just the value of items stored in your shed which burglars like, you may also be supplying them with the very tools they need to break into your home.

    Metal sheds provide another option for security so take a look at one of our best metal sheds in this video:

    How to protect your shed

    The easiest way to secure your shed is to fit a hasp and staple, then use a good quality padlock to stop the majority of thieves. If your shed door can't support one, or you want a more heavy-duty option, you could install a slim Yale-style locking mechanism. You may also want to consider installing a simple wireless alarm system to deter burglars.

    There is also a whole host of lighting options which you can install, making it difficult for a potential thief to be stealthy. Also, by using decorative stone on your for your paths and around your shed you will hear the intruder.

    Securing items within your shed

    With tools, you can install an underfloor lock system to chain them together – stopping burglars from using them to break into your home. This system will also work well with bikes, mowers or garden furniture – adding a further level of protection from theft.

    Alternatively, you could invest in a lockable strong box to use in your shed or a stand-alone metal storage unit.

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  10. How to safely add a plug to a shed

    For those who have opted to transform the old garden shed into a retreat away from the hustle and bustle of home life, electricity is a necessity. If you want to make the transformation, check out this fantastic guide which details how to fix a garden shed. Once the shed is back to top shape, follow either one of these guides to create a garden cocktail shed or a garden office

    Adding power to garden buildings

    Adding a plug socket is not something anyone can do. Unless you are a qualified Electrician do not even think about adding power yourself.

    Adding electricity now requires you to meet the conditions of the Part P Building regulations. Any form of secondary electricity unit other than your home will require you to apply and meet the regulations which maintain safe and sound environments to live/work in. Once you have been approved paying the fee of usually around £200 its time to find a trained electrician.

    When looking for an electrician, find one who is clearly trained and has the certificates to prove it. Bodge job electricians can cause disastrous problems and cause more money then what you wanted to pay. If any damage is caused to your home or neighbours, you are liable for the fees and not him. Online you will find dedicated websites and forums that will lead you to professionals who know exactly what they are doing and can add electricity to your shed with great ease.

    When it comes to having the cable fitted you have a few choices. Through the air, underground or overground. We recommend underground as this is the safest option for the cable. Although creating a hole is challenging if you have a larger garden, you do not have to worry about accidental damage to the wire which could cause fatal consequences. Overground is good for a quick fix however as mentioned, it only takes an accident to cause serious harm. Running the cable through the air removes the chance of damage from mowing for example but can still lead to accidents. All trained electricians will recommend underground cabling.

    Once the approval is given, it’s very simple for the electrician to add the plug socket. A skilled man will have the job done within the day. Once the wire is added to the shed and the plug socket is fitted, checks must be taken to ensure that the plug socket is safe and ready to use. The building manager will be sent out to check over the job and then either certify or decline your power addition.

    There is nothing like a heater in a shed during the winter, but remember, do not take the risk. Get someone who knows what they are doing to undertake the job and do not attempt it yourselves like online guides suggest. It’s simply not worth the risk.

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