Garden Design

  1. Garden Lighting Options and Effects

    Garden Lighting Options and Effects

    Britain is a nation that loves its gardens. We invest so much time, designing, crafting and cultivating our gardens for so many purposes: creating a relaxing sanctuary, growing healthy organic food or entertaining friends and family, to name just a few. But there’s something missing, isn’t there? A final, finishing touch. The solution? Garden lighting. There is a whole host of possibilities for outdoor lighting, ranging from the purely practical to the solely stylish.

    First, let’s get the boring stuff out of the way.

    Ideally, paths, driveways and steps should be illuminated. It’s simple safety. A stumble or trip is so easily avoided by the use of some subtle lighting. Another imperative garden light to invest in is, of course, a security light. Chances are no one will be interested in running off with the garden furniture or the contents of your shed, but you can never be sure. Motion triggered, the bright white glare is a fantastic deterrent.

    Garden Pathway Lighting & Garden Step Lighting

    Garden lighting is so incredibly versatile, so, aside from practical uses, can completely change the aesthetic of your garden.

    If you have any water features you’re in luck, especially anything where the water is moving. Bouncing coloured light from waterfalls or fountains will create some beautiful effects in your garden. Another great idea is to create shadow; if you have any interesting plants or statues, consider positioning your outdoor lighting to project a silhouette onto a wall or fence.

    Garden Water Feature Lighting and Creating Shadows

    Perhaps you have some garden decking? Decking lighting is extremely popular, either lighting the area as a whole or embedding some LEDs in the steps will create a wonderful ambiance for any evening entertainment.

    Any interesting garden features should be showcased too; pergolas, arbours or trees look enchanting with fairy lights draped over the top of them. Consider purchasing some movable solar lights too; place them in different locations around your garden to find the best positions, showing off your plants, and other interesting features.

    Garden Lighting 3

    Lighting up trees and shrubs, hanging lanterns, creating natural light with a firepit…all is possible so go and have fun with your outdoor lighting and find what works for you!

    Garden Tree Lighting

    Images 1 and 2 - photo by nan palmero on Visual Hunt - CC BY      Image 3 - photo by daryl mitchell on Visual Hunt - CC BY-SA

    Image 4 - photo by Caviness Landscape Design on Visual Hunt - CC BY-ND      Image 5 - photo by digduggan on Visual Hunt - CC BY

    Image 6 - photo by AZAdam on Visual Hunt - CC BY-SA      Image 7 - photo by grongar on Visual Hunt - CCBY

    Image 8 - photo by berhard.friess on Visual Hunt - CC BY-ND      Image 9 - photo by iyoupapa on Visual Hunt - CC BY-SA

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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. 5 inventive uses and designs for sheds

    For several years, sheds from around the world have grown from being simple storage to elaborate escapes for men and women to enjoy their time alone with their hobbies or enjoying games with a close group of friends. Given the fact that almost 50% of men claim to have spent an entire day in their shed, it stands to reason that these sheds are designed to be much more than a place to store the lawnmower and holiday decorations.

    Uses and designs for garden sheds

    A home-away-from-home office

    The majority of our days are often filled with deadlines; after-school commitments, doctor appointments and several other pressures. Creating a personal office space may be just the thing you need to achieve a life balance.

    Whether you work from home or just enjoy reading in solitude, adding a few comfy chairs, a personal workspace and a small library can transform the everyday garden shed into a quiet office or cosy reading nook. Make sure that the entire area is well lit and improve the atmosphere by adding an abundance of easy-to-care for plants, inspirational posters and other items to personalise your space.

    A relaxing day spa

    Let’s face it, not all of us can afford to live a life pampered by spa professionals. But with a little creativity and elbow grease, a drabby shed can be turned into a beautiful spa to enjoy whenever the mood strikes. While you don’t have to go all-out and install a complete plumbing system, there are a few simple things you can do to create your own soothing space:

    • Drop the technology: For the total getaway experience, make it a rule to not allow any kind of technology that might distract you from letting go of your stress.
    • Include tranquil colours and textures: Combine cool and relaxing colours such as blue-greens.
    • Space to stretch out: Whether you choose to go with a tub or want to enjoy the shed as a place to meditate, you’ll want to have a place where you’ll be able to stretch your entire body out. Consider investing in thicker yoga mats and comfortable blankets to lie on.
    • Candlelight: Combine a mix of coloured votive candles and place them on tall metal stands on a variety of end tables. The flickering of the light and warm glow will help set the mood.

    A garden cottage greenhouse

    For those that enjoy the outdoors for all it has to offer, converting a shed into a gorgeous cottage greenhouse is just one way to enjoy nature no matter the time of day. While there is always the option to grow seedlings in your kitchen window, having your own greenhouse can save you a significant amount of time in cleaning up potting soil out of your sink!

    To get the best results for your garden, make sure that the shed is designed so that it lets in plenty of natural light, while also minimising exposure to direct sunlight. Having durable tools and a well-organised toolbox will be key to ensuring that you have the most efficient workspace for your garden.

    It’s also important to maintain proper ventilation to help keep the greenhouse at a steady temperature throughout the seasons.

    A fun playhouse

    All work and no play? Nonsense! Every child deserves a place where they can run off with their imagination, and there’s no better place than a playhouse to inspire creativity!

    Add child-sized furniture and surround the room in bright and playful colours. Whether your kids love to set off on pirate adventures or prefer playing dress-up, they will want to spend hours in a space that is dedicated to their imagination.

    In addition to adding your children’s favourite toys and games to play with, be sure that the shed is in fact child-safe. Add edge bumpers to cover sharp corners, cabinets and counters. If there are electrical outlets, cover them with electrical plates that are big enough so that are unable to be swallowed.

    A personal art gallery

    Speaking of imagination, adults need to have a way to explore their creative side as well! Perhaps you should consider an inventive shed design such as an art gallery. Here you’ll be free to paint and complete art projects without having to clutter up your home with canvas and other art essentials.

    In addition to having ample space for your easel and canvases, fill the room with natural light during the day with glass doors. If you happen to have a nice view, position the back of your easel to face the window with the best view. Set the mood at night by lighting scented candles.

    Throughout the past few years, home-owners have become pretty creative when it comes to creating a space they can call their own. There are several uses for sheds that have yet to be made -- what ideas do you have?

    Be sure to check out our garden sheds for some inspiration on what you can use your shed for.

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  6. How to turn a shed into an office

    Shed conversions are becoming the new thing at the moment, turning what used to be just a storage space into a work out, relaxation or office space. The great thing about this is even if you have a low budget you can achieve a space away from the home where you can do what you like. Home offices are very hard to achieve due to the distractions in the house so what better way than to renovate your old shed.

    The first thing you will want to do is to give your shed a once over, especially if it is an older shed.

    Here is a guide that walks you through the process of checking and fixing common problems with an older shed.

    Following this guide you will now have a safe and workable shed. Time to renovate.

    To have a working office all year round, you will need to insulate the shed so that you do not become frozen to your desk. Again, here is a handy guide that shows an easy way to insulate your shed.

    Furnishing your new home office

    Now we have a safe and warm shed, the next phase is to add furnishings such as chairs/desk.

    Office chairs can be found in a range of stores, even better if you already have one lying around the house. When insulating the shed we recommend that you add a layer of carpet as it will keep the shed warmer and will allow for smooth chair rolling. Another seating arrangement can be added in the form of a fixed seat which is really handy, especially if you will have clients over to your office.

    Here is a fantastic guide which shows you how to make the fitted seat and how to make one without breaking the bank.

    Other essentials you will require will be a desk for working which again can be found at any store these days. Make sure you measure the space available inside the shed to avoid getting home and finding that your desk is too big!

    Internet and electricity

    Thanks to technology these days, WiFi will enable internet use inside the shed and therefore no installation will be required. Of course if you have issues with WiFi range you can find range increases at specialised computer shops and this will remove that issue. If you do require electricity inside the shed then we advise to call in an electrician as they will know what they are doing and will install it safely. Of course installing electricity will increase the cost of the renovation but in most cases it is needed and will pay off.

    All manner of items can be added inside the shed once you have mains power, fridges and fans for summer days etc. Heaters for the cold winter mornings. Having electricity makes it a proper “office”.

    Other alternatives

    If your shed is not worth fixing up, for example it’s an old storage shed, then take a look at the range of log cabins we have on site that can double as garden offices.

    If you want to know more about the range of log cabins on offer then check out our useful video below:

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  7. How to build a fitted bench seat in a shed

    Through an annual de-clutter of the shed, you may have found that you really do not have lots of storage anymore. Maybe the kids have gone off to Uni and your shed is now free from bikes and other items that were consuming your sheds storage space before. How about you turn your shed into an outside living space that will keep you cosy in the Winter and allow you to make the most of the warmer weather in the Summer.

    Firstly, if your shed has seen brighter days, take a look at our dedicated page on how to restore and fix any problems you might face with your shed.

    Once your shed is back to a safe level, we advise that you take the time to insulate the shed as this will allow for winter use without having to wear 4-5 layers.

    If you think you would rather not build your own bench seat, take a look at some of our small storage range which includes storage seats:

    Building your own fitted bench seat

    Fitting a bench is very easy and cheap and can be done in only a few hours. Depending on how large your shed is will depend on how big your bench can be. Smaller sheds will allow for a small seating bench whereas larger sheds will allow for a wide lying down section. Remember also that you may still need to store items so take that into account when planning how big your bench will be.

    Materials needed

    • Solid 2x4 timber planks that will act as the support legs. 
    • Hammer and Nails/Screwdriver and Screws.
    • Tough OSB/Plywood board to create the seat top. 
    • Saw to cut lengths to appropriate size.
    • Sanding paper and Spirit level.

    Buidling

    The first step is to take 4 solid timber lengths as these will act as the legs.

    From there you want to take two long lengths of the same thickness and two shorter and create the frame.
    Use long screws and screw together the frame to create the frame.

    Once you have got your frame, flip it upside down so that the legs face upwards.

    Cut 4 small squares that exceed the diameter of the legs and screw them onto each of the 4 legs.

    Once your seat is made this will allow you to screw down the seat to your sheds floor to secure it (remember however if you are putting your seat in the corner, the back sets of floor squares will have to be the same as one width of the leg so that they can fit against the wall too).

    Now you have your frame and floor attachments, take some screws and push the seat up to the corner and attach both the one side to the sheds gable and then each leg to the floor. Your seat is now fixed and will not move.

    Using a tape measure, work out how many lengths you can fit inside the frame and then cut them to fit between the frame. Using screws again attach them to give the seat a solid platform.

    Once the frame is filled with the lengths you can take your OSB Sheet Board or Plywood and cut it to fit the top and then screw it onto the frame.

    Using tongue and groove you can then create the exterior of the seat. Leave a gap on one side as this will allow you to store things underneath the seat or if you prefer to leave it all open for maximum storage then that is possible too.

    Finally, Sand down all the sides so they have a smooth finish and then you have a seat that can withstand
    lots of weight that is fixed to both the side and floor of your shed.

    Grab yourself some Blankets and Cushions or even the top of a sofa bed and there you have the comfiest shed seat you can ask for, all for a low cost.

    If you want to make the seat safer for the whole family, DIY stores sell rolls of soft sponge material that can be attached to the sides and this prevents any easy injury.

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  8. How to choose the right garden sheds

    The most important decision when it comes to choosing the right shed is what you are going to use it for, and how often it will be used.

    A garden shed is a great addition to any home as they add that additional, useful storage space; perhaps you may have been looking for to store all of your tools, furniture or gardening equipment. Not only that, you can transform a standard shed into a summer house, a gym, an office, or even go all the way and create a guest house. Take a look at our range of sheds below to see the variety on offer:

    Things to consider

    Size

    The size of the shed is a very important feature to consider as you need to be sure you have the room to install in your garden, as well as what you will need your shed for. You may decide that you need a double door on your shed, for a more flexible, practical working area.

    Treatment

    Dip treated sheds

    Our dip treatment ensures a 10 year anti-rot guarantee provided that your building is isolated from ground contact and regularly re-treated with a timber preservative, keeping you shed looking brand new!

    Pressure treated sheds

    The treatment has been forced into the timber at high pressure giving a longer expected service life and removing the need for annual re-treatment. Our pressure treated products typically come with a 15 year anti-rot guarantee. 

    Roof type

    There are a few different roof types to choose from. Choosing your roof design may depend on where you will be positioning your shed, the classic apex style is the two roof panels fitting together creating a triangular point at the top (vertex), generally, this style is known as the most popular choice, you may decide you like this style but would like the door on the other side, therefore there is a reverse apex design whereby the door is on the longest panel.

    Pent roof sheds are ideal for gardens with lots of trees, as it’s a slanted panel, slanting towards the back of the shed, leaving the door on the highest side. This type also gives you a range of internal space for storing all sized items, small and large.

    Window options

    A shed with windows or a shed without windows? Depending on how secure you would like your shed, we recommend sheds without the window feature, so that all of your garden essentials are hidden away and safe. Unless of course you have a strong, reliable locking system on the shed then you could choose the shed with windows. The benefit with windows is that, when you need to potter around inside, you still get that sunlight shining through, making it easier for you to complete your jobs indoors.

    Prices

    Prices range depending on what you are looking for, the bigger the shed generally means the more money and the timber treatment can also be a reason for prices ranging. You may have set yourself a budget, you may not. If you know exactly what you want to buy, it will be easy with one price; however it can become tricky when you don’t know what you’re buying and you need to compare shed features and prices. Either way we are sure you will find the right shed and the right price for you.

    After you have bought the shed, you will need to think about installation. You might have already bought the installation with the shed, although if this wasn’t suited to you, you will need to think outside the box and get in touch with a local company, competent enough to successfully erect your shed.

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  9. What garden buildings do I need planning permission for?

    The way that gardens are used today has changed from the past. The garden area is often seen as land on which to create additional living space, becoming an extension of the home. This is especially true when it comes to building structures that can be located on the property without needing any planning permission. There are rules that govern outbuildings such as sheds, garages, greenhouses as well as other ancillary garden building structures like ponds, sauna cabins, swimming pools, kennels, and other enclosures like tennis courts. The following are general guidelines pertaining to these permissions, but it is important to understand that there may be different regulations that apply from different councils. Be sure the check with the local council for information specific to the area of concern.

    Outbuildings are generally considered to be permitted development, not needing additional planning permission as long as they fall within certain limits and conditions. These may include:

    • No outbuilding on land forward of a wall forming the principal elevation
    • Outbuildings and garages to be single story with maximum eaves height of 2.5 meters and a maximum overall height of 4 meters with a dual roof or three metres for any other roof
    • Maximum height of 2.5 metres in the case of a building, enclosure or container within two metres of a boundary of the curtilage of the dwelling house
    • No verandas, balconies or raised platforms
    • No more than half the area of land around the "original house" would be covered by additions or other buildings
    • In National Parks, the Boards, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites the maximum area to be covered by buildings, enclosures, containers and pools more than 20 metres from house to be limited to 10 square metres
    • On designated land buildings, enclosures, containers and pools at the side of properties will require planning permission
    • Within the curtilage of listed buildings, any outbuilding will require planning permission.

    It is important to understand that putting up a small detached building such as a summerhouse or a garden shed in the garden are not normally subject to building regulations. This is of course if the building is less than fifteen (15) square metres and has no sleeping accommodation within it. Furthermore, buildings with between fifteen (15) square metres and thirty (30) square metres are generally exempt from the need to apply for building regulations. In this case, the building must also not contain any sleeping accommodation and must also be at least one metre from any boundary, or it must be constructed of materials that are substantially non-combustible.

    The clever way of adding extra space without needed planning permission is with outbuildings. Larger plots of land offer opportunities to build multiple outbuildings under permitted development. Under permitted development, the total area covered by these buildings and enclosures cannot exceed fifty percent (50%) of the total area of the curtilage. This area does not include the area covered by the main house but should account for any extensions. These outbuildings cannot sit forward of the principal elevation under permitted development. Planning permission is not required as long as the height remains within the terms given above. The key understanding of a garden building under permitted development, not requiring any planning permission is that the garden building is incidental to that of the main dwelling. This means the garden buildings cannot be used for residential accommodation.

    Please understand that this information is a simple summary of garden buildings that do not need planning permissions under permitted development. It is important to check with the Local Planning Authority before actually moving forward with a project to build a garden building. It is true that regulations under certain councils differ under other councils. Furthermore, some permitted development rights have been removed in certain cases. It is also a good idea to get a certificate of Lawful Development pertaining to any garden building in case the property is every up for sale to ensure the garden building falls within the criteria of permitted development.

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