Building DIY Gardening


Water in the morning, if required. Especially water any newly planted shrubs, plants etc.
If anything is getting too overcrowded, separate out (bulbs etc).
Plenty of growth and flowering going on, have to take off the dead heads when needed.
Add supports for any tall growing plants.
Vegetable gardens going strong. Keep an eye out for pests like black aphids (see pictures below, from Hampton Court vegetable garden).
We have been quite busy this year so will provide more photos than text this month!










Vegetable gardens

Vegetable gardens

Comments Off on June gardening advice and tips for the summer

Zero Carbon Homes UK new development

Zero Carbon Homes UK new development

Cherwell District Council have opened a large scale zero carbon development, due for completeion in 20131.

This has 400 completed properties with an estimate of 6000 by the end.
There is also a school and 250 care homes.

Comments Off on New Eco homes estate in Bicester England

Robin in May garden looking for worms after digging

Robin in May garden looking for worms after digging

The weather has been very variable this year, from hot sun to snow!

Spring bulbs are dying back and flowers are appearing. This year there have been many heavy rain showers, so the ground is more wet than usual.
Butterflies brighten up your garden.

Your garden can start to look like a proper garden at last!


Sweetcorn courgettes, runner beans can be sown. So at regular intervals to ensure a constant supply later in the year.

Overgrown grass - time to cut

Overgrown grass – time to cut


Remove any weak plants. Strawberries need netting to stop bird attacks.

Frosts might appear, although since we are now in climate change, this is rare in southern England. If frost, use fleece or protect buds etc.


Make sure there is enough shading for young plants as they can overheat.
Water well, especially tomatoes and leafy plants.
Spray cucumbers with water.

Pinch out tomatoes to make them swell more.

Trees and Shrubs

Prune trees, shrubs, clematis. Cut out any green shoots or they will take over the plant.

Water newly planted tress and shrubs, in the evenings.


New grass should be watered in the morning if required.


Butterflies and bees appear.
Remove dead foliage from places, ponds, etc. Leave around for a day or two to let creatures escape, do not place straight into rubbish bags.

Comments Off on May gardening jobs advice

12 Apr, 2016

April gardening jobs – great tips & advice

Posted by: Geoff Davis In: garden|gardening|Spring

What to do in the garden in April

Veg in rows

Veg in rows

A lot of rain arrives – April showers – yesterday I cleared a small area for turf, and all night it rained, before the new turf has been laid.

Weeds are on the march in April. So get busy.

Mulching is a good idea, lay mulch between plants, after removing weeds and detritus. This will improve the soil structure and retain moisture, and keep the ground neat looking.


Sow fast growing seeds like broad beans, peas, radishes, etc in intervals to get useful crops.

Later developing plants such as cauliflower can be started off in seed beds for later planting out.

Do not plant too closely together. This saves thinning later.

Tip: plant carrots next to onions to deter carrot fly (a pest).


Apples, plums, pears and cherries will either have flowered or be in flower. The plum in our garden starts flowering in January, and it gets earlier each year.

Rhubarb (also known as a vegetable as it derives from a Chinese veg variety): cut off any flowering stalks as they weaken the plant.


Clean the glass and open windows on hot days, don’t forget to shut them in the evening – perhaps use a timer alarm on your phone or in the kitchen.

Tomatoes can be sown in the ground or grow-bags, if not done already.

Trees and shrubs

Prune shrubs to encourage new growth. Feed the plants with fertiliser (organic if possible) and water.

Mulch rose and shrub beds.


Bats are out of hibernation, why not set up a bat box on a south facing wall? The bats will eat insects on your garden.

Birds might still be after food, although more insects are now out and about. Avoid nuts as they can choke young birds.

Comments Off on April gardening jobs – great tips & advice
Winter leaves - clear now

Winter leaves – clear now

Spring has more or less arrived, although still cold on some days. Buds and blooms are out and now is the time to get busy on the garden.

Sills needs repairs or repainting. Outdoor fittings should be checked, cleaned, oiled etc, and any work needed done now, before the start of the proper garden season.

Weed control
Now is the time to get rid of weeds, before they take over. You can remove old twings and wood and crate some new charcoal to use for drawing.

Burn old dry twigs - fertilize and makes charcoal

Burn old dry twigs – fertilize and makes charcoal

Charcoal made from burning old twigs, branches etc

Charcoal made from burning old twigs, branches etc

Seeds and planting
When the weeding is done, get planting for later in the year.

You can add potash (mined and manufactured potassium salts for plant growth), water solubale, just follow the instructions on the packet or box.
This will help plump up your fruit. Use potash in addition to your normal fertilizer.

Since it is still cold, protect smaller fruit trees and bushes with fleece or material.

If the weather is warmer, plant seeds now. Southern England is obvioulsy warmer so just go by the temperature and forecasts.
Peas, carrots, parsnips, beetroots, leeks, for an early crop, protect with fleece is still cold.
Asparagus takes a couple of years to get going, so plant asparagus crowns if you plan for that.


Laying a roll of turf against existing lawn and the edging

Laying a roll of turf against existing lawn and the edging

Time to lay any new grass, or re-seed.
Our lawn is in a mess as we left a table on it too long, so there is a dead area. This can be easily replaced or repaired with a roll of turf.
Don’t forget to water it a lot when first down, as the roots have to bond into the soil.

Everything starts to grow fast now, so don’t forget to re-pot and tidy up anything that looks ready.
Also water a lot.
Tomatoes, peppers etc can be sown inside and will be ready for transplanting in a few weeks when leaves appear.
Seeds for cucumbers, courgettes and squashes can also be planted in pots.
A busy time. Also warmer than outside!

Trees and Shrubs
This is a good time to move any evergreen trees and shrubs to a new location, as the soil is better. Take as big a root ball as you can (don’t take risks with a small one), to minimise root damage and disturbance. It is easy to kill a shrub or tree this way (I now from experience) so be careful and maximise the root volume you move.

Ponds will be much more active now. Tidy it up, clear any old plants, weeds, rubbish etc.

A pile of logs or twigs make a great habitat for smaller creatures like insects, worms etc, so make sure you have one around the back of you garden. Don’t be too tidy in these areas, and do not disturb them if possible.

Time to get busy 8)

Comments Off on March gardening jobs – Spring tips & advice
Bare trees waiting for spring

Bare trees waiting for spring

Weather in February can range from sunny warm days to ice and snow in large qualities. Rain also, wind too. Early sign of spring continue. With England getting warmer, these just continue from early buds in January. SOme don’t die back now, I have a buddleia in the garden which never died back at all, so never got trimmed – I’ll do that anyway before too much growth.

This is all very confusing for a gardener.


Prepare seedbeds. To warm them up a bit, protect from frost etc, you can cover them in polythene. Seedlings like peas, beans, etc can be sown in trays and placed inside the protection.


Use tunnel cloches for strawberries, this will make them flwoer earlier. You can open the sides later in the year so insects can get in to pollinate.

Blueberries can be planted in containers or compost sunk in the ground (ericaceous). See our page on composting.

If it is not too cold and the soil is not too hard, you can plant fruit trees. If too cold, cut back dead or diseased wood.

If it is a warm day, open the windows and ventilate. Try and keep the temperature even over day and night, if possible. Cold nights can be quite severe.

Make a start with seed planting.

Now is the time to clean mould and algae from steps and garden furniture

Now is the time to clean mould and algae from steps and garden furniture

Trees and Shrubs
Buddleia, hydrangea, lavatera etc. can be pruned, if not done already. These might be in a mess after the winter. This is the last time this can be done or they might not flower.

Plant roses now. Try and avoid the exact same places as diseases can stay in the soil.

Birds will be looking for nests, so if you can, get a nesting box up. There are too many cats in our area for this. Frogs will also be spawning if you have any water areas.

Keep bird food out and make sure there is water as it might be frozen.

Do not sow grass seed until late March.

Comments Off on February – more winter gardening tips and advice

This advice is for England and Europe, or anywhere there is a cold sometimes snowy winter.

Winter tree with clear sky rainbow

Winter tree with clear sky rainbow

Bad weather can keep you indoors, especially when ground is too wet or waterlogged, or frozen and too hard.
Remove any weeds, and get rid of mouldy or rotting vegetation such as old leaves, twigs etc.
This is not very good for any small creatures in your garden, so f possible, leave the pile of bits and pieces somewhere it can be removed later. Small creatures winter or lay eggs in garden detritus. Most of these are not pests so should be encouraged. Small insects etc. provide food for birds and other small animals.
Dig over any vegetable and flower plots if conditions are better.

Plant early varieties of seed potatoes. Also hardy peas, broad beans, radishes in sheltered spots (well drained soil).
Plant indoors for transfer out in March. Don’t plant them out all at once, put them out regularly to get consecutive crops.

Clear snow from branches. Check Ties and stakes for damage, especially after bad weather and high winds. Prune raspberry canes, to help them produce more later in the year.
Also prune apple, pear etc.
Remove old dead or diseased wood.

Winter scene at lake, swans, moorhens

Winter scene at lake, swans, moorhens

Your Greenhouse or cloches etc.
Remove any snow and keep the glass clear to let all light in. Remove moss, clean panes of glass. Remove mould and animals. Let in ventilation on warmer days.

Bushes, Shrubs and Trees
You can move deciduous trees in the winter if ground is not water logged or frozen. Plant new tress, use strong stakes for support. Winter prune some shrubs such as wisteria.

Help any wildlife you might have around. Put out food for birds, add fruit. Ensure bird baths and drinking ponds are not frozen over.
Log and twig piles are great places for wildlife to shelter through the cold weather.

Comments Off on January – winter gardening tips and advice

28 May, 2015

New mobile site

Posted by: Geoff Davis In: Buildings|mobile|Smartphones|tablets

android phoneThere is a new mobile version of the site – this is of less interest if you use a desktop as it uses the same pages. I am editing pages for the new site, so they will be ready as and when converted. This is a rather slow method.

If you point your mobile at the site, you should get the new site – it detects smaller devices.

If you fancy a quick look it is ay – opens in a new window.

Comments Off on New mobile site

Solar panels on clay tiles  can't fit on slate tiles

Solar panels on clay tiles (you can’t fit on slate tiles)

There is a summary article about the Green Deal flagship Conservative policy here:

Green deal will fail (new window) >

The Green Deal is supposed to help regenerate old building stock, by giving loans for work such as insulation, etc. Unfortunately there are financial strictures based around a return of 6.9% which means works have to save that percentage over their lifetime use; few do.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change in June 2013 conducted 38,256 assessments. But only 245 Green Deal finance plans were made, and only four (4) were signed bu the customer.

The debate is that with these sort of rules, no one can ever get the money, or would want it, as cheaper sources are available.

It is also a system that is not well-known, and involves too much bureaucracy.

At the same time, money from the local Councils is reduced for improvements to housing stock, and any free insulation for cavity walls and loft spaces is the responsibility of energy companies, which is erratic and subject to means testing.

This reminds me of the system of loans and incentives for solar power installations over the last ten years or so, which were farcical. Due to the unpredictability of funding, led to major problems in the solar supplier market with many companies stopping supplying.

So as usual a lack of overall planning and integration leads to a failed green energy policy.

Comments Off on Green Deal UK – failed, or just failed to get started?

30 May, 2013

New blog for Summer 2013

Posted by: Geoff Davis In: News

I have just changed the blog database, so if anyone gets any errors, please email me via the contact page or using info at buildingdiy dot com

This should be invisible to any people looking but you never know.

Plastic people DIY BuildingNEWS
More section going on May – December 2013, I have not been adding much recently due to other commitments.


Comments Off on New blog for Summer 2013

Main site & Blog cats


Home improvement and DIY

House building advice & process

Building materials & wood

Steel buildings

Metal building materials

World's Tallest Buildings

Craft & traditional building

Starting a building job


Construction finance & legislation

Gardening & landscaping

Green building advice

Solar energy

Green roofs

Green lifestyle


Cameras & photographing architecture & buildings


Educational toys - Lego & more

Vans, trucks, transport

Building a website - beginners

Contact & About us

Terms & conditions & Privacy

Sitemap & quick links




Please comment on these blogs. The Flickr feed is now random, but soon to be our own photos.