The Right Outdoor Seating

You’ve worked hard on your garden—now sit back and enjoy it! Here’s how to choose the right outdoor seating for your patio, deck, or porch.

Rust free and durable

Aluminum is an ideal material for outdoor seating. It’s strong, rust-proof, and stands up to extreme weather elements as well as rough-and-tumble children.

What to look for: Insist on all-aluminum frame construction to prevent rusting. Screws, bolts, and nuts should be made from stainless steel or other non-corrosive materials‹you don’t want the connecting hardware to rust after a few years. Make sure the finish is powder-coated, not painted.

Powder coating is a process in which colorful polyester powders are baked onto the frame. This finish bonds to the aluminum, forming a strong plastic skin that is more than three times thicker than paint. There should be no sharp or unfinished edges—don’t forget to check the underside of armrests. If you have small children, look for furniture that won’t tilt easily or pinch little fingers.

Pros: Aluminum furniture is weatherproof, rustproof, and easy to care for. Because it’s lightweight (cast and wrought aluminum are solid and heavier), you can easily move it into different conversation groupings or bring it indoors for the winter.

Cons: Light tubular aluminum is not a good choice in areas with high winds. Quality cast aluminum may be too expensive if you want to change your look every few years.

Resin: Light and popular

Resin is a popular material for outdoor seating because it’s lightweight, easy to maintain, and comes in a wide range of prices. Resin furniture is molded plastic that’s chemically treated to add strength and prevent fading, yellowing, and cracking. High-quality resin furniture is designed to expand and contract with temperature changes, so you can leave it outside year-round without worrying about cracking, rusting, or rotting.

What to look for: Choose heavier resin to prevent furniture from blowing around in strong winds. Look for cut-outs or small drain holes on seats so furniture will dry quickly after a heavy rain.

Pros: Resin furniture is durable yet lightweight. It’s easy to move, stack, and keep clean. It is practically indestructible, sheds rain, and is easy to find.

Cons: Because resin furniture is widely available, it seems like everyone has it. Add colourful pillows or cushions to give your resin seating a personal touch and make it more comfortable. If you choose less expensive resin seating, don’t expect it to last for years.

Wicker: Warm and stylish

Wicker is not a material, but a technique that weaves together long flexible strips of plants‹most often reeds‹or synthetic materials such as extruded resin or vinyl. Natural wicker is woven by hand.

Because exposure to the elements can damage natural wicker, use it only in sheltered areas, such as porches, screen rooms, and sunrooms. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for—inexpensive wicker pieces are usually made from lower-grade materials. They won’t look good for very long.

Weatherproof outdoor wicker is a better choice for outdoor seating. It costs more, but it will last longer and pay off in the long run. It’s usually guaranteed for life. Most outdoor wicker is made from woven resin on a powder-coated steel base. It wears better than natural wicker and resists damage from water and ultraviolet rays.

Pros: Natural wicker is beautiful and durable when kept on sheltered porches or indoors. You can customise it with your favourite fabrics and finishes. Outdoor wicker resists mold, mildew, stains, and sagging.

Cons: Most wicker seating needs cushions for comfort. While natural wicker adds a lovely country-home feel to an indoor seating area, it doesn’t stand up to the elements.

Iron: Strong and solid

Wrought-iron and cast-iron furniture are durable and beautiful (photo 2). Wrought iron is made from solid 1/2-inch round bars of iron that are formed into detailed designs. To make cast iron, the iron is poured into molds, allowed to cool, then formed into solid frames.

Pros: Iron is versatile, stylish, and strong‹and often less expensive than furniture made with other materials. Since iron is heavy and solid, it is well-suited for windy spots where light furniture might blow away. Iron is practically indestructible and will hold people of any size. Wrought iron gives a similar look to cast aluminum and can cost much less.

Cons: Iron is not necessarily comfortable to sit on, so add cushions for comfort. It’s also heavy and hard to move. Iron requires more maintenance than other types of metal furniture.

Wood: Simple and substantial

Wooden outdoor furniture has a classic look that can transform your seating area into something special. Mahogany, teak, and cedar are dense, heavy woods that maintain their good looks even in harsh climates.

What to look for: Check for finish flaws and rough areas. Wood should be smoothly sanded even in places that don’t show. Make sure individual wood pieces match for grain and colour. Joints should fit tightly and chairs should be slatted for quick water drainage. Make sure screw heads are covered with smooth plugs. Choose furniture with few knots, which are weak spots, but keep in mind that wood is a living material and a few imperfections are part of its appeal.

Pros: Maintaining wooden furniture takes almost no effort. Left alone, teak and cedar will weather to a handsome silver grey.

Cons: If you want to preserve wood’s original colour, you must stain or paint it annually. Some wooden furniture, such as teak, is expensive, but it’s usually a one-time purchase and will last a lifetime.

How to garden safely and avoid injury

Speak to anyone who does a lot of gardening and they will all tell you the same thing – they took it up for relaxation and they now are completely hooked on getting things to grow bigger, brighter, tastier and better overall. Having the time and the inclination to do some gardening will allow you to put things in place that will look great and do you good for years to come. But it can come at a price.

Whenever you are in the garden it is important to make sure that you are not putting an excess of strain on the body parts that are most used in gardening. While the process inevitably involves a lot of crouching and bending, it is utterly essential that you follow the old maxim “bend with the knees and not with the back”. It would be bitterly ironic if you took up gardening to have a little bit of rest and relaxation, only to throw out your back early on. Yet this is something that happens to a lot of us, because an inexperienced gardener will not be as aware of the pitfalls as a green-fingered old hand.

Your garden is for relaxing in, more than anything else. So when you are out doing a bit of work, make sure that you do not forget to take a rest every once in a while. Putting strain on your back or your knees for a prolonged period will not strengthen them – it could lead to quite a nasty injury if you are not careful. Having a cold drink every so often will refresh you and give you the energy to take on the longer jobs – and will take the strain of the parts that need resting. After all, you don’t want someone to ask how you got your injury and you have to tell them “gardening injury”.

And remember to never start your gardening session without doing your stretching exercises and warming yourself up thoroughly.

Planting Vegetables – Easy Guide to What to Grow and When

So, you’re thinking of planting vegetables in your garden? What vegetables do you want to plant and when should you plant them?

These are obviously very important questions to ask because working out the right time to plant your vegetables does require a little bit of forward planning. Different vegetables must be planted at different times of the season and if you put them in at the wrong time of the year, you are likely to meet with disaster.

So, to avoid that, plant the right variety of vegetables at the correct time of the year. That way you will give your vegetable plants the best possible opportunity to do well and thrive.

That’s all very well but, if you are a beginner, how do you determine which vegetables to grow and when during the season to plant them? As you most likely know, some vegetables thrive in the cooler months, some do better in the warmer months and the remainder prefer the months in between. How do you work it all out?

In an article such as this, it’s not practical to go into great detail about the planting schedule of every vegetable variety in the world. There are just too many of them and, besides, conditions are not the same in every country.

Having said that, however, I’m going to give you a guide to some of the most common vegetables and the best time of the year to grow them in Australia. Like many other large countries, Australia is divided into 4 major climatic zones: Tropical, Sub-Tropical, Temperate and Cold. Since many other countries have similar conditions (or zones), I’m sure you will also find this guide useful if you don’t live in Australia. Incidentally, I couldn’t readily find an Australian map depicting the various climatic zones which is not subject to copyright. If I do find one, I will update this post.

Here’s the guide. Use it to work out in advance what you are going to grow each season. You’ll be glad you did.

Planning ahead and planting vegetables at the correct time of the year is a must when you want to be assured of year-round supply of healthy vegetables, and it’s most definitely worth it!

Raised Bed Garden – How To Easily Choose The Right One

Whether you are building or buying a raised bed garden, you will need to spend some time thinking about what size will suit your garden best. In order to get exactly what you want, it’s important to select the right bed as a mistake can have unpleasant consequences in terms of cost not to mention the hassle if you had to disassemble and reassemble the bed again.

However, these guidelines will hopefully assist you to make the right decision and avoid costly mistakes.

Width

The popular width for a freestanding bed is 4 foot as this width makes it easy for most people to reach the middle of the bed and tend to the plants without straining too much.

However, if you’re fixing the bed to some kind of structure like the side of your garage, house or fence, then a width of 2 foot is ideal because you obviously cannot reach anything from the side that is attached to the structure.

Length

As far as the length is concerned, it can be anything you’re comfortable with and depends clearly on how much space is available. Having said that, let me outline a couple of important things for you to take into account.

If you’re a beginner or watching the budget , choosing a smaller garden bed is a better option because it costs less not only to build or buy but also to fill with soil mix because you won’t need as much.

A beginner would also find it much easier to manage a smaller garden than a larger one. A good size for a beginner is 4 foot wide by 6 foot long which will provide 24 square feet of space in which to grow your favourite vegetables.

Moreover, if the raised bed is too long and has been constructed from wood, the sides may buckle from the sheer weight of the soil. Therefore, you will need to brace them with metal spikes or some other method if you’re building your own bed. On the other hand, many vendors nowadays provide their own devices with their kits if you’re buying the bed.

Beds made from natural stone or bricks should not experience any bowing problems if they are built properly.

Height

The type of plants you intend to grow will determine the height of the sides of your raised bed garden. For example, vegetables like lettuce, herbs or spinach that have shallow roots will do fine in about 6 inches deep soil. On the other hand, vegetables such as squash, broccoli and tomatoes with their deep roots require about 20 inches deep soil. And then, you’ve got the “in-between” vegetables like carrots, peas and beets that need 8-12 inches deep soil.

So, as you can see, there is a wide range but there is no need to complicate things. Let’s say you decide to plant carrots, peas and lettuce for your first bed. In that case, the sides of your bed will be 12 inches (30cm) tall.

Again, these measurements are not etched in stone and, so, feel free to adjust them slightly if needed. More importantly, make sure that the vegetables that you plant together have compatible water and fertiliser needs. Believe me, it’s less hassle.

One last thing. Raised bed gardens can be just about any shape you want. They can be octagonal, square, rectangular or triangular. L-Shaped or T-Shaped. Just remember one of the key aspects of raised bed gardening and that is easy access to plants from all sides so that you don’t have to step into the bed and compact the soil.

Having a raised bed garden is extremely rewarding and. no doubt, it will serve you well for years to come. Basically, the only work you will have to do each season is to lightly turn over the soil of the bed and start planting. And you won’t have to weed as much as in a “conventional garden” either, saving you precious time and effort.

Keep Yourself Healthy Without Pills Through The Use Of Natural Herbs

Natural herbs are a lot cheaper compared to many pharmaceutical products and do not cause as many side effects …

Natural Herbs: How To Keep Yourself Healthy Without Popping Up A Pill

A lot of us want fast relief from everything. If we do not feel well or if we do not feel good about ourselves, we go to the doctor and ask for a pill. Although drugs can help relieve symptoms of ailments, it can also cause some harmful side effects on you thus it is not really a good idea to keep on popping that pill every time you feel ill.

Instead of using those synthetic medicines, it would be better for you to switch to natural herbs. The good thing about natural herbs is that they are a lot cheaper compared to those pharmaceutical products and they do not really cause as much side effects as that pill that you keep on popping into your mouth. In fact, according to studies, natural herbs have been used for many generations.

Use Of Natural Herbs During The Olden Times

The use of natural herbs can be traced to the ancient civilisations. History tells us that natural herbs have been used by people all over the world several years ago. Some types of natural herbs such as aloe vera, dong quai, ginseng and others have been used as ingredients in ancient medicines.

The ancient Egyptians are known to use natural herbs to cure illnesses. They also use these herbs in their cooking to make their food taste really good. During rituals, herbs are used by the Egyptians as part of the ceremony. Burning of herbs is believed to help disinfect the place of worship and ward off diseases. In ancient China, the use of herbs as medicine was also very popular. In fact, some Chinese still practice some of the ancient forms of herbal treatments until the present.

Ensuring The Safety Of Natural Herbs

Although some types of natural herbs have been used for many generations, it still pays to be very cautious about using these herbs. Always remember that when it comes to your health, you simply cannot take chances. Being sick is never a good thing so you should be careful. Before you take any natural herbs as food supplements or cure for ailments, you need to check out the label on the bottle first.

Make sure that there is a seal of approval from the Food and Drugs Agency. If the product does not bear the seal of the FDA, do not buy that product. Remember that it is not safe to take anything, even those natural herbs if these natural herbs do not go through strict quality control.