Category Archives: Gardening

Garden Design Tips For New Homeowners

A lot goes into moving into a new home. It can be an exciting, exhaustive, and sometimes scary process for not only the new first timer, or for the well-seasoned owner who’s moved more than a few times in their lives. The amount of energy, money, and time spent moving and eventually establishing yourself into your home and your community are well worth the effort- and that includes how you change and establish your outdoor landscape and garden areas.

The property the house sits on deserves the same attention as the house itself, and for many, a lot of pride is taken into making their landscapes and gardens not only their own, but also well-kept and attractive. But starting from nothing or something unattractive, overgrown, or simply something that doesn’t work can be a daunting task.

Here are some basic landscape and garden design tips for the new homeowner and even some execution ideas for the sake of organization.

Please note: Before you begin any changes in your landscape, make sure you’re aware of existing HOA bylaws or covenants in your neighborhood.

Start Living the Space First

I always recommend that new homeowners simply live in their homes for several months before they start making changes. Mow the lawn, trim the hedges, plant some containers- but don’t remove beds, add plant material, add new beds, create paths, or construct living spaces until you know how you’ll use your property.

You’ll begin to notice that there are some things about your new landscape that concern you above others. Maybe prevailing winds are cooling your home too much in the winter and you could use a windbreak to help. Maybe you need some shade somewhere on your property where your family likes to play the most.

You’ll learn about where the most used pathways exist around your property, where established areas for certain jobs are naturally occurring (like where you like to play, where you visualize your vegetable garden in the sunniest spot next to the best water spigot, where you tend to want to put yard waste, and where you think a tool shed would work well).

Privacy screen needs, windbreaks, steep slopes that are hard to mow- these are all things you’ll discover need immediate attention. Establish the few pressing needs you find yourself wanting first, and start your landscape plan from there.

Establish the Budget

The best way to approach setting ideas into action with landscape changes revolves around one simple thing – how much money can you spend on your projects? If you have the money, you could hire a landscape architect who you will work with to establish all your needs at once, and then hire a landscaping firm help to get it done.

But, if you’re like most homeowners, you might need to think about which projects should come first, and if you should go Do-It-Yourself or not. One common mistake a lot of new homeowners have is they underestimate how much money landscaping actually costs, so projects often go partially unfinished. Be sure to do a lot of research before you buy anything and take on only what you can comfortably afford. For some, this may mean small weekend projects until the budget loosens. If this is the case, start with the most pressing needs first such as repair needs and projects that simply make the landscape livable.

Get your Plans on Paper!

Before you buy one brick or toss your spade into the lawn, make sure you have an established plan, written down and drawn out, step by step, so that you have a beginning and a goal in mind for one specific project. A designer can do this for you and work with an installation team, but if you’re going DIY landscaping, you can easily write and draw down plans yourself. Decide on a solid plan and stick to it, so you don’t get ahead of yourself.

If you’re using hardscape materials, make sure you calculate how much you’ll need accurately. If you need help, you can contact a professional or the company that makes the material you’ll want to use and they can help guide you through an estimation process so that you don’t buy too much, or too little of a product. Make sure you have all the tools needed to install the product properly.

If you’re going to be planting materials, check your states invasive species list to avoid planting possible pests into your landscape. Make sure your choices of plants are well suited for the application you want them for and if you can provide the care they’ll need so that they stay looking healthy and happy for years to come. Create a plant list and work with a reputable nursery that offers a guarantee on their plant stock.

Get Ready for Hard Work.

Ahh, the joys of DIY and homeownership on a budget! And, if you hire all your help, the stress from working with others on plans for your own home, and having to deal with installers you don’t really know and construction issues aren’t easy either. Whether you’re laying the foundation for a new patio yourself or living through weeks of endless noise from jackhammers and bobcats, you’re about to have your work cut out for you.

Set aside plenty of time to get your work done, or simply do what you can in the time you have and don’t stress about it. Sometimes things go well during installation of a project, and sometimes they don’t. Expect blisters, maybe a twisted ankle, dirty nails and clothes, and maybe even sunburn if you’re installing yourself. If not, expect a messy house and strangers wanting to use your bathroom and the lack of privacy can get to some too. This is another reason I always highly recommend one simple job at a time to get it finished quickly before too much damage happens and you regret the whole experience before it’s even finished.

When it’s all Said and Done, BRAG!

Your hard work is starting to make your new home look and feel like your own. Invite family and friends over to enjoy, and post lots of photos on your favorite social media site. Enjoy the congrats and envy, you earned it!

DIY Home Improvement Ideas For Beginners

If you are a home owner, with a certain amount of involvement, patience and creativity doing DIY projects for your house can be a very rewarding and cost effective experience. One of the most exciting aspects of owning a home are the vast number of changes that you can keep incorporating in your house to increase its value and looks. And when it comes to home improvement projects, it is not always essential to hand over every task to a professional.

So if you are a home owner and are thinking of simple and easy ways to begin DIY projects the following list of ideas will be surely helpful to get you going:

o Indoor and outdoor painting – One of the most easiest and effective way to give your house an instant facelift is to paint it yourself. Painting a home is one of the simplest DIY tasks as well as an inexpensive one. All you have to do is to choose colors that complement your rooms as well as the exteriors of your home. An important point to keep in mind while painting your home is to keep all the flooring, woodwork, switchboards well covered before starting your task.

o Creative woodwork – Though woodwork and carpentry requires practice as well as skill one can always begin with a simple task such as building a bird house in the garden or your porch area. You can look up a simple birdhouse design and include a bird bath as well as a feeder which will be sufficient to keep your home bright and chirpy with your winged guests.

o DIY garden projects – Your garden area is one the best places to do home improvement tasks which can give your whole residence a beautiful look. From mowing your lawns to pruning and weeding you can include a fountain, tree benches, hammocks as well as wind chimes and gravel paths.

o Exterior lighting – Lighting can beautifully enhance the exterior appearance of your home. You can experiment in diverse ways like putting up Victorian style lamp posts at the entrance or creating beautifully lit corners in your garden area.

o Repair work – Another great way to begin DIY home projects is to take up minor repair works such as electrical repairs and plumbing. For this you would need to invest in a good tool box as well as read up about home repair basics in order to perform your task safely and successfully.

Need the Best Tools For the Job

Purchasing power tools is fast becoming a great pastime for DIY kings and queens around the country. However, not all power tools are created equal. Any serious DIY enthusiast should have some basic know-how regarding power tools before he goes out to shell good money to buy a piece or two.

Power tools are meant to be used incessantly. According to Donny Sheridan, a DIY expert and syndicated columnist:

“And don’t buy gear just because it is on offer or you think you might use it in the future – it will just end up gathering dust.”

Combi drill

The combi drill is a wonderful combination of a hammering action, drilling and driver. Most combi drills have alternating settings so you can drill through both wooden material and non-wooden material such as concrete and brick.

Combi drills are used to make the installation of screws easier. Since most wooden planks are too hard to simply drive a nail into, drills are used to speed up the process. The combi drill uses an 18 volt battery and good quality drills literally last decades.

On batteries and corded tools

If you’re looking for replacement or substitute batteries for your power tools, make sure that you get lithium ion batteries that have overload protection. This ensures that your power tool and your batteries will not explode or fizzle out in your hand.

Also, lithium ion batteries can rest in your garden shed for months and remain charged as these batteries tend to retain power even after intense use.

Now as for the use of corded or cordless tools, you have a choice. Cordless tools have generally been weaker than corded tools because of the power source. But with the advent of higher battery voltages (36 volts and above) the landscape of power tools has literally changed.

According to Harry Blackwell, a home contractor in the UK:

“The monopoly of the corded tools has ended. Large companies are investing heavily in R&D to make newer tools saleable to a large public.”

Saws

Saber saws or reciprocating saws are basically identical with jigsaws. The disparity, according to Sheridan is:

“The main difference is the blade sticks out at the front instead of downwards – as is the case with jigsaws. The beauty of a reciprocating saw is you can cut through wood, stone or metal by simply changing the blade. It also copes with curved or angular cutting.”

Circular saws on the other hand, are used to deal with raw timber- which is hard to cut with regular power saws. Circular saws are used also to adequately cut and shape plywood and joists.

Easy DIY Home Decor Tips

It’s a new year, and with it came the call for a little shake up in your home decor. I am personally big on DIY home design projects, and I have compiled a few of my favorites for 2017.

1. Floating Leaves

If you want a little piece of nature into your home, how about going for floating leaves?

This easy DIY home design project involves making use of old clear jars. Fill them up with water and lay the leaves in the jars to create unique displays of art.

2. Plant Drapes

Want something different as a window treatment choice? Go for ‘plant drapes.’

Creating ‘plant drapes’ involves getting rid of your good old drapes and filling up your window space with assortments of plants. Not only does this open up the room to natural light, but it is a creative way to purify rooms as well as dress up your windows.

3. Reclaimed Crate Furniture

Now you can make your furniture using items you already have at home. If you have old crates lying around, you can transform them into exquisitely tasteful pieces of furniture.

You have probably seen some home design furniture pieces made out of crates including coffee tables, seats, and beds as well. Create your furniture using crates depending on your particular needs.

4. Smart Clever Cover-Up Board

Who doesn’t have dishes piled up in the sink now and then? Worse still is trying to hide the mess in your oven when company drops by. You can creatively hide up the mess using a smart cover-up board.

Creating the board involves making use of an old cutting board or any sizeable plastic board that you no longer use. Personalize it as you please, and make sure it fits over your sink to offer timely rescue when needed.

5. Jungle in your Bathroom

Love the forest; then why not take it to your bathroom?

Most of us don’t often know how to dress up our bathrooms. If you love everything to do with plants like I am, you can create a jungle in your bathroom.

DIY Home Energy

I don’t know about you, but if someone mentioned “DIY Home Energy” or utilizing “renewable energy”, my mind instantly conjured up a picture of hippies living in a “green” commune, hugging trees and talking to the local flora and fauna (I dread to think what they do with the grass, probably smoke it or something…) Anyway, it turns out they may have the right idea with DIY power.

Although I’ve never hugged a tree, or had a conversation with the flowers in my garden, DIY home energy is something I have seriously looked into since moving to the Spanish countryside, (the public utilities not being as reliable as I’m used to, and still getting more expensive!).

Having discounted commercial systems as way out of our budget, I came across an advert for a “DIY Home Energy Course”. Although not being any sort of “handyman”, I was curious…

Gone are the days of expensive components and “trade only” suppliers (so tough economic times are good for something!), and with the Internet comes “personal tuition” through your computer! To cut a long story short you can now get hold of step-by-step text and video instructions to build your own Home Energy System.

Sounds good… but how much does it cost?

Well, our research indicates the best “all-in” (solar, wind, and battery storage) courses will cost you around $50-$80 dependent on any price promotion being offered at the time. Most of them suggest on the sales page that you can build your DIY home energy system for around $200-$500… But as I said before I’m no “Tree-Hugger” and I like my comforts, such as TV, computer, hot water etc, so I think to provide power for a “civilized” lifestyle in a small to medium sized house, your looking at about $1000-ish.

Having said that, our average electric bill is the equivalent of around $75 a month, so in about a year we will have almost got our money back, with no more electric bills to pay! Another potential bonus is that many States and European countries will actually pay you for any surplus power you have stored and supply to them (The UK is also planning to start this early next year).

DIY Home Renovation Tips

When it comes to investment property renovations the question I always get asked is – “how much work should I do”? The answer to this question will change dramatically depending on each person and their current situation. Are you the kind of person that loves DIY (do it yourself) home renovations? Do you love researching cheap renovation ideas? Or does the thought of a month’s DIY home renovation make you feel sick?Only you can answer these questions but believe me there are huge advantages of doing minor renovations let alone a full month’s work on a property

So let’s assume that you have 2-5 weeks to complete your DIY renovations, what is a realistic goal to try and achieve? To a certain extent this will depend on your budget but you would be surprised at how much you can get done if you find some good cheap renovation ideas. My DIY renovation budget is the same for every project I do – I like to call it the “Spend as little as possible” budget! Below is a list of the most obvious and important things that you should look at when attempting a cheap DIY renovation.

Interior Painting

A fresh coat of paint is the easiest way to make a house feel new again. The great thing about painting is that everyone can do it and it’s such a rewarding job. I love watching the house slowly get transformed as each new wall is painted and best of all if you do it yourself it shouldn’t be too expensive.

RENOVATION TIP: If you’re going to paint the house beige don’t even bother! Property investors always make the mistake or choosing plain and boring colors. Paint the house as if you were going to be living in it. If you’re feeling really adventurous you could even include a feature wall.

Floors

Replacing the existing flooring is another way to make your property feel brand new. You can either replace the carpet or in some houses you can polish the floor boards that are under the carpet.

RENOVATION TIP: This is one part of the DIY renovation process that I would recommend hiring somebody to it for you (floor polishing &carpets). The professionals do such a quick, good and cheap job that it’s hard to make an argument for doing it yourself. To save some money you can rip out the old carpet and left over staples before the professional come.

Bathroom & Kitchen

These two rooms are very important when it comes to renovating your investment property. If you do have some money in your budget then the Bathroom & Kitchen are a pretty good place to spend it. How much work you do here is up to the individual but I would recommend trying to get both of these areas clean, modern and usable.

RENOVATION TIP: Rather than re-tiling you can use Tile Paint to great effect. I have used ‘White Knight’ tile paint over the top of outdated 80’s tiles and the results have been outstanding.

Fittings

Replacing old Light fittings, door handles and cupboard fittings is a great DIY renovation idea. It is a very easy and cheap way to create a more ‘modern feel’ in your Investment property.

RENOVATION TIP: Look at the expensive designer brands and then find good quality imitations that are a quarter of the price.

Garden

One full day in the garden and you can make a big difference to overall appearance of a house. Pull out some weeds, trim some branches, mow the lawns, sweep the driveway and suddenly your property is looking pretty good. You might be saying “Since when is sweeping the driveway considered DIY home renovation”? Well I don’t care what you ‘call it’ – Gardening, DIY, Renovations, Cleaning – the fact is that putting a day or two’s work into your garden will definitely make your house more attractive to potential renters and bank valuers.

RENOVATION TIP: This is a great part of the DIY renovation to get some help from family and friends with. Everyone has done some gardening at some stage and you can even turn it into a bbq event. This will make it more fun and easy as the whole family can come.

Exterior Painting / Render

This might not be your first priority but it will drastically improve the first impressions that people have of your house. If your property is a weather board then a few coats of paint is a great idea or if it’s a Brick house then rendering your property can make a massive difference. Render can turn an old and ugly brick house into a modern a beautiful place in a few days.

RENOVATION TIP: DIY rendering is an incredibly cheap way to improve the value of your house. It can be messy and laborious but the results are fabulous.

Spare Parts for the Home and Garden

REPAIR and DIY are scary concepts to many of us but with the world economy in a downturn it is a clear and obvious way to save a great deal of money.

The average labour bill from a garden tool repair workshop can be £30 HR plus call out plus spare parts and this can quickly add up to a large bill.

The best time to check your lawnmower for wear and tear is out of season when not in use (winter).

Think of your lawnmower as two units, the chassis and the engine (or electric motor), you need to keep and eye on both. Common engine faults often relate to the fuel and oil. Common chassis faults are often related to physical damage.

The lawnmower engine:

  • Always use clean fuel from a clean container – any dirt will break your engine
  • Always check your engine oil – it is quick and easy to check your dipstick to see the oil level is between the high and low marker lines
  • The lawnmower chassis:
  • The common parts are the blade, push handle, control cables and wheels.
  • Blade – this must be sharp to otherwise it will strain your engine and pull at the grass rather than making a clean cut. You can resharpen your blade with a file
  • Cables – you can squirt aerosol light oil like WD40 onto the cables to help them last longer.

What if i find something that is worn of broken?

1- Identify your lawnmower – what is the make and model of the Engine? (engine powered mowers only) – what is the make and model of the Lawnmower?

2- Identify the part as Chassis or Engine component

– the Engine will have its own unique identifying data plate showing model code and serial number. This is often stamped into the engine metal work.

– the Chassis will have its own unique identifying data plate showing model code and serial number. This is often on a silver badge or sticker near the rear wheel.

Control in the Home and Garden

Wasps in gardens, picnic areas, pub gardens and communal areas in the summer months can quickly become a major nuisance. Wasps are a social insect, forming colonies containing anywhere from 5000 – 10000 wasps per season. The hibernating and fertilized queen will emerge around mid April time (or sooner, depending on temperatures) and search for a suitable nesting site.

The nest starts of as a golf ball sized nest made from chewed bark, dried timber mixed with saliva, within this starter nest she lays between 10 and 20 eggs, the first brood of adult workers (sterile females) will take over the development of the nest and providing food for the next lot of eggs being laid by the queen. At the start of the season wasp pose little or no threat (this can be a different matter if the nest is interfered with) and it is only towards the end of the wasp season that they become a nuisance towards humans.

During the latter part of the summer the queen will mate and then leave the nest site to find a suitable over-wintering location. The remaining workers and few remaining males become sluggish, and their feeding on over-ripe fruit will produce a “tipsy” behavior, leading towards aggression towards anyone interfering with them. The on-coming winter will kill off the workers and the remaining males, with only the fertilized queens surviving by hibernating. During this nuisance time, the wasps will be bothering the general public in places like pub gardens and parks etc, they tend to feed off the sweeter food stuffs such as children’s lolly-pops, soft drinks alcoholic drinks, and pretty much anything containing sugar.

Obviously the nest (if near by) can be treated, but this could mean the area being out of bounds for up to 24 hours, this could in turn lead to loss of business and loss of profits. However other methods for dealing with wasps are available. New wasp treatment systems such as the waspbane are easily available to obtain from online pest control shops.

The wasbane is a wasp trap, the wasps are attracted and lured in to the trap with specially developed attractants, the wasps enter the chamber of the trap to get to the attractant, once the wasps have entered the trap they cannot escape. The trap can be placed at the bottom of the beer garden, around parks, or hanging from trees. In a recent study at a well known theme park, it was recorded that after installing the waspbane trap in various locations around the park, reports of wasp sting went down as much as 95% in 1 year.

Home and Garden Television

The Home and Garden Television channel has quickly become one of the most popular cable television channels around today. The network was launched in 1994 and is currently owned by Scripps Network Interactive. Its headquarters are located in Knoxville, Tennessee. HGTV also has sister stations. They are the Weather Channel, Food Network, Fine Living, DIY Network, Great American Country and Weatherscan. HGTV airs a variety of programming tailored towards home remodeling, repair, decorating, designing, gardening and crafts.

HGTV airs such programs as “Sell This House,” “House Hunters,” Extreme Living” and “Weekend Warriors.” HGTV has over 100 different shows that are either currently airing or have aired previously dealing with the home and garden industry. Home and Garden Television has become a leading source for design, home improvement, remodeling and gardening tips for beginners and experts looking to upgrade the look and feel of their house and garden.

“House Hunters” is the highest rated television show airing on HGTV and it airs nightly at 10pm. The show’s host is Suzanne Whang. The host follows around a couple or family searching for a house to purchase. The show also includes different realtors. Each episode features three properties that the viewers are given a tour of. At the conclusion of the show the prospective buyer tells the host and the audience which of the three properties he/she decided to buy. The new owner then gives a tour of the newly bought house, explaining what renovations were made to the house prior to moving in. The show discloses where the properties are located and how much is being asked for each individual property.

One innovative show that has been airing on HGTV since 2006 has been “24 Hour Design.” “24 Hour Design” involves the renovation of a single room in a house occurring in less than one day. It usually takes around 10 hours or so to complete and the budget is set for $2,000. The host of the show, Angelo Surmelis, discusses with the owners of the home which room should be redesigned and how it should be done. In the final hour of the show the renovated room is revealed and an explanation is given as to what was done and for what reasons.

HGTV, like all other television networks around today, does air reality shows. Their most popular reality show currently airing is “Design Star.” “Design Star” involves the show’s contestants designing a room or filling empty space with unique items during each new episode. The unique items can be from a pet store, a mechanic shop or a discount store. The challenge is finding the best way to make the design look appealing to the eye even thought the items used might not be.

Tips to Save You Money in the Home and Garden

Benjamin Franklin once said “a penny saved is a penny earned” and to help you save more than a few pennies around the home and garden, below are a number of money saving tips – many of which require minimal effort on your part.

Around the Home:

1. Switch off and unplug your appliances. Too many of us are guilty of leaving our appliances on standby when they’re not in use, yet this is a waste of energy and money. Switching our appliances off and unplugging them has the potential to save up to £30 per year.

Along with switching off, it’s important to make sure you don’t overcharge your appliances – something 49% of us are guilty of according to one energy provider.

2. Keep your fridge and freezer at their optimum temperatures, to ensure the motors do not have to work harder than necessary. The ideal temperature for your fridge is between 3°C and 5°C, whilst for your freezer the temperature should be -18°C.

3. Turn it down. By turning the thermometer for your heating down by just 1°C you have the potential to save roughly £85 – £90 annually on your utility bills, and you’re unlikely to notice the difference in temperature. Turning the water temperature down on your boiler will also help you save money throughout the year.

4. li> Repair broken appliances. It’s all too easy nowadays when an appliance breaks, whether it’s a vacuum cleaner or washing machine, to throw it away and purchase a new one. But you could be wasting money unnecessarily.

Instead, by taking the time to purchase the required spare part and fix the appliance yourself, you can save money and increase your DIY knowledge.

5. 66% of the British population drink tea every day, but many of us when brewing up are wasting money by filling the kettle up with more water than is needed. This unnecessarily requires your kettle to use more energy than required.

Re-boiling the water in your kettle can also impact on the taste of the cuppa, and increase the build up of limescale minerals, which reduce the performance of the appliance. Limit the energy you use each time you make a cup of tea by only using the water you require.

6. Switch to LED bulbs. The initial cost may be slightly more expensive, but the overall savings can be beneficial, with it being suggested that by changing 10 light fittings with 60W bulbs, to 6W LED bulbs will save you close to £240 a year. As an added benefit, LED bulbs come with an estimated life of 20,000 hours.

7. It may sound obvious, but whenever you’re using your washing machine or dishwasher, make sure you do so when there is a full load. This will work out cheaper than running two half loads, as less energy is being used.

8. When doing your laundry, save money by washing on an economy wash which uses less energy, and using tumble dryer balls when drying. The latter helps to generate more space between clothes as they tumble ensuring hot air gets to where it needs to go and reducing the drying time.

9. Cook various vegetables at once, instead of having them cook on different hob rings, use a steamer or segmented pans. The latter enables you to cook various vegetables at once on one ring – saving you energy and money. Steaming your food is also a healthier option as it keeps all the nutrients in!

10. Become wise to your water usage. Did you know, for example, leaving your taps running is quite literally water down the drain? It’s estimated that leaving the tap running as we clean our teeth results in 6 litres of water each minute being wasted. Meanwhile, 5500 litres of water is wasted each year due to a dripping tap, which equates to £18 per year of wasted money.

11. Cut out the drafts from your house, by using draft excluders, letterbox covers and keyhole covers. Each of these simple devices will help keep cold weather out of your home, reducing the chances of you needing your heating on – therefore saving you money.

12. Keep your fridge and freezer well stocked. An almost empty fridge or freezer will see the appliance cooling air, making it work harder. If your fridge or freezer is looking a bit empty, but you don’t plan to go food shopping just yet, fill the space by:

I) using scrunched up newspaper to fill gaps in the freezer.
II) using bottles of water in the fridge.

13. Use your tumble dryer less. Just because the sun isn’t out, it doesn’t mean your clothes won’t dry outside. If the weather is dry, hang the washing out. By limiting the amount of time you use your tumble dryer, you can save anywhere between £30 and £100 each year.

In the Garden:

14. Plant Perennials – these are a great way to save money in the garden as once they’re planted they’ll continue to grow each year. Some perennials which can help your garden become your own little slice of paradise include gaillardia, peonies, daffodils and chrysanthemums.

15. Grow your own fruit and vegetables – the British weather although you may not think it, is great for growing your own fruit and vegetables. Growing your own fruit and vegetables can also help you save money and live a healthier lifestyle.

Some of the easiest fruit and veg to grow in your garden include broad beans, blueberries, asparagus, strawberries and potatoes.

16. Say bye to slugs – slugs can be a nightmare for gardeners, but it is possible to remove them without purchasing slug pellets. Using household products such as beer, coffee grounds and vinegar can remove the threat of slugs from your plants.

17. Stop forking out on fertiliser, but continue to feed your food. There’s no denying that fertiliser is beneficial to plant growth, but it can be expensive. Cut the cost by making your own. This can be done in a few ways:

1) Collect the leaves which cover your lawn each autumn and winter, place them in a bin bag whilst they’re still wet and allow them to rot down. Whilst this will take up to 2 years, it’s a cheaper alternative to purchasing fertiliser.

2) Make your own compost. From food peelings and egg shells, to cardboard and tea bags, all can be added to your own compost bin, which if turned regularly and left to degrade can make excellent fertiliser for your plants without costing you a penny.

18. Use rain water wisely – there’s no hiding away from the weather in the UK, but the rain can be put to good use. By collecting the rain water, you have a continuous source of free water to use throughout your garden and greenhouse.

General:

19. With up to 60% of a home’s energy coming from the boiler, yours could be costing you significant amounts of money. It’s recommended if your existing boiler is at least 15 years old and no longer effective, you should replace it.

Although this will cost you in the short term, in the long term you have the potential to see savings between £190 and £240 a year by switching to a high efficiency condensing boiler.

20. You’d be surprised how much heat is lost through your roof and therefore how much money you’re wasting. But with effective insulation you can help keep your home warmer, your energy consumption down, and your bills lower.

21. Recycle more. You may already be recycling your paper, tin, glass and cardboard waste, but there’s so much more you can recycle. Old cutlery can be turned into coat hooks, CDs can be used in the garden to keep birds off your allotment, and your old vinyl can be turned into wall art, cake stands or fruit bowls.

22. Become internet savvy and take advantage of the multitude of websites available where you can get goods for free or sites where you can swap your unwanted goods for other items.

23. Monitor your energy usage. A simple energy monitor, will help you keep an eye on your current energy usage, how much was used in the past week, month, etc. It’ll also help you find out how much your energy consumption is costing you – enabling you to find ways to cut back, or find those appliances which are using the most energy.