Hornets review the best garden tool sites online

At Hornets, we pride ourselves on genuinely high quality reviews and filtering the wheat from chaff. In this article we are going to take a look at some of the very best garden tool sites and who you can trust to get you the products you need on time and to the standard that’s expected. Also, as well as that, we also look for the guys that will be more than willing to offer you the tools but also some high quality service after care as well. Not everybody works the same. Some prefer to just make the sale and disappear into the background where are the others stay on the case and make sure that you continue to get the service that you expect after spending your money. In this article we definitely going to go through all of the best of the bunch so let’s not waste any time and get started straight away on the best garden tool sides available online today.

Screwfix for tools.

You can’t go wrong with Screwfix because they offer high quality tools that low prices. Because when they were first invented they were designed more for trade they’ve got all of the benefits of trade pricing, but with now the ability to walk into almost any branch locally and nationally over the country. Not only that, there an awesome online next day service delivery provider. That’s because that was how they were born and how they began their life as an online service only. It’s just in the last recent 10 years that they have began to have warehouses and shops all over the UK. And there seems to me that there expansion won’t stop because of the success that they’re having on both Google organically as well as direct walking traffic to their stores nationwide.

This continued expansion only serves to help economies of scale and reduce the overall costs and therefore provide tools at the lowest prices possible. One thing I will say is they are also really good when you want to exchange or refund any products. They are very quick to take money and very quick to give it back if necessary. I’ve never had a problem with any garden tools that I wanted to take back and they refunded or replaced if the quality wasn’t there.

Garden Toolbox if you need something slightly unusual next day.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Garden Toolbox if you need some item next day. When it comes to gardening equipment they’ve got some really obscure stuff and as a result that means that if I’ve got a project I don’t have to wait days or weeks on end for something to arrive. It doesn’t matter if I want a garden tiller or something unusual, they’re going to have the product.

Wondering but I like most about the garden tool box website the fact that they provide such an unbelievable amount of information. I don’t think I’ve actually seen a website that provides so much information on the actual products that they sell. It’s extremely refreshing to see a supplier that’s taking the time to actually review and dissect some of the products that are actually selling. Technical stance it gives them the edge because they know exactly what they’re talking about when their customers call up and want some assistance in the garden too.

You can always rely on the Guardian for some quality information.

More than quality garden tools sites, it’s also worth the look at the Guardian and they provide some really useful information on some of the best gardening tools. This is particularly important because just as much as buying the tools directly from suppliers that might have a biased or opinion, the Guardian on any national newspaper don’t really have much of an interesting overly selling a product that they don’t believe in. It would be against the way that they provide information. So I definitely been trying to take a little look at what they have to say about garden tools.

Overall these my favourite px4 getting a job done in the garden but also not having to pay the bank and hopefully getting looked after as time goes on. If you got any recommendations then please do feel free to drop me some your gardening websites and I’ll be more than happy to review them for the process of adding them to these articles and improving the quality.

Controlling Pests and Diseases Organically

If you’re new to organic gardening you may think that being organic means extra physical work and swapping your conventional sprays for organic ones. But really it only requires a greater use of your mental faculties. When it comes to organic gardening prevention is better than cure.

Healthy soil

Healthy growth depends on a healthy soil. Too much fertiliser and your plants will be soft and sappy. The result will be a lovely lunch for the pests and the need for you to spray. Feed your soil with a wholefood diet of garden compost and leafmould rather than using the fast-food artificial fertilisers that are designed to feed only the plant. Feeding the soil rather than the plant will mean stronger growth and better resistance to pests and diseases. Research has already proved this to be true.

Healthy plants depend on it. For organic gardeners there is also another very important tool in preventing pests and diseases, this is choosing varieties that have been bred for their pest and disease resistance. For example, blight resistant potatoes such as ‘Remarka‘ and ‘Sarpo‘, and root aphid resistant lettuces such as ‘Milan‘.

Crop rotation

Focusing for a moment on your vegetable garden, there is one essential pest and disease control that you must practice – crop rotation. This involves dividing your vegetables into at least four groups that stay together each year but move onto the next part of the rotation every spring. The vegetables are grouped by family as well as similar feeding habits. Apart from being the best way to build soil fertility, it is the most important factor in controlling the build-up of pests and diseases. All organic growers practice crop rotation.

Vegetable garden

Vegetable garden

Barriers

Barriers are the best way of reducing pest damage. By covering your vegetables with a fine mesh you will stop them being attacked by flying pests. This works well for carrot rootfly and pea moth. Fine mesh is also an all inclusive way of protecting your cabbages from just about everything including flea beetles, leaf weevils, birds, cabbage white butterflies and white fly.

Other barriers include cabbage collars and bottle cloches. Placing a collar of carpet underlay around the neck of a young cabbage will prevent the cabbage root fly from laying its eggs at the base of the cabbage.

Placing a bottle cloche (a clear plastic bottle with the top and bottom removed) over newly planted vegetables will prevent them being eaten by slugs or anything else that takes a fancy to them.

Small gauge chickenwire is always useful. Placing it over your newly sown peas can stop them being eaten by mice while they are germinating or being scratched up by cats. Wrap it around your flowering bulbs to prevent squirrels from digging them up.

Netting can also be very useful at preventing bird damage to fruit and vegetables. There is also a humming line that can be wound around canes criss-crossed over your vegetables to prevent bird attacks. Netting can also prevent cabbage white butterflies from laying their eggs on your brassicas.

Barriers can also be used to prevent diseases. For example, peach leaf curl is a devastating fungus that can simply be prevented by placing a barrier of polythene sheeting over a trained peach tree in the winter. This simple barrier prevents the spores splashing up onto the plant.

Traps

Another popular method of protecting your plants is to use traps. This can be anything from beer traps for slugs (and yes, they really do work!) to codling moth traps hung from your apple trees. Sticky traps are very popular with the organic gardener.

A codling moth trap, for example, uses a pheromone placed on a sticky floor. The male moth is attracted to the trap thinking it is a female. On landing he gets stuck in the glue. There are similar traps for plum moths, too.

Beneficial insects

Beneficial insects and wildlife are really your best friends when it comes to controlling pests in your garden and vegetable patch. Planting simple annuals amongst your vegetables, such as Californian poppies and marigolds will attract a wealth of beneficial insects like ladybirds and hoverflies who will gobble up your aphids. Plant a few native shrubs and herbaceous perennials (ie hazel and hardy geraniums) in your garden; create a pond; leave a small pile of logs in the corner of your garden.

The final thing to remember when trying to control pests and diseases in an organic garden is hygiene.

If trying to remove a diseased branch from a tree, coral spot for example, cut into healthy wood and always wash your tools in boiling water afterwards.

Always scrub out your pots and give your greenhouse a good scrub every winter to get rid of those over-wintering pests.

Maximising air circulation by correct pruning and leaving just a little more space between your plants can help control fungal diseases, for example powdery mildew in roses.

Be vigilant

Finally and most importantly, check your plants regularly so that any pest and diseases don’t get a chance to get a hold. For example, if you start checking the centre of your gooseberry bushes in April for sawfly eggs and larvae you can remove them and therefore prevent them from defoliating your crop. Also be wary of accepting onion and cabbage plants from a friendly neighbour, they may well carry the dreadful diseases of onion white rot and clubroot. You will never be able to get rid of these diseases so err on the side of caution and ‘just say no’. If you have an allotment with either of these diseases then don’t even use the same tools or boots in your own garden because you will spread them.

So to all the beginners who thought they were just going to do a straight swap from conventional to organic gardening by simply changing their sprays it is not quite so simple. Organic gardening is the thinking man/woman’s horticulture. Planning, forethought, observation and vigilance make for success in the organic garden and remember, prevention is better than cure!

Sit on a Garden Seat in a Paradise For Birds

If you are after a source of colour and amusement in your garden, then you should think about placing a comfortable seat, or even an arbour, somewhere well camouflaged and then set out to attract wild birds. Sitting in the open air watching an array of blues greens and olives punctuated with flashes of yellow from your darting visitors can be quite thrilling. Contrast these with the bright red of the popular robin and this will give you a hint of the kaleidoscope of colour, especially in the winter months when most of your plants are dormant and just plain dull.

Of course the numbers and varieties of birds that visit your garden depend upon where you live. But most importantly, you need to make your garden hospitable. Birds, similar to ourselves, enjoy a varied and plentiful menu, warm and cosy dwellings and a sense of security. The ideal, bird-friendly garden would include several large mature trees.

This too is where you could put a tree seat. It could include a pond or stream, thick evergreen shrubs or climbers and berry baring shrubs. It should also not be too exposed to the wind, have a number of different birdbaths and bird tables, a compost heap and nesting boxes. Finally the garden should be cat free.

There has been plenty of reporting on the waning of wild birds. With the massive decline of habitat in the countryside, birds retreat to where food is still available – namely hedgerows, nature reserves and gardens. Quite simply, the very least that we should do is ensure that the birds in our garden are well fed, especially during the colder months.

However before we consider how to go about feeding birds it is essential to appreciate that once you start feeding birds you must carry on. In effect, by supplementing their diets, you are attracting a larger proportion of birds to your garden. If you suddenly stop feeding (for instance if you go away on holiday for a couple of weeks) it would be fatal to the birds as there would simply not be enough wild food available to support them.

January is the month during which garden birds benefit the most from a helping human hand – it is also the month when you can wrap up,warm and sit quietly on a roomy bench with a flask of coffee. Not only is supplementing birds’ feeding indispensable to their survival it also means you get a chance to watch them at close quarters – mainly because hunger makes them bolder. Natural food supplies from windfallen apples and berries will have been consumed. Insects are in hibernation and normally the ground is frozen solid.

A fair proportion of our native birds migrate south in the winter so as to carry on eating their main food-source of insects. However the birds that remain then have to compete for food with visitors from the Arctic north who will also be taking refuge in your garden. These include thrushes and blackbirds that have migrated from countries such as Scandinavia.

Birds need feeding regularly – ideally every day. Put food out early in the morning with a second feed in early afternoon. Fresh water is also important – even if you have a pond.

Try to vary the food you put out. This is more likely to attract different varieties of birds. Apples, cut in half and put on a table or on the ground are ideal for blackbirds, thrushes and robins. Scatter grated cheese or well crumbled bread (ideally slightly moistened if it is very dry) at the edge of shrubs to attract shy species such as dunnocks. With regard to seeds, black sunflower seeds are favourites but there are also a number of different seed mixtures which include maize, hempseed, oats and other varieties.

Pile up dead leaves under trees. Not only does this provide a haven for insects but it also encourages birds such as thrushes, blackbirds and great tits, as well as making a hibernation home for hedgehogs or frogs. Just be careful when you tidy up your garden thereafter so as not to disturb any sleeping creatures inside the piles.

Trees and shrubs are essential for birds. They provide safe havens from predators as well as from inclement weather. During the warmer months they offer nesting sites. Evergreens such as fir, pines, junipers and hollies are ideal winter trees attracting birds. Even ornamental and native grasses are important as they provide cover for ground nesting birds as well as a place to hide in during bad weather.

Of course trees and shrubs are also a vital source of food for birds. Use a variety of species with different flowering or fruiting periods so as to provide food throughout the year. Select bushes that retain their fruit throughout the winter, such as hollies, firethorn and sumacs as well as trees that produce acorns, cones and nuts. Birds are particularly attracted to red berries. Try planting Amelanchier lamarckii, Arbutus unedo, Berberis, Cotoneaster, Eleagnus, Hippophae, Mahonia, Malus, Pyrachantha, Sambucus, Skimmia, Sorbus and Vibernum – just to name a few.

Different species of birds have different feeding habits. Members of the tit family enjoy eating from hanging containers. Put these high up away – out of temptations way for cats. Ideally place these near to roses or other shrubs that attract greenfly or caterpillars – the birds will eat these too, eliminating pest problems.

Bird tables are attractive to most types of birds. A roof is ideal as it keeps the rain off. However, do be careful in the design you choose as you must be sure that cats can not climb up them. Most birds like eating on the ground – so if you do not have domestic pets then sprinkle small amounts of food on your grass. Ensure that it is all gone by night-time otherwise you will then be visited by rodents. Bird feeders and nest boxes should not be put together. Birds will not nest near food as they will be too distracted by the goodies.

You should put food in several different sites in your garden and move the feeding sites regularly. This prevents contamination from bird droppings.

Bird tables should be located in a quiet position and in the open so that birds have a good all-round view to keep an eye out for predators. If possible the location should also be reasonably sheltered. It may take a few days for birds to start visiting your bird-table. They will approach it with caution initially as they need to be sure that the food is good and the location safe.

Robin washing in water bath

Robin washing in water bath

Fresh water is essential for birds, use shallow containers so they can drink and bathe without danger of drowning. Ensure that the water is changed daily. If your bird bath is on the ground, or if you have a pond, ensure that its sides are sloping. Other animals such as hedgehogs will use it and they must be able to get out again.

When should you stop feeding birds? Well, there is a conflict of opinion on this. Some consider that you should gradually stop once winter is over and more natural foods are available. Other people believe that stopping increases stress levels for birds who are under pressure to build their nests and defend their territories. Perhaps the most sensible would be to switch to other foods.

Garden Friends that Need your Help : Help Save Our Bees

Bees are not just simple insects that buzz around the garden and provide honey; they are creatures with an interesting and complex life that are also vital to our countryside and everyday lives.

Why are bees so important?

Bees are vital to our lives as they are among the primary pollinators of plants in the UK. It has been deduced that if our native bees were to die out the effect on crops and wild flowers would be utterly catastrophic.

You may think that bees are just producers of honey that occasionally get trapped in your conservatory, but in fact they play a vital part in helping provide at least one third of the food we eat. Bees are essential in pollinating both crops and other plants – especially those which grow in your garden and the wild – and without them there would be no-one to provide what is a vital service. Animals eat the plants that bees pollinate just as we do, and fruit trees would not provide fruit without pollination. This is a major consideration when talking of the plight of the bees.

Here is an important yet little known fact: if our native bees die out we will lose a third of our diet. Bees are essential in pollinating the crops that form our food, and also the wild plants that grow across the country and provide food for much of our wildlife.

Why are bees dying?

There have been many suggestions as to the causes of the decline in bees, one of the most popular of which is the widespread use of pesticides. Insecticides such as this may well have an adverse effect on bees and could explain the large numbers that are dying out each year. Other suggestions have included mites that spread disease and also the change in climate of late, but bee-keepers are – in general – at a loss to explain what is happening.

This is not a new phenomenon either; since the 1950’s the number of species of native bee in the UK has halved from 50 to just 25, and three more are close to extinction. This is a crisis as dangerous as any other being given prominence in the press, and it needs greater support. We can all do something to help the native bee population, and most of the suggestions are simple and enjoyable.

Bee-keepers have noticed a vast increase in the numbers of bees dying in recent years, and there are many theories as to why. None have been proven, but some hold more water than others. A phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder was first observed in the USA and involved entire colonies of bees dying out, and while there have been instances in the UK it is not considered to be a major cause. More likely causes are the increased use of insecticides and other chemicals, plus the rise in the growth of genetically modified crops. Also, non-native bees – there are many more species in this country now and only 25 native species left – may be responsible, and mites that carry diseases have been cited by some sources.

How Can I Help?

Bees favour certain types of flower that can also enhance a garden, and providing these is relatively simple. Look for cornflowers, buddleia and poppies, plus fruit trees and shrubs, rhododendron and other flowering shrubs. If you can, create a wild flower section in your garden for bees thrive on many types of commonly found wild plants. You may also consider keeping bees, an interesting and rewarding hobby that need not be expensive and also provides you with honey, if you have the space, and also joining one of the many clubs involved in keeping the plight of the bees in the public eye.

Perhaps the easiest and most effective method of helping bees is to make sure you plant the flowers and shrubs they prefer. Bees love rhododendron, poppies and the popular buddleia bushes that also attract butterflies, and are excellent at cross-pollinating fruit trees.

What can you do to help save our bees?

  • Plant the right plants: bees like certain plants better than others – witness the low buzz you hear when standing next to a flowering buddleia or rhododendron. Cornflowers, sunflowers and a good garden wild flower mixture are also popular with bees, and they are also partial to poppies and flowering fruit trees.
  • Don’t use insecticide: among the many suggestions as to why our native bees are in such rapid decline is the belief that they have been affected by insecticides. The casual use of pesticides is something that we should be wary of in gardens as a rule as it can also affect birds and other wild animals.
  • Become a bee-keeper: more and more people are turning to the joys of bee keeping and installing their own hives in gardens across the UK. This is a hobby that is not expensive and one that offers great enjoyment for those who love nature and the outdoors, and remember the benefits of honey bees – you get natural honey! If you have a garden or plot that you believe may be suitable for bee-keeping there is plenty of information on the subject across the internet.
  • Learn more about bees: rather than being a garden pest you should begin to see bees as an essential part of the overall fabric of life. These beautiful and very wonderful creatures live an interesting and surprisingly organised life and, if left to their own devices, are harmless to us. Learn more about the life of bees by reading about them as much as you can, and encourage others to do the same.
  • Put up a bee house: if a hive is not for you there are ways to build ‘bee houses’ that offer refuge for bees and hibernation spots for the winter months. You can buy these at garden centres, or build one yourself following plans on the internet.

The plight of our bees is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a natural crisis, but the end result should we lose them would be more catastrophic than you may believe.

Edges and Borders

Garden Design: Planting Beds and Borders

Once you’ve nailed the final design of your new garden, you can start on the fun bit – choosing the plants and deciding where to put them. Flowers, trees and shrubs create style, depth and character, so pick carefully and you will wow visitors with your magnificent outdoor creation.

Combining and arranging plants is the real art of garden design and having experience in this really shows. As a beginner, you’re going to make some mistakes – everybody does, but try not to worry too much about them. Chalk it up to experience and remember to take the advice of experts at garden centres and steal any ideas you see working well in other people’s gardens.

Beds & Borders

Planting new beds and borders will add interest and colour to your garden and it’s very rewarding watching new plants grow and develop. When planning a new border, be sure to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I want the border to look formal or informal?
  • Will the border be in the sun or the shade?
  • Is the soil acidic or alkaline?
  • Does the soil drainage need improving?
  • How much work am I prepared to spend maintaining the border?
  • How much money do I want to spend?

Your answers will help you determine the types of plants you choose and where you plant them. For example, trees and shrubs cost more but take little maintenance, while herbaceous perennials are more time-consuming to maintain, but create real impact and style.

Edges for Your Garden Beds and Borders

Edges for Your Garden Beds and Borders

What style?

Decide on a theme and stick to it. Large leaves and richly textured foliage will bring depth and density to a garden, while opting for fine, silvery and delicately-leaved plants will create a lighter feel. Formal gardens should include some sharply clipped or shaped plants, like box and yew, to create hedges and screens, while informal gardens like cottage gardens should always combine flowers, vegetables and herbs.

Hosta

Hosta

Which colours?

Resist the temptation to select too many different colours as this can weaken the overall design, whereas repetition of a few key plants or colours will bring your scheme together.

Remember that colours should be linked to the mood of the garden. Blue and white create a cool, clean look and a sense of distance. Pastel colours are best suited to low light conditions where they will look reflective and fragile, while orange and red look striking and can be used to “heat up” a cool area.

Create Year-Round Interest

Green summer english garden

Green summer english garden

Don’t let your garden be a gorgeous riot of colour at the height of summer, but deteriorate into a bare, lifeless space in the winter. Remember that it will look different as it evolves through the seasons, and take this into consideration when choosing what to plant.

Garden Design: Exploring Your Options

When starting out on a garden project, it’s important to measure your dreamy ideas against what’s feasible within the realm of your existing plot.

Whether your garden is the messy remains of a previous owner or whether you are beginning with a blank canvas in a new home, you’ll need to decide what you want from your new outdoor space. These days, you can get anything from a traditional cottage-style garden to an ultra-modern design of hard landscaping. Think carefully about how you’re likely to use your garden, and this will help determine the type you should work on creating.

modern landscape

modern landscape

modern landscape

Work with what exists

It’s tempting to raze everything to the ground and start afresh, but you should be prepared to adapt what’s already in your garden and to enjoy the process of transformation. A scraggly group of shrubs might provide a much-needed note of maturity in your new planting scheme, once they’ve been properly pruned. Always be realistic too about what you can manage. If you have work or family commitments, choose low-maintenance plants and features or all your hard work will go to waste.

Getting the look right

Do you long for your garden to be a lush oasis of colour and scent or would you prefer something sleek and minimal? Choosing your style will help narrow down what features might be suitable for your garden. For a tropical garden you’ll have to think carefully about plants that look exotic but can survive in the wet British weather. For a contemporary garden you might think creating slate and stone features.

Garden with shrubs and rockery

Garden with shrubs and rockery

Garden with shrubs and rockery

Protecting your privacy

Your garden is usually a place you will visit to get way from it all, and that means making sure it’s private. High fences will keep out nosey neighbours, but they will also cut down on natural light. Shrubs are a good option for creating a softer boundary but if they’re not evergreen, they won’t be nearly so bushy in the winter months.

Garden Fence With Roses

Garden Fence With Roses

Garden Fence With Roses

Be yourself

Remember, it’s your garden, so it needs your own personal touch. Having said that, there’s nothing stopping you from getting inspiration by visiting public gardens, keeping your eyes open while you’re out walking, stealing ideas from family and friends or hanging out at the local garden centre. Soak up the inspiration wherever you find it.

Garden Design: Assessing Your Plot

Before getting to work on your garden design, take some time to really consider the project you have on your hands.

Before embarking on any ambitious planting, you need to assess and plan your garden as you would any other room in your home. Work out exactly what needs to be done so you can execute it accordingly.

planting evergreen tree

Work out the character

Before you get carried away with ideas about what your ideal garden might look like, you need to establish the personality of the garden you’ve landed up with. Its existing characteristics will determine what you can grow successfully. This will depend on the soil quality and the amount of sunlight your garden gets.

Be patient

Most experts advise that when you move house and inherit a new garden, you wait an entire year before embarking on any major work. That way, you get to see exactly what you have on your hands plant-wise, whatever the season or weather. If, however, you only have a concreted space or just a few beds to sort out, 12 months of observation time is probably not necessary.

Consider the climate

The weather is an immensely important factor in determining the health of your garden. You should choose plants which thrive on the kind of conditions you find in your location – whether windy, wet or sunny. Bear in mind that some plants will need special protection from certain adverse weather conditions.

Find out the aspect

The amount of light your garden receives throughout the day will depend on its aspect – in other words, the direction your garden faces. Work it out using a compass if necessary. On the whole:

  • North-facing gardens get the least light and can be damp and cold
  • South-facing gardens get the most light
  • East-facing gardens get morning light
  • West-facing gardens get afternoon and evening light

Soil, not toil

Getting well acquainted with the type of soil you have in your garden is essential if you want plants that will not just survive, but thrive. It’s important to identify whether your soil is sandy, silty, clay, loamy and so fortj, and to work on improving its condition if necessary.

Use the summer sun

Finally, you should spend a summer day observing how the sun interacts with different areas of your garden. Get your deck chair out, grab a good book and take the time to note down which sections get full sun all day, which are in shade for some of the day and which get no sun at all. You can then decide what to plant where. This preparatory information will also help you correctly place any seating areas – sun terraces just won’t work in the shade!