Designing the Back Garden to Suit You

Posted by Sasha Kirey On 3:42 PM
Having an overall plan in mind for the garden does not mean having to create an artistic masterpiece on paper. Garden design is entirely personal and depends on the garden, its uses and its owners - using a rough plan simply helps to keep things in perspective.

Assess Your Needs

Gardens come in all shapes and sizes and no two will ever look alike, especially once the plants are in place. How it is designed will depend on its intended use and the amount of time you want to spend maintaining it.

Where the garden belongs to a couple, or a single person, there is larger scope in the choice of plants. In a family garden, however, the plants have to be altogether more robust. Safety is also a priority where there are children; plants that bear thorns and prickles should be kept away from play areas. If the size of garden allows, create an area for the children to play where the plants are safe, resilient and easily pruned back, allowing the rest of the garden to be filled with more choice species.

Tailor the level of maintenance to suit your needs. If you don't have a lot of time, make use of mulches and ground-covering plants to smother weeds and conserve moisture for a low-upkeep regime.

Remember too, in a small garden, every plant should earn its place by providing a good display at least once, and preferably twice through the year.

Temperature Scales and Conversions

Posted by Sasha Kirey On 5:55 PM
Temperature can be measured on a number of different scales. The three most common scales are Fahrenheit, Celsius and Kelvin. The Kelvin scale is commonly used by scientists. Celsius is used both by scientists and in everyday life, although Fahrenheit is still in everyday use in some countries such as the US.

The Fahrenheit scale was created by a German physicist named Fahrenheit in the 18th century, although it was later modified by other scientists. On the Fahrenheit scale, zero is the temperature of a brine solution. The 100 degree point was once set as the temperature of a human body, but this was later changed to make the freezing and boiling points of water exactly 180 degrees apart, at 32 and 212 degrees Fahrenheit. A single degree on the Fahrenheit temperature scale is equivalent to 5/9th of a degree on the Celsius temperature scale.

The Celsius temperature scale was named after an astronomer of the same name who created a temperature scale based on the melting and boiling points of water, although the direction of his scale was then reversed by other scientists to its modern direction. The zero point of the scale is the freezing or melting point of water, while water's boiling point is at 100 degrees Celsius.

The Kelvin temperature scale was named for the physicist Lord Kelvin, who was the first to suggest that there was a lower limit to temperature, which is known as absolute zero. It is impossible to have a temperature that is colder than absolute zero. Absolute zero is the starting point of the Kelvin scale. A single Kelvin unit has the same magnitude as one degree Celsius.


Whenever the need to convert temperature from one scale to another arises, you can use the conversion formula, or use the instant temperature converter to convert temperature from Celsius to Fahrenheit, Kelvin and Rankin.

To convert between temperature scales it is necessary to account for the differences between the starting points on which the scales are based as well as the differences between the magnitudes of the units that are used. The equations for temperature conversions, where C = temperature in degrees Celsius, F = temperature in degrees Fahrenheit and K = temperature in Kelvin are as follows:

C = (F -32) x 5/9

F = C x 9/5 + 32

C = K - 273.15

K = C + 273.15

F = K x 9/5 - 459.67

K = (F + 459.67) x 5/9

Example Conversions

1. A cook is reading a recipe that calls for the oven to be turned on at 450 degrees Fahrenheit, but their oven dial needs to be set using measurements in degrees Celsius. In order to set the oven to the right temperature and cook the dish properly, the cook needs to convert the temperature into Celsius.

To convert a temperature from Fahrenheit into Celsius, it is necessary to subtract 32 and then to multiply by 5/9.

The cook begins by subtracting 32 from 450, to make 418. Next, they multiply this by 5/9 to make 232.22.

450 degrees Fahrenheit is equivalent to 232.22 degrees Celsius.

The oven dial needs to be turned to 232 degrees Celsius in order to cook a dish at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. An American tourist is visiting Europe. Before leaving the US, the tourist checks the weather report for their destination and finds that the temperature is expected to be about 30 degrees during their stay. If the tourist assumed that these temperatures were given in Fahrenheit, they would assume that the weather was going to be cool. However, the tourist luckily recognizes that the weather report is given in degrees Celsius. In order to know what temperatures to expect so that they can pack appropriate clothing, the tourist needs to convert the temperature into Fahrenheit.

To convert a temperature from Celsius into Fahrenheit, it is necessary to multiply by 9/5 and then to add 32.

The tourist begins by multiplying 30 by 9/5 to make 54. They then add 32 to make 86.

30 degrees Celsius is equivalent to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

The tourist realizes that the temperature at their destination will actually be hot and they are, therefore, able to pack the right clothes for their trip.

3. An international team of scientists is working on a project during which they need to make very accurate measurements of temperatures. If their measurements are even a tiny bit wrong then it could ruin the whole project. The team is using an instrument that can measure temperatures in Kelvin.

The teams take a temperature measurement of 25 Kelvin. They use this scientific measure in their calculations and reports, but they also choose to calculate what this temperature means in scales with which they are more familiar in their everyday lives. This makes it easier for them to understand the temperatures they are talking about and it also makes it easier for them to communicate their findings to the media and non-scientists.

Some of the scientists prefer to use the Celsius scale, but others are more familiar with the Fahrenheit scale.

In order to convert the measurement from Kelvin into Celsius, it is necessary to subtract 273.15.

The scientists subtract 273.15 from 25 to make -248.15 degrees Celsius.

In order to convert the measurement from Kelvin into Fahrenheit, it is necessary to multiply by 9/5 and then to subtract 459.67.

The scientists multiply 25 by 9/5 to make 45. They then subtract 459.67 to make -414.67.

The measurement of 25 Kelvin is equivalent to -248.15 degrees Celsius or -414.67 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the scientists show their findings to non-scientists, their audience is much more familiar with the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales, so they are able to understand how cold this temperature is thanks to the conversion.


Rather than performing an exact calculation, it is also possible to estimate a conversion between the Fahrenheit and Celsius temperature scales. The temperature in Fahrenheit is approximately double the temperature in Celsius, so to estimate a conversion between then it is possible to simply double or halve the temperature. This method is most useful when cooking.

Also, learn about the history of names behind temperature scales in a comprehensive temperature conversion guide.

Watering and Drainage System for Your Balcony Garden

Posted by Sasha Kirey On 9:15 AM
Natural rainfall is not always sufficient for plants, even when they are growing in the garden, so it is particularly important to their health that watering is not neglected when they are growing in containers.

Watering Systems

In their natural surroundings, many plants survive during periods of low rainfall by extending their roots deep into the earth in search of residual moisture. In containers, they are totally dependent on a regular supply of water to keep them alive.

You can cut down on the need to water frequently by adding water-retaining gel to the compost. This swells up as it absorbs water, and releases it back to the plants as they need it.

Irrigation systems that connect the water supply directly to the plants are an excellent way of cutting down on wasted water, because all the water is delivered exactly where it is needed, at the plants' roots. These can be operated by timing devices to suit the needs of the plants.

As well as providing enough water for your plants, you also need to consider how to get rid of rainwater. On a balcony, excess water can usually be drained away without a problem, but on a roof it may be more difficult. The surplus must drain off quickly, or the roof might not be able to bear the weight.

If you are laying flooring, such as timber decking, it must not interfere with the waterproof membrane covering the roof, and it is important that no damage occurs during installation that would cause water to seep into the rooms below. You should also ensure that canopies will not trap water during bad weather.

Tip of the Day, installing energy efficient LED garden Lights in your garden can help save you money, and is good for the environment.

Garden Plants can help fight Pollution

Posted by Sasha Kirey On 9:12 PM
Pollution of one sort or another is a problem in all areas but town gardens are particularly exposed to its effects because of their location in centres of population, commerce and manufacturing. In this battle between our need for the peace and tranquillity of nature and the necessities of economic activity, the front garden is the front line. Some plants can cope with the problems of pollution, while others cannot, but with thoughtful planting, the garden need look no less beautiful in a town than in the middle of the countryside.

Problem Sites

Any substance in the atmosphere that is not beneficial can constitute pollution, whether it is air-borne, water-borne or deposited directly. Some plants are more tolerant of pollution than others and it is worth knowing which these are.

The most obvious site at risk from pollution is next to a busy main road, where traffic is constantly streaming past or snarled up in slow-moving jams. Not only does the deposit from the vehicle exhausts settle on the leaves throughout the year but, if the road is salted in winter, it is splashed on to the nearest plants as the traffic passes. The solution may be as simple as a hedge of plants that can tolerate this kind of treatment, planted along the most vulnerable part of the garden to protect the more delicate species behind it.

Environmental pollution is a much more general problem to the garden. In an area with such difficulties it is worth choosing a selection of plants that are known to be tolerant of a range of unfavorable conditions. Careful selection will provide a varied collection of both evergreen and deciduous plants, for flowers and foliage, that will provide interest throughout the year.

Further Reading

LED lighting helps conserve energy, and is good for the environment. It does not contain any pollutants, and can be easily recycled.

Aspect of Your Front Garden

Posted by Sasha Kirey On 1:18 PM
The aspect of the front garden is something you don't have any choice about. Also, because of the primary need to make it an efficient access area, you may not have much scope for altering where blocks of planting or containers are positioned. Whichever direction the garden faces, though, there will be a range of plants suitable for growing in it; selecting the right plants will produce a wonderful show of color throughout the year.

Know Your Plants

The direction the garden faces will have a strong influence on the plants likely to thrive in it. If a plant originally hails from the warm, dry and sunny countries that border the Mediterranean, it is unlikely to grow well in a damp, shady corner, and, similarly, a bog plant from a northern forest will not enjoy being placed between a south-facing wall and a path. One of the basic keys to successful gardening is to match the position and the plant as closely as possible. Doing this when the plant is first acquired will save both time and money, because the plant will not have to be dug up later when it has failed to thrive and most of the growing season has been lost. A good nursery is invaluable for advice, but most plants will be labelled.

Home and Garden Publications

Access to the Balcony and Roof Terrace

Posted by Sasha Kirey On 4:05 PM

Access routes to the balcony or roof garden are usually pretty straightforward and should not present as many problems as in front gardens, for instance. There are some special considerations for these areas, however. The most important point, which must be borne in mind at the initial planning stage, is that fire escapes need to kept clear - especially when these are shared by neighbours.

Keep Exits Clear

In an older property, where several flats are reached by means of a system of metal stairs and balconies, the whole appearance of the building can be altered and enhanced by allowing a tracery of climbing plants to grow along the metalwork. The building develops a character all its own and each individual balcony can then become a small garden for its owner, all different, but linked by the overall greenery. However, if the area in which the garden is being created constitutes part of a fire escape, it is essential for safety to keep it clear so people can descend quickly and easily in an emergency. This is particularly important for a communal balcony, where the same escape route is allocated to several flats - the last thing frightened people need in an emergency is to be falling over pots and trellises.

How to prevent ice dams on roof terrace garden, or on a balcony during the winter

preventing ice dams on a roof

How to Use Screening to Provide Privacy in a Garden

Posted by Sasha Kirey On 6:19 PM

Privacy is important in the garden, particularly around the area intended for eating or relaxation. Plants, used either as a living screen or to clothe an artificial one, are the ideal solution.

Real Solutions

It is difficult to relax completely in the garden if there is no sense of privacy and protection from outside interference, or if something can be seen which is better left hidden, such as storage areas or rubbish bins (trash cans). The problem can be physical, visual or psychological, but if it is essential to the enjoyment of the garden, it should be addressed. You can increase the height of too-low walls and fences by adding a trellis to the top. This will create a barrier to deter nearby animals from trying to enter, without preventing contact with people on the other side or blocking the view completely. Painting the trellis will add interest until the plants have grown to cover it and will help harmonize it with the surroundings.

If the item to be hidden is within the garden and is not too large, such as a compost container or tool shed, a single evergreen shrub or conifer should suffice to hide it from view. If there is one intrusive eyesore beyond the boundary of the garden that is spoiling the view, a strategically placed upright tree or conifer may be the answer, so that the offending object is hidden but the rest of the scene can still be appreciated.

If taller protection is required, trees such as birch (Betula penduld) are excellent for screening from nearby houses. Because the leaf canopy is light and airy it will not block out too much light.

Privacy is particularly desirable around an eating area, and again, a trellis is useful, as it provides screening without blocking out the light, is durable, supports plants easily and can be painted or stained to suit the area. Its main disadvantage is that it allows in cold winds. Wattle fences, bamboo and reed screens are also extremely attractive, although they are not as long-lasting as trellises. More flexibly, shrubs, tall grasses and small trees in containers can all act as screens, and can be moved to different positions according to need.

For a more solid barrier, especially where a wall cannot be built, a fence of closely spaced boards will provide good shelter. Close-board, interlock and interwoven fencing is usually available in 2m (6 feet) wide panels of varying heights.