Five ways to make more of your garden 

 
 

With our busy modern lives, it’s all too easy to neglect the garden - but with a little time, planning and carefully targeted expenditure we can all make the most of our outdoor space and reap the benefits of fresh air and healthy living. Here are a few suggestions:

 
             
 

1. Tempt the kids outdoors

 
  Forest Garden Sage playhouse  

Keeping the little ones amused can be key to a happy day outdoors. A traditional wooden children's playhouse can be a great way to fire up youngsters' imaginations and encourage them to spend time in the fresh air, away from the computer and TV. 

When looking for a garden playhouse, consider carefully where you’re going to put it. If your children are very young you'll probably want to position it near the house so you can keep an eye on them, whereas older kids will probably prefer a more remote hideaway at the bottom of the garden. 

 
             
  What size? That very much depends on the number and ages of your little ones, your budget, and how much room is available. For toddlers and small children, a compact wooden wendy house that you can tuck into a corner of the lawn or patio can be a good option if space is limited. Take a look at our Peach and Sage playhouses. At 4 feet square, they won’t dominate your garden but will still provide plenty of scope for imaginative play. 

For something a little bigger, the Damson and Apple models are ideal for entertaining friends.  

  Four small unpainted Forest Garden playhouses   
             
  Three large Forest Garden unpainted playhouses  

Slightly older children will love the Sage Tower, which is a raised playhouse accessed by a ladder – a perfect compromise if you’ve ever been pestered for a treehouse.

Obviously, a bigger garden play house will give more years of use as your youngsters grow. The Thyme Kids' Kabin is particularly suitable for older children, with a maximum head height of 196cm at the apex, so they won’t outgrow it in a hurry. The Basil Multiplay playhouse is also a generous size with 176cm of headroom, and includes a covered veranda.

 
             
 

Wooden playhouses blend much better into the landscape than plastic ones, but what about maintenance?

Pressure-treated, or tanalised, models are made from timber that has had long-lasting preservative forced into it during manufacture. They are guaranteed against rot for 15 years, and are extremely low-maintenance.

Dip-treated garden playhouses have been coated with preservative at the factory and are guaranteed for 10 years, as long as they are regularly re-treated. See Forest Garden Timber Treatment and Guarantee for details.   

  Dip and pressure treated playhouses   
             
 

2. Freshen up your furniture

 
 

The right garden furniture can make all the difference to the look and feel of your lawn, patio or courtyard. You can opt to create a shady retreat by arranging some garden tables and chairs under a tree, or gear up for summer entertaining with smart new patio furniture.

Wooden garden furniture sets offer a natural, classic look that will never go out of fashion. Our outdoor garden furniture is all made from high quality pressure-treated timber that is guaranteed against rot for 15 years, so you won’t even have to re-coat it with preservative during that time.

  Rosedene garden furniture  
             
  Saratoga chair  

What to pick? For lazy afternoons lounging in the sun, take a look at our distinctive, American-style Saratoga garden chair. Available with a matching footstool, it will make a striking addition to any home.

Or there are the classically shaped Harvington, Ragley and Rosedene garden chairs and benches. Beautifully made with high quality fixings, they will blend in with many other styles of outdoor furniture. 

 
             
 

Of course, whether you’re thinking of al fresco dining, afternoon tea or evening drinks, you’ll need a suitable garden table. We stock a wide range of high quality wooden garden furniture sets that have all been pressure treated for long life and low maintenance.

Our premium circular picnic table includes fixed seating that will accommodate eight people with ease, making it one of the top choices among large families looking for patio furniture. If you’d prefer a rectangular garden table, the Ragley range features one with the option of matching chairs and benches. It also includes a round garden table. 

  Forest Garden circular picnic table   
             
  Forest Garden modular furniture  

Our popular rectangular picnic tables make a cost-effective option for those on a budget, and we also stock two sizes of traditional refectory table. These simple, clean-lined pieces of furniture go well with our large range of modular sleeper tables, benches and garden planters which you can mix and match to suit the size and shape of your garden. And their minimalist design means they don't take up any more space than necessary.

For something a big different, consider a tree seat. Our sturdy bench seat will reach halfway round a medium-sized tree to make an interesting feature and a great place to chill out on a hot summer's day. 

 
             
 

3. Get shipshape with a shed

 
 

A garden shed can fulfil many functions. The extra storage it provides for tools and equipment will help you keep your outdoor area tidy, and maybe free up more cupboard space in the house at the same time. 

Large garden sheds can double as workshops, hobby rooms or lawnmower stores, enabling you to extend your living space.

Summerhouses usually have bigger windows and are ideal for entertaining, relaxing with a good book, or using as a home office.   

  Premium Forest Garden tongue & groove shed   
             
  Forest Garden wall shed and tool store  

Smaller garden shed kits can also be a good option where space is limited, or simply for the sake of convenience. A wall shed, for instance, can be a good solution for keeping frequently used tools close to the house, or as overspill storage when the main garden shed is full to bursting.

The same applies to free-standing sentry type sheds and tool stores – you can easily place them near your back door for quick access and greater security. And a wheelie bin hide will smarten up your outside space.

 
             
 

Other garden shed ideas include hybrid buildings that can be used for more than one purpose.

Among these are a combined log and tool store - a convenient compromise if you don't have enough space for a full-size shed and separate log store.

There is also an apex garden shed with lean-to which can provide useful storage for bulky items such as garden tables and chairs, patio furniture, wheelbarrows and logs.  

  Apex shed with lean-to   
             
  Wrekin log cabin  

Another option is a log cabin with extra storage. With attractive French doors opening into the garden, the Wrekin model offers the best of both worlds for work and play.

It features a large main room that you can use as a workshop, home office, games room, summerhouse or hobby space, and a separate lockable storage area which can be installed either to the right or left side of the cabin.

Many other types of log cabin in both modern and traditional styles are available, including ones designed to fit into a corner of the garden to save space.

 
             
 

There are so many garden sheds for sale that the choice can be quite overwhelming. One way to narrow down your search is to decide which type of construction you prefer. There are two main garden shed designs: overlap and shiplap. 

Overlap shed walls are made from a variety of mainly British softwoods. They consist of horizontal overlapping boards which form a series of sloping surfaces running down the sides of the building. This simple but efficient design lets rain quickly flow down the face of one board onto the one below, like tiles on a house roof, so water doesn’t have time to soak into the wood. 

  Overlap shed walls   
             
  Forest Garden overlap shed  

Because the boards are rough sawn, these garden sheds have a rustic appeal that will blend well into most settings – and the loose overlapping nature of the boards allows the timber to expand and contract naturally, reducing the chances of cracking or warping.

The straightforward design keeps down production costs and ensures a wide choice, making overlap garden sheds the most popular and affordable type in the UK.    

 
             
 

Shiplap sheds are usually made of pine – an attractive, renewable wood that is easy to cut and shape.

Their walls are constructed from planks which have been smoothed and shaped so that each board slots into the next with an interlocking tongue and groove joint, making the shed much stronger and more secure than an overlap design. A small lip between each board also helps rainwater to run off the walls more quickly.   

  Shiplap shed walls   
             
  Forest Garden large shiplap shed  

The timber is slow-grown for added strength, then cut into planks and kiln-dried to lower the moisture content rapidly and evenly. This process makes the wood more stable and helps to prevent it warping or shrinking at a later stage.

Because shiplap garden shed kits tend to be made from thicker timber, they will usually last longer than overlap sheds and provide better insulation, so are a good bet if you’re planning to spend a lot of time in there.   

 
             
 

Where to put the shed? Usually, the size and shape of your plot will dictate its location. However, if you have the luxury of choice, consider first what you’re going to be using the shed for. If its main purpose is for storage, make sure you leave enough space around the entrance to easily get large items in and out.

If you’re intending to use it as an office, for hobbies or DIY, aim for a location with plenty of natural light and not too far from the house, so you can connect it to the electricity supply. Level ground is also important, as garden sheds can easily warp if the base is uneven.   

  Pent tongue & groove shed in garden   
             
 

4. Cultivate containers

 
  Forest Garden planters  

You don’t have to be an expert gardener to grow flowers, herbs or vegetables – and it’s even easier using plant containers, as you can fill them with the right kind of soil to suit your chosen project. Wet clay or dry sandy soil need be no obstacle when you can just pour in a bag of specialist compost!   

Outdoor planters can give your garden an extra dimension, adding height and colour, and widening your scope for cultivating different kinds of seeds. Even if you only have a patio, you can artfully arrange small garden planters to make instant flowerbeds or herb plots.  

 
             
 

Another advantage of planters is their versatility. Where growing conditions are tricky, for instance if there is heavy shade or stony ground, you might be able to place flower planters in a more suitable spot to achieve better results. 

You can also get raised planters, which are particularly useful for anyone with back problems as less bending down is required. Another benefit of raised planters is that as they are off the ground they allow the soil to warm up more quickly in the spring, thereby extending the growing season.    

  Forest Garden raised log planter   
             
  Forest Garden planter with trellis  

Large garden planters offer scope for growing vegetables, shrubs or tall flowers, and some come with attached trellis to support climbing plants.

Small garden planters are very versatile, and ideal for many kinds of flowering plants including geraniums, miniature roses, azaleas, pansies and daffodils. They can be dotted individually around the garden, placed next to patio furniture or your garden shed for added interest, or grouped together to make one big feature.

Both modern and traditional outdoor planters are available, with the option to paint or stain them to match your garden furniture.   

 
             
 

5. Put your feet up

 
 

Creating a relaxing retreat or a focal point for entertaining can help you get so much more enjoyment from your outdoor space.

When you’ve finished pottering about in your garden shed, or feel like a breather after perfecting your flower planters, what better way to enjoy the fruits of your labours than to curl up in an arbour or gazebo with a good book, share afternoon tea or a glass of wine with your loved one, or just enjoy the view over your garden.    

  Forest Garden Sorrento arbour   
             
  Forest Garden Venetian pergola  

For outdoor dining and entertaining, a pergola can be a great asset as well as an attractive focal point. This instantly creates a structured area where you can enjoy al fresco gatherings with family and friends, and you can grow climbing plants up the sides for extra shade if required.

Some pergolas offer a degree of protection against the weather, while others have a more open design - ideal for sun worshippers.

 
             
 

Installing a decking kit, with or without a pergola, will help keep mud at bay, create a stable, level platform and allow you to get much more use out of your new seating area, especially if you add some garden tables and chairs.

Just like our wooden garden furniture, all our decking kits have been pressure-treated for long life and low maintenance.

  Forest Garden Ultima pergola with decking   
             
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