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guest post


Brighten Up Your Life (and Garden) with Solar Lights

June 26, 2014

Whether clipped and tended or wild and natural, one of the simplest pleasures experienced by garden lovers everywhere is to be able to relax and gaze out over our green oasis night and day. When the sun goes down, a set of solar lights in the garden can light it up like an eco-friendly fairy land.

Brighten Up Your Life (and Garden) with Solar Lights - photo credit: Payson web 2.0 via photopin cc

Solar Garden Globe – photo credit: Payson web 2.0 via photopin cc

Lighting up your environment

Fortunately, solar lights don’t use electricity as they soak up the sunlight directly during the day and release the energy after sunset as a gentle and effective light source. So whether you’re throwing an after dark barbecue, or searching for your cat at dinner time, solar-powered lights are an eco-friendly and practical option for your garden.

Lightening the load on your wallet

As well as doing little to disturb the environment, they don’t disturb our finances too much either. The initial outlay is relatively low, so you you’ll also no longer have to fork out for increased energy usage costs that high-voltage electric-powered lights need, as solar lights use no electricity from your mains supply.

Making life a little easier

One of the great advantages of solar lights is that in most cases, you don’t have to worry about turning them on or off: they’ll turn on automatically at dusk and turn themselves off at dawn. No waste and no more scurrying out into the dark in your dressing gown to flip a switch!

Garden Solar Lights - photo credit: marada via photopin cc

Garden Solar Lights – photo credit: marada via photopin cc

A few suggestions for your garden

The solar lights market is expanding as their popularity grows. There’s a huge range of styles, sizes and types to choose from, meaning that there’s bound to be a design to suit your beautiful garden. Not only that, there are no unsightly cables and plugs to worry about.

Some Bright Ideas

  • You can drape your trees and bushes with solar fairy lights for a dream-like garden.
  • Line solar post lights along the edges of your paths for a well-lit trail through the grass.
  • If security is what you’re looking for, there are now security-focussed solar lights on the market. They can be tilted to suit your situation and are fitted with waterproofing technology along with remote digital motion sensors just like electric-powered security lights.
  • If you’re looking for simple garden lighting, a solar spotlight will light up your garden for ideal visibility.
  • Consider floor lights if you’re installing decking or a new patio: you can find sleek, square stainless steel designs on the market which will really complement your new deck.
  • If you’re having a party, or just want decorative lights, you can get brightly coloured designs to really make your garden stand out. There are even novelty solar animals available.

Solar lights are stylish and eco-friendly, and they can really bring your garden to life. They’re a real sign of moving with the times, since so many people want their home to be greener these days.

Are you a fan of garden lights? Have you made the switch to solar yet?


Please note, this article was co-created with a web outreach team.

Vegetable Garden

Polytunnels & Organic Growing During the Autumn & Winter Months

October 18, 2013

From time to time I receive requests from people asking if they can guest blog on the Greenside Up website and in general I’ve declined but an enquiry a few weeks ago from Deborah of Premier Polytunnels was written so politely and on a subject I was about to post myself, I was more than happy for a polytunnel expert to write it for you!

It’s always preferable to support and shop locally but although I write largely for an Irish audience, I know that almost as many of you looking at my blog are doing so from the UK. The link for this particular Lancashire supplier is therefore for you!

Although Premier are more than happy to supply and deliver polytunnels to Ireland, we already have some good, competitive and friendly suppliers living here. Gillespie Polytunnels in Donegal and Highbank Polytunnels in Kilkenny have both been great friends of community garden projects and Polydome in the midlands are very popular too.

For now though, here’s some useful tips from Deborah…

October polytunnel

Spot the powdery mildew appearing on courgette leaves indicating the end of season

Polytunnel growing during the autumn and winter months

As autumn begins to set in, some of the gardening community are beginning to check their soggy borders as they contemplate a long winter with very little growing to enjoy.

Not so for those who’ve been fortunate enough to have invested in a polytunnel. Polytunnel gardening is not only a wonderful way to enjoy an extended growing season but it’s also a great route into organic growing.

Continue Reading…


Rivers and Wildflowers

September 4, 2013

Vibrant Ireland is one of my favourite travel blogs that shares tips and tales of what to see, do, eat and special places to visit in Ireland, London, Norway and beyond. I was really pleased to write a guest post for Susan, author of Vibrant Ireland about an overnight stay Mr G and I spent at The Waterside Guesthouse in Graigenamanagh, Co Kilkenny which can be found here if you’d like to find out more. The post is more than just a diary of a night away in a riverside village. It’s a reflection on how rural villages are surviving under changing economic and social conditions. Do check it out if you have a minute please. One of the unexpected highlights of our weekend was the walk along the tow path of the River Barrow which was full of beautiful wildflowers. I’ve shared some of the images below which you can click for a slide show.

Sometimes the most beautiful things we experience aren’t chosen or placed, they’re quietly existing around us; we have to slow down, open our eyes and see.

Community Gardens

Guest Post ~ How to Introduce Child-Friendly Water Features into Community Gardens

July 8, 2012

water feature for garden

Do you have a water feature in your garden (community or otherwise) or have you avoided it because of safety issues?

Ewan Michaels is this month’s guest blogger and he currently works for UK Water Features who are a solar water pumps provider. Ewan enjoys gardening in his spare time and thinks that child safety should be a top priority when designing or modifying a garden. 

A decorative water feature that has moving water increases the appeal of any garden. Water is soothing to watch and hear as it flows, trickles and splashes. Every gardener who installs a water feature is fully responsible for it. Gardeners who participate in community gardens are even more responsible due to the access the public has as well as the fact that other volunteer gardeners will likely participate in maintaining any water feature installed.

Community Gardens

The idea of the community garden goes back to antiquity but has only seen a resurgence since the 1960s. Plots of land in villages and cities are turned into everything from a productive vegetable garden that provides food to havens for wildlife. Most gardens attract the public due to their organized beauty and the peaceful serenity they offer to visitors. Young children visiting these gardens have various levels of supervision depending on the guardian accompanying them. It’s important to keep this in mind when adding anything to a community garden.

black slate water feature

Child-Friendly Water Feature Basics for Community Gardens

Beyond the child safety concerns that will be considered, there is a need to follow a fundamental common-sense approach to any water feature. Drought-prone areas are no stranger to seasonal hose pipe bans. Large water features may run dry during the hottest part of the season right when a ban is in effect. Features that require smaller amounts of water that can be easily and legally kept filled are a benefit. Also, an approved pump connected to an approved and inspected electrical source is a must. Annual inspections may also be required depending where the garden is located.

Child-specific concerns include that the water feature be constructed of a material that cannot be broken even if a child should decide to climb on it. The water feature must also be installed in a manner that it would be impossible for it to tip over if a child should climb on it. The issue is that a strong material that can support weight is usually heavy. Heavy materials falling over can cause serious injuries or even fatalities. No one wishes to bear that concern.

Choose a water feature that is too small for a child to crawl into, yet large enough that the water movement creates visual and sound appeal. Pond style features have the risk of accidental drowning. Birdbath type features are interesting and are considered to be much safer. Regardless of the water feature decided upon, be sure to consider it from a child’s perspective. Consider every bit of trouble a child could get into when at play near it.

Funny to read of hose pipe bans and drought with all the rain we’ve had over the past few weeks but it’s not that long ago our water butts were empty! We just can’t guarantee the weather in any of our seasons over recent years so it pays to think beyond the here and now.

A wildlife pond is top of my list of improvements in my own garden but I really like the  ball water feature above which will provide light, reflection and be a lot easier to install too. What do you think? Do you have a pond or water feature in your garden? 


Vegetable Garden

Guest Post: Organic Mulch ~ What’s that all about?

March 4, 2012

Organic Mulching | Guest Post for Greenside Up

When I first started gardening I often heard the terms mulching, soil conditioning, manuring, composting to name but a few and hadn’t got a clue what people were talking about. Were they different or all the same? Did they come in bags or did you make them?
My questions were endless and so I was delighted when Jerry Day offered to clarify mulching for everyone with a guest blog. Jerry has loved gardening and landscaping since he was very young. He loves to write about gardening topics and currently works for 1-800-Mulch-Pro in the U.S. helping others improve the exterior of their homes.

Types Of Organic Mulch That Can Be Used In Vegetable Gardens

Organic gardening is the process of growing flowers, ornamental plants, herbs, fruit,and vegetables without toxic chemicals or harmful pesticides. Some primary concerns for organic gardeners include pest control, soil preparation, weed control, and the preservation of garden plants. Applying an organic mulch as a layer that sits on the top of the soil is the best way to ensure a bountiful harvest throughout the season. A layer of organic mulch will adjust the temperature of garden soil as needed, eliminate fruit rot, and provide overall soil improvement. Organic mulch properly insulates the ground against cold or heat, and the spread of plant disease will be reduced.

Organic Mulch

Straw Mulch

There are several different types of organic mulch that can be used in vegetable gardens. Organic mulch is made from previously living material produced by nature. Straw, wood chips, dried leaves, and pine needles are some examples of organic mulch. The amount of mulch used in the garden will depend on the type of organic material used. If you are using stringy or coarse material like pine needles, applying several inches of mulch will bring the best results. When the growing season has come to an end, simply mix the mulch into the garden soil. This process increases the soil’s organic matter in preparation for the next season.

Gardeners can use different types of natural material for organic mulch. Dried grass clippings are ideal for many root vegetables such as radishes, carrots, and beets.

Mulch made from bark or wood chips are often used in shrubs, ornamental gardens, and garden borders.This type of mulch is not recommended for vegetable gardens. Materials like shredded leaves, hay, and straw are other types of organic mulch that can be used in vegetable gardens. For best results, only use dry materials for organic mulch. Organic mulch can be made from sawdust or shredded newspaper, these materials should also be dry before adding to garden soil.

Organic Mulch | Greenside Up

Home Made Compost

One of the most well-known types of mulch is home-made compost made from organic material. Organic compost is made from natural material and discarded food items. Gardeners can use potato peels, lobster shells, vegetable leaves, citrus peels, and eggshells for organic compost. Natural products such as pea pods, feathers, seed hulls, and peanut shells are also used. If you will be using compost as mulch,it must stay moist to encourage root growth. Cover the soil with a thin layer of compost and top it with mulch made from dried grass or shredded leaves. An extra layer of mulch will allow to stay moist, and plant roots will thrive.

Just about any kind of organic mulch can be used in a vegetable garden. After two or three planting seasons, you will know which type of organic mulch you prefer.

Do you use mulch in your garden? I liked the tip about covering the soil with home-made compost then a layer of dried grass. What do you use?