Tag: landscape gardening

v2 email banner - garden comp

For the past month, we’ve been looking for the worthiest winner of a garden makeover. We know how much people value their outdoor space and wanted to find the people who most deserved to have their garden transformed into a beautiful and practical place to spend time.

We were overwhelmed with entries, with hundreds of people from around the UK sharing their stories with us, and more than 30,000 people voting for the gardens they most wanted to see get a well-earned facelift. Picking a winner from the most popular entries was a difficult process that divided the judges, but eventually we found our winner.

Megan Rees from Oxford entered the competition hoping to the change the life of her three-year-old daughter, Ariella. When Ariella was born, she was given just a 10% chance of survival, with a number of rare conditions including CHD and Nager syndrome. Her devoted parents have had to give up work to care for her around the clock, yet despite her disabilities, she has a passion for life and loves being outside and exploring.

 

Megan and Ariella's garden is in need of some TLC

Megan and Ariella’s garden is in need of some TLC

 

Megan says: “Ariella is the strongest person I know, she is always happy and takes life as it comes. If there is anyone who deserves to have a special garden to play in it would be her – this incredible girl doesn’t let anything stop her.”

We agreed, and in the coming weeks we’ll be working with Megan and local tradespeople to transform Ariella’s garden, turning it into a safe and fun place for her to play. We’ll be sharing the whole transformation here on MyBuilder, so watch this space!

 

Ariella loves being outdoors and exploring

Ariella loves being outdoors and exploring

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Going out into our gardens is a simple pleasure that many of us enjoy, but it’s also one that lots us take for granted. For those with disabilities or issues with their mobility, making the most of their garden can be difficult – especially if the space hasn’t been adapted for them. If you’re interested in making a garden more accessible, here are some tips to get you started.

 

Tame the Jungle

 

One of the best ways to take back your garden space is to physically clear out the things that have taken it over. Long grass, weeds, climbing ivy and other plants can all choke a garden if left and unchecked, while old broken down sheds and garages can end up as nothing but eyesores that have long outlived their usefulness. A demolitions and clearance expert might be best placed to help remove the detritus that making your garden such an unwelcome space.

 

Don’t Step on the Cracks

 

Old paving, loose blockwork and broken concrete can all prove to be huge impediments to enjoying a garden – while any stairs can be more like barriers for wheelchair users. If a path is meant to lead you through the garden, then it needs to be fit for purpose, while a ramp can replace stairs. A tradesman who does paving and hardstanding can help get them up to scratch.

 

Bed Time

 

Gardening is a British obsession, and even those of us without a green thumb can enjoy planting everything from beautiful flowers to tasty vegetable. However, bending over to get your hands dirty can be difficult for many people – so raised beds, where the planters are brought up to be more accessible – can be a great solution. A good carpenter or joiner can help create an attractive wooden design.

 

Turn on the Bright Lights

 

We all want to make as much of our outdoor space as possible, but it can be difficult when the light is fading and the evenings grow colder. Adding lighting to the seating area of your garden can help transform an underused space, and while it’s simple to add cheap, solar powered lights, an electrician will be able to install a more permanent and comprehensive solution.

 

Ready to take back control?

 

If you or someone you know is in dire need of a garden makeover, you could be in luck. MyBuilder is currently running a competition with a garden makeover worth £1,000 up for grabs. All you have to do to enter is submit a picture of the garden with the people who use it, and tell us what the makeover would mean to you.

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v2 email banner - garden comp

MyBuilder is once again on the hunt for the worthiest winner of a garden makeover. The stakes are high, as this year’s winner will win a £1,000 transformation of their green space.

Research has shown that spending time in green spaces can reduce stress, enhance mood and improve health. However, creating a tranquil oasis in your backyard is easier said than done.

We want to know what this prize would mean to you. You can nominate yourself, a friend or relative for the prize – we are looking for the most worthy winner of a plant-filled paradise!

 

How to Enter

Tell us how a garden makeover would change the lives of the person or people who use that space. Make it convincing, because only the top 12 entries with the most votes will go through to our final round to be judged by MyBuilder.

To complete your entry, submit a picture of the garden and make sure to include yourself or the people who use it.

 

The Winner

Entries are open to public voting and individuals taking part can lobby in all forms of media to get votes for their entries. A shortlist of twelve will be made of those with the most votes. Entries are open until midnight on 16th April 2017. Voting will continue until 23rd April 2017 when the shortlist will be announced. MyBuilder will select the winner from the shortlisted entrants and the result will be announced through the MyBuilder website and official social channels.

 

The Prize

A garden makeover with a value of up to £1,000 including materials and a MyBuilder tradesman to complete the work.

 

2015 Winner

Back in 2015, Nicola Machin won the £1,000 garden makeover prize after her entry received over 1000 votes! Click here to read her story.

 

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Terms and Conditions:

  1. This Competition is open to any full time resident of the UK aged 18 and over.

  2. This Competition is not open to employees of MyBuilder, their family members, MyBuilder’s agents, or anyone professionally connected with the competition.

  3. One entry per household permitted.

  4. Entries to the competition will be accepted until 23:59 GMT 16th April 2017. Voting closes 23.59 GMT 23rd April 2017.

  5. Participants enter the competition by submitting a photo of their garden with an explanation of why they deserve to win (make sure to include yourself or the people who use it).

  6. By entering the contest and submitting your photograph(s), you agree to assign all intellectual and property rights to MyBuilder and that your photograph(s) and competition entry content may be used for any purpose, at any time, without any fee or other form of compensation.

  7. Participants may edit the photographs and description of their entry, up to 1 week after submitting their entry, until entries close at 23:59 GMT 16th April 2017. Once entries are closed, no amendments to any entries can be made.

  8. We reserve the right to disqualify entries, without notice, and for any reason.

  9. Obscene, inappropriate or otherwise questionable content will not be considered. We retain sole discretion as to what constitutes inappropriate content.

  10. No responsibility is taken for entries which are lost, delayed or misdirected, or cannot be delivered or entered for any technical or other reason.

  11. The prize is a garden makeover inclusive of materials and a MyBuilder tradesman to complete the work, up to the value of £2,000.

  12. MyBuilder is not liable for any further costs that arise as a result of the project.

  13. The winner will be selected by MyBuilder, notified via email and will be announced on M​yBuilder blog ​once the prize has been claimed.

  14. No cash or other alternative is available to the prize.

  15. The usual privacy policy​ terms of MyBuilder apply to all personal information we gather.

  16. The prize must be claimed by the prize winner and may not be transferred to or used by any third party.

  17. If MyBuilder cannot contact the winner within 5 working days of the prize draw MyBuilder reserves the right to determine a new winner.

  18. Entrants must be willing to participate in publicity photographs, video and interviews should they win the competition.

  19. MyBuilder is a registered company in England. The laws of England shall apply to all matters arising from or relating to this competition.

  20. MyBuilder.com Ltd reserves the right in its sole and absolute discretion to alter these terms at any time for any reason without prior notice.

  21. In addition, MyBuilder’s standard terms & conditions and privacy policy apply to this competition.

Home improvements should generally add value to your property and make it more enjoyable to live in. Then there are projects that could ruin the look of your home and send buyers running for the door.

Here are but a few of the home improvement projects you should think twice about before taking the plunge.

Artex

This nasty, textured coating was daubed over many a ceiling and wall throughout the 70s and 80s. Modern artex doesn’t contain traces of asbestos like it did in the 70s but there are other good reasons why you should leave well alone. Artex is practically impossible to remove without tearing strips off your knuckles, or gouging holes in the ceiling. To get rid of it, you’ll need a plasterer to skim the room. You should also think twice about choosing artex if you want to sell your home – most people hate it which could impact the sale price.

Artificial grass

A worrying trend is developing up and down the country where people are turning their gardens into small 5-a-side football pitches in the name of low maintenance. We don’t care what people say in defence of artificial grass, it’s simply not acceptable in a British garden.

Changing the layout of your home

Aspirational home improvement shows have turned ordinary folk into visionary property developers. Knocking down walls and creating new rooms can be a smart way of adding value to your home. Get too carried away with the sledgehammer however and you could see the asking price tumble.

An ensuite bathroom is often given the thumbs up by estate agents and potential buyers. Creating a well proportioned en-suite in a sizeable master bedroom would probably add value. Shove a pokey shower room into the corner of a small bedroom though and you’re likely to scare buyers away.

Open plan layouts are fashionable these days, particularly in period properties. Go easy with the loft look though. Removing a hallway so that the entrance opens into the living room can be off-putting, as can building a staircase in the middle of a reception room.

Above all, no matter how tempted you are to turn ‘that box bedroom’ into a walk-in wardrobe or mammoth shoe cupboard, don’t. Removing a bedroom, no matter how small, is likely to knock £££ off the value of your home.

Painting brickwork or stone

Applying masonry paint to brick or stone is possibly the most fun you could have with a paintbrush. Pause for a minute though before you commit to livening up that tired old brickwork with a lick of paint. You may be glossing over underlying brick problems that could cause freshly applied paint to flake off. You can also expect to repaint it every three to five years. Finally, it’s worth noting that removing paint from brick or stone is extremely difficult, if possible at all.

Pebbledash

This spiky exterior finish has been used to to cover walls in England and Wales since the the turn of the 20th Century. Fashionable for a time, it was commonly used by builders to cut costs and cover up poor quality brickwork. Use has declined since then, but it’s indelible mark has been left on millions of semi-detached suburban homes.

So why should pebbledash be consigned to the history books? Supporters might speak highly of it’s hard-wearing characteristics and low maintenance. It’s near indestructible qualities, however, make it nearly impossible to remove without destroying the brickwork – meaning that you may live to regret peppering your walls with the stuff. Or maybe you won’t – it’s not unusual for pebbledash to last 70 years or more without maintenance. It’s also a nightmare to paint and likely to lower the value of a modern home.

PVCu windows and doors

Even the best maintained windows and doors will need to be replaced at some point. When this financial bombshell eventually lands, the choice of materials available to most of us will be either PVCu or timber. All replacement windows must comply with building regulations, so a timber framed window should be as safe and energy efficient as it’s PVCu cousin. The deciding factor for many people is cost. Timber framed windows are often significantly more expensive than PVCu. So why should you think twice about choosing PVCu?

Supporters (salesmen) will claim that PVCu is hardwearing, long-lasting and easy to maintain. What the brochures won’t tell you is that PVCu degrades in the sun, becomes permanently discoloured if not cleaned regularly and that window mechanisms require annual lubrication and adjustment if they are to last for the advertised lifespan (typically 20-25 years). Damaged windows can be extremely difficult to repair and units that mist or fog will usually need to be replaced. PVCu is also environmentally hazardous. It contains the chemicals chlorine and dioxin, making it a material that is both expensive and dangerous to recycle. Last but not least, many people dislike PVCu windows which might well make your house less saleable.

Removing chimney breasts

Before central heating was introduced in the 1970s, fireplaces served a very practical purpose, heating British homes throughout the cold winters. Over the decades that followed, period fireplaces were gradually discarded and hearths were either filled with decorative paraphernalia, or simply covered up. For many, chimney breasts were something that, if removed, would make the room bigger. What could make more sense?

For a start, the chimney forms an integral part of the house structure so you will need to get a structural engineer involved. Removing a chimney breast from any part of the house without suitable support may cause serious structural damage or worse. Without building regulations approval you could also face prosecution which in turn will cause problems when it comes to selling your home. Don’t forget the neighbours either. There’s a good chance that works may be governed by the Party Wall Act.

Chimney breasts are built using bricks. Lots of them. As you might expect, they also contain lots of soot. Plan on filling several skips and living with dust for weeks or months afterwards. You will also need to make good each room afterwards which might include fixing joists, plastering walls and decorating.

One final point to consider: it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever have an open fire again. That may suit you down to the ground but prospective buyers may not share your point of view – especially if you live in an otherwise well maintained Victorian town-house.

If you’re seriously thinking about carrying out any of the above home ‘improvement’ projects, do yourself a favour and call the experts in first.


MyBuilder is an online marketplace for homeowners to find quality tradesmen. The blog features competitions, advice and opinion pieces about home improvement.
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