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Garden Jobs to do this February


February is often the coldest month and the middle of winter but there is light at the end of the tunnel! You may have noticed that slowly but surely, the days have started to lengthen and this means the garden is starting to grow. So now is  time to plan for your coming gardening year and to order seeds and plants. Get ready to pull on your warm clothes, enjoy the fresh air, and go outside to get things moving! See below for our best tips to get a head start on your garden.


Top 8 jobs this month:


1. Check your winter protection, stakes, ties and supports are still working after any severe weather.


2. Clean pots and greenhouses ready for spring. It may not be the most glamorous of winter tasks but cleaning out greenhouses, gutters and water butts is an important one. Cleaning greenhouses, whether glass or plastic, greatly improves the growing environment for plants. By removing the algae, moss and grime it lets in more light and helps control pests and diseases too.


3. Dig over any vacant plots that have not been dug already. Soil cultivation or digging may be hard work but, if taken slowly, it need not be back-breaking.


4. Disperse worm casts in lawns. Earthworms are useful in the garden, including in most lawns. However, worms casts on fine low-cut turf are considered by some gardeners to be a nuisance. The action of worms in the garden is beneficial and so casting worms should be tolerated wherever possible. In most cases worm casts can be broken up and dispersed with a wire rake, using it with the teeth facing upwards and moving the rake from side to side over the lawn surface.


5. Prune apple and pear trees in winter, when the leaves are off the tree. Pruning an apple or pear tree can be daunting for many gardeners. Rather than be put off completely or panic and inadvertently harm the tree back by excessive pruning, remember to take your time and stay safe – if you need to go up a ladder, consider investing in a special fruit tripod ladder that will let you get nice and close to the branches (great for picking fruit too).


6. Fancy some rhubarb crumble? Start forcing your rhubarb! Rhubarb needs an open, sunny site with moist, but free-draining soil as it hates being waterlogged in winter. Avoid frost pockets as stems are susceptible to frost.


7. Plan your vegetable crop rotations for the coming season. The principle of crop rotation is to grow specific groups of vegetables on a different part of the vegetable plot each year. This helps to reduce a build-up of crop-specific pest and disease problems and it organises groups of crops according to their cultivation needs.


8. Keep putting out food and water for hungry birds. By putting out additional food, gardeners can make a significant contribution to supporting wildlife over winter. It is also a great way to watch wildlife even in the smallest of gardens or balconies, often at very close quarters.


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How Gardening Can Improve Your Mental & Physical Health



In recent times, many people have turned to their gardens to get some fresh air and to generally support their wellbeing – not to mention to release some creative flair! Take a look below at our best reasons why this is a good idea:


  1. Promotes Exercise

As you may know, lack of exercise may lead to a range of health issues, from heart disease to depression. Working with plants helps both adults and children to get the physical activity they need to stay in shape or improve their current condition.

Gardening is a fun and easy way to incorporate exercise into your or your child’s daily routine. Children usually enjoy working with soil and learning about plants. A child may not even notice they are exercising while they dig, move soil or water plants in the sunshine and fresh air. Gardening also helps children develop motor skills and overall strength, and it can even combat childhood obesity. Just a half hour of gardening can burn 135 calories – the perfect excuse to get digging!


  1. Encourages Healthy Eating

It can feel difficult to get the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables every day, especially for those who do not prefer the taste of these foods. Gardeners can feel encouraged to ‘grow their own’ with the added benefit that they don’t have to worry about pesticides. Homegrown food tastes better and is more appealing because of the time and effort it requires to grow and harvest. Children can easily grow delicious cherry tomatoes, carrots, salad vegetables and herbs — just to name a few. A child will also feel excited to eat what they have grown! Gardening and growing produce is a simple way to encourage children and adults to get the nutrients they need for physical and mental health.


  1. Improves Mood

Human beings generally feel happier and more optimistic in surroundings with plenty of plants and nature. Flowers also evoke positive emotions and memories, and gardening reminds us of our connection to nature, which helps us focus on the bigger picture. This can alleviate symptoms of depression.


  1. Relieves Stress & Anxiety

Looking at plants and flowers, whether indoors or outdoors, is a peaceful activity free of worries or conflict. It encourages living in the present moment and engages the senses.


  1. Prolongs Attention Span

Gardening and being around plants can strengthen attention span, which can aid concentration and learning. This in turn may support children to achieve academically.


  1. Boosts Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem is a common experience among adolescents and young adults. It is normal for teens to compare themselves to others on social media or feel pressured to look or act a certain way. Children and young adults can benefit from taking technology breaks and heading outdoors. Gardening is one way to generate excitement about connecting with nature and the world outside.

We’d be delighted to hear what you’ve been doing in your garden – drop us a line with your ideas!

Stay safe and hope to see you soon.


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5 Reasons to have Herbs in your Garden

5 Reasons to Have Herbs in you Garden

Leafy aromatic, fresh herbs are sometimes overlooked when it comes to your garden space, but did you know they have a myriad of uses? They are easy to grow and harvest, add vibrant flavours and texture to any meal (few things will step up your cooking quite like having fresh herbs), and smell stunning.

There are a few options when it comes to what to grow herbs in; pots, window boxes and grow bags. Whichever you pick, the most important thing is drainage: if your herbs can’t drain properly, they will drown.

Pots have the added benefit of being portable so they can be easily moved in and out of the house through the seasons. In the winter, woodier herbs can be left outside but they should be protected from frost with garden fleece. Continue reading 5 Reasons to have Herbs in your Garden

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Eight Ways to Create a Dog-Friendly Garden

How to create a dog-friendly garden? Our gardens can be the perfect place for our dogs to play, explore, exercise, and have fun! While a garden should be a relaxing leisure space for four-legged friends, your outdoor space might contain some plants that can be potentially toxic. Or there could be sharp objects and chemicals around. It is crucial to make your outdoor space a dog-friendly environment when it comes to your pets’ safety. It can also be a challenge to keep your back garden attractive and presentable while your dogs are wandering around, but we can help!

Take a look at our handy tips to help you transform your beloved garden into a dog-friendly space for all the family to enjoy:

  1. Secure Your Garden with Fences (of course!)

Prevent your dog from escaping from your garden through a strong, well-made fence – and ensure it has no holes. Also, erecting a division fence to protect ornate planting areas can be useful if you don’t want your dog to ruin your garden area. If you have a garden containing an outdoor building such as a shed, ensure that this is kept secure, as it could otherwise present doggy-danger.

Tip: Keep your fences at least 6ft high for larger dogs that are known to be high jumpers

2. Always Keep the Garden Gates Shut

This may seem obvious, but we still tend to neglect and forget it sometimes. So, a double shout-out – keep gates shut to prevent your dog from running away and to stop other dogs from coming in and potentially causing damage your garden.

3. Clean up Any Exposed & Unnecessary Soil

Most dogs love to dig, especially when they see large patches of enticing soil that encourages them to. Cleaning them up will prevent your pooch from ruining areas of your garden and kicking dirt behind them during the process.

4. Avoid Growing Thorny Plants

Despite being a beautiful ornamental plants, cactuses and other thorny plants are harmful to your dog, with prickles getting stuck in paws, snouts and fur. Best to avoid them.

5. Poisonous Plants to Dogs

If you investigate, lots of plants that can sadly bring harm to your dog. Some of the most common garden plants can be toxic to your pets if eaten. Make sure you avoid having them in your garden, especially if you have a dog at home. Avoid plants that are toxic to dogs, such as: Parsley, Chrysanthemum, Hyacinth, Lily of the Valley, Hydrangea, Carnation, Tomato plants and more. Grow thoughtfully.

6. Cover Ponds and/or Pools When Not in Use

Most dogs love water and swimming in ponds and pools – especially in the hot weather. For puppies especially, prioritise protecting them from any danger to water when left unsupervised.

7. Choose Strong Self-Repairing Grasses

Toilet time on grass can spell disaster for gardens, affecting the condition of your grass and causing deterioration of growth and ruining roots. There are many available strong and self-repairing grasses to maintain a perfect looking lawn.

8. Space to Play

Provide your dog with some space to play in your garden. If you put some of your pet’s favourite toys and treats in an open space where they can be occupied in their own space, it will hopefully protect the rest of your garden from doggy damage.

We are proud pet-owners ourselves – and we know the importance of keeping them safe and happy! If you have any ideas or tips for happy pets in the garden, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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5 Tips for Your June Garden

As the days get warmer and social restrictions continue, like us, you may have been focusing on enjoying your immediate outside space. We feel there is a certain magic to sitting in your back garden and listening to an early summer bee and the chatter of the birds. It provides a sanctuary in these strange and unsettling times for the whole household. To ensure it looks its very best, consider our top tips for your June Garden:

  1. We all know that it is good to water plants regularly. However, it is useful to remember that the best way to ensure they get what they need is to water the plants near the stem. This will both save water and ensure that you keep your weeds to a minimum.

        2.  Make hoeing a priority. We think little and often is best. Ensure that you regularly dig weeds out before they take over. If you notice dandelions remember they are perennials, so you need to get rid of them before their seeds spread. Nothing is better than nipping a problem in the bud.

        3.  Start a fun project that all the family can enjoy.  Each take an old pair of wellies and place in descending order. Before you start, drill holes in the bottom for drainage.  Each pair of wellies could be planted with different herbs or a colourful plant of the owner’s choice. As they grow, they are a lovely reminder of splashy muddy days in the spring and a prompt to plan your next adventure.

        4. June is the perfect time to plant out your sweetcorn, courgettes, climbing and runner beans. However, it’s important to remember it can still get chilly. It therefore helps to protect the young plants with plastic bottles or fleece until they are more established. 

     5. Inevitably our British weather will bring dull and damp days. Give your hanging baskets, flowering and fruit plants, like tomatoes and strawberries, a liquid fertiliser for an instant boost. Do this once a week and your garden will thank you for it. Remember your indoor plants will benefit from this tender loving care as well. 


As a final thought and above all, remember to sit and relish your garden.  There is nothing more rewarding than enjoying your well-earned cuppa whilst you admire what you have achieved. There really is no place like home!

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7 Outdoor Activities for Children

It’s a stroke of luck that during these strange times that we’ve had some lovely sunny days to lift our spirits. And, what could be better for people with children than to get into your outdoor space and get creative? As a family business ourselves, we’ve been working hard to keep our little ones entertained! After weeks now of trying different ideas, here are our top 7 outdoor activities:

1 Chalk Rainbow.

Why not take things old-school and dig out the chalk? Decorating an outdoor wall with flowers, smiley faces and whatever else you can think of can keep children entertained for hours, as can painting over it with a large paintbrush and water to clean it up afterwards! Why not add to the trend of rainbows in the window by asking them to create a super-sized one on the drive or pathway to make passers by smile.

2 Herbs.

Herb seeds can be bought easily from any supermarket and are simple to plant. They are also a great starting point for learning, as many herbs are used for different things, such as lavender for headaches, chives, oregano and basil for cooking, and mint for tummy upsets. They smell great too!

3 Water Balloons.

On warmer days divide your family up into teams, get the towels out, and get dodging!

4 Bird Feeders.

Bird feeders are a great way to teach children about wildlife and making positive changes towards welcoming nature back into our gardens. You can also go one step further and create one using old milk bottles or cartons, covering with old paper strips and painting in bright colours.

5 Nature Potion.

Create your own nature-themed fragrant potion by collecting flowers and herbs from your garden.

6 Obstacle Course

Use objects you already own like boxes, hula-hoops and skipping ropes to create a backyard course. Your kids will be entertained and put their skills to the test. Encourage your children to change the course with their own ideas.

7 Sponge Targets

A good one for toddlers, this simple silly game can involve all the family. Simply cut up a sponge into large pieces and pop into a bucket of coloured water (natural food colouring works best). Using chalk, draw a large target on the wall and aim!

We’d be delighted to hear what you’ve been doing to entertain your little ones – drop us a line with your ideas.

Stay safe and hope to see you soon.

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Support Wildlife with a Hedgehog Highway!

Did you know that creating a hole to ensure that hedgehogs can pass freely through your garden fence is one of the most important things you can do to help them?

As a responsible business, we care about how our services may affect wildlife. And, it’s a sad truth that over a third of hedgehogs in the UK have been lost since the millennium. Industrialisation and increased urbanisation of our landscapes are just a few things that have contributed. We now know that one of the main reasons why Hedgehogs are declining in Britain is because our fences and walls are becoming more secure, reducing the amount of land available for them to move freely.

While we’re sleeping, it’s an interesting fact that Hedgehogs travel around one mile every night through our gardens and open spaces, looking for food and a mate. If you have an enclosed garden, you might be getting in the way of their plans. Hedgehogs aren’t the only ones – many of our garden creatures need to move about freely between gardens.

We can make their life a little easier by removing the barriers that are within our control – for example, making holes in or under our garden fences for them to pass through. We’re always happy to assist when putting your fence in situ. A 13cm by 13cm hole is sufficient for any Hedgehog to pass through and will be too small for nearly all pets – ensuring they stay secure.

We are a family run business based in Chesterfield and we pride ourselves in providing outstanding customer care. Customers and traders are welcome to visit our workshop where we manufacture our own fence panels, stock can be viewed, and the quality of the materials can be shown. We are able to provide and deliver quality products across the whole of the UK to trade, independent and national merchants and to the public. To see our customer reviews, please take a look here.

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5 Garden Ideas for 2020

Stuck for Garden Ideas? From stunning contemporary layouts to whimsical fairyland spaces – at STF, we’ve truly seen it all when it comes to gardens. Whilst providing our services all over the UK, it’s amazing to see how creative our customers can be when it comes to their outdoor spaces and, we’ve picked up a lot of ideas and inspiration over the years.

With Spring just around the corner (it seems so far away!), it’s worth considering now how you will want your garden to look when the time comes to take that cup of tea outside and enjoy some fresh air.

Take a look at our list of ideas to have the most stylish (and useful) garden in the forthcoming year:

  1. Consider your fence first. Of course we’d say that! But, often, when thinking about garden design and layout, it’s easy to forget what surrounds your space. Creating a garden and then adding in the fencing at the end of the project is like painting the walls of a room with furniture still inside. The walls of a room are traditionally done at the start of the project, with everything else coming after – it should be the same with outdoor area planning.
  2. A place to relax. Spaces to chill and seating areas can be a downtime haven during the warmer months. They’re also often a dominant feature that sets the tone for the area – decide what you’d like at the beginning and build your theme from there.
  3. Grow grow grow! Growing your own flowers, vegetables, fruit and herbs doesn’t only make your garden look and smell amazing, it’s also beneficial to the environment. Growing organically with no pesticides or chemicals, whilst avoiding the trip to the supermarket for fresh produce will help to reduce your carbon footprint. Interested? Try these fabulous guides from The Royal Horticultural Society
  4. Planting for Wildlife. Staying with a positive environmental theme, in 2020 there will be an ever-growing emphasis to create sustainable and wildlife-friendly spaces, no matter what the garden size. Professionals from the Society of Garden Designers are becoming increasingly mindful that planting is evolving to use many more ‘wild’ plants such as single roses, species plants, seed heads, grasses and nectar rich plants – encouraging wildlife to flourish.
  5. Less is more. The ‘less is more’ philosophy is set to become a prominent garden design trend in 2020. Planting multiple grasses and simple perennials enhance the lightest of garden designs to ensure a pleasant, natural space that isn’t too ‘busy’.

We’re always happy to talk garden ideas, see before and after photos, and find out more about what our customers are developing. Got a new project? Get in touch to be featured in one of our up-coming blogs!

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Some Questions we are Often Asked

Take a look below at some of the questions we are more often asked:

Is your wood responsibly sourced?

Yes the wood we use is sourced from a saw mill which is FSC registered.

Will I have to paint your panels to preserve them?

As the timber is vacuum treated at the saw mill you do not have to paint the panels unless you wish to. Vacuum treatment penetrates the wood so is superior to ‘dipping’ which some manufacturers use. This enables the wood to be guaranteed for 15 years against rot and insect infestation.

How are the panels constructed?

Continue reading Some Questions we are Often Asked