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I'm going to pay for this tomorrow ...


Been meaning to get round to it for a while, but there was always something I needed to do first, or a piece of equipment that I couldn’t find.

But today I did it! or at least, a good deal of it.

I wanted to create a multi-level shelf area to maximise plant space; no room to work outwards, so work upwards instead. I’d looked at “3-tier” plant stands, but the tallest of those had been only knee-high, not much use to me and not even as big as the shelves I’d been using.

I had thought of metal catering-type tables: we had a couple of these at the disabled charity office where I looked after the communal garden – the kitchen was out of use, the tables were standing around doing nothing, so I got some of the lads to bring a couple out so that we could use them as work-benches. So I thought of something like that for the garden – till I started looking, and saw the prices of even second-hand ones!

So I dropped a note on to my local Freecycle [if you haven’t found that organisation yet, I urge you to – online giveaway site, it’s amazing what people don’t want that is exactly what you’ve been looking for. Google should find the main site, and then you can find your local one] to ask if anyone knew where I could get some “cheap”; I didn’t expect anyone to have any lying around!

Someone emailed me and suggested plastic tables; I wasn’t so sure, since most “patio tables” that I’ve seen tend to be a tad on the flimsy side, and I needed strength for the plants that I planned would eventually go on them. But I looked around, and found these on eBay: 89cm square, 75cm high, rated to take 300kg, and £31 inc postage. I dithered a bit, but then took the plunge – after all, I thought, if they’re no good for the garden I’m sure I’ll find other uses for them! (I’ll post the link to the seller’s site if anyone’s interested)

They came the next day, and, as usual, stayed in their boxes over a week. Before I could put them up I had to clear the low-rise shelves I had in that space – and I had to put a screen up on the fence behind them.

I always felt uncomfortable that, whenever I looked at that part of the garden, I could see into next door’s, and their lounge window, which was about a foot beyond the fence. But I couldn’t not look in that direction! So eventually I dropped them a note saying that I was going to be putting a screen up, and why – for their privacy, not mine. Then I had to find something to use as a screen.

I knew I had a spare shower curtain, unwanted Crimbo prezzy. That’d do, I thought; light, won’t block the sun from them, and should be waterproof! Could I find it? That’s what I get for taking stuff down to the charity shop too quickly!

I did think of old net curtains: they’re designed to obscure views, but I didn’t know if that’d be enough. Eventually I found an old skirt I’d made years ago and never got round to finishing, so I cut the seam out and threaded string through the waistband and tied it up. I had to add another string to try to hold it down, but it still kept blowing upwards; eventually I cut strips up to the lower string and tied it to the string. I also snipped several tiny slits into the upper part so the wind would blow through rather than make it billow. Touch wood, it’ll do for now.

Then I could have a go at erecting and placing tables. They were a bit strong for me; only one hinge closed properly, so I had to encourage the others with timid hammer-taps until they all locked. Good, I thought; if they’re that hard to close they won’t fold by accident!

I hadn’t thought much about getting them level; just put them where I want them, and press down to sink the legs in until they levelled off. Oh yeah? The first one would NOT level; I moved it, dug down a bit, tried again – and again. Fourth time, it worked, more or less. I used the hammer to encourage the bubble in the spirit level to move to the middle of the tube. The second one was much easier; two of the legs were on the paving so I only had to dig out space for the back legs.

I had intended to repot the plants that needed it before I put them on the tables, but I wanted to see how it looked and there was no way that I was going to be able to repot those grasses in those big pots today. So I stuck ‘em back on, used what had been the low-rise in front, and the lower ones in front of them. I had to remember to leave a gap between those, so I could get to the back of the tables.

No doubt I’ll find better ways to arrange the lower shelves, but for a brand new project, “done in a day”, I’m not too unhappy.

But I did an awful lot of bending and lifting – those planters all have water reservoirs, which I’d thoughtfully filled yesterday. And I’m going to pay for it tomorrow …

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its very good fran,but you have lost that bit of garden under the tables,a montana rubens clematis or honeysuckle would have covered that fence and then you wouldnt have to worry about the neighbors and you would have beautiful pink flowers for you and your neighbor,i like those sort of step things where did you get those,they are very handy ive never seen those before

16 May, 2011


lol the small steps are actually a plastic "office storage shelf unit" - two 4-shelf units, actually - that were one of my office-tidying ideas that was later superseded.

I didn't need them for their proper job any longer, but didn't want to get rid of them - there was nothing wrong with them apart from not being wanted, so I wondered if they'd be weatherproof enough to go outside, and they seem to be - for now at least.

You might be able to find similar others in second-hand shops, boot sales or such - or your local Freecycle [I keep banging on about Freecycle, but it's an excellent way to get all sorts of useful stuff and get rid of unwanted items for free]

I did mourn a bit about the lost space under the tables, but the beds are useless for growing anything but weeds - they only go down about 15-20cm, then there's a layer of brick right across.

It's swings-and-roundabouts - any raised surface would mean loss of ground space - and given my back and my vision, I need raised surfaces more than I need ground space.

Besides, look at how much sneaky storage space I've given myself, out of sight - well, it will be once I've got the lower tables sorted and the plants have grown a bit. And given the size of my garden, sneaky storage space is also a big bonus - I can clear the stacks of planters etc under there and give myself room for another table or two.

16 May, 2011


It's nice to have some privacy. And what a lot of planters you've got. I hope your back is all right after lifting them.

16 May, 2011


im finding the same thing with my garden,i spend ages digging out bricks and cement,i will give the freeads a go as well,thanks fran

16 May, 2011


ohh now i see what they are what a brill idea,i will watch for these,thanks again

16 May, 2011


lol Hywel, and those are just the ones that are planted, or at least have smaller pots in! I've got about a dozen more pots, tubs and troughs waiting to be filled

Every now and then Lidl do"self-watering" pots, tubs and troughs; I usually seem to get there too late to grab any, but last time I was si deternubed that I got up at 6am to make sure that I got there just after they opened - and I bought as many as I could stack on my trolley. I'd rather have 'em and not need 'em than want 'em and not have 'em.

Still, I think that saves me from having to buy any more for the foreseeable future!

17 May, 2011


*s* Ladybug - I looked after the communal courtyard garden which had thigh-high raised beds. I dug them all out down to ground level, and I found enough bricks, half-bricks and concrete lumps to have built a small shed. I even found a complete paving slab - that took some digging out. It's amazing how much better the plants grow when they've got something other than rocks to root in!

17 May, 2011


Lidl is good - some great bargains to be had there :) but as you say you have to be there at the right time.

17 May, 2011


I've taken to checking their website and seeing what's coming up in the next few days, and making notes - and, unusually for me, I've been sticking to the lists and not buying other stuff while I'm there - usually!

17 May, 2011


I never know what I want unless I've got a list lol.
Good idea to look at their website. I never thought of that. I'll have to try and remember about it

18 May, 2011


they have an "add to shopping list" option, so you can add as you go through the various pages - they have different pages for when various offers start. then you can edit the list and print it

I'm heading that way tomorrow: I'd never seen parasol stands that worked alone, all the others i've seen have had to have tables to support the pole half-way up, that'd be no good for me, but at last I might get a dry space outside to work in the rain, and also to get my washing outdoors! and troughs on wheels, and wide pots with saucers, and... and...

18 May, 2011


I have one like that - no need for a table. I never use tables outside.
The website sounds good. I'll have to take a look

19 May, 2011


I'd never even heard of them before - shows my limited knowldege of garden furniture! I bought two, one for each end of the garden - and they should almost meet in the middle! I do'nt know that I need two, but, as usual with Lidl, if you don't get it as soon as you see it, you might never get a second chance. I'd rather have it and not need it than wish I'd bought it when I could have but didn't.

And checking on Amazon, I found a 1.8 metre beach parasol for £2.50, which is the right size and is cheap enough for me to experiment with and to discard if it doesn't work. No point me getting a 3-metre parasol for the 2-metre end of my garden! or even for the 3-metre end, come to that; it'd be wall-to-fencel roofing. (besides, the description for the base said no more than 2 metres)

Though that is a rather colourful alternate red and yellow panels - ideally I'd want a light, neutral colour - well, ideally I'd like a transparent one, as it's only to keep the rain out, not the light, but I don't suppose they make those. Perhaps I could get some transparent plastic and make my own parasol roof??

20 May, 2011

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