Archive for the ‘Garden accessories’ Category

Product review: Stewart Garden Essentials Planter

Monday, July 25th, 2016

The mixture of heat and rain this summer is making my garden behave like Day of the Triffids, and new plants are growing faster than I can look after them. This means I’m particularly interested in gardening paraphernalia at the moment, so I was pleased to be asked to try out the essential planter from Stewart Garden.

About the product

Stewart Garden says: “Add a touch of style to your garden with one of our beautiful Essentials Planters. Perfect for floral displays, bedding plants and growing herbs, they bring character to patios, decking or even the kitchen windowsill. Made from top quality plastic, Stewart products are designed to protect your plants whatever the weather.”

Features include: available in three different sizes: 27cm / 33cm / 39cm and nine colours: cornflower blue / mocha /terracotta / lavender / cherry red / dark green / pistachio / light blue / black. Recyclable.

Long-lasting: lightweight, frost-proof, shockproof and UV resistant.

Prices range from £2.99 for the 5l (27cm) size, to £3.99 for the 9l (33cm) size and £4.99 for the 14l (39cm) size. Made in the UK.

What I thought of the Stewart Garden Essentials Planter

27cm essential planter from Stewart Garden, RRP £2.99

To start with, I have to confess I’m not a big fan of plastic planters – I prefer good old terracotta.

However, plastic definitely has its advantages and weight and durability are two of them – I have to replace some of my terracotta pots every couple of years due to frost damage.

I thought this planter was great value for money, in fact cheap as chips at just £2.99 for my 27cm version in cornflower blue. This size was large enough to hold a large dahlia easily, and the plant remained comfortable in July’s very hot weather while one or two of my plants in terracotta pots started to suffer a bit.

Underneath of pot

The good bits

Value, obviously. I liked the colour range, as well – you could create an instant rainbow, even in the winter.

These pots would be great if you had young children who were interested in starting to garden, as they’re shatterproof and very light.. Avoid arguments by assigning each child their own colour of pot!

You could also have some fun decorating these with permanent markers. They’d also be useful for serious gardeners for colour-coding plants – for example to keep different seeds separate, or for plants at different stages of potting out.

The size range was another bonus, as you can create a display by mixing and matching. The light weight means they’d be easy to store – my terracotta pots have to sit on the floor, but these would live happily on a shelf or in a cupboard.

I also liked the fact that these were made in the UK – in Oxfordshire, in fact – and were recyclable.

Inside of pot

The not-so-good bits

The pot came without drainage holes, which may or may not be a problem!

Holes can be added by drilling if necessary. For me, this would be a problem as I’d use my pots for planting out, and I think I’d find drilling each one a bit of a pain. I can see why the holes haven’t been added automatically, though – it means you can use them inside as plant holders, and also use them for other things such as holding tools.

Instant garden colour


I’m afraid I’m still not a convert to plastic pots – but if that’s what you’re looking for, which many people are for reasons of practicality and budget, I think these can’t be beaten for choice and value.

Reviewed by Sara Walker 

(Disclosure: A planter was provided for the purpose of this review, but all views and opinions are genuine and honest).


Perk up your planters: Stylish pots for your plants

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

Contemporary design plant pots

Could your plants do with a pot refresh? It’s a simple change to make, but one which can help show off your plant to its full potential, as well as add a decorative element to your windowsill or garden.

We’ve put together a selection of contemporary plant pots that could add style, colour, pattern, texture and design into your garden. There are handmade ceramic and concrete pots, stylish geometric designs, on trend metallics, unusual pots – a handbag planter, anyone? – and a pot for those plants that need a little extra mantra (they *will* survive!).

1. Handmade metallic concrete plant pot – £15 from Sand & Stone

2. Corrugated succulent pot – £10 each from Helen Rebecca Ceramics

3. Folded vinyl record plant pot – £10.50 from Oakdene Designs

4. Concrete Gladstone bag plant pot – £120 from TheLittleBoysRoom

5. I will survive plant pot – £12.95 from All Things Brighton Beautiful

6. Geometric concrete pot – £14 from Henry & Future

7. Copper plant pots – £11.95 each from MiaFleur

8. Marbled cement plant pot – £10 each from Sort

9. Cool tones patterned pots – £13 each from Hum Partnership

Fresh Design ideas: Garden parasol tea light candle holder

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Garden candle holderDine outside in candlelight

Sometimes it’s the simple things that catch our eye and suddenly make a whole lot of sense. That’s the case with this clever design that got us saying, “Why did we not think of that before?”

It’s a tea light candle holder designed to be used outside in your garden with a parasol. You know when you’re dining outside on a balmy summer evening and want to make the most of candlelight? Well rather than having to worry about accidentally knocking candles over on your wooden table, just use one of these instead.

Pop the holder in the centre of your table, lined up with the hole for the umbrella, then pop the parasol in and, voila,  it’s all secured. It’s made of steel and glass, is designed to hold up to six tealight candles is just £14 at John Lewis.

What’s more, in the depths of the winter when dining outside on a summer evening seems like a distance memory, you could use the tealight holder as a table centrepiece, popping a tall candle (with a holder) in the centre to add height, or filling the middle with a small vase of flowers. Multifunctional = double the value for money!

Product review: Clean Green Dog Loo

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

Here at Fresh Design, we sometimes get asked to give our opinion on products that fit in with our philosophy of a contemporary, modern home. We also like anything that’s a new take on a traditional idea, or that contributes to a home that’s clean and efficient to run. Recently, we embarked on what may be one of our quirkiest product reviews ever  - the Clean Green Dog Loo.

Yes, that’s right – a dog loo! It’s from Armitage Pet Care, and offers a safe and environmentally friendly way to get rid of pet waste. The Clean Green Dog Loo can be positioned in the ground in your garden and naturally flushes away waste instead of contributing to landfill.

The Clean Green Dog Loo has an RRP of £24.99 and is available from a wide range of high-street grocery outlets and pet retailers, such as Tesco, Amazon and Vet UK. The loo comes with everything you need, including five bio-activator capsules. You can buy additional bio-activator capsules in packs of 15, RRP£4.99.

The Clean Green Dog Loo from Armitage Pet Care

If you’re a pet owner, there’s nothing worse than having areas of the garden where you have to take care putting your feet, so the idea of this disposal unit appealed.

The package contains the unit itself, which consists of a bucket with a drainage unit that sits on top, a ‘poop scoop’ and a pack of bio-activator liquid capsules. The idea is that you bury the bucket in the ground and fill it with water. The drainage unit, also buried, sits on top of the bucket to stop debris falling in.

You add the dog waste to the bucket, and pour in a regular supply of the bio-activator, which breaks down the waste. When the bucket is full, you flush the whole thing out with water and the diluted waste is washed away through the drainage holes into the ground.

Then you add more liquid, and start again. According to the manufacturers, there’s no smell and the waste is safely disposed of.

What’s in the Clean Green Dog Loo package

We started by digging a hole of the requisite size – 24″ across by 27″ deep. We’re lucky enough to have an area of the garden against a back wall which is completely hidden, so we chose this for a site. The unit won’t work well on heavy, clay soil as it won’t drain properly, but fortunately this wasn’t a problem for us.

Fresh Design dog Monty Spaniel checks it out

After digging the hole, the next instruction was to fill the bottom of the hole with rubble, stones and half bricks to provide good drainage.

Ah. Well, that’s not the sort of thing we have lying around the garden, so we grabbed a bucket and set off to beg some rubble from next door’s builders, who were rebuilding a wall.

After filling the bucket, they kindly offered to carry it back for us. “Erm,no, that’s OK, thank you,” we said.

“What do you want it for, anyway?” they asked.

“Gonnastalldogloothanks!” we muttered, grabbing the bucket and scuttling off amongst the bemused stares.

Once safely back in the garden, we completed the installation easily by tipping in the rubble, adding in the bucket and drainage unit and pouring in the water and the bio-activator liquid.

“Really? I have to learn to flush this?”

The Fresh Design dog loo verdict

So, what did we think of it?

The bad bits

The scoop that came with the package was a bit flimsy and we ended up sticking with our own trowel, and the bio-activator liquid is an ongoing  expense as you have to add one capsule a week.

It can’t be used on heavy clay soil, and wouldn’t be suitable if you had several dogs as the bucket is fairly small, and would probably fill up before the waste had a chance to decompose.

The good bits

After it had been in use for several days, the unit didn’t smell at all and showed no signs of filling up.

It was discreet, as the top sits only two inches above the ground and there was no way of telling what it was if you didn’t know.

It was great to have a ‘proper’ place to dispose of waste where it wouldn’t do any harm, and it’s much more eco-friendly than bagging waste and sending it to landfill.

Overall, it gets a big woof from us – it’s a great idea, at an accessible price.

The finished loo sits only 2 inches proud of the ground

 Reviewed by Sara Walker, with special assistance from Monty the dog

Advantages of Solar Powered Water Features

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Fresh Design blog guide to solar power water features

Solar powered water features are a great addition to any garden or yard. There is something very different and unique about these types of garden décor items and they are much more special than other traditional wired features. There are many advantages of solar powered water features and they include affordability, attractiveness and more.

Solar powered water features are powered by solar energy by way of the sun and there are so many different types and styles available; there really is something for everyone.

Adding Light

One of the advantages of solar powered water features is the fact that these fixtures add light to a garden, yard or patio area. Most solar powered water features include LED lights in them so they can be used not just during the day but also in the evening hours when the sun goes down.

Adding light outside your house is also useful as it may help increase the safety of your home. If your garden has a lot of light around, this can serve as a deterrent to criminals who might be looking to gain access to the property.

Increasing Safety

In addition to increasing the overall safety of your garden to prevent criminals from scoping out a residence, another one of the advantages of solar powered water features that have lights in them is that they can help light a walkway on a property in order to create a much more safe area. If there are porch steps or patio steps that might be a danger when it is dark outside, extra lighting that does not require wiring is a simple and easy option.

Creating Ambiance

Create ambience in your garden with a water feature

Solar powered water features also help create ambiance. One of these features in a garden is often enough, or if you have a large space, you might like to have several of them.

Either way these features create a very relaxing, zen-like atmosphere where you can can sit and relax. It is also a pleasant atmosphere to host a gathering of friends or family.

Saving Energy

Solar powered water features are powered by the sun’s rays so there is no need to wire these units and power them with electricity. By using the sun’s rays to power a water feature this saves an incredible amount of money on monthly energy costs.

Not to mention that when utilising solar energy for any purpose, a person’s carbon footprint decreases greatly which helps preserve our planet.

Different Options

Solar powered garden water feature octagon shape


There are so many different solar powered water features available and there is something for just about every different style preference. You can also easily match a water feature to the rest of your outdoor home décor or garden design.

In fact, you can choose from stainless steel, rattan, resin and much more as far as material options go for solar powered water features. The best part is that all of these materials are very strong and durable so there is no need to worry about it being outside in poor weather. A solar powered water feature should be able to withstand the weather year round without becoming damaged or broken.

If you are looking to purchase a solar powered water feature you can do some great shopping online. Outdoor Living UK is a great website that has a huge selection of water features. There is something for every style and preference, so why not consider adding a solar powered water feature to your garden or outside space this year?

***This is a guest post***

Fresh Design idea: Rainmaker plant watering cloud

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Recycle plaster bottles into plant watering cans

Following on from the cork bottle stopper lights that we featured last week, here’s another nifty design idea we’ve spotted.

The rainmaker plant watering cloud transforms an ordinary empty plastic drinks bottle into a useful watering can.  It was created by Peleg Design and simply screws onto the top of the bottle, like a lid.

How to water houseplants

We’ve used similar bottle watering devices before, to drip feed plants in the garden (the watering device sits in the soil and slowly releases drips of water), but this idea is great for watering houseplants and potted plants. The design of the cloud means that you get a good sprinkling of water, like you would from a watering can, and for novelty factor, it looks like it’s raining!

At only £5.99 from Mocha, this is a brilliant buy – and loads more fun than simply buying a watering can.

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