Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog

Cassiefairy's thrifty little lifestyle blog – DIY crafts, sewing, food & fashion – what more does a girl need??


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How does your garden grow? Don’t fence me in…

No, actually do fence me in. That’s exactly what the next step is – adding a fence to the side of the garden. Even though it was great having some new-found privacy with the back fence, it looked a bit odd in the garden without any sides to the fence, so we started putting up a side fence to divide our garden from the neighbours. This time we weren’t lucky enough to find a used fence that we could ‘thrift’ so we had to actually buy it from new and start from scratch.

The plus side of this was that I could paint the fence planks before they were nailed to the supporting batons, which ensured that no gaps of unpainted wood appeared when the fence dried out (read my blog post about painting the back fence here) and I know for sure that the wood has been treated on all sides. Plus, our neighbour now has a nicely painted back of the fence to look at and we checked whether our colour choice was okay with them before we started! It took a couple of hours to paint all of the planks on both sizes and my cat Muffin decided to help out after the paint was dry!

So after a lot more painting and more mysterious painting-related leg aches, we put the newly-painted fence up and nailed it along the slightly sloped edge of the garden. I don’t mind the angle at all, not least because following the slope meant that we didn’t need to dig it out order to get a straight top to the fence! Anything that saves on digging is fine with me, especially because I know we’ve got a lot of digging to come when we put in our veggie patch! Even our nephew helped out with the construction work..!

We now have a completely enclosed corner of the garden and can start work on the veggie patch within this area. At the moment we are leaving the left-hand side of the garden un-fenced, because we are planning to bring shed panels into the garden that way. We can put up the rest of the fence after we have installed everything else!


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How does your garden grow? Green fingers…

Well, my garden makeover is ploughing on (excuse that pun) but this week I’ve done something that had left me in pain. Last week I shared my plans for making a big change to my garden over the Summer but now I can barely walk because my legs are so sore. Was it from digging? I hear your ask… Did you hit your leg with a hammer while building? Nope. I hurt my legs from painting the fence. And I have no idea how!

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I think it might have had something to do with bending down, squatting and moving along, repeated 100 times while painting all the planks of wood on the thrifted back fence. It certainly felt like I’d done a ‘buns-and-thighs’ workout afterwards and I actually suffered for a few days! But at least the reddish fence has become a greenish fence after 2 coats of paint. Ideally I’d like to paint another layer of ‘forest green’ treatment on but I was rather fed up with it by the time this run of fencing was finished so it’ll have to wait! Plus, I was covered in green paint. Like nothing you’ve ever seen before. I didn’t think I was being messy but it’s in my hair, on my face, all over my (ok, hubby’s) boiler suit and my floral wellies are now sporting additional foliage in the form of green splotches. Green fingered is an understatement!

Other improvements: we’ve flattened part of the lawn by moving some turf off the bump at the top of the lawn, and we’ve moved excess soil onto the lower part of the grass. It’s definitely not flat, but it’s less of a tripping hazard now! We’ve also laid some weed-resistant fabric over the area that I’m planning to move the caravan to (you can see it in the photo above). I’m planning to cover the area with wood-chippings to save us from needing to move the caravan to weed or mow beneath it. That’s the plan anyway!

More updates to come soon… How’s your summer gardening going? :)

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How does your garden grow? Making a start…

At the weekend I told you all about my plans for growing a garden that ‘Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary’ would be proud of and this week I wanted to share the first step in making our garden into the ‘outdoor room’ that I’d love for it to become. Essentially, we are overlooked by two neighbours, and an access path runs all the way around the outside of our garden, so anyone can walk-by our garden at any time and see what we are up to. Aside from neighbours wheeling their bins and bikes around the path, it hardly gets used, but even so there is a massive lack of definition in where our garden ends and the neighbour’s garden starts. In fact, when we first moved in the neighbours behind told us that they had no idea that there was even a back door on the house, because they had never seen anyone going into the garden, but could see us very clearly now that we had started to use it! So privacy is an issue – not least because the little girl seems scared to play out in the neighbour’s garden when we are outside too – and we’d like to enclose the space a little to make it safer for our cats to play outside and not get attacked by the neighbour’s “cat killer” dog.

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So we have put up a thrifted fence. I say thrifted because we spotted it after driving home from the carboot sale. The fence was being taken down from someone else’s garden by a builder, so we stopped for a chat and he explained that the fence had been hit by a car and half of it was damaged so it was being replaced by the insurance company. The old fence was going to be scrapped and a lot of it was smashed up, but some planks were still sturdy enough to use so we politely asked if we could give them a new home. So it took a few journeys to move all the fencing to our house but we got it here in the end and measured it out in the garden.

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Luckily, there was enough of a useable run of wood to fence all the way across the back of the garden. So with the help of my father-in-law, my husband put up the frame and nailed the fence planks to it, and within a day the fence was in place. I’m not too keen on the reddish colour and the planks need treating again, so I’m going to buy some ‘forest green’ treatment and will paint it on myself.

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To celebrate the new fence, mum bought us some fruit trees that had been discounted from QD – pear trees, couple of apple trees and a cherry tree. They are small but sturdy so we have dug them into the corner of the garden, which we intend to become a ‘wildlife’ area of the garden. We may well choose to move the centre tree as it grows, but at the moment it was better to get them into the ground and growing rather than dying in their pots! So after one busy day, we have a back fence up and 5 trees planted and it makes quite a difference to the garden; we can really see what space we have now that a boundary is up! More updates to come next week so watch this space!


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Fairy, Fairy, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

Welcome to my new series of blog posts all about my plans for my garden makeover! I know there are probably lots of historical and underlying meanings that you can read into this nursery rhyme but I am simply using it to set the tone for summer, because with the holidays comes the opportunity (both weather-wise and time-wise) to get out into the garden and start making some changes, which is precisely what I’ve been doing.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle-shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

When I think of this rhyme I imagine a cottage garden, boarders full of tall foxgloves (what I imagine to be the ‘bells’) and rambling roses. It’s the kind of garden I like – quaint, low-maintenance and traditionally British – full of colour, scent and stepping stones. What images do you conjure up in your mind when you read the nursery rhyme? I want to make a start in building the garden of my imagination and it starts here:

garden makeover series on cassiefairy blog

This is the starting point for my new garden. Grass. Okay, mostly weeds. It’s not a large garden, measuring only about 30ft x 40ft, and it’s at the back of the house. This photo is taken from the gate into the back garden. It’s overlooked by the neighbours’ gardens on two sides and looked rather barren. It’s hard to imagine that anything would grow on this bumpy plot of grass but hubby and I are going to have a good go at landscaping it, planting it up and hopefully even grow our own veggies. If you look carefully at the grass in the photo, you can see that my husband has mowed it into the shape of a heart, but that was the extent of our gardening attempts so far haha!

the start of a garden makeover series on cassiefairy blog

Look to the left from the back gate and you can see this view which houses the only other feature of the garden – my little vintage caravan. I’m still working on this project too but it will need to be moved to a new location once we start getting the garden in order. Here you can see the chain-link fence is overgrown with weeds at the side and behind the back-garden fence is the garage which faces the driveway.

the start of a garden makeover on the cassiefairy blog

Looking to the right from the gate you can see this view – the sheds and greenhouse are in the neighbours garden and the brick wall is part of an outdoor store cupboard, which is half joins onto the house. Over the coming weeks I’ll keep you updated with our plans, developments (no matter how dull!) and growth of our garden. Please get in touch if you have any tips or advice or are working on your own garden right now – I’d love to hear from you! Leave me a comment below or email cassie@cassiefairy.co.uk


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9 ways to get your garden ready for the summer

Now that Spring is in full swing, it won’t be long before we see the grey weather open up to sunnier climes. So, now is the perfect time to get your garden ready for another fingers crossed glorious summer, with these simple steps:

1. Spring clean

Late spring is the perfect time to trim and shape overgrown hedges and trees, as this instantly adds a more defined edge to your garden space, whilst allowing the plants to heal over the coming warmer months. When pruning shrubs, make sure that you thin out the older wood to improve the vigour of the plant. Some items in your garden will need a good cleaning – a damp dishcloth, soaked in soapy water is perfect for wiping away cobwebs and stains on your garden decorations. Give any water features or bird baths a thorough clean, and continue to empty them every few days to eliminate breeding sites for pesky mosquitoes.

2. Tackle the garage/garden shed

Many of us are guilty of this last minute cleaning tactic: if in doubt, dump it in the garage. Ignored and forgotten, these piles of junk often multiply until you need to get into the garage again. Suddenly, you are faced with the impossible task of cleaning out 6 months of garage waste, when all you really wanted to do was grab the lawn mower. Avoid this overwhelming situation by clearing out your garage in the Spring. Using black bin bags and cardboard boxes can help you to distinguish between the things that you want to bin and those that you want to keep. Organising your garage into themed sections will also help to keep the space accessible, for example garden tools, automotive accessories etc.

oraganised shed

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3. Love your lawn

Give your lawn a good mow, making sure that all the cut grass and debris is cleared to allow the lawn to flourish. Lawn feeders are a great way to give your lawn that extra little boost – I personally find Scotts Lawn Builder has excellent results, as its combined formula tackles weeds whilst nourishing your grass. Make sure you identify a lawn feeder that suits your lawns needs, as garden centres like B&Q have a huge variety of products that tackle everything from moss issues to lack of lustre. Stubborn weeds usually establish their seedlings during the Spring months, so it’s a good idea to get a head start against these pesky plants and start weeding now.

4. Redecorate

A lick of paint goes a long way, even in your garden space. If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to revamp your garden for the summer months, then give your fence and wooden furniture a make-over with some wood stain or varnish. Major garden retailers have a great selection of colours and finishes to choose from at prices from around £4.99, so it’s easy to find something that compliments your garden style. After a couple of coats of colour, your furniture will look as good as new.

brightly painted garden fence and shed

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5. Personalise your relaxation space

Designate an area of the garden just for you – whether it’s a patio, decking area, or just a corner of the garden – to make sure that you can enjoy your garden this summer. Consider shade and lighting: if you don’t have trees in your garden, then parasols are a stylish and practical way to create shelter, and garden tea lights, lanterns and solar powered lights can create a calm atmosphere in the warm summer evenings. Think about all of your senses when designing your space; lavender plants smell great and are known for their soothing qualities and the trickle of a water feature can provide a calming sound, as well as aesthetic value.

6. Get planting

Spring is the perfect time to bed some new plants, as it introduces them into your garden in time for them to thrive throughout the better part of the year. Choose your plants carefully, paying attention to colour schemes and complimentary scents. Consider adding hummingbird and butterfly feeders to attract these colourful species to your garden. If you have a neighbour or close friend who has a thriving shrub that you like the look of, then why not ask for a cutting? If it’s in nearby soil, then it is likely that it could also thrive in your garden – and why pay for these things when you don’t have to?! Once you’ve got the cutting, simply plant it in a border, water it and wait to see the results!

to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow audrey hepburn

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7. Involve the kids

Kids love gardening if you make it special for them, so this could be great way to get them off the sofa and involved in the outdoors this summer. If possible, give your children a little plot of their own to nurture. Sun flowers are always a big hit with kids, as it is fun to see how tall the flowers grow (sometimes taller than your kids!), and vegetables can provide lots of family entertainment as children watch the produce grow and then cook with it. Add some exciting toys and furniture to your garden to encourage your children to play there, for example colourful animal chairs or a Wendy House.

8. Get the BBQ ready

It’s one of the key items for your summer garden activities, so don’t leave it to the last minute to discover that your BBQ is covered in filth and grime! Scrubbing stones and scrapers can be a good way of removing some of the bigger, ingrained dirt and BBQ cleaning sprays are a must have tool to make this job a lot easier. Make sure that you properly air the BBQ after cleaning, and try to get into a habit of cleaning the BBQ after use to save you time later on.

9. Keep up the good work!

You’ve just spent a fair bit of time investing in your garden space – wouldn’t it be a shame to let it all go to waste? Develop some good habits to allow your garden to thrive, such as regular watering sessions and lawn mowings. The mornings are often the best time to water plants, as this gives them a good supply of water to face the heat of the day, so if possible try to water your plants before you go to work – you need your breakfast, so do they! Aim to mow the lawn every 1-2 weeks, as this will help to maintain a healthy level of grass and make the task more manageable in the long run.

Although this might seem like a lot of work, I can assure you that it is worth it to make sure that you enjoy your garden this summer. So don’t neglect your garden this spring! Trust me, you’ll be thankful when you’re relaxing in the sun, drink in hand, while your neighbour frantically tries to tame their garden during the stifling heat!