Landscape gardener, Autograss racer and car enthusiasts. Blogging about my personal activities and achievements.


Joined in 04, 2019
· 30. Jan 2024

I’ve posted about a few of our previous oak pergolas, but this was a bit of a unique one. Firstly the pergola was joined to the house which usually isn’t a problem, but with this particular job, the house was not only cranked, but there was a change in heights to contend with as well. Secondly, it was sat over an Indian sandstone patio which we also installed at the same time. Usually for this, we would concrete the posts into the ground first, and the construct the patio around the posts, cutting the slabs to fit. For this however, the client had decided that they would like the pergola seated onto staddle stones.The first part of the process was to determine exactly where the pergola posts were going to be positioned. Once this was established for each post, a large concrete slab was poured. The paving would than be laid as normal, with sections of slabs mortared down to the top of each concrete slab, to assist with bearing the weight of the timber work.The saddle stones come preformed with a steal pin protruding the top face. This pin is to located into a hole, which we will drill into the bottom of each post. It is rare that the pin is positioned exactly centre of the stone, so it’s always important to check for this, and drill the holes accordingly. Once this is done, the post will simply sit onto the top of the stones, and the rest of the pergola can get then be built. One thing to consider whilst doing this, is that the posts will not be as solid as if they were concreted in to begin with, so we usually clamp some lengths of timber diagonally, just to support it through the construction process.Then it’s just a simple case of notching, and installing the joists. Once this is all finished, the temporary supports can be removed, and everything will be solid, as they are self

· 28. Jan 2024
· 21. Sep 2022

When I was in my late teens and twenty’s, myself and other labourers used to do the majority of the hard graft on site, as we were young, fit, agile etc. The stories we used to have off the skilled workers, who were then in their forty’s, was all about how they have already done their shift as labourers in the past, and how it was always tougher and harder back in their day. What I can’t understand is how now I’m in my forty’s, I’m still finding myself doing incredibly hard graft. Today was one of those days. 7 tonnes of topsoil needed to be carried (yes carried) up the driveway, up 2 flights of steps, across the top of the garden and tipped into the raised flower beds, and today of all days, I was on my own. The method of works was very simple, fill a rubber trug with 5 shovels of soil, lift it onto my shoulder, carry it up the 26 steps, and tip it off. My target was 5 tonnes in the working day which started slightly late as the delivery arrived an hour or 2 later than anticipated. To achieve this goal I needed to ideally move each tonne, in about 1hour 15 mins. The first tonne fell short of my 1h 15min target, but only just. 1 hour 20 mins, bit I took a short break after. I instantly decided 5 tonnes was a tall order, so then paced myself for moving just 4 tonnes on day 1. With heavy work like this I always find it important to set myself to some kind of pace. It’s very easy to push yourself too hard early on, and start tiring towards the end of the day, and slowing. A steady work pace is always more efficient over a full day. 1 o’clock hit and I had moved 2 1/2 of the bags, so the goal was on target. ![5AA4DDA4-943B-41B3-8F11-61CF1DE43BFF.jpeg](

· 18. Sep 2022

With the huge rising energy prices throughout Europe, I decided to finally do something that I had wanted to do for a fair while, and install a grid tied solar system to our house. With plenty of second hand panels for sale on multiple platforms, my maths said a budget of around £600 should be enough to build a 1.6kw system, and although there are a huge amount of variables like unpredictable prices and equally unpredictable British weather, I think a return of investment in 2-3years is very probable. This is a massive improvement from a lot of articles reporting that a 10-12 year ROI is a good return. So this was what, along with a few other things, gave me the spark to get on with it.One of the other big factors was everything going on in Eastern Europe. Without getting into the political side of things too much, I don’t think Europe should be buying any energy from Russia right now (where possible). Also, the rising prices are only down to one major thing, and thats a simple case of supply and demand. So if we can lower the demand UK wide, all the better. Anyway, the original idea was to fix 4 panels to my shed roof, but after plenty of research I decided to build a pergola like frame over the top, and fix 6 panels all on the same plane facing south-west at a lower than recommended 22degree pitch. The frame was built using 4” timber posts in each corner. The 2 to the rear of the frame were concreted into the ground as they sat just inside the flower bed, and the 2 at the front were bolted to the ground using metposts. The upper frame was built using a mixture of 6”x2” and 4”x2”. This was because in places I couldn’t use a 6” timber as it was too tall, so I fixed a 4” timber to the roof instead.Once this was done it was time to fit the panels. I managed to source some good panels off the Facebook marketplace. These were panels originally from a small solar farm near Southampton. The solar farm took quite a bit of damage from storm Eunice earlier in the year. The insurance company sold off all of the panels that were replaced, and I ended up with a bargain. I paid £50 per 275w panel, and bought 6 of them. Then it was a simple case of bolting

· 17. Sep 2022

So we’ve been on this particular job for a while now, and finally things are really starting to take shape. The whole job has taken a lot longer than anticipated due to the nature of the property. The house is nestled into a steep bank in a town inside the Forest of Dean, which actually makes it to look like a 2 story house from the front, and a single story bungalow from the rear. With the rear garden being an entire story higher than the front garden, access was less than ideal. All of the materials including the 60 heavy oak sleepers were all carried or wheel barrowed up this incline. The weather didn’t do us any favours for large parts of it either. Now the 2 sets of steps have been installed to either side of the house, the access is now very much an easier obstacle. If you’d like a quick look over the installation of these steps, I have previously blogged about these, so feel free to cycle back through my profile, to see how these were achieved. The rear deck has now finally been completed. All the boards have been screwed down, and the small oak retaining walls have also been built. The process for installing these are no different to previous. All sleepers are held by 3 posts, (usually plas pro millboard posts as these do not rot) concreted into the ground, and then the sleepers are screwed onto these using 6 of the 150mm timbalock screws. Remember that as these are retaining walls, if you wish to replicate anything like this, there always be a constant pressure applied behind them one you have back filled it, so the the posts need to be anchored into the ground accordingly.The contrast of the 2 materials work very well in this instant, and we are very pleased with the results. We still have a small amount of paving to do at the front of the garden, and then it’s time to bring the soil on. All 10 tonnes of it is going to be hand carried up the steps with just the 3 of us. So that will be a heavy days work. ![B7253107-0156-4C70-9906-C5F4107F274C.jpeg](