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Back yards & gardens

By Tarryn Caton

Australians love the outdoor way of life so the backyard, deck and garden become an extension of your home.

Discover inspiration for yours with ideas for decorating, entertaining, gardens, BBQ’s and of course swimming pools.

The modern cubby house: what you need to know:-|
Cubby houses are becoming more popular, particular for families who like their gardens to be a bit more interesting…what 3 elements make them awesome?

1. Create a sense of adventure –
A good cubby house should be adaptable to your child’s imagination and have options to support their play. It could be a pirates ship one day, a rocket ship the next or a fashion warehouse. “Blank canvas” style cubby houses are the most versatile.

2. Has elements of a home –
It’s important for cubby houses to belong to the kids. Simply things like adding book shelves, chairs, pictures on the walls and items that belong to the cubby houses are a great way to create a sense of ownership to your kids.

3. Give the feeling of climbing –
Elevates cubby houses seem to be the most popular among children. It allows kids to escape to a different level away from the world of adults. Even just a few steps can create that barrier between them and adults, that’s so important to kids when they retreat to their cubbies.

Veggie Garden – 5 tips to getting your veggie garden right.
There are many reasons to want a vegetable garden but sometimes there are also many reasons to put off actually starting: not enough space, poor soil, I don’t know how, I don’t know when….

1. Plan what to plant
Most classic garden vegetables love to be planted in late spring. When deciding what to plant, the biggest question is’what do you like to eat?’ The second question is ‘how much space do I have?’
The popular garden vegetables are popular for good reason: tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, beans, beetroot, leeks, potatoes, capsicum etc. Are all pretty forgiving, don’t take much space and taste so much better fresh. Herbs are also great! They’re perfect to tuck into any spare piece of garden.

2. Improve your soil
If you have poor dirt, add compost anyway. If you have sandy diet, add compost. If you have great dirt, add compost anyway.
Compost – whether you use a compost heap, worm farm, bokashi bin or chook pen – does three jobs. It breaks up the soil, helps hold water long enough for plants to get it and it makes lots of broken down bits of vegetable available for new roots to gather up and use to make more vegetable.

3. Make it a habit – little and often
The important thing is the habit – just begin and it’ll grow on you. Just add food, water and attention, a little and often. They’ll show you.

There are some great online garden planners and apps that will show you what to plant when in your area, how to capture a map of your garden and remind you to water, feed or harvest.

4. Plan to harvest
A garden plan also helps you think about when you want to harvest. Do you want a feast in February? Or one or two ingredients most days from January to April? Popping out to the garden with a bowl and scissors everyday also gives you a chance to look around, notice what’s going on and plan the two or three things you will do on Sunday.

5. After the harvest
When you’ve harvested all you can from a plant, cut it off at the soil line and dig through with some compost for good measure, or you could put it in a green manure crop which will improve the soil when it’s dug back in before it flowers or flowers fruit.

Backyard pools: Reflections
It’s clear that we love water and swimming, as it is a big part of our lives. Over the years, families would fill anything that could hold water! We would sit in it, wade, swim, splash and sun bake beside it. Shade, position, materials and design trends have changed many times but whether it’s a blow up nylon above ground or concrete with Italian Mosaics sunken amongst a designer style oasis setting, swimming pools make for a lot of fun!

Staying safe:
You cannot take anything for granted when it comes to swimming pools, they cost money, they need maintenance but most importantly they need to be safe!

How to keep your pool safe

  • Always keep your fence, gates, doors and window locks secure and in good condition. Regularly check them.
  • Always keep your gate and door latches and self-closing mechanisms in good working order.
  • Always close your gates and doors when not in actual use. Never prop gates open.
  • Never leave climbable objects near the fence.
  • Always keep trees, shrubs and creepers trimmed well away from the fence.
  • Always leave your filter covered, so small children can’t get into it and keep chemicals out of view and reach.
  • Always supervise children around the pool at all times. A fence is no substitute for responsible supervision.
  • Teach your children to swim from an early age.
  • Undertake resuscitation (CPR) training for emergency situations.
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