How To Get More Out Of Your Garden


Although we don’t have summer all year round like other parts of the planet, the UK is known for its lovely English gardens. And when summer is in full swing, there is no place we’d rather be than outside. What better way to do that than to create another living space outdoors?

Not only is transforming your garden into another living space far less expensive than building an extension, but doing so also gives you the option to get as creative as you like. There are so many ways to create an outdoor living space; keep reading to get some ideas for living alfresco.

Get Social

Regular patio furniture is one thing; but sociable seating like sofas and easy chairs is quite another. Many shops have now embraced the outdoor living space, and so have far more options to offer than before in terms of living room-like items. Your garden gatherings can now accommodate any number of special guests. And no longer do you have to worry about ruined upholstery; modern outdoor living includes moisture-repelling fabrics and materials to ensure your guests always have a dry place to sit.

The ‘Wow’ Factor

If your garden already has one or more features like a wall or hedge, you can add lots of drama with lighting. However, there is far more to it than flipping a switch. For example, where you place your lighting can make a significant difference. On a textured wall, you can up-light, or place lighting near to the wall at its base. This will highlight the texture of the feature.

Other natural features like trees can also benefit from lighting. If there is a wall behind a tree, for example, you can place lights in such a way as to transfer the tree’s shadow to the wall. Another trick is to change the colour of a feature by ‘washing’ it with light.

A Comfortable Temperature

Many homeowners will spend a good part of their summer days outdoors. This means ensuring there is adequate shade during the day, and a place to take the chill off when the sun goes down. The former can be accomplished by installing a canopy or large umbrella over your favourite lounging area.

Fire is the ideal warmer for chilly summer nights, and there are many options for fire pits and chimeneas. Your garden room may also benefit from a patio heater, which can be purchased in virtually any size and style. Your outdoor heater can also do double duty as a focal point if your living area lacks other features.

Of course, there’s nothing like enjoying a chilly evening wrapped in a warm blanket. Draping a few blankets over your furniture will ensure that everyone can feel warm and comfy when using your outdoor space.

Easy Dress-Up For Your Outdoor Table

Anything goes these days, and your outdoor living area is no exception. Yes, your patio table may have seen better days, but when it’s part of your outdoor décor, it becomes instantly chic. Adding more rustic charm to this part of your outdoor space is easy; all that’s needed is to cut some fresh flowers from your garden and place them in a re-purposed pitcher of water, and voilà: instant country-style centrepiece.

A Chance To Decorate

Outdoor living spaces need accessories too. Today, there are many to choose from. From lounging Buddha’s to fairy lights and candles to wall tiles, there is an accessory to suit every personality.

If you want to tie your outdoor living space in with what’s going on inside your home, you can do this easily by choosing decorative accessories and furniture that echo the colour of the indoors. This will allow for easy flow from indoors to out.

With so many options available for expanding your space outdoors and adding value to your home in the process, there is no reason your dream of an alfresco living area cannot become reality.

A Brief Guide to Gas Safety for Landlords


Gas safety is serious business, and landlords have been warned by the AIIC not to treat it lightly. Recent occurrences have seen landlords being fined for safety failings and for letting properties with dangerous gas boilers and equipment not checked by certified engineers.

Although it is unclear why there have been more of these incidences in the past year, the AIIC is now urging landlords to ensure that all gas systems in their rental properties, including boilers and gas appliances are safe. Carbon monoxide detectors have now become a requirement.

What can you do as a landlord to ensure that the gas appliances in your rental property are safe and working correctly? This guide will help.

Your Requirements as a Landlord

As a landlord, your duty is to ensure the maintenance of all flues and gas fittings to ensure their safe condition. This includes ensuring that all gas appliances are regularly and properly serviced according to manufacturer’s instructions or on the advice of an engineer registered with Gas Safe. Annual safety checks should be carried out on each appliance and its flue before the start of any new lease, or should have been inspected within one year before the start of the new lease. Appliances installed in a rental property for under 12 months will require inspection within one year of installation.

Keeping Records

Safety check records for each appliance must be kept for two years or more, and a copy of the latest safety check issued to existing tenants within 28 days of check completion. If new tenants are moving into the property, they must be given a copy of the record prior to moving in.

Taking All Reasonable Steps

It is the landlord’s duty to ensure they’ve taken all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of tenant appliances. This can mean requesting access to a tenant’s rental property in written form, including this access in their rental contract, or any other reasonable means.

Safety is not the Tenant’s Duty

Overall, the responsibility of ensuring compliance with the law belongs to the landlord. The landlord cannot delegate maintenance or safety check duties to the tenant, even if a managing agent is being used. Sub-let properties require the landlord to retain safety duties. However, these duties may overlap with those of the individual who sub-lets. In these cases, communication between the parties to ensure current checks and records are being kept is strongly recommended.

Risk of Prosecution, Penalty and Imprisonment

Not taking steps to maintain the gas appliances in tenant residences can result in injury and loss of life. Fines for not maintaining tenants’ gas appliances can reach £20,000, and offending landlords can be placed in prison for non-compliance. In some cases, both a fine and an order for imprisonment may be given. Unlimited fines may be the result of the case if is referred to the Crown Court.

Checking Certification of Engineer

Any engineer entering a premises to conduct maintenance and safety checks on an appliance must be confirmed as certified by the landlord. Engineers should be willing and able to provide a current card containing their photo, company name, registration number, security hologram, business registration number and start and expiry date. The back of the card should contain detailed information about the kind of gas work the engineer is registered to do.

If ever in doubt about the certification of an engineer, landlords can call the Gas Safe Register during office hours on 0800 408 5500, or visit

Failed Appliances

Any appliances which fail the safety check must be re-examined and the problem rectified by a certified Gas Safe engineer before using the equipment again. No appliance deemed unsafe should be turned on or placed into use until the identified problem has been rectified.

Should the smell of gas be detected, immediately open all windows and doors. Next, you’ll need to ensure the gas supply is shut off at the meter control valve. If this valve is unable to be found, and gas continues to leak, call the Gas Emergency Freephone Number 0800 111 999.