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Helping your garden survive the heat wave

Helping your garden survive the heat wave

This summer has undoubtedly been a scorcher and all the gardeners out there in the UK might be getting a little worried about their gardens. So here are a few tips to help out the garden stay in tip-top shape in this heat wave.

Water the plants in early morning/late evening

In this hot weather, watering during the day can seriously hinder the amount of water that the plants actually get. A huge percentage will be get evaporated away by the glorious sunshine that we all love so much. Another reason to do it at these times is that water droplets can magnify the sunlight and cause scorching which is quite damaging.

Watering Flowers with Watering Can

Bark at the borders

Okay. So you need a dog for this one…Haha. No, but seriously, laying down some Woodland Bark or mulch on your borders will really help with moisture retention in the soil.

Lawns going brown

You may be noticing that due to lack of rain your precious lawns are going all brown and look like they are dying. Don’t be too worried as the grass is very drought tolerant and hardy so when the rains return (as they always do), your grass will also return to its natural and healthy state.

Don’t mow the lawn too much

This leads onto another point about the grass, try to resist mowing it as long grass is much more tolerant of the heat and will survive longer.

Planted Containers

Potted plants need constant and regular watering during drought conditions. As well as the plants taking up water, 25% of moisture is lost through surface evaporation. To combat this effect it is important to Mulch the top of your containers, this prevents moisture loss and also shades the roots. Perfect for this job is Pot Topping gravels, not only do they look good but also they are very effective in retaining moisture.

Another great tip, if you are planting up new containers place a layer (5cm) of Lytag in the bottom of the pot before filling with compost. Lytag is an inert clay aggregate that has great water retaining properties.

Save Water

Did you know that you can water the plants with bath or shower water? As long as you aren’t using it to water anything that you will eat without cooking (e.g. Lettuce) then you are good to go. Saving water in a heat wave like this is critical.

These have been some top tips from the horticulture team at Deco-Pak and we hope they have helped you manage a well-kept garden in this hot weather.

For more information, chat to us on Twitter or ring us on 01422 204 394.



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Going Alpine in the Garden

Rustic Slate Rockery - Alpine Garden

Going Alpine in the Garden

There is this myth that planting and growing alpine plants is very difficult but here at Deco-Pak, we would like to put a stop to this talk all together!

Especially in this heat wave that is going on, there are many benefits to starting an alpine garden:

  • Most alpine plants prefer good levels of sunshine
  • They are low maintenance and drought tolerant
  • Alpine gardens look authentic and can be enjoyed throughout the year
  • Can provide diversity to your garden with different types of rocks and gravel
  • Require fewer plants to make a garden look “full”
  • They look great in gardens of all sizes

Where to place your alpine plants

Choose a place where the plants can receive the most sun possible throughout the day and remember it is always better for the plants to spend a few hours in full sun than remain shaded all day. If you want to introduce some shade loving varieties, these can be planted in shady areas provided by the rocks in your display.

It is essential that alpine plants have great water drainage so choose a spot on a slope or artificially create one. Alternately you can use a raised bed.

It is recommended to draw out a plan of what you want your garden to look like before you actually start so you can bear in mind any factors that will interfere with the health of your plants.


When planting, remember to allow for a plants height and spread as giving them enough room to grow is crucial.

A basic planting mix would be:

  • One part Chelsea topsoil (sterilised)
  • One part Chelsea Horticultural Alpine Grit
  • One part Chelsea Multi-purpose compost or Ericaceous compost for lime-hating plants.

Remember to adjust these for individual plant requirements!

Top-dressing the plants with a layer of gravel will help reduce evaporation and deter slugs and snails, this is essential for both Rock gardens and potted displays such as sink gardens.


  • Placing decorative grit around plants reduces evaporation and also deters slugs and snails from feasting.
  • To avoid rotting, ensure that there is plenty of drainage and integrate Chelsea Garden Horticultural Grit into the soil.
  • Choosing a range of rock sizes will keep your alpine garden looking as authentic as possible. Starting with a keystone (larger rock) and then placing the smaller rocks around it will help keep the authenticity.

Want more tips and tricks? Contact us on Twitter or even ring us for a chat on 01422 204 394

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Deco-Pak to launch ‘never before seen’ paving products at Glee 2018

Glee logo

Deco-Pak to launch ‘never before seen’ paving products at Glee 2018

Seasoned Glee exhibitors, Deco-Pak, is aiming to launch the next big thing in decorative landscaping at this year’s Glee exhibition, by introducing two entirely unique paving options for 2019. The latest in a long line of innovations launched exclusively at Glee, each new range is aimed at providing a point of difference for its garden centre retail partners.

Sneak Peek - Glee

 Deco-Pak’s Marketing Director Craig Hall says: “Visitors to our stand will see new paving options that utilise cutting-edge materials and technology in a way that we believe is an industry first. For retailers, these new additions will definitely be something to get their customers excited, whilst also increasing demand for patio landscaping products. For consumers, the main draw for them will be a highly versatile product able to suit any kind of budget and size of garden. Providing decoration whilst also enhancing the functionality of paths and patios in a way you would not expect from a humble paving slab.”

Deco-Pak’s new products will remain under wraps until they are launched to the market exclusively at Glee 2018, with the Glee New Product Showcase a ‘must-do’ for the brand. Glee is the company’s main trade show in 2018 and will showcase its award-winning ranges on a stand that is 25% larger than the previous year.

Find out more

Deco-Pak’s profile can be viewed here:

Our stand is Hall 20 Y36-Z37 and Y40-Z41

The company’s current ranges of decorative paving, aggregates, growing media, water features and bird boxes can all be viewed on the company’s website, To speak directly with the sales team call 01422 204394.

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GIMA judges award category win to Deco-Pak for ‘whimsical and charming’ birdboxes

GIMA Awards Winner - Logo

GIMA judges award category win to Deco-Pak for ‘whimsical and charming’ bird boxes

GIMA supplier Deco-Pak jumped to the top of the pecking order in the Pet Care, Aquatics and Wild Bird Care category last night, with a win at the 2018 GIMA Awards gala dinner in South Wales. Deco-Pak’s Quintessentially British Collection of decorative birdhouses and birdfeeders impressed the judges who described it as “whimsical and charming – a fantastic take on the traditional birdhouse.”

The new additions to the well-established Garden Bazaar range include a realistic-looking miniature garden shed, a London Underground sign for nesting birds to hide behind, a wine rack feeder that promotes reusing bottles, and a scaled down No. 10 Downing Street for birds to peck on in protest. The award was hotly contested against a large number of entries this year, including finalists Smart Garden and Wildlife World.

Quintessentiallly British Range - GIMA Awards

Marketing Director Craig Hall said: “We’d already received a positive reception for our new Garden Bazaar decorative birdbox ranges from customers and the media, but to also win a GIMA Award – our first ever – is just fantastic. In a category crammed full of great products and innovations, the competition is always fierce and this year was certainly no different. On behalf of all of us at Deco-Pak I’d like to say a huge thank you to GIMA and the judges, this is a great deal for us and a key moment in the continued growth of our company.”

Designed by Deco-Pak, the new Quintessentially British range of bird boxes and feeders is priced at £16.99 – £29.99 RRP. Designed to appeal to buyers or collectors looking for quirky garden gifts, and fans of the original range of Garden Bazaar British birdhouses and feeders. Highly functional and made from FSC certified wood, the range was a finalist in the Spring Fair awards at the start of the year.

Check out our Quintessentially British Range!

We are always looking for feedback whether it is negative or positive so come chat to us on Twitter!

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Deco-Pak Play sand raises money for Greenfingers

Deco-Pak, Greenfingers - Raise Money

Deco-Pak Play sand raises money for Greenfingers

A cheque for £2,550 was presented to children’s hospice garden charity Greenfingers, as a donation from decorative aggregate specialist Deco-Pak at the GIMA Charity Golf and Activity Day (Thursday, 7th June). 

The money was part-raised over the last 18 months through a play pit sand promotion that is to continue throughout 2018, with the goal of raising over £10,000 by 2020.

Linda Petrons, Head of Corporate Partnerships at Greenfingers Charity, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Deco-Pak this year through the sale of play pit sand. The money raised through this range will help pave the way for more magical gardens for children’s hospices nationwide, enhancing the care to children and families living with terminal illnessWe’re incredibly grateful to have the support of Deco-Pak and look forward to working with them in the future.”

 Deco-Pak director, GIMA council member and Greenfingers ambassador Craig Hall presented the cheque to Linda and outlined the family company’s fundraising commitment for the next year.  “Greenfingers is such a fantastic cause which is needed by and resonates with, everyone in our industry.  At Deco-Pak, we plan to raise £10,000 for Greenfingers by 2020 through the sale of our charity play pit sand, fundraising and other activities. Through the sales of our charity products through consumers and our retail partners, we aim to leave a lasting impression for the charity, and help provide more gardens for children with life-limiting illnesses and their families.”

 Deco-Pak’s Greenfingers Play Pit Sand, large pack retailing at £3.99, is ideal for young children taking their first steps in creative outdoor play.  A smaller 10kg pack is also available with a retail-friendly easy carry handle, at £2.99 RRP.

 Find out more

Visit, connect via Twitter @deco_pak, or call the sales office on 01422 204394.

 Images:  Deco-Pak Director Craig Hall and national key accounts manager Rebecca Cox, present a giant cheque to Linda Petrons, Greenfingers Head of Fundraising & Communications


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Deco-Pak’s new Decorative Garden Products and how they coped with the bad weather?

Deco-Pak Logo

Deco-Pak’s new Decorative Garden Products and how we coped with the bad weather?

After the indisputably poor start to the spring season garden suppliers have been gladly fulfilling customer orders throughout an extremely busy May.  Deco-Pak, decorative garden products supplier rode the storm particularly well – but how did they turn an uncontrollable external factor such as the weather to their advantage, and what will be the bestsellers this summer?

Craig Hall, Director at Deco-Pak, suppliers of decorative aggregates, paving, water features, birdhouses and feeders, said: “Like most other garden products, sales of decorative garden products are reliant on the weather – despite the positive effect they have of brightening up the garden on dismal days.  At the beginning of the season we were faced with an uncomfortable prospect – having to put unwanted pressure on retailers to take stock, so we decided to do the complete opposite – and take the pressure off using our unique strengths.  Unlike some of our customers, we do have the capacity to hold stock.  We have a huge site in a good location and our transport network is super-fast so we were able to ensure retailers had stock for key selling periods, especially weekends and bank holidays. 

New Decorative Garden Products

“Product-wise, this year we have introduced four new decorative bird houses and feeders – all linked to the theme ‘quintessentially British’. They feature a garden shed, wine bottle feeder, London underground and 10 Downing Street, all enhanced with fine features that really set them apart from others on the market.  We also launched new Penny and Half Penny stepping stones to our decorative landscaping range which has become especially popular since its surprise launch on BBC breakfast at GLEE last year.”

Decorative Garden Products - Penny Stepping Stone, Half Penny Stepping Stone & Wine Bottle Bird Feeder

About Deco-Pak

Deco-Pak is a supplier of decorative aggregates, paving, growing media, birdhouses, insect hotels, water features and statuary, specialising in creating unique point of sale displays, contemporary heritage-style packaging and hands-on customer service. The family-run company distributes all over the UK from their base in West Yorkshire, serving independent garden centres and national retail chains alike.

Why not talk to us Twitter? Feedback is always appreciated! To see more of Deco-Pak’s range, click here.

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Politics, tourism and wine: Deco-Pak ticks all the boxes

Gift of the Year 2018 - Finalists - Underground Birdhouse, 10 Downing Street Bird Feeder, Wine Bottle Bird Feeder, Garden Shen Birdhouse - Quintessentially British Birdhouses and Feeders Range

Politics, tourism and wine: Deco-Pak ticks all the boxes

Deco-Pak’s new ‘Quintessentially British’ range of birdhouses and feeders feature four daring designs – a garden shed, a London Underground sign, a wine rack and a mini mockup of number 10 Downing Street.

Now available to view on Deco-Pak’s website, this new for 2018 range has already been nominated for best Garden & Outdoor product at Spring Fair (NEC, 4th-8th February). The new additions are expected to be popular with those looking for gifts, collectors of quirky garden designs and fans of the original range, which continues to grow in popularity.   For example, the Red Lion Inn was most recently featured in the Sun’s gardening pages at the end of January to mark National Nestbox Week (14th – 21st February).

On the subject of a possible boost for garden centre tourism, Deco-Pak Director Rod Slater said: “Our partnership with US wild birdcare designer Garden Bazaar gives us a unique insight into what visitors want to see and buy. With 41.7m tourists set to visit here next year, after a record year for UK regions and nations outside of London, we know our customers will be interested in a slice of the pie. These birdhouses and feeders will, of course, be available to all of our customers in Europe and further afield, where we expect them to do well thanks to the value of the pound and a recent surge in popularity of the UK as a holiday destination.”

Birdhouses and Feeders

10 Downing Street feeder

Watch birds protest to the ministers of birdfeed with this tourist favourite. Features include window frame detail, shingled roof and chain for hanging. RRP £29.99

London Underground Nestbox

Another distinctive British Handmade from FSC plywood with access hatch. RRP £16.99

Garden Shed Nestboxes

Includes miniature details such as a wheelbarrow, spade, fork, terracotta pot and plant. There is a 32mm hole to allow smaller desirable birds, such as tits and house sparrows – deterring larger, predatory birds. RRP £19.99

Wine bottle feeder

With sparkling wine sales up 76% in the last five years, Deco-Pak has latched onto another trend and devised a great way of reusing empty bottles. The product features two rings made of exterior grade plywood and is able to incorporate a wine bottle (purchased and drunk separately) that can be filled with any type of birdseed. Simply upturn and let gravity do the work as the contents are drip-fed as birds peck away at the bottom. RRP £19.99

For the full list of finalists click here:

RSPB State of the UK’s birds 2017:

VisitBritain forecasts for 2018:

A boom in UK wine sales:

About Deco-Pak

Deco-Pak is a supplier of decorative aggregates, paving, growing media, birdhouses, insect hotels, water features and statuary, specialising in creating unique point of sale displays, contemporary heritage-style packaging and hands-on customer service. The family-run company distributes all over the UK from their base in West Yorkshire, serving independent garden centres and national retail chains alike.

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British Garden Centres looking for sales to flow from in demand water feature stands

Brigg Garden Centre - Eastern Stone Water Features

Deco-Pak’s water feature stands are now in 50% more centres this year than in 2017

Brigg Garden Centre, the Lincolnshire flagship store of the British Garden Centres family, is one of a number of independents who have recently upgraded their natural water feature range through decorative landscaping supplier Deco-Pak.

Commenting on the 2018 season so far, Robin Bosworth, Group Operations Manager said: “It’s been a quiet spring for us all – but that just means you have to think ahead and get smarter with your offering. With that in mind, versatile merchandising solutions such as Deco-Pak’s water feature plinths are just what we need, and we are positive we’ll see an uplift in sales in the category going forward.”

Uptake in Deco-Pak’s new water feature displays has increased by over 50% since last year, due in part to ease of installation and flexibility. Deco-Pak Director Rod Slater explains why: “The difference with these displays is simple, they come ready to “plug and play”, and can take up as little room as a single pallet space. Each display can be easily moved, formatted and height adjusted, so whether you want a more linear display, a 360° showcase or just a single sample, the choice is yours and our team are always available to help advise.”

The Eastern Stone collection features five premium handcrafted sandstone water features and statuary, including a handcrafted 90cm Buddha head and a striking 95cm tulip planter.

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How to lay Porcelain Paving

How to lay Porcelain Paving

There are two commonly suggested or recommended methods of laying porcelain paving, but each has its pros and cons, not least of which is the skill level required to achieve a high standard of finish. While there are umpteen different terms used to describe each method, we’ll go with ‘Full Wet Bed’ and ‘Thin Bed Adhesive’.

A third method relies on using pedestals but, just for now, this is a technique that is much less popular in Britain and Ireland than it is in mainland Europe, and so it is not covered any further on this page.

Full Wet Bed:

Advocated by several major suppliers, this method relies on carefully placing the tiles onto a leveled-out bed of standard sand/cement mortar, prepared to a wet consistency (slump of 50mm or more – Slump Class S2 or higher).
The mortar bed needs to be a 6:1 or a stronger mix of grit sand with ordinary portland cement (OPC) – see Contractors’ Mix – minimum of 20mm thick, and should be placed over a prepared sub-base or base. Most contractors are using 25-40mm thickness to ensure a bed with sufficient depth to create a rigid layer capable of supporting both itself and the porcelain paving units, although some are using considerably thicker beds, as much as 100mm depth in some cases.

The inclusion of a sub-base (or base) is essential. For the Wet Bed method, a 100mm deep sub-base of Type 1 material (or similar) is typical, although in exceptional circumstances a rigid base, usually mass concrete, will be used. Omitting the sub-base (or base) and placing the mortar bed directly onto a sub-grade is highly likely to result in the whole pavement failing in the short-medium term.

As with the Thin Bed Adhesive method described below, a Bond Bridge primer applied to the underside of the tiles is essential.

Joint Spacers

Using joint spacers (either proprietary paving joint spacers, plastic spacers as used in the window fitting trade, or even pieces of 6mm plywood) will help maintain a regular joint width between the units and also minimise the risk of accidentally spalling any vulnerable edges.

The tricky bit of this method lies in consolidating the tiles down to the correct falls and levels. This requires the receiving bed to be fairly accurate, but sufficiently proud to accept the tiles and allow them to be tapped down. Accordingly, judging the ideal level of the receiving bed and then getting the right degree of rippling in its surface to accommodate the tile is not as simple as some guides would have you believe.

Tapping Down

And then there is the ‘tapping down’. Admittedly, the tiles are tough, probably much stronger than one might expect, but they cannot be hammered. They will withstand a reasonable clonking, but too much force, too heavy a blow will probably cause a breakage.
However, there has to be enough of a tapping down to ensure that a sufficient proportion of the tile base is in direct contact with the supporting bed, so an overly gentle tap or two probably isn’t enough to get the 70% contact we would regard as the minimum requirement. Too little clonking will leave the tile resting on ridges of mortar with voids between, and so the bed will not provide a full support.

Trial and error is the only way to learn just how much surcharge, how much rippling, and how much clonking is needed to get the tile down to the perfect level, with the correct falls. Obviously, as more and more tiles are laid, the bed preparation will become second nature, but for the first few tiles, it’s really important to take time to judge the bed and the amount of settling that is possible.

This is what makes the Wet Bed method tricky for those unfamiliar with porcelain paving and the use of mortars.

Thin Bed Adhesive:

This method is favoured by those with many years’ experience using porcelain paving in Europe and would be our preferred method of installation. It is being promoted by some suppliers as a better option for the occasional installer and/or DIYer. While the fixing of the tiles might be considered easier using this method, the necessary preparatory work is more exacting than that for Wet Bed installation.
In this method, the tiles are laid in the same manner that would be used for flooring tiles inside the house. They are affixed to a pre-installed base using a specialist tile adhesive, which should be an outdoor grade polymer-modified cement-based goo. The adhesive is spread over the rigid base using a notched spreader to give a bed of uniform depth, and the tile is then pressed down onto the adhesive and settled down to falls and levels.

As with the Wet Bed method described above, a Bond Bridge primer should be applied to the underside of the tiles prior to placement unless the adhesive manufacturer specifically states that no such primer is required when used with porcelain paving tiles. It may be necessary to check with the adhesive manufacturer’s technical department because the guidance given on/with the packaging may not have been updated since porcelain paving became popular.

Bed Thickness

The thickness of the bed is usually specified by the adhesive manufacturer. Some will be as little as 3mm, but most will be 6-10mm.
The bed thickness is critical to establishing the finished level of the base onto which the tiles will be laid. To ensure a high standard of finish, the tiles need to be laid to falls and levels over a bed of uniform (or fairly uniform) depth. It’s not good practice and will make the job that much more difficult, if the bed is, say 4mm deep at one end and 10mm deep at the other.

So, the key to getting an even, uniform bed is to have an even, uniform base on which to lay it. In nearly all cases this will be a rigid concrete base which can be placed immediately prior to laying the tiles or can be done hours, days, or even weeks in advance.

The concrete base need not be reinforced: a simple 75-100mm thick slab of mass concrete, C7.5 or stronger, can be poured and retained by formwork to ensure the finished levels, once the plastic concrete is tamped and floated off, are within a millimetre or two of the levels needed to accommodate the bed and tiles.

Obviously, this concreting is an additional skill. Erecting shuttering and/or formwork, then placing, compacting and finishing concrete is a separate task to laying tiles of flagstones, but it is generally regarded as being relatively simple and well within the capabilities of a competent general builder, landscaper or DIYer

Check out our range of Milano Porcelain Paving today! Or to find out more contact us on Twitter.