Thursday 14 August 2014

Everything You Need To Know About Choosing An Automatic Gate

The decision to install an automated gate is generally triggered by a desire to upgrade the security of your home, not just by restricting access to the property but also by creating an effective screen from the outside world. As well as delivering a feeling of enhanced privacy, certain styles of automated gate will make it very difficult for an opportunist thief to catch a glimpse of the house and any valuable assets. And if you have young children, or pets, an automated gate will also guard against the risk of any unplanned and unaccompanied exits from the family home!

Automatic Gate Checklist!

If you are considering investing in an automatic gate, here are some important pointers to bear in mind:
  • Make sure that the gate you purchase is CE marked and is supplied with a Declaration of Conformity. All automated gates are legally required to carry a CE mark to show that they comply with the EU Machinery Directive.
  • Automatic gates are actually classed as a machine, and as such, should only be installed (and maintained) by someone that is suitably qualified and therefore familiar with the knowledge necessary to deliver a safe and legally compliant gate. Gate Safe is a charity (supported by RoSPA and the UK Police Initiative ‘Secured by Design’), which was set up to improve standards in automated gate safety. The charity has rolled out an approved training course especially for installers (the course is accredited by IOSH, the world’s biggest health and safety membership organization). Check out your nearest Gate Safe Aware installer by visiting
  • Don’t be tempted to skimp on the safety features which any suitably qualified installer should recommend for your gate. You may not be aware, but since 2010, there have been 15 accidents including six fatalities involving automated gates. The installer is likely to recommend photo cells and safety edges for the gate – you may feel they detract from the overall aesthetic appeal of the gate but what matters more, having a great looking gate or having a safe gate?
  • Check that the gate you are purchasing will offer a long life service. Timber gates should be suitably treated to offer protection against rot and wood boring pests, Jacksons timber gates come supplied with a 25-year guarantee as standard. Metal gates should be supplied with a galvanized finish to provide added protection against rust. All Jacksons metal gates are galvanized as standard and are supported by a 25-year service life guarantee.
  • Look carefully and check that you also have some kind of warranty for the automation equipment that is required to power the gate. All automation products supplied and installed by Jacksons are covered by a 25 month parts and labour guarantee, subject to a service contract being taken out in the second year.
  • When you receive a quote for the automated gate, be sure to confirm that this includes a 12-month fully inclusive maintenance agreement, as it is essential that all automated gates are reviewed every six months as a minimum. The quote should also include a gratis training visit for the users of the gate.
For more helpful advice on automated gates visit Gate Safe.

Ask an expert! If you have any questions about choosing and installing an automated gate our team can help! Use the comments box below.

Friday 8 August 2014

Be Prepared To Face The Floods

flood prevention tips, fencing, flood defence
The break in the recent summer sunshine and ominous predictions for flash flooding bring to mind the terrible damage caused by the floods of earlier this year. January 2014 saw some parts of the country experience the wettest weather since records began in 1910.

Of the 28 million homes in the UK, over 5 million are prone to flooding – or one in six in England alone. But around 40% of these householders are blissfully ignorant of the fact that their homes are at risk!

Flood Prevention Tips

To make sure you don’t end up joining the growing queue for insurance claims relating to flood damage, here are some steps to take to prevent or limit the amount of water, which is able to enter your property following extreme weather conditions.

  • Sandbags are a popular short term fix, which, when used with plastic sheeting, can help to prevent mud and silt from entering the property. However, they are not proven to prevent all water from weeping through.
  • If you are aware that a flood situation is likely to occur, it is possible to install guards that will prevent water gaining access to your home via gaps in the front / back / patio doors.
  • Ventilation bricks which could potentially provide a pathway for water can be screened off by fitting covers.
  • If you are living in a flood prone area, it may be wise to ensure all floors are properly sealed.
  • Tactical landscaping so that the garden slopes away from the house can help reduce the amount of water that is able to access the property – be aware that hard landscaping can increase the levels of water ‘runoff’.
  • Consider fitting non-return valves in sewage pipes to stop sewage backing up into the house.
  • Look at installing a perimeter fence which has built in flood defence qualities.
For further information on flooding visit You can also view areas at risk of flooding on the Environment Agency website

Monday 28 July 2014

Hot Hot Hot, Shade Solutions from Jacksons

shade solutions, home and garden
The weather pundits have predicted a blistering heat wave is on its way but much as we all love a bit of sunshine, sizzling in the soaring high temperatures is neither enjoyable nor healthy without access to some shade.

No Natural Shade in Your Garden?

Not all gardens are blessed with trees that are big enough to offer sanctuary from the sun, so here are a few ideas on ways in which to add the cool factor to your garden!

shade solutions, home and garden

Retreat to the Retreat!

The Retreat Wooden Garden Shelter is the ideal find for shade seekers. The contemporary shelter has been designed using Jacksons’ popular Venetian panels to create a stunningly stylish focus point for your outdoor space, with the horizontal pales casting dramatic bands of light and shade whilst you relax in the ultimate chill-out zone.


Perfect Pergola

A carefully positioned double pergola can work wonders in terms of creating welcome shade in the garden, especially if you can add fast growing climbing plants capable of delivering a living roof!

Safe Swimming

For those fortunate souls with a swimming pool in their back garden, the quickest way to cool down is to jump in! Always remember the safety hazards associated with water, especially if you have young children in the home. A timber garden deck around the pool will be less slippery when wet than paving (and warmer too) and by creating a robust balustrade surround; you can introduce controlled access to the water. Alternatively you can screen off with a regular timber or metal fence but be aware of the dangers of siting the fence too close to the water. If a child does try and scale the fence you need to take steps to ensure that they don’t fall directly into the swimming pool.

All Jacksons timber products are guaranteed for 25-years thanks to the company’s famous Jakcure timber treatment system, so whatever source of shade you choose, you can rest assured it will represent a long term investment.

If you would like any advice on creating shade in your garden, contact the Jacksons team on 0800 408 4340, or pop a question in the comments box below.

photo credit: zharth via photopin cc

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Ten Convincing Drivers To Install A Carport!

timber, car port, carport
A garage is the traditional solution to having a safe space to park your car but this often incurs considerable expense, can take a lengthy amount of time to install and in some circumstances may even require planning permission. A carport on the hand can be erected in a few days, costs a fraction of the price of a garage and is generally free from planning controls.

What Is A Carport?

A carport can be described as a car shelter with a roof that is supported by posts. It is classed as an outbuilding, which means that it is deemed to be a permitted development beside a home with the following limitations:

- carports are not permitted to be built on land forward of the wall that forms a home’s principal elevation

- the structure must be single storey and balconies or overhangs are not permitted

- the eaves height can be a maximum of 2.5 metres

- the carport cannot amount to exceeding 50% of the property’s land

- if a property is located in a National Park, and the carport is located more than 20 metres from the house, the carport must not exceed 10 square metres

- Local Planning authority guidance should be sought for carport installations by a listed building

Why Carports Get The Green Light

  1. Provides protection from the elements – from strong sunshine to freezing snow and ice. Powerful UV rays can have a detrimental effect on your car’s paintwork (especially on strong colours), whereas keeping your windscreen free from snow and ice means no time is wasted getting the car fit to drive on a cold winter’s morning. It will also put a welcome stop to arriving to find your car covered in unwanted debris, ranging from falling leaves to unsightly bird droppings.
  2. Older persons or anyone living on their own might feel safer stepping from the comfort of their vehicle straight into the house without having to negotiate the perils of parking in the street.
  3. Kits like the Timber Carport from Jacksons come with a 25-year guarantee and without the aggravation of a) sourcing a reputable builder and obtaining estimates for a new garage b) pinning a builder down to ensure the build is completed on time and in budget.
  4. Carports can often prove a deterrent to opportunist vandals who are less likely to want to inflict damage on a vehicle which is located so close to the home.
  5. Because there are no doors to a carport, they are regularly seen as more convenient to a garage since you can simply drive straight in. Not having to deal with doors can also prove a bonus if you are also struggling to unload shopping and / or supervise young children!
  6. The open sides of a carport means that you can generally get away with not having to install lighting.
  7. Carports can also provide a useful shaded play space / entertainment area.
  8. A carport may provide space for the family car as well as storage for other vehicles such as a caravan, motorbike, boat or trailer.
  9. Whereas you might be restricted on where you can site a garage, a carport can pretty much be located anywhere on your premises.
  10. Investing in a carport will add value to your property.
For more information on the Jacksons Timber Carport (available in a single and double configuration), visit or tel 01233 750 393.

Monday 21 July 2014

Top Tips For The Ultimate Garden Gathering!

garden party, garden improvements
Finally, we have the glorious weather conducive to hosting the perfect garden party, but it’s not just the temperatures that need monitoring to create the right vibe for an alfresco get together. If you are planning some outdoor entertainment over the summer, and want your party to go with a bang, here are a few basics you need to get right:

Garden Party Tips

· Party zones

Think about dividing up your outside space (just like the interior of your home) to enable different areas of the garden to provide specific functions. This is where employing creative screening to divide the outdoor space into ‘rooms’ can come into its own. Natural hedging, living willow screens or ‘fedges’ (cross between a fence and a hedge), chunky pergolas or designer inspired unusual fencing can all be used to great effect to introduce a sense of structure and organised order into your outside accommodation. Take a look at the stylish Venetian, Woven and / Jaktop garden fencing panels from Jacksons or consider incorporating a brick effect timber retaining wall like Jakwall.

· Shady spaces

garden party, Jacksons Retreat

Blue skies and sunshine are the perfect combination for an outdoor celebration but don’t forget spending too much time in the heat can be uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. Always provide plenty of sanctuary from the sun, if you don’t have any natural shade consider installing a dedicated timber shelter, like the Retreat from Jacksons or a double pergola with climbing plants. For a quick fix, a simple sun sail provides effective protection in a choice of colours.

· Perfect pathways

If you are going to invite your guests to walk around the garden, moving from ‘room’ to ‘room’ you need to make sure there are safe pathways for them to use. Paving can be an expensive and can also become slippery in the rain, grooved timber decking boards can be used to create a safe slip-resistant walkway and you can even provide a balustrade as a finishing touch.

· Keep the volume down

Even if the music isn’t blaring out, the noise created by a crowd of people chatting can become a source of irritation to anyone not invited to the party! Equally, you might want to drown out the sounds emanating from a nearby road or commercial business. Acoustic fencing will not only deliver an effective sound barrier, it also acts as a helpful filter to avoid general / exhaust pollution invading your private space.

For more information visit or tel 01233 750 393.

What tips can you share for the perfect garden party? Whether it's creative decorative ideas, outdoor games to keep your guests entertained or the ultimate recipe for a summer fruit punch, we would love to hear from you. Use the comments below.

Thursday 17 July 2014

Staycation This Summer?

garden improvements, decking
Rather than spending your hard earned cash on a quickly forgotten foray to far off places, why not put the money towards improving your outdoor space – you’ll certainly get more than two weeks enjoyment out of your investment!

Garden Improvements Great Ideas

Here are our top five garden improvements for summer:

1. Dreamy decking

A timber deck will provide a whole new dimension to your outside room. Perfect for outdoor dining, ideal as a low maintenance year round (mud free) outdoor play area or simply sublime as a dedicated relaxing retreat, decking continues to rule in the stylish garden stakes and is a natural choice to achieve the ultimate seamless indoor / outdoor living. Be sure to choose timber which has been adequately treated to protect against rot and insect attack, all wooden dcking boards are supported by the unique 25-year Jakcure guarantee which ensures a long service life – not to mention added peace of mind!

2. Add kerb appeal

We can be totally fixated with the fencing required at the back of the house to create a safe and secure outside area, but often at the expense of what’s happening at the front of the property! If you want to give your home an instant makeover, you can’t beat a smart new fence to create immediate kerb appeal. Whether it’s a traditional picket (palisade) fence, a rustic post and rail or maybe uber smart metal railings, be clear on the maintenance requirements to keep the fencing looking good in the years ahead. Jacksons timber fencing requires no additional maintenance as the preservative is forced deep into the heart of the timber, while all Jacksons metal railings are galvanized as standard to keep rust at bay.

3. Bin busters

Whilst we all applaud the focus on recycling and want to do our bit to protect our precious environment, the extra number of bins now lurking outside a house can lead to a somewhat unsightly first impression! And let’s not get started on the subject of wheelie bins that go AWOL! Give your bins a base of their own and install a Wheelie Bin Store to keep them safely tucked away in an attractive timber store between collection days.

4. Great gates

A gate that has come off its hinges or which is clearly in poor condition not only looks untidy – it is also a clear indication of a reckless attitude towards home security. Installing a new gate can make a real difference to the overall look of the property and sends out a clear message to any passing opportunist thieves.

garden improvements, car port
5. Parking perks

Imagine a world where you don’t have to ever search for a parking space near your house again, where your car is always free from frost and ice and the windscreen is never littered with debris! And best of all, where you never get soaked again unloading the shopping in the pouring rain! If all this appeals then you should consider purchasing a car port. A timber pergola is a highly cost effective alternative to constructing a garage, providing all the parking perks without the building hassle - and at a fraction of the price!

Visit to find out more, or call 01233 750 393.

So what garden project are you planning this summer? We would love to hear about your garden improvements so share your ideas in the comments box below.

Monday 14 July 2014

Training Boredom Busters From Hannah Biggs

Schooling is an absolute necessity if you want to improve your performance, regardless of which equestrian discipline you are involved in. But ask any horse to accept being schooled relentlessly in the same arena, day after day, following the same routine, and you will soon find yourself with a very bored horse (not to mention rider!).

Hannah has to train incredibly hard to deliver the exacting performances expected of an international dressage rider, so here are her top boredom busting tips:

Dressage Tips and Training Solutions

  1. Look at breaking up your training sessions. I always aim to never ride in the school for more than two consecutive days. So while I might focus on specific movements in the arena, I will alternate this with hacks or even a ride on the gallops. This not only gives the horses a welcome change of scene, it helps them to relax whilst being exercised at the same time.
  2. Keep ‘test fresh’. Obviously when I am in the school, I practice on the various elements of the test due to be presented at my next competition. However, I make a point of not continuously running through the whole test. I might for example, ask the horse to prepare for a particular transition / movement but not follow through with the actual request, perhaps adding in a change of flexion / a quick sideways move, a shoulder-in. What I am working towards is a horse that is supple and listening to my aids, rather than predicting what comes next. As a rider, you want to feel like you have the opportunity to adjust a movement at any point, either speeding up or slowing down, keeping the head up or asking for the head to work lower, changing flexion - all of these subtle requests need to be willingly accepted AND quickly actioned by the horse.
  3. Most of us don’t have the luxury of having a trainer on the ground at all times, to give guidance and maintain your motivation. I would recommend schooling with earbuds (in-ear headphones) and listening to music playing on a radio / iPod (try downloading the iRide app) to help with concentrating on the job in hand and also to provide a regular rhythm to ride to.
  4. Don’t overlook the benefits of introducing trotting or canter poles to your routine to help improve strength, swing and coordination. In addition, a simple pole work exercise can do wonders for helping to develop bend, balance and impulsion.
  5. Anyone will become bored if tasked with doing the same thing everyday with no particular ‘end’ goal. So while I have a clear long-term end goal (to represent Team GB at the next Olympics) I also regularly introduce frequent mini goals to provide a bench mark for evaluating improvement. For example, I might decide that for a particular horse, I really need to work on improving their half pass to the right, to improve the elasticity and suppleness. At the end of the month, I will revisit that particular movement and assess if there are any noticeable changes in performance. I also look to my trainer (Emile Faurie), my physio team and ultimately the judges for informed feedback to determine if I have successfully achieved what I set out to do.
Let me know how you get on with above tips. If you have any advice you can share on schooling please use the comments box below.

Hannah Biggs is a member of the Jacksons Professional Rider Team and also the World Class Development Squad. As one of Britain's leading dressage riders she competes at an international Grand Prix level. For more expert training tips join the Jacksons Equestrian Club to gain exclusive access to training videos from Hannah and other members of the Jacksons Professional Rider Team.