Guide to the latest garden and patio innovations

Trends come and go, but when a gardening trend is a particularly good idea, then sometimes it catches on and changes the way we actually garden or enjoy our gardens. This seems to be the case with the new emphasis we’re seeing on patio technology, new patio innovations, designs and the interest in the concept of ‘outdoor living’. These days a small concrete slab or a patch of bricks and a few plastic chairs for a patio just doesn’t seem to cut it, and many people are focusing on creating a nice environment outside where they can relax or entertain family and friends.

In terms of general patio design, Lazy Susan is definitely noticing a few specific trends that seem prevalent at the moment and at long last, people seem to now understand that planning the right size and shape of patio is the first step to creating an outdoor living space that’ll fulfill their needs while providing an attractive space to both relax and to entertain friends. Creating a space that is environmentally friendly and cost-effective has also become important too and people have realised in recent years that these things don’t have to be sacrificed when creating a comfortable outdoor living space. Using materials like stamped concrete instead of natural stone can create an authentic look, whilst costing less and without the environmental impact of quarrying. Using solar lighting or low voltage lighting is also helping homeowners to save money, with modern outdoor ambient lighting using little or no electricity at all.

I’m very please to say that you no longer see plastic patio furniture on the modern style patio. It is more common to see something that more resembles living room furniture these days and the latest garden furniture is more comfortable and durable to offer stylish pieces that can withstand the British weather. Many people are also now looking to incorporate an outdoor fireplace into their design to make it feel even more like an outdoor living room and instead of expensive holidays, we are hearing more people say that they’re spending money on creating a comfortable get away in their own garden instead. Making use of the latest water features, landscaping, outdoor audio technology, outdoor fireplaces and outdoor lighting, you can create an outdoor living space that is available anytime, even if you only have an hour to spend there.

And creating an inviting patio design will not only provide your family with a great outdoor space for you to enjoy, it will also help improve the value of your property too. So with all that said, Lazy Susan wanted to take a little look at some to the latest patio innovations and outdoor technology that has grabbed out attention at various trade shows and patio design projects we’ve been involved with…

Wonder Soil

Guide to the latest garden and patio innovations

Wonder Soil is basically soil that is compressed and ready to use with the addition of water. It is lightweight and compact, allowing the consumer to be ready to plant with minimal space for storage and no heavy bags to lift. Wonder Soil is an amazing new soil that is nutrient enriched and polymer fortified. The lightweight mini wafers absorb water quickly and easily. Just add water, and the wafers immediately begin to expand 10 to 15 times their size! The essential nutrients in Wonder Soil are undeniable, as roots begin to grow vigorously and young plants sprout within days. This water-absorbent soil requires half as much watering as other soils, and keeps growing plants from drying out. Plants grown in Wonder Soil grow rapidly, with large foliage and bright green colors. Each bag includes 50 mini wafers.

Hori-Hori Knife

Guide to the latest garden and patio innovations

Many gardeners also swear by the multi-purpose Hori-Hori knife, and whist not new (the Hori Hori Knife was first used in the mountains of Japan and created especially to unearth aged treasures of Bonsai), today the popularity of the knife has caught on as many more uses for it have been discovered. In Japanese, the term hori literally means ‘to dig’. It is often called a leisure knife in Japan as well. Because it became so popular and resourceful, the Hori Hori Knife is considered an all-purpose tool for gardening and outdoor activities in addition to just a digging tool. It is sometimes called a weeding or soil knife as well.

The Hori Hori Knife has a stainless steel polished blade about 6 7/8 inches long. With the handle, it measures about 11 3/4 inches long. Most knives come with a sheath that fits easily on your belt. The blade is somewhat rounded and very strong. It also has a sturdy wooden handle for easy grip. The serrated blade is sharpened on both sides, comes to a semi-sharp point on the end and is razor sharp. The blade is also embossed with measurements to aid in determining the depth for plants or the spacing of plants, quite ingenious actually! Available to buy in the UK from

Markilux Patio Awnings – Leading Edge Technology With Style

Markilux are one of the largest manufacturers of sun shading products in the world including retractable awnings, vertical blinds, conservatory awnings and large commercial terrace cover solutions for sun and rain protection. When you see any of the Markilux patio awnings and blinds for the first time the quality is clear and one of the main features Markilux take extremely seriously is the design, shape and colours of their awning cassettes to help integrate their products into buildings of all styles. All components are carefully engineered for optimum strength as well as visual appearance. With modern fabric technology and materials Markilux also push the boundaries for making an awning a complete product in terms of providing the homeowner with the best features and controls to fit in with the requirements of the home.

Features such as automatic retraction in bad weather, automatic opening in hot weather, automatic drop down front valances for privacy and draught protection, gable shaped front sections to deflect rainwater to the sides, the list goes on and each Markilux can be specified down to the finest detail providing a worthy long term investment for your home, not just for a bit of shade on the hottest of days in the summer. If you are going to invest in an outdoor shading system of any kind you should seriously consider Markilux as one of the options as your money would most certainly be wisely spent. Excellent engineering with long guarantees and reliability are certainly top requirements for a product that is to be subjected to the UK weather. Markilux after all are a company with their origins in Northern Europe, a part of the world with very similar weather patterns to our own. These are not just products for dealing with light breezes, sunshine and a dry atmosphere, they have been tested in harsh climates to withstand wind , rain and the damaging effects of the sun.

Markilux are one of the more unique awning manufacturers in that they produce their own high quality fabrics for all their products. Markilux offer 2 main types of fabric, the ever popular acrylic fabric and their own unique ‘sunsilk’ material. The popular acrylic fabric, spinneret-dyed, is the most widely used fabric in Europe and the Markilux range is excellent in its choice of traditional and up to date modern colour ranges. The Sunsilk SNC (super nano clean) combines a new lightness with superb sun protection characteristics. Sunsilk fabric is rot proof with more brilliant colour properties and higher tensile strength and is extremely dirt, grease and water repellent due to the silky, high tech fibres used and the range of colours are definitely the most vibrant of all the fabrics available. Markilux also offer fabrics for commercial specifications such as the Perla FR (fire retardant), transilk and transolair, used for large valances and side screens, etc.

Markilux manufacture the majority of their retractable awnings using the world leading Somfy electric motor and control systems. The reliability of these units is outstanding and range of controls more than enough to cater for the most demanding of household requirements or diversity of commercial applications. Remote control radio transmitters, wind, sun and rain sensors, timers, keypads, thermostatic controls and many other devices make up the range of Somfy devices capable of ensuring the sun or rain protection is not only used when required automatically but is also safely retracted when the conditions are potentially damaging.

Artemis Electric Patio Heater IPX4 – Carbon Fibre Technology – Gold Finish

Artemis is the ideal solution for a two person domestic patio or balcony space. With two heat settings, Artemis also comes with an adjustable table and a weatherproof cover to protect Artemis from the elements. It features two carbon fibre heating tubes which significantly reduce running costs and cuts carbon dioxide emissions compared with gas patio heaters. Instant heat with two heat settings – 1200W / 2400W. It uses Far Infrared Electric heaters that offer more focused heat, heating people rather than the air and it emits zero CO2 exhaust gases unlike most gas patio heaters. Far Infrared carbon fibre heating is used worldwide in hospitals for many problems as it is proven to be the most natural, versatile, and healthy form of heat known to man. FIR heat helps maintain body vitality and increases metabolic function without side effects . The Artemis patio heater features a sturdy base with built in lockable rollers for easy mobility around patio areas. Should the heater be accidentally knocked over it will automatically shut down and will not operate until it is restored to it’s upright position and reset. The table can easily adjusted using the included Allen key for seated or standing persons.

Full Specification:

  • Mains powered – no harmful fumes Produces latest carbon fibre ‘Far Infrared’ heat
  • Safety tip-over and thermal cut-off devices
  • Element lasts more than 10,000 hours and spare parts are available from
  • Chrome finish
  • Adjustable wooden table
  • Chrome grill to protect elements
  • IXP4 Splash proof design
  • Height: 2 Metres
  • Cable: 5 Metres
  • Voltage: 220-240V ~ 50Hz
  • Power: 1,200 and 2,400W
  • Weight: 15Kg


Guide to the latest garden and patio innovations

When you look at the popular methods of gardening, there’s nothing more popular right now than container gardening. The Earthbox has made it extremely easy to grow fresh vegetables just about anywhere, a balcony, a small space on a deck. Earthbox is quite simply the world’s most revolutionary gardening system! And that’s exactly what your plants will do in an EarthBox! A sustainable product that uses less water and fertilizer, the EarthBox will grow bigger and tastier plants faster than a conventional garden–with virtually no effort and zero guesswork! Great results, no matter how green your fingers are. Poor soil conditions and small backyards are no match for the EarthBox. Now it’s easy to garden anywhere–even on balconies, porches, and rooftops! Anyone can enjoy delicious homegrown veggies, fruits, and herbs grown in an EarthBox.

Basic kits includes: 1 EarthBox® container, 1 aeration screen, 1 water fill tube, 2 reversible Mulch Covers, 4 castors, 450gms (16 oz.) bag of 8-3-5 fertilizer, 453gms (16 oz.) bag of dolomite, and instruction sheet. All plastic components are durable, food-safe, and UV stabilized. Container holds 56 litres (2.0 cu.ft.) of potting compost, and reservoir holds 11 litres (2.5 gallons) of water. Product dimensions: 74cms (29″) L x 36cms (14″) W x 28cms (11″) H. Integrated castor sockets. Available from The Active Gardener in the UK.

Terra-Sorb Crystals

Guide to the latest garden and patio innovations

Watering has been made easier with products such as Terra-Sorb, a super-absorbent, potassium-based co-polymer gel that conserves water by absorbing and storing excess (water) and slowly releasing it. These ingenious drought-proof crystals will protect plants for up to 5 years.  Commercial landscapers rely on Terra-Sorb to protect plants in heat-stressed, drought-prone situations such as city parks and traffic medians. These non-toxic crystals absorb up to 200 times their weight in water, then release it gradually as plants need it. And because it contains potassium-based polymers instead of sodium-based, it breaks down into fertilizer instead of soil-damaging salts.

  • Protect valuable landscape plants the way that pros do
  • Also highly effective for container-grown plants
  • Works for five years!
  • Breaks down into fertilizer, not salt

I’m afraid its not widely available in the UK but a search on Google will being up a selection of gardening sites in the USA that it can be purchased from and shipped over.

Irrigatia Solar Automatic Irrigation Kit

Guide to the latest garden and patio innovations

The Irrigatia Solar Automatic Irrigation Kit requires no mains water supply or electricity and it won’t waste your valuable water butt-collected and stored water by irrigating garden plants when the weather is cloudy or overcast; instead, this ingenious solar powered pump system will automatically spring into life when the sun beats down and your plants need moisture the most. The engine room of the system is the pump unit which is simply mounted above a water butt (you’ll need to supply your own butt!) and pumps water every three hours – the quantity delivered depends on the sunshine hours and the position of the control knob. Water is delivered to your plants by the 12 dripper nozzles, 15m of distribution piping and all the various fixings you’ll need and is ideal for irrigating raised beds, open borders, hanging baskets, pots and even greenhouse watering. The Irrigatia Solar Automatic Irrigation Kit provides a simple and highly effective solution to garden watering – just add water.

Full Specification:

  • Irrigatia Solar Automatic Irrigation Kit requires no mains water or electricity
  • Kit comprises of pump unit, tubing, dripper nozzles, stakes and tees
  • Pump houses solar charged battery
  • Water only delivered when required in sunny conditions unlike timer-run systems
  • Use with a water butt or other storage tank (not supplied)
  • Pump unit has adjustable water quantity setting
  • Water delivered every 3 hours
  • Quantity of water pumped varies with sunshine hours and control knob setting
  • Ideal for holiday watering
  • Includes 15m of distribution pipe, 12 dripper nozzles, stakes and tees
  • All neccessary fittings included
  • Full installation and operating instructions supplied
  • Ideal for use in raised beds, open borders, pots and even greenhouse watering
  • Ideal for hanging baskets – drip waters up to 4m above water source

Visit Harrod Horticultural for more info and to purchase the Irrigatia Solar Automatic Irrigation Kit.

Noodlehead Sprinkler

Guide to the latest garden and patio innovations

The Noodlehead Flexible Garden Sprinkler head has a dozen flexible heads that bend to hit the spots you want. Noodlehead is the patented, award winning sprinkler from the USA and is now available in the UK! The Noodlehead Sprinkler has 12 fully adjustable rubber tines that you can bend and point in the exact direction and position that you want and will not move until you decide to adjust them again! With Noodlehead, your plants and lawn get all the water and not the paths, fences or driveways! You decide where you want the water – no more wilted flowers or brown spots on the lawn.

Each ‘noodle’ projects water to 20 feet (6 metres), giving you a diameter coverage of 40 feet (12 metres), so this together with its pinpoint accuracy means you will not have to keep moving Noodlehead around the garden! It’s perfect for all size gardens, large or small, because it’s the only sprinkler that you can totally control. Simply attach Noodlehead sprinkler to your garden hose, using the snap on connectors provided. Noodlehead also comes with a ground stake for extra stability and you can even attach it to your fence for watering those narrow flower beds! Awarded ‘Best New Product of the Year’ at the International Hardware Show and available to buy from

La Crosse Technologies Oval Wireless Weather Forecast Station

Guide to the latest garden and patio innovations

The Wireless Weather Projection Station measures time and/or outdoor temperature, barometric pressure and minimum and maximum temperature history, and indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity. While the weather stations do not take any soil measurements, they do take several measurements including humidity, dew points, heat indices, barometric pressure and moon phases, depending on the model of weather station, all of which are important, depending on what you are growing. Predict the weather, plan your days out and be prepared for the outdoors. Make weather prediction easier with the highly accurate La Crosse Technologies Oval Weather Centre Station, with 100m range and clock. The station can be used wall mounted or freestanding, and comes with a range of changeable clip-on colours for the look you choose.

The Oval Weather Forecast Station uses graphics to let you easily predict what the weather will be doing over the next 12 to 24 hours, and displays the barometric air pressure and a graph showing the last 12 hours. The Weather Forecast Station also displays the indoor temperature & humidity, and comes with a wireless sensor that goes outside, enabling you to read outside temperatures too, with highs and lows of the day recorded everyday. The unit uses Swiss IT+ sensors that offer instant transmission, meaning the data is sent back every 4 seconds and has a long range of 100m. This unit can take up to 3 wireless sensors (one included)… for detailed info read the ‘info’ tab on this page.

  • Base Unit (Wall-mounted or freestanding
  • Outdoor temperature transmitter TX 17
  • Weather forecasting function with 3 weather icons and weather tendency indicator
  • Wireless outdoor temperature (°F or °C)
  • Monitors indoor temperature (°F or °C)
  • Monitors indoor humidity (%RH)
  • MIN/MAX value of temperature display with time and date of recording
  • MIN/MAX value of humidity
  • Barometric tendency arrow
  • Indoor comfort level icon
  • Atomic time and date with manual setting
  • Automatically updates for Daylight Saving Time (on/off option)
  • 12 / 24 hour time display
La Crosse Technology group use their 20 years of experience and know-how to bring you devices to help you plan your outdoor life. They were one of the first companies to make radio-controlled clocks and mass produced wireless 433MHz thermometers, and continue to lead the way with home and professional forecasting technology. Available from


Guide to the latest garden and patio innovations

The SunCalc helps gardeners figure out if they’re placing their plants in the best areas for the amount of sun that’s needed, by reading how much sun exposure an area gets and it just runs on a basic watch battery. This innovative product provides gardeners with the ability to maximize plants growing potential by placing plants in optimum light conditions. Initial funding for the SunCalc “Sunlight Calculator” project came in the form of a”Seed Grant” from the Maine Technology Institute (MTI). The organization was established in 1999 by the Maine State Legislature for the purpose of encouraging research and development activity leading to the commercialization of new products and services.

The SunCalc algorithm and electrical components were calibrated at the University of Maine, Orono, ME. The University of Maine and the Federal Govenment have a global warming solar monitoring station just north of Orono. Solar energy measured by SunCalc was virtually identical with the readings from the official Radiometer at the University of Maine facility. It accurately measures the amount of accumulated light that falls on a gardener’s specific location of their property, providing you with the ability to match a plant’s light requirements (full sun, partial sun etc) with the actual light conditions as measured by SunCalc. Available in the UK from

About Lazy Susan

About Lazy Susan

Lazy Susan is a small family business that specialise exclusively in wicker, rattan and metal garden furniture, specifically cast aluminium. Visit to find out more and view our complete product range.

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