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Property prices are still rising sharply is some parts of the country while mortgage rates are getting ever lower. Is it easier or harder to buy at the moment

A. It does depend on where you are, obviously, but there is a big paradox in many parts of the country, particularly the so-called property hotspots, which range from London to Newcastle. On the one01:00 Mon 17th Sep 2001

Autumn s just about here. Is it time to stop enjoying the garden and get back to work

A. Not at all. Even if we don't get one of those longed for Indian summers there is still plenty to enjoy on the good days. If you've been regularly picking your sweet peas they should be around01:00 Tue 11th Sep 2001

When did Artex first become popular

A. Artex had its hey-days in the 1970's when the spiky or swirling effects you can get with it where actually high fashion. Nowadays the sight of an artexed ceiling is enough to make our more01:00 Tue 11th Sep 2001

Summer s barely over. What s the rush to get in spring bulbs

A. There are two good reasons. Firstly there are some bulbous plants that simply won't appear on time unless you get them in within the next few weeks. Secondly, unless your happy to take your01:00 Tue 11th Sep 2001

I ve heard a lot about government planes to introduce a house-sellers pack. What is it

A. The planned house-sellers pack is designed to make the whole process of buying and selling property more open and ultimately quicker. Essentially the idea is to get the home owner to provide01:00 Sat 01st Sep 2001

I ve been trying to fill a small but deep crack in a wall but just when I think I ve got it right the filler collapses inwards. What am I doing wrong

A. The problem is that although the top layer might look dry and flush what's behind is still wet and hasn't filled the gap, so that when it comes to sanding or painting the whole lot ends up01:00 Sat 01st Sep 2001

We ve got a garden for the first time. What are the basic tools we ll need to get started

A. You will need at the very minimum a spade, a fork, a rake and hand tools like a trowel and spade. If you've got a reasonably large garden you may well find you need a wheelbarrow, especially if01:00 Sat 01st Sep 2001

We ve got a corner of the garden which is permanently wet even in summer. What can we do with it

A. Have you considered creating a bog garden They can bring a new dimension to the average garden, allowing you to grow a lot of native and introduced species that would struggle in the average01:00 Sat 01st Sep 2001

I m fed up with shop bought strawberries. Is it easy to grow your own

A. Yes, strawberries are easily grown in pretty much any garden. They can be planted in the vegetable garden, greenhouse, in borders or in pots or window boxes if space is limited. The only proviso01:00 Tue 07th Aug 2001

Can anyone become an estate agent

A. Yes, anyone can act for you in selling a property. However, to ensure you chose one that is regulated by their own industry check the agents are members of the National Association of Estate01:00 Tue 07th Aug 2001

Why do shop bought herbs often not have much flavour and fall over so quickly

A. A lot of shop bought herbs, especially the tender kinds out of season, may look very lush but have often be forced under glass and they tend to lack flavour. They also have a tendency to be soft,01:00 Tue 07th Aug 2001

With the sun out there can t be much to do in the garden in August. Or is there

A. August is traditionally known as the harvest month, a time of ripening vegetables and cut flowers for the vase. But with possibly the hottest, driest conditions of the year in store it also a01:00 Fri 03rd Aug 2001

We ve just had one of the wettest winters on record. Why should we worry about saving water

A. It is true that rainfall over the past couple of winters and last spring makes the imminent threat of water shortages most unlikely. However, in the longer term the country could face problems01:00 Fri 03rd Aug 2001

Don t trees in small gardens always end up causing all sorts of problems

A. In many cases they do, but it's the fault of whoever planted them, not the trees. Basically you have to plant a tree that will stay in proportion to the space you have available. Of course01:00 Tue 24th Jul 2001

Why are we so obsessed with weeding Some weeds are actually quite attractive.

A. There is a saying popular among advocates of wilder more naturalistic gardening which goes along the lines of 'a weed is just a plants whose virtues haven't been discovered yet.' There is no01:00 Sat 01st Sep 2001

There are so many forms of outdoor and garden lighting available these days. How do we choose the right one for our garden

A. First consider the size of the garden and the proximity of others. Too much lighting in a small garden can make the ambience about as relaxing as sitting in the middle of an airport runway, while01:00 Tue 24th Jul 2001

What is a property hot spot

A. There is no definitive definition even though the term is one of the 'buzz' phrases is of the turn of the century. It can be used to describe somewhere where property is always popular like say01:00 Tue 24th Jul 2001

The nation seems to have gone barbeque mad. Where did this enthusiasm for outdoor cooking come from

A. The word barbeque is thought to come from the Spanish. Although meat has been roasted over an open fire since time immemorial. The technique of filling a tray with wood or charcoal and then01:00 Tue 17th Jul 2001

Why are roof gardens all the rage at the moment

A. There are plenty of good reasons why. While there is so much emphasis on moving people back into urban areas and making them better places, one of the things keeping people in the suburbs and the01:00 Tue 17th Jul 2001

Are there any garden plants that are poisonous

A. Yes. In fact the majority of garden plants have the potential to cause problems to humans, from those that can cause mild irritation or rash to the particularly sensitive, to those that can be01:00 Mon 16th Jul 2001

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