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How to choose garden power tools

With such a large range of garden power tools, sometimes it can be hard to decide what's right for the job in hand. Effectively manage your garden with the help of this handy guide. With the right tools even garden chores become a pleasure

  • Trimmer sizes

    Grass trimmers are ideal for cutting areas of grass that a lawnmower cannot reach. Brush cutters usually feature a durable blade can make light work of overgrown areas with nettles and bramble.

    As with most garden cutting, the larger the cut, the less time that is required to complete your task.

  • Trimmer fuel types

    Cordless

    Run on rechargeable batteries, are ideal for smaller areas. Entirely portable with no restricting cord. NiCd are the standard batteries with Lithium a versatile upgrade.

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    Electric

    Offer greater power than cordless but tie you to the length of the cord. These come in various sizes from small, light trimmers to large garden clearance machines.

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    Petrol

    2-stroke fuelled machines are used for larger gardens or areas that need clearing of heavy undergrowth. As with all hand held petrol they use a petrol oil mix, without which you would damage your tool.

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  • Trimmer features

    Telescopic

    Extends for a comfortable trimming position

    Edging

    Twist the head, cut the edge. Sometimes has a wheel or roller to assist.

    Tilting head

    Angle adjusts to cut under low lying areas (bushes etc.) Plant guard – usually a piece of wire that keeps the plants away from the lines

    Expand it

    Various attachments that can be fi tted to your petrol trimmer or brush cutter (hedge trimmer, cultivator etc.)

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Hedge trimmers

Choosing your perfect hedge trimmer requires three main considerations, which will help to narrow down your choice to the right tool.

  • Hedge type

    If you have a denser hedge to cut, or wish cut thicker branches, consider a more powerful tool to help with the job. Petrol trimmers are ideally suited to heavier duty tasks, and look for trimmers with wider spacing between the blade teeth - this indicates suitability for larger branches. For smaller hedges, consider a power shear or edging tool for trimming and tidying smaller plants, such as Box.

  • Size of hedge

    Size of hedge can indicate how long a blade you would want. The longer the blade the more hedge you can cut in one sweep, and the faster the job gets done. To offset this, longer blades are heavier to use.

  • Hedge trim power type

    Cordless

    Run on rechargeable batteries, they are ideal for smaller hedges or bushes. Entirely portable with no restricting cord. NiCd are the standard batteries with Lithium a versatile upgrade.

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    Electric

    Offer greater power than cordless but tie you to the length of the cord. These come in various sizes from small, light trimmers to larger cut machines. Watch out for the cord!

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    Petrol

    2-stroke fuelled machines are used for larger hedges. As with all hand held petrol they use a petrol oil mix, without which you would damage your tool.

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  • Hedge trimmer features

    Laser Cut/ diamond ground

    Higher quality blades, harder metal, efficient cut.

    Mechanical/ electrical brake

    Mechanically applies physical force to stop blade. Electric applies an electrical force, mechanical is slightly better.

    Asymmetric blade

    Reduces vibration significantly.

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Chainsaws

Although all garden power tools should be used with respect, chainsaws in particular need to be used correctly and with the correct safety gear. The following guide gives a few pointers to assist in choosing the correct tool for your job. Please also remember that some trees may be covered by preservation orders, please check with your local authorities prior to starting work. A qualifi ed professional should carry out any advanced tree surgery.

  • Chainsaw size

    What is it that you are planning to cut? For branches of up to 75 or 100mm (3 or 4 in) a pruner may be most suitable for the job. For heavier duty cutting, or if a number of cuts need to be made a chainsaw is the tool for the job. For the safest cutting, ensure that your chainsaw bar length is longer than the diameter of the wood that you are cutting.

  • Chainsaw power type

    For small, light duty cutting, a cordless pruner or chainsaw will do. If more power is required, and a mains socket is located nearby use an electric chainsaw. If portability and grunt are required then the petrol 2-stroke chainsaws will make light work of most jobs.

  • Accessories

    Not only should safety equipment be worn, in the form of chainsaw trousers or chaps, hard hat, ear defenders, goggles, gloves and heavy duty foot wear, but the use of a chainsaw horse to cut logs can be convenient. It is absolutely essential, whatever saw you are using to keep topping up the chainsaw oil, to avoid seizing up.

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  • Safety tips

    Pay attention to the kick back guard. Although this piece of plastic is there for safety a common error is to have it in the forward position when trying to cut, pull towards the handle, and your chain should rotate freely.

    Allow the saw to do the cutting, applying excessive force can result in damaging the tool. Allow the chain to stop rotating before putting the tool down. Don’t cut above your or anyone else’s head, as gravity will effect your control of the tool...

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Garden vacs & blowers

Garden blowers and vacuums come into their own in the Autumn/Winter months when the trees shed their leaves.

  • Blower or vacuum?

    Whether to choose a blower or a blow/ vac is down to personal preference and size of space to be cleared. A blower can be used to direct leaves to an area where you can easily collect the leaves. This is useful if you have a lot of leaves to collect or if you would prefer the lighter tool to carry.

    The blow/vac keeps your options open as the tool does both. The vacuum sucks up the leaves, shreds them and collects them in a bag, to be emptied on your compost heap. If you have a lot of leaves to collect, this can sometimes mean emptying it a number of times, so why not blow them into the corner near the compost, suck them up and shred them right next to it.

  • Petrol or electric?

    Again flexibility differentiates the petrol tools from the electric. Where there’s leaves there’s trees, so in certain cases you don’t want an electrical cable tying itself around them and the undergrowth. For lighter weight and smaller areas an electrical tool is ideal for the job, cleaner and quieter.

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Shredders

Garden blowers and vacuums come into their own in the Autumn/Winter months when the trees shed their leaves.

  • Quiet or impact shredders

    Apart from the obvious noise difference between the two types of shredders, there are advantages and disadvantages with each. Both can do all jobs but one would be better than the other in certain tasks.

    Quiet shredders

    Quiet shredders have a crushing mechanism, either with a toothed wheel against a metal plate, or a corkscrew mechanism. These work really well on wood only branches to produce wood chips.

    The toothed wheel shredders have an adjustment point that is used to ensure that your shredder is working to the maximum.

    Impact shredders

    Impact shredders have a disk that spins at high speed with a blade attached. These shredders can deal with green foliage and are better suited to thinner branches. The blades attached to the disk need to be replaced as they wear.

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Pressure washers

Pressure washers are extremely versatile garden tools, ideal for cleaning cars, bikes and tools as well as patios, paving and landscaping. Choosing the right tool will help you get most from your pressure washer.

  • What is a pressure washer?

    A pressure washer, or a high pressure cleaner, draws water from a hosepipe, pumps it up to a high pressure and then releases it through a small gap in the nozzle. At higher pressure the water can force dirt and grime away that would otherwise be diffi cult to move. Because the water is at pressure, it doesn’t take much water to complete the job.

  • Light use pressure washers

    • Barbecue grill
    • Garden Furniture
    • Small decks & patio
    • Lawn mower
    • Mountain bike
    • Conservatory
  • Medium use pressure washers

    • Car
    • Driveway
    • Decking & patio
    • Exterior wall
    • Conservatory
    • Caravan
  • Heavy duty use pressure washers

    • Exterior wall/siding
    • Large car/truck
    • Kennel
    • Machinery
    • Large boat/yacht
    • Rust/paint/graffiti
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Lawn rakes, scarifiers & cultivators

Lawn rakes, scarifiers and cultivators do similar jobs but at varying levels.

  • Lawn Rakes

    Metal tines rake through blades of grass pulling up the thatch that would otherwise suffocate the grass.

    These can be used for light de-thatching of the lawn or to simply pick up cut grass or leaves from on top of the grass.

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  • Scarifiers

    Similar to lawn rakes, but instead of tines they use blades that cut into the ground and aerate the lawn. Not one to do before a garden party but the results a week or two later are impressive.

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  • Cultivators

    Cultivators are a lot more heavy duty than scarifiers. A cultivator is used in soil areas such as allotments or vegetable plots, where you need to break down the soil.

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