Many people find the seemingly endless range of garden power tools on offer these days a little daunting, however; with a little guidance these tools can open up a whole new world of excellent innovations and practical power, even for the novice gardener. Whether you’re looking to trim a couple of hedges or you’ve got an entire estate to take care of, the right power tool could make the job a whole lot easier and allow you to be even more ambitious in creating a beautiful garden.
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A grass trimmer is a convenient tool, ideal for cutting areas of grass that are too small or difficult to reach with a lawnmower. Most trimmers can also make light work of heavily overgrown areas with nettles, brambles and weeds.
These trimmers come in a variety of sizes and types. Larger ones, with bigger cutting areas will be able to tackle thicker growth and cover ground more quickly, but may be heavier, more unwieldy and less suited to intricate jobs than a smaller trimmer.
A cordless trimmer can be the perfect tool for tidying up the edging on your flower bed or for quickly tearing through areas that have become overgrown with unwanted plant species. For smaller jobs a cordless, battery powered trimmer will provide great power and lightweight portability.
Electric and Petrol Powered Trimmers
Electric corded trimmers usually provide a little more power than cordless and although you don’t have to worry running out of charge, you may be limited by the length of the cable. For the biggest jobs a 2 stroke petrol trimmer can give even more power, these can quickly plough through heavy undergrowth, but will be less manoeuvrable and considerably heavier than an electric trimmer.
Grass trimmers often come with a wide range of special features for added convenience and performance. Take a little time to consider exactly what you want to use the tool for and which features might benefit you the most. Grass trimmers are widely available with:
- Telescopic adjustment – for extended reach or comfortable use by people of different heights
- Tilting/twisting head – for getting into tight corners easily, cutting along edges at an angle and reaching underneath plants or bushes
- Plant guard – usually a small piece of wire or similar which pushes plants or other objects above a certain height away from the blade
- Expanders – interchangeable attachments which allow you to use one tool for hedge trimming and other garden tasks, as well as grass trimming.
Lawn Rakes, Scarifiers and Cultivators
After their first couple of seasons most lawns become pretty hardy and won't need too much care to keep growing year after year; there are, however, several tools that you can use to help keep your lawn extra healthy and green all year round.
Finding the right tool is the first step in getting any gardening job done, it’s a matter of carefully considering your requirements and those of the job in hand. With our extensive range of garden equipment we can help you to find exactly what you’re looking for.
A lawn rake is a simple, push along tool with thin metal scrapers on the underside which pull up any extra thatch that would otherwise suffocate the grass. A lawn rake can also be used to pick up grass clippings and leaves.
A scarifier is a more heavy duty version of the lawn rake, with blades that cut into the ground as the tool is pushed along, thinning the grass out to promote healthy, even growth and ensuring that the soil is well aerated. Give the grass a week or two to rest afterwards and the results can be very impressive.
With much larger blades than a scarifier and the ability to turn over and break down earth rather than just aerate the soil. Cultivators are ideal for the preparation of flower beds or vegetable plots where soil needs to be broken down to a loose, smooth consistency ready for planting.
There are a range of tools and treatments available to help keep your grass in tip top condition all year round; whatever your lawn is lacking we can help you to find the right product to bring it back to glorious green.
If you only have a couple of small hedges which don’t need to be trimmed that often, a pair of hand shears might do the job just fine; however, for most medium or large sized jobs an electric or petrol powered hedge trimmer will make things run a lot more smoothly.
Whether to go plug in, cordless or petrol powered is one of the key considerations when looking at hedge trimmers. Cordless trimmers have the advantage of being both lightweight and portable, with modern lithium batteries able to sustain more than an hour’s constant cutting without running out of charge, for longer jobs you can always get a second battery.
If your hedges are close enough to a plug socket a corded trimmer could provide a little more power and eliminate the need for charging on longer jobs. For heavy duty jobs a petrol powered trimmer may be the best option, these tend be large and powerful, enabling you to work very quickly, but also heavier and more unwieldy than their electric counterparts, requiring a little more effort to operate.
The blades are, naturally, the most important part of a hedge trimmer, their length and spacing dictates the type of job the trimmer is best suited to. For a typical garden a 45-55cm blade will suffice, longer ones can cover larger areas in fewer strokes but will be heavier and more difficult to manoeuvre. 16-20mm tooth spacing is fine for most jobs, though you may occasionally need to use secateurs for larger branches. For especially thick hedges wider spacing, up to 30mm, is advisable.
When choosing your hedge trimmer it’s important to remember that this is a machine which you will be holding, lifting and manoeuvring for extended periods of time, check the balance, positioning of handles, switches and other comfort features and be sure that the general feel of the device suits you before buying.
Chainsaws come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be used for all kinds of cutting work, from felling large trees to pruning small shrubs. These powerful tools can save a lot of hard work in the garden and will last for years if properly looked after.
There are several important factors to consider when looking for a chainsaw, the best one for you depends on how often you’ll need to use it and the type of job you’re doing.
Like most outdoor power tools, chainsaws come in three varieties: Battery powered, plug in and 2 stroke petrol engine. For the biggest jobs where a chainsaw is likely to be used almost every day, petrol power is likely to offer the most power and portability.
For smaller, everyday use in the garden, cutting firewood etc; an electric saw should be sufficient and will also require less maintenance.
The bar length of a chainsaw is the size of the actual cutting area, when choosing the size bear in mind that the cutting capacity of the chainsaw is always double the bar length, but that larger saws will be heavier and require greater skill and further safety measures to operate.
Garden vacuums and blowers
Garden vacs and blowers are great tools for the autumn, when the trees start to shed their leaves they can be a great help in keeping your garden tidy and giving you plenty of material to add to the compost heap. Both types of tool offer slightly different functions, so take some time to think which will be more useful to you.
A leaf blower is used to push leaves into a pile so that you can collect them; much like a rake but requiring less effort. These are best for large gardens with lots of leaves, as they won’t require emptying and tend to be much lighter than a vacuum.
Garden vacuums suck up leaves straight from the ground and into a bag, often with shredding incorporated into the process. This can be more convenient than a blower, however; if you have a lot of leaves to clear up you may have to empty the bag a few times before you finish.
For those who want the best of both you can get an integrated blower/vac tool quite easily, allowing you to pile up the leaves using the blower and then shred using the vacuum, before adding to your compost heap.
Shredders can be brilliantly useful garden tools for easy and environmentally friendly disposal of foliage and plant cuttings, and can be used to create excellent mulch or woodchips for the top layer of a flower bed as well as assisting in the breaking down of materials for compost.
Crushing shredders are the most popular type for everyday garden use, this type of shredder works either with a corkscrew system or a toothed blade; which the material is passed through and crushed into smaller pieces. These shredders are excellent for creating woodchips out of stripped branches, but are not designed to deal with large amounts of green material.
Although they are a little noisier than a crushing shredder, impact shredders are capable of handling large amounts of green foliage and even smaller tree branches. This type of shredder works using a sharp blade attached to a spinning disc, the blades will need to sharpened or replaced periodically, so keep this in mind if you're looking for a tool with zero maintenance.
Look for a shredder with excellent safety features; never place your hands anywhere near the mechanism unless it is completely switched off and unplugged. Ideally choose one with reverse gear or another anti-blocking system that eliminates the need to do this at all. If you will be moving the machine or the shredded material around a lot, consider a machine that comes with wheels, or one which has a collection bag attached.
Pressure washers can make light work of almost any cleaning task, simply by using a high powered jet of water to beat the dirt off of a surface. Pressure washers use much less water than other cleaning methods and the high pressure also means that stronger cleaning products are seldom needed. Using a pressure washer could simplify virtually any cleaning job involving a hard surface, however; two of the most common uses are;
Washing the Car
If this is your main reason for buying a pressure washer look for one with an angled lance which will allow you to get into the wheel arches and other difficult to reach spots. Be sure to check the pressure rating of any machine, as an excessively powerful one could end up blasting the paint off your car as well as the dirt! Variable pressure settings are best as you'll want lower pressure for shampooing and washing as well the strong jet for dirt blasting.
Cleaning the Patio
When it comes to shifting the stubborn grime and dirt that builds up on patios, driveways and other walking surfaces, there is really no substitute for a pressure washer. Many pressure washers come with a specially designed patio cleaning attachment, which makes it easier to manoeuvre the machine across a large area; an angled lance will also come in useful to blast away the most stubborn bits of dirt.