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Garden Tools & Equipment Buying Guide
Keeping your garden neat and tidy can take valuable time - make your life easier with garden tools specially designed for each job.
There are several options when it comes to buying a lawn mower. The three main types of mower are hover mowers, cylinder mowers and rotary mowers. Each type of mower works in a different way, and they each have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Electric hover mowers are ideal for small or medium-sized lawns.
They work using a rotary blade, which rotates creating a cushion of air beneath the mower. The mower is lifted off the ground by the airflow, allowing you to easily manoevre the mower in any direction, including side to side.
The air cushion means that hover mowers feel lighter and easier to push than other mowers, with greater flexibility. Because of this flexibility, hover mowers are probably the easiest type of lawnmower to use, and they are especially good for mowing small or awkwardly shaped areas of grass.
Hover mowers do not feature rollers and so are not suitable for creating striped lawn effects.
Cylinder mowers can be manual, electric or petrol powered, and work using rotating blades which work in conjunction with a fixed lower blade for a perfect cut. Ideal for perfectly manicured lawns, or grass which needs to be cut very short and neat.
Cylinder mowers can optionally have rollers to help create a striped effect, and a detachable grass collection box.
Rotary mowers are probably the most versatile and hard-working type of lawn mower, equipped to deal with tough jobs such as rough patches and sloped bankings. As with cylinder mowers, rotary lawnmowers can be manual, electric or petrol-powered. Rotary lawn mowers work using horizontally rotating blades, and the trimmed grass is collected in a removeable box at the rear.
A pressure washer, sometimes known as a water blaster or power washer, usually consists of a water tank and motor, a hose and a long narrow nozzle. Water is blasted at high speed through the nozzle to remove dirt, grease and grime from a range of surfaces. Pressure washers can be up to 100 times more powerful than a garden hose, making them ideal for cleaning patios, decking, cars, bicycles and even brickwork. The pressure of the water is measured in bars, and the bar pressure of a pressure washer determines whether it is light, medium or heavy duty.
- Light Duty (100 bar) - ideal for cleaning garden furniture, bicycles and rubbish bins
- Light to Medium Duty (100-110 bar) - ideal for cleaning cars, patios, fences and decking
- Medium to Heavy Duty (110-130 bar) - ideal for cleaning brickwork and concrete
The above is simply a rough guide. You may actually find that a light duty pressure washer is suitable for cleaning your car and patio.
Key features to look out for:
- Bar maximum pressure - the maximum pressure achieved when you turn the washer on. However, this level of pressure will not be sustained
- Bar rated pressure - provides the average water pressure, giving you a more accurate measure of a pressure washer's power
- A choice of nozzles - many pressure washers come complete with a range of accessories, including a turbo nozzle for cleaning high traffic areas, and a cone nozzle for more gentle cleaning
- Motor size - the power of the motor is measured in watts, so the more powerful the motor, the more powerful the pressure washer
- Wheels and handles - for portability and ease of use, look out for pressure washers that feature wheels and handles
- Detergent tank - allows you to add a cleaning solution to the water, ideal when cleaning a car or bicycle
- Don't point at children or animals
- Wear protective clothing - gloves, goggles and strong footwear
- Try to keep the electrical cable away from water
- Allow the pressure washer to cool down before storing
- Hold with both hands - beware of the kickback when you press the trigger
- Don't stand too close to the area you're cleaning
Choosing a hedge trimmer depends on the size, density and amount of hedges you need to maintain. Hedges can be quite fast-growing and need regular maintenance to keep them in shape.
Hedge trimmers work using two blades with cutting teeth, which work together in a back and forth motion to trim excessive growth. Trimmers can be single-action (one static blade and one moving blade) or dual-action (both blades move for a more smooth action and more efficient trimming).
Most blades are 40-60cm in length - if you have a large quantity of hedges you need to trim, consider buying one with a longer blade length. Larger gaps between the teeth of the blade allow you to trim larger, thicker branches, as well as making general trimming faster.
- Corded Hedge Trimmers - run using mains eletricity. If you are buying a corded hedge trimmer, consider the proximity of the hedges to a power source, although you can of course use an outdoor extension lead to reach hedges further away than the reach of the cable. When using any corded garden tool, take care to ensure the cable is well away from the cutting mechanism, and use an RCD power breaker for safety. Power is measured in wattage - higher wattage means a more powerful hedge trimmer.
- Cordless Hedge Trimmers - use rechargeable batteries and tend to be best for lightweight, smaller hedges. Power is measured in voltage, with a higher voltage being more powerful. Batteries may be LI-ION (lithium-ion) or NiCd (nickel-cadmium). LI-ION batteries charge more quickly and retain charge for longer.
- Petrol Hedge Trimmers - best for heavy duty use, or where you have hedges that are a long way from a power source. Larger and heavier than electric trimmers, these are used by professionals and tend to be heavier and more powerful. Power of petrol trimmers is measured by cc.
Strimmers or grass trimmers are great for keeping lawn edges and borders neat and tidy - they reach the spots where lawnmowers cannot reach. Also handy for trimming grass and vegetation on steep bankings, awkward corners, and hard to trim spots close to hedges, fences or walls.
Strimmers work by spinning a line of nylon cord at high speed to slice through soft branches and grasses. The spinning nylon cord creates a flexible cutting head which can fit in any awkward spot.
- Corded Strimmers - run using mains eletricity. Good for smaller gardens and those within easy reach of a power source. Take care to avoid using the cutting edge of the strimmer close to the power cable, and use an RCD power breaker for safety. Power is measured in wattage - higher wattage means a more powerful strimmer.
- Cordless Strimmers - use rechargeable batteries and mean you do not need to be close to a plug socket whilst strimming. Power is measured in voltage, with a higher voltage being more powerful. There are different types of battery available: LI-ION (lithium-ion) or NiCd (nickel-cadmium). LI-ION batteries charge more quickly and retain their charge for longer.
- Petrol Strimmers are best for heavy duty use, large areas, or where you have hedges that are a long way from a power source. Larger and heavier than electric trimmers, these are used by professionals. Power of petrol trimmers is measured by cc.
Additional features to look out for when you are choosing a strimmer:
- Some strimmers have a rotating head which enables you to precisely trim edges and borders.
- Double cord strimmers have two nylon cords for increased cutting performance and speed - ideal for tackling very overgrown areas.
- Strimmer cords become worn and damaged after use and you will need to replace the cord from time to time. Some strimmers include a spool of cord which can be fed through as required.
- Look for a strimmer with an additional handle if you have large areas that need strimming: this will make the job more comfortable and make the strimmer easier to control.