Leaf Blowers & Garden Vacuums: The Ultimate Buying Guide

Autumn leaves on lawn
Autumn leaves. Photo: Getty Images/Elenathewise

With autumn fast approaching, the chance of waking up to find your lawn buried under a thick carpet of caramel-coloured leaves is growing day by day and a great many of us will eventually find ourselves battling a mountain of them.

It can be tempting to let autumn leaves sit where they fall – particularly if you’ve got to rake them up by hand – but leaves can do a lot of damage to your lawn. They create an impenetrable layer of dead matter that stops light reaching the individual blades of grass; stifling winter growth, and forcing your lawn to burn through its stockpiles of extra energy.

Worse, they trap moisture, and create the perfect environment for mould, diseases and fungi to flourish. Articles published on The Spruce and the Nutri-Lawn blog show that leaving leaves piled on your lawn is one of the worst things you can do, and there’s every chance that ignoring drifts of autumn leaves will force you to reseed come spring.

Powered blowers and vacuums may not be cheap but are a huge time saver but choosing one isn’t always straightforward.

There are a lot of different options, and many of the more expensive blowers boast a plethora of special features that can be a little overwhelming at first glance.

We’ve put together this in-depth guide to highlight the pros and cons of each type, the different kinds of garden they’re suitable for and give our top picks and recommendations for each type of device.

Blowers or Vacuums?
Both types of machine are designed for the same purpose; namely removing leaves, lawn trimmings or rubbish from your garden.

The only difference is that some machines are just designed to blow leaves into a large pile, while others (namely, the vacuums) can also do the reverse: sucking leaves into a large bag attachment, which can be emptied wherever is most convenient for you.

Blowers aren’t necessarily the lesser option: They still produce a nice, neat pile of leaves that you can bag up, or run over with a mulching lawn mower.

That said, vacuums are slightly more convenient for the average gardener, and they do take a bit of leg-work out of lawn clearance. They do tend to have a shorter run time (if you’re looking at battery-powered machines) or increased fuel consumption, but they are the most efficient option, and they can be worth paying slightly more for if time is a factor in your decision.

Ultimately, the choice between blower or vacuum will depend on your priorities as a gardener.

Handheld Blowers and Vacuums
These lightweight devices are designed for those with smaller gardens. They’re the most affordable option, and they’re a great pick if you:

• Struggle with heavier machines
• Just want to keep paths and other small areas leaf-free
• Have a restricted budget
• Want something that’s easy to maintain

They do lack staying power though, so you might want to look at backpack or wheeled machines if you’ve got a larger lawn.

Cordless or Electric Handheld Blowers and Vacuums
Electric or cordless/ battery powered handheld blowers are the lightest option. Some models weigh as little as 8kg, making them an ideal choice for anyone that’s put off by the thought of lugging a heavy machine about.

Cordless or electric blowers are the most neighbour-friendly option too. They still make a fair amount of noise, but they’re decibels quieter than the bigger, petrol machines which makes them a great choice if you’re trying to keep noise to a minimum, or want to clear up leaf piles early in the morning.
And then there’s the environmental impact too: Because they’re less powerful, they use a lot less energy, and produce a lot less carbon. If you’re eco-minded, handheld, electric blowers and vacuums are the best possible machines to use – particularly if you pick a device with an energy saving, lithium ion battery.

The only downside – aside from their lack of ‘oomph’ – is the fact that you’re restricted by the amount of charge their batteries can hold. This varies according to the model, but it’s rarely more than enough for an hour of continuous use. If you have a medium sized lawn to clear, this might mean that you have to wait for the device to recharge in order to get the job done.

Corded, electric blower/vacs are a better option for those in need of a longer run time.

 

Cobra BV2600
Cobra BV2600

Cobra’s BV2600 is probably the best-possible handheld electric blower for people with small gardens. It packs a lot of punch for a handheld model, it functions as both vac and blower, and it’s even got a built-in impeller for shredding leaves.

This model boasts a long, 10m cord too, which does help to mitigate some of the challenges associated with normal electric blowers.

EGO Power Plus Cordless Leaf Blower
EGO Power Plus Cordless Leaf Blower

For those of us that really don’t want to deal with a cord, the EGO Power Plus Cordless Leaf Blower is a great alternative. Using one of EGO’s own 2Ah lithium ion batteries, it’ll run for 75 minutes on a single charge and it’s still got a fairly impressive 440m/h average airspeed.

 

Petrol hand-held leaf blowers and vacuums
Petrol powered, handheld leaf blowers and vacuums tend to pack a bit more punch and they can generally clear an identical space in about 2/3rds of the time.

They can still be lightweight – particularly when you compare them to the wheeled or backpack options – but they do have a much longer base run time than cordless and they also mitigate the need for extension cables or cord management.

There are some downsides though: They’re a lot noisier than electric/cordless options, and they do produce a bit of pollution, which might be a concern if you’re very eco-minded.

They also require refuelling. This isn’t a major concern, but it is worth considering the logistics as you’ll need somewhere to store backup fuel.

As with all petrol vs. electric/cordless machine comparisons, it should also be noted that petrol machines do require a little bit more maintenance.

Although more of a commitment they are also more effective, and it’d be remiss of us to neglect the fact that petrol-powered, handheld blowers and vacuums:

• Get the job done faster than their electric counterparts
• Can cover a larger area
• Allow for more aggressive leaf clearance

If they’re well maintained, petrol powered blowers/vacs do tend to have a slightly longer lifetime than their electric cousins

Mitox 280BVX
Mitox 280BVX

The Mitox 280BVX is a very good blower vac. Perhaps a bit pricier than the average handheld blower we think it’s worth the investment. Its 25.4cc motor packs a lot of punch, and it also incorporates some really nifty technologies, such as a built-in mulching blade, and anti-vibration technology for added comfort. It is a particularly reliable blower/vac. If you’ve got a small-medium sized garden and you’re hunting for a true workhorse, this is worth considering.

Backpack Leaf Blowers and Vacuums
Exchanging a bit of mobility for a bigger engine (or motor); greater power reserves and a significant increase in ‘oomph’, backpack blowers and vacuums are the tier above handheld machines in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.

These products are ideally suited to people with medium-sized lawns (0.5 acres and above). They’re also a great choice for people trying to clear up leaves on uneven terrain, which can be difficult for wheeled blowers or vacuums.

Are backpack blowers harder to use?
Often, people make the mistake of thinking this type of blower or vacuum is for commercial users but this is not the case – they are easy to use, and there’s certainly no need for special training before you strap one on.

The choice here is between petrol-powered or cordless backpack leaf blowers/vacuums.

Cordless Backpack Leaf Blowers and Vacuums
Freedom from cords provides the machines in this range with much more flexibility and allows them to be carried far from buildings or outhouses.

With many of the same advantages associated with their handheld cousins, they are slightly quieter than their petrol counterparts, and they tend to be lighter too.

This makes them a good compromise for people that don’t want to carry heavy machinery on their backs, but do need to clear more space than a handheld blower/vacuum could reasonably be expected to cope with.

They also require a good deal less maintenance than their petrol counterparts, and they are also eco-friendly.

Thanks to recent advances in battery and electric motor technology, the modern machines in this range can push a huge amount of air per-second, and some of the high-end options will give the average petrol powered, backpack vacuum or blower a good run for its money.

EGO Cordless Backpack Garden Leaf Blower
EGO Cordless Backpack Garden Leaf Blower

Our top pick in this category is definitely EGO’s cordless backpack blower. This product does not double up as a vacuum, but it is incredibly light, very comfortable, and easy to use. It’s no slouch in the power department either. In fact, it has a max air speed of 192 km/h, which is more than enough to whip up a veritable tornado of air.

Petrol-Powered, Backpack Leaf Blowers and Vacuums
A good petrol powered, backpack blower/vacuum can clear a medium-sized lawn in around half an hour, and they’re a great choice for people who are trying to keep a bigger space clear.

They’re also the go-to device for people with a lot of deciduous trees. If you’re sick of clearing your lawn once or twice a week in the autumn months, these powerful devices are the best possible option.

There’s no mistaking the distinctive roar of a petrol-powered, backpack leaf blower. They make a lot of noise, and they are guaranteed to wake your neighbours if you start running them in the early hours of the morning, but they do also move a lot of leaves!

Modern advances in engine technology have made most petrol-powered blowers and vacs relatively efficient and most options tend to be quite cheap to run. They do require a little more maintenance though.

In terms of usability, it’s worth noting that petrol powered machines are often heavier than their electric/cordless counterparts. That said, the weight difference is normally just a couple of kilograms, and if you’re comfortable lugging a cordless backpack blower around, the petrol options won’t feel all that different.

Petrol powered, backpack leaf blowers and vacuums are also the best all-rounders, and they are probably the most popular choice for people with medium sized lawns.

Mitox 760BPX Premium Backpack Blower
Mitox 760BPX Premium Backpack Blower

The Mitox 760BPX is definitely our top recommended petrol-powered, backpack blower. Like all Mitox products, this particular machine is very reliable, and it’s also fitted with a 75.6cc engine producing a max air speed of approximately 205 mph.

It might not have vacuum functionality, but it does pack a real punch, and it will blast the leaves right off your lawn.

Wheeled Leaf Blowers and Lawn Vacuums
These devices are the go-to option for those with a couple of acres to maintain.

Most wheeled leaf blowers and vacuums are designed for commercial use, but they’re also very straightforward for homeowner use.

Due to the need for large amounts of air displacement, the overwhelming majority of wheeled leaf blowers and vacuums are also petrol driven.

The two main types of machine in this range are wheeled leaf blowers, and wheeled lawn vacuums. We’ve explored the pros and cons of each below:

Wheeled Lawn Vacuums
As the name suggests, these machines are designed to be pushed across your lawn; hoovering up leaves in much the same way that your vacuum cleaner sucks up dust and debris from around the house.

Wheeled lawn vacuums tend to pack a lot more punch though. The majority boast 150cc motors, which gives them enough power to suck up huge drifts of autumnal leaves in a matter of seconds.

They’re also relentless; running for hours at a time, and demanding little more than a guiding hand to direct their progress.

These machines can look intimidating but are actually very user friendly, are easy to fuel and also to maintain.

These devices are built to last as well. Most come with 2+ years of warranty, and the engines are designed with heavy use in mind.

If you have a lot of space to keep clear, there really isn’t a better option. They have huge, high-capacity bags that can cope with lots of excess leaf matter, and they will leave your lawn gleaming after a single pass, which makes them a very efficient choice.

Little Billy Goat Petrol Wheeled Lawn Leaf Vacuum
Little Billy Goat Petrol Wheeled Lawn Leaf Vacuum

If you’re looking for a good garden vacuum, we highly recommend Billy Goat’s “Little Billy Goat” . This machine is fitted with a 158cc engine, which gives it plenty of staying power. It’s lighter than some other lawn vacuums though, which means that it’s nice and easy to manoeuvre. It’s a popular choice for both homeowner and commercial user.

Wheeled Leaf Blowers
These devices are slightly harder to use properly. At heart, they’re really just a large (and very powerful) fan strapped to a motorbike-sized motor. They’re meant to blow huge drifts of leaves into nice, neat piles, and when they’re employed correctly, they’re incredibly effective.

They can make a bit of a mess though – particularly if you’ve never used one before.

That said, if you’ve got too much leaf matter for a wheeled vacuum and you need to keep a big space nice and clear, these machines are exactly what you’ll want in your corner. They move a tremendous amount of air, and they can clear an acre or so of space in around half an hour.

The only things you’ll need to watch are the tremendous amount of noise that they make and the risk of accidentally scattering a leaf pile across your lawn if they’re turned towards a pile edge-on.

Billy Goat F902S Petrol Push Wheeled Force Blower
Billy Goat F902S Petrol Push Wheeled Force Blower

The Billy Goat F902S Petrol Leaf Blower is the stand out option in this product category. It’s a self-propelled machine, which makes it nice and easy to use. It also houses a hefty 265cc motor, and a huge, 16-blade fan that, combined, allow it to move around twice as much air as most wheeled blowers.

It’s an incredibly reliable product too. It’s well built, and the motor comes with a 5-year warranty as standard, which should tell you something about the manufacturer’s confidence.

Hopefully, reading this guide has helped you to work out whether you need a blower or a vacuum, and helped you to identify the type of machine most suits to your needs.

If you’d like some obligation-free advice on picking the right leaf blower or vacuum, give us a call or drop us a message using the contact form on the site, so that a member of our team can get in touch.

Autumn Glory – plants to enjoy in October

The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is upon us and there’s a nip in the air. There’s a wealth of rich autumn leaf colour to enjoy as well as berries and fruits. Late flowers inject a welcome flash of colour on dull days.

Acer Palmatum
Acer Palmatum. Photo: crocdn.co.uk

Every garden deserves a Japanese Maple. They have autumn colour all sewn up as they change from the greens or subdued reds of summer to spectacular shades of flame-red and oranges. Acer Palmatum Osakazuki is one of the best. It’s maple-shaped leaves graduate through every shade of glorious reds and oranges for several weeks before falling. Ideally grown in a sheltered spot in light shade, it will eventually grow to a height of 5m.

Euonymus europaeus 'Red Cascade'
Euonymus europaeus ‘Red Cascade’. Photo: www.thompson-morgan.com

Euonymus europaeus ‘Red Cascade’(Spindle Tree) is really a large shrub that won’t set hearts alight in summer with its dark green leaves and small flowers, but more than makes up for it in autumn and winter, when it sets the garden ablaze with its strong leaf colour, and after the leaves fall there’s the bonus of orange-pink winged fruit to provide a winter feast for birds. The best leaf colour is in full sun, but it will also grow in partial shade. 2.5m tall.

Nerine bowdenii 'Pink'.
Nerine bowdenii ‘Pink’. Photo: www.thompson-morgan.com

Nerine bowdenii’s (Guernsey Lily) bright pink funnel-shaped flowers bloom ahead of its leaves. Best planted in full sun against a south-facing wall, a good baking in summer will reward you with a glamorous show in autumn. 45cm tall.

Putting down roots – plant a tree

Boy planting tree
Photo: independenttree.com

Even the smallest garden has room for a tree or two. A single tree can bring a garden to life, adding height, structure, and a sense of permanence. Trees provides shade, a habitat and food for birds, colour for autumn, spring blossoms and fruit. Careful consideration should be given to which tree, and its eventual height and position – it will be there for a long time!

Malus Golden Hornet
Malus Golden Hornet (Crab Apple). Photo: Crocdn.co.uk

Unless you have a large garden it makes sense to choose trees which have more than one season of interest. Malus Golden Hornet (Crab Apple) grows to 10m and has magnificent pink spring flowers, followed by decorative yellow fruits. Acer Palmatum Dissectum ‘Garnet’ grows to around 2m with red leaves throughout spring and summer changing to vivid scarlet in autumn. Another multi-tasker from the Acer family is Acer Griseum (Paper Bark Maple), which has attractive peeling bark all the year round and scarlet foliage in autumn.

Acer Griseum
Acer Griseum (Paper Bark Maple). Photo: www.ornamental-trees.co.uk

Tree planting season is from October to March while they are dormant, and although you can plant container-grown trees all year round, autumn is the best time of all as the ground is still warm from the summer but moist thanks to seasonal rainfall. Instead of having to worry about watering you can leave autumn planted trees to look after themselves and they should be well-established by next summer. However, if you garden on heavy clay that stays very wet in winter you may be better-off waiting until spring.

Bare-rooted trees can be planted towards the end of October, provided the ground is ready and the leaves have fallen off.

Good soil preparation is key to how well the tree takes off. For container-grown specimens, loosen some of the roots at the edges of the rootball and dig a planting hole three times the size of the pot, deep enough for the bottom of the trunk to be level with the top of the hole. For bare-rooted trees, dig a large but shallow hole. In both cases drive in a support stake at an angle before placing the tree in the hole. Mix the soil you removed from the hole with plenty of well-rotted organic matter and bonemeal, and add to the bottom of the hole and around the roots. Tie-in to the stake and water well.

Check tree ties and stakes after a spell of windy weather. Ties need to be loosened as the girth of the trunk expands so it doesn’t throttle the plant. Trees are expensive, so don’t risk your investment for the sake of the right soil and a few minutes extra to do the job properly!

Beautiful bulbs for spring colour

Bulbs are amongst the easiest and most rewarding garden plants to grow. Get them in the ground or in pots now so you can enjoy a cheerful parade of flowers going through from January to late spring.

Planting Bulbs
Photo: Wyevale Garden Centres

Most bulbs can be planted now – Snowdrops, Daffodils, Hyacinths, Crocuses, Fritillaries, Iris, Muscari, Anemones, Scillas, Lillies, Alliums and Crocosmias, – but leave tulips until November. Hardy bulbs can be left undisturbed in the ground and will multiply over time. Only plant non-frost-hardy types if you can face the bother of lifting and storing them, or you’re happy to risk some losses.

The main rule with bulbs is to think big and plant for impact – if you think you need 20, plant 40!  And in pots squeeze as many as you can get in without them touching. Plant in groups rather than in straight rows, and if planting a small number of bulbs choose an odd number for a more natural look. You’re unlikely to spend much time sitting out in the garden in February, so make sure you site them where you can see them from your window.

Try planting drifts in the border, or under deciduous trees for a carpet of colour in spring before the trees comes into leaf. Bulbs grown in the lawn will have to be mown around until 6 weeks after flowering. Bulbs in large containers can be planted in layers for a succession of blooms – Snowdrops in January give way to Daffodils and Tulips in March and April, followed by purple Alliums in May.

Bulbs in pot
Photo: https://bulbsandbeyond.com

It’s important to bury them deeply enough – if you aim for three times their own depth you won’t go far wrong. Too shallow and they’re more likely to get eaten by pests. Too deep and they may not reach the surface. A bulb-planting tool and a good garden kneeler are worth their weight in gold if you have lots to plant.

Get the Compost Going

Compost Heap
Compost Heap. Photo: www.saga.co.uk

The autumn clear-up generates a lot of useful waste that can be recycled into a free, home-grown, supply of organic compost you can use as mulch or as soil-conditioner in spring, with the added benefit that it reduces the amount you need to put in the recycling bins.

Annual weeds, mowings, fallen leaves, old bedding plants, tomato plants, thatch, moss raked out of the lawn, tea leaves, vegetable trimmings, dead flowers, hedge trimmings and damp shredded newspaper are all ideal for composting.  Add to these moisture and beneficial bacteria from manures, water weeds from your pond, garden soil or a proprietary compost starter, and let the composting begin!

A plastic bin is ideal for the smaller garden.  The bin will trap the heat inside and the contents will ‘cook’ efficiently.  Stand the bin directly on the soil so worms can get in.  Build materials up in layers, sprinkle each layer with earth and firm down.  When the bin is full, finish with a covering of soil.  It’s important to put in substantial amounts at a time, if necessary accumulating material in plastic sacks until you have enough.  Have a second bin you can use whilst the first is rotting down.

If you have a larger garden with a lot of compostable waste you may prefer to make compost heaps.  The drawback of traditional heaps is that only the centre ‘cooks’ properly; the outside layer acting as insulation (the uncomposted layer can be used to start a second heap once the first is usable).  A heap can be built all at once (the ingredients mixed together first and watered, then piled up and covered with a tarpaulin or old carpet),  or in layers over time.

Both methods should result in usable compost after 6 months in winter or 3 months in summer.

 

Scarifiers & Aerators – A Handy Guide

Scarifying
Scarifying. Photo: Daily Telegraph : Martin Pope

Autumn is the perfect time to scarify, rake and aerate your lawn. The worst of the heat will have passed but there will still be enough sunshine to help your grass recover. More to the point, all of those pesky weeds will have already dispersed their seeds, so you won’t need to worry about spreading clover or broadleaf plantain all over the lawn.

For those of us who aren’t ‘in the know,’ scarification is the process of raking up the mat of dead thatch that forms between your grass and the soil every summer. This thatch layer is comprised of decomposing turf, and forms whenever your grass starts growing faster than nature can break down the debris. Unfortunately, thatch prevents moisture, oxygen and nutrients from reaching your lawn’s roots, which makes its removal very important if you want to get the most from your garden next spring.

Aeration
Aeration

Aeration is similar, but different. Rather than removing dead matter, this process focuses on punching small holes (or slits) into the soil. These holes let oxygen, water and nutrients filter down to the roots of your lawn, where they can nourish individual blades of grass.

As you can probably imagine, both processes can be tremendously beneficial for your lawn; paving the way for a growth spurt come spring, and helping to repair the damage done over the long, hot months of summer.

It is important that both processes are carried out carefully though. Scarification can cause immense stress to your lawn if it’s done too vigorously and ineffectual aeration can end up doing more harm than good.

In fact, improper aeration, carried out with a hand fork, can actually cause soil compaction in its own right, while trying to scarify your lawn with a handheld rake can end up tearing healthy grasses out of the ground, without ever actually scratching the surface of the thatch layer.

A good machine goes a long way towards solving both of these problems. Modern scarifiers are designed to chug along at just the right depth, and their tines are carefully spaced to ensure that any damage is minimised. Powered aerators also benefit from a from a focus on ease-of-use, and supply the sort of consistency that you’d really struggle to emulate by hand.

Here, we’re going to walk you through the different types of scarifier, aerator and powered lawn rake so that you can pick out the perfect machine, and get to work repairing your lawn.

For each type, we’ll pay particular attention to things like

  • The power source
  • Ease-of-use
  • The optimum lawn size
  • Maintenance requirements

So that you can find a machine that really suits you.

Battery Powered or Electric Scarifiers

Electric scarifiers are generally very lightweight. They’re nice and easy to push around your garden, and they don’t require the kind of muscle that’s needed to scarify with a heavier, petrol-driven machine. That’s not to say that they’re ineffective though. Armed with an array of fine steel blades, a good electric scarifier will cut through a year’s worth of light thatch with ease.

Generally speaking, electric scarifiers are ideally suited to gardens in the 100 to 250 m3range, and can be relied on to remove thatch from most small domestic lawns. Because they work at a relatively shallow depth, they’re also a great fit for damaged or stressed grass that wouldn’t be able to handle a heavy-duty machine.

You can’t beat electric scarifiers for care or maintenance either: Their simple motors rarely fail, and there’s no need to mess around with filters or fuel before you get to work. If you stick to cordless models built by brands like Cobra, you’ll also find that they often boast one-size-fits-all batteries that can be swapped in and out of different machines with ease. This really cuts down on faff, and ensures that you’re well-rewarded for sticking with a single manufacturer.

 

AL-KO’s EnergyFlex SF 4036 cordless scarifier
AL-KO’s EnergyFlex SF 4036 cordless scarifier

AL-KO’s EnergyFlex SF 4036 cordless scarifier is a fine example. Boasting 12 steel blades and a central, five-point height adjustment lever that makes it nice and easy to alter the depth of cut, it’s well equipped to tackle any small lawn. It also benefits from AL-KO’s normal high build quality and we find that it’s one of the better scarifiers when it comes to maneuverability too.

Best of all though, AL-KO’s EnergyFlex SF 4036 has a nice big collection bag, which means that it won’t leave a trail of dead thatch in its wake. If you’re looking for a nice, simple scarifier that’ll strip thatch from a small lawn, AL-KO’s cordless option is exactly the sort of machine you should be looking at.

Petrol Scarifiers

A heavy-duty option, petrol scarifiers are well suited to lawns over 300 m3in size. They’re also the only option if you are caring for an ornamental lawn, as their smaller, electric cousins can’t really supply the kind of power needed to deliver an impeccably clean cut.

There are some downsides though: All of that extra power does make petrol scarifiers a little bit harder to use, and they do also tend to be quite a bit heavier than their electric cousins. This means that some gardeners may struggle to push them up and down the lawn, and it also means that they put more strain on the soil.

Note: If your lawn is stressed, we’d always advise that you avoid using a heavy-duty scarifier, as they can cause permanent damage.

Still, if you’re looking for something that’ll definitely get the job done, you can’t go wrong with a petrol scarifier. They can carve through densely matted thatch with ease, and they do tend to last a bit longer too – thanks to their hardwearing motors and the fact that they’re designed to operate under relatively heavy load. We also love the fact that you don’t have to worry about the battery running out halfway through the scarification process.

 

Cobra-S390H-Petrol-Lawn-Scarifier
Cobra-S390H-Petrol-Lawn-Scarifier

Cobra’s S390H petrol lawn scarifier is a perfect example. This hardwearing machine’s blessed with a really hard-wearing frame and a powerful, 135cc Honda engine. More to the point, it’s equipped with 16 scarifying blades, and has a working width of 36cm which makes it ideal for larger gardens.

As with the AL-KO model mentioned before, the Cobra S390H is also adjustable, which means that you can set the cutting height to ensure that you are getting deep enough to pull up thatch, without banging the tines against the soil. It’s little features like these, coupled with the power and performance that make petrol scarifiers the go-to option for anyone with a bigger lawn, or anyone looking to make a long-term investment in a piece of durable garden machinery.

Power Rakes

There’s no real difference between a petrol scarifier and a petrol power rake. Both machines are designed to remove thatch, and help boost the health of your lawn. That said, some manufacturers do use the term ‘power rake’ to refer to larger, heavier-duty petrol scarifiers.

Billy Goat Power Rake
Billy Goat Power Rake

Billy Goat is a prime example of this. Their petrol power rake is bigger than most petrol scarifiers, and it boasts a much larger engine too. Because the intention was to build a machine capable of dealing with really dense thatch, you will also find that the Billy Goat petrol power rake comes with an interchangeable flail reel that can be used to exchange the normal steel tines for flexible, weighted lengths to dig out thatch that’s more than ½ an inch thick.

Strictly speaking, this isn’t something that you’d really need in a domestic setting. That said, if you have a very large lawn, things like the extra-wide 20” working width may well come in handy.

Aerators

Most dedicated aerators are designed for lawns in the 300-1000 m3 range. As such, they are normally heavy-duty, petrol-powered machines with a strong focus on being able to tackle uneven terrain, or deal with hours of non-stop use.

Their primary function is to punch regular holes into the surface of your lawn, and they rarely feature any modifications for ease-of-use or comfort. That said, the one push aerator that we stock here at More Than Mowers does boast a few extra features that help it to stand out from the crowd.

Billy Goat self-propelled aerator
Billy Goat self-propelled aerator

For starters, the Billy Goat self-propelled aerator uses a special Lift N Lock disengagement system to ensure that it rolls smoothly over your garden. Things like the folding handle, the outboard drive wheels and the fact that it’s a self-propelled machine also help to make sure that it’s nice and easy to use on a day-to-day basis

So if you are in the market for a dedicated aerator, we’d definitely recommend taking a look. There’s no better way to ensure that your grass is getting the oxygen it needs to flourish, particularly if you have a very large garden.

Combination Scarifiers/Aerators

Designed with the domestic gardener in mind, these lightweight machines offer a really cost effective way to bring the benefits of both scarification and aeration to small gardens.

Combination scarifiers/aerators are slightly less effective than two, dedicated machines, and they do tend to resemble electric scarifiers in terms of their power and strength. That said, a good, modern example will be more than capable of tackling a lawn that’s between 100 and 250m3 in size.

There are some advantages too: As with dedicated electric scarifiers, these handy little machines can be used on stressed lawns, or little patches of grass that have suffered from excessive thatch buildup, which makes them a great tool for correcting any overfertilisation issues.

There’s the cost to consider as well. Despite offering twice as much functionality, they generally cost about the same as the average. They’re nice and easy to store too. In fact, most options come with interchangeable cassettes that can be swapped out in a matter of seconds, which means that you only need space for one machine in your shed.

 

AL-KO’s 38E Combi-Care Comfort Scarifier / Aerator
AL-KO’s 38E Combi-Care Comfort Scarifier / Aerator

AL-KO’s 38E Combi-Care Comfort Scarifier / Aerator is a perfect example. Lightweight, easy to manoeuvre and incredibly easy to maintain, this handy little electric machine makes basic lawn maintenance an absolute breeze.

We really like how simple and straightforward it is, particularly if you’re just trying to keep on top of the basic stuff. It’s also a very affordable option that benefits from all of the high build quality and robust framework that you’d expect from an AL-KO machine.

Better yet, it has a very vibration-friendly frame, and a nice big bag attachment to make sure your garden’s left looking pristine. If you’re looking for something that’s convenient, adaptable and easy-to-use, you should definitely take a look.

Still struggling?

Hopefully, this guide will help you to pick out the perfect scarifier, aerator or rake for your lawn. There’s an option for every type of garden imaginable, and we’ve tried to showcase the pros and cons of each to make sure that you can shop with confidence.

That said, we do know that picking out a machine can be quite daunting, so if you do have any questions about this article, or about scarifiers in general, remember that you can always reach out by calling us on 01380 828961 or using the contact form on our site.

We’re always happy to share our expertise, and we take real pride in our ability to help customers find the perfect product, so please don’t hesitate to ask!

Six Steps to Autumn Lawn Care

Leaves On Lawn
Photo: www.lawnsmith.co.uk

Grass takes a real battering over summer, and if you have children or pets it will be even more downtrodden.  Some serious maintenance is called for in autumn.

The aim is to provide the best conditions possible – balanced fertile soil with plenty of soil life – so that less time needs to be spent on problem control.

After our long, hot summer wait until there’s been enough rain to soak the ground and the grass is growing again before embarking on our six-step fitness plan (better to wait until October if it’s still dry).

  1. Mow as usual.
  2. Scarify – rake out moss, weeds and thatch with a lawn scarifier. If you didn’t do this in spring you may rake out large quantities of rubbish and the lawn will look patchy, but it will soon recover.
  3. Mow again, at right angles to the first mowing. This chops off the weeds raised by raking.
  4. Aerate the lawn by spiking to let in air, this improves drainage and alleviates compaction.
  5. Add a special low-nitrogen autumn formula to toughen the grass up ready for winter.
  6. Top dress. Not essential if you have good soil, but well worth doing if you garden on clay, chalk or sandy soils.  Sprinkle the grass with a thin (5mm) layer of turf dressing or your own compost, topsoil and sand mixture, then work it in with a stiff garden broom so that most of it disappears.

If you have broken lawn edges, bald patches or bumps and hollows, September is a good time to deal with them.  New lawns from seed can be sown from around the middle of the month, but delay laying turf until October or November (see article March 2018).

Plants to enjoy in September

It used to be assumed the arrival of autumn heralded the end of the growing season, but not anymore. Mild autumns have extended the growing season so we can expect another month or two of colour to enjoy.  There may be an autumnal nip in the air, but September looks likely to be a relatively dry month with temperatures above average, so its back into the garden with the aim of keeping the summer garden going as long as possible.

There’s an abundance of autumn-flowering climbing plants that will add interest and rich colour into your garden and we’ve chosen three of our favourites.

 

Parthenocissus tricuspidata'Veitchii'
Parthenocissus tricuspidata’Veitchii’. Photo RHS

Parthenocissus tricuspidata’Veitchii’ (Boston Ivy).  One of the best of the large climbers for stunning foliage colour, its large maple-like leaves turn from bright green to dramatic shades of crimson and scarlet.  Very vigorous and easy to grow, it can reach up to 15m so is perfect for a large tree or for growing against the house.  It’s self-clinging and will thrive in any situation from full sun to deep shade.

 

ematis ‘Bill MacKenzie’
Clematis ‘Bill MacKenzie’. Photo: www.SarahRaven.com

Clematis tibetana‘Bill MacKenzie’.  Attractive golden-yellow nodding flowers are followed by large, wispy seedheads.  The flowers and seedheads overlap for a while creating a stunning display.  It’s vigorous, growing up to 5-6m, so is suitable for growing up a tree and it will also cope with a north wall.  Full sun or partial shade.

 

Fuchsia Lady Boothby
Fuchsia Lady Boothby. Photo: www.dobbies.com

Fuchsia ‘Lady Boothby’.  This vigorous hardy fuchsia gives an abundant display of red and blue flowers through summer and well into autumn.  Growing to 2.5m, it’s great for covering a trellis, arch or fence and could be grown in a container.  The shoots may need to be tied in.  Requires partial shade and well-drained soil.

Hedgetrimmers – a useful guide

HedgetrimmerLooking after your hedges, bushes and shrubs can often be an overlooked task in the garden. It is easy for these to spread rapidly and if neglected can result in an untidy looking garden even if your well-manicured lawn looks great!  However, if you’ve ever tried cutting a hedge manually with shears, you’ll know what hard work it can be and it’s hard to get a neat looking finish to the hedge this way. This might be all you need for a small hedge of course but if you have several hedges to cut then a powered hedgetrimmer makes the task a lot easier. Choosing the right hedgetrimmer depends on a number of things:

  • What type of hedge do you have – thin branches or thick branches?
  • What height are your hedges?
  • Consider where your hedges are. A corded hedge trimmer may not be an option if too far from a power source
  • How formal/informal do you want your hedges to be?
  • Who will be the person using the hedgetrimmer – need to consider the weight they can carry, ease of use, comfort etc.

Hedgetrimmers are available as electric, petrol and cordless battery powered.

Electric Hedgetrimmers

Cobra LRH40E 39cm 15in Electric Long Reach Hedgetrimmer
Cobra LRH40E 39cm 15in Electric Long Reach Hedgetrimmer

As these require a mains connection and are limited by the length of cable they are best suited to a smaller garden. If bushes and shrubs are relatively small this may be all that is needed to keep them neat. Electric hedgetrimmers tend to be cheaper and more lightweight (no fuel to carry or battery). They are also better for the environment and quieter than the petrol alternative. Another benefit is that they are cheaper to run as there are no regular servicing costs. However, you will need to consider the type of bushes you need to trim – thicker, woodier branches might require more power.  The Cobra LRH40E 39cm 15in Electric Long Reach Hedgetrimmer is a lightweight and powerful hedgetrimmer with a 10m cable and priced under £100.

View our full range of Electric Hedge Trimmers

Petrol Hedgetrimmers

Mitox Premium Petrol Hedgetrimmer 750DX / 23cc / 75cm
Mitox Premium Petrol Hedgetrimmer 750DX / 23cc / 75cm

Petrol hedge trimmers can be a better choice for cutting large hedges and especially one’s with tougher cutting requirements. Being unrestricted in their use and with much more power available these tend to be the choice in larger gardens and/or for professional hedge maintenance. However, they are more expensive, tend to be heavier, are noisier and will require servicing.  If you are considering a petrol hedgetrimmer, we recommend the Mitox Premium Petrol Hedgetrimmer 750DX / 23cc / 75cm– this is a premium quality hedge trimmer, powerful, lightweight, affordable and offering great value at only £229.

Or take a look at our range of petrol hedge trimmers

Cordless Battery Powered Hedgetrimmers

More people are turning to cordless these days for their garden tools and hedge trimmers are no exception. Lithium-ion batteries offer all the power of petrol and yet are convenient, quieter and cleaner for the environment.  They are ideally suited to most domestic hedge maintenance tasks, providing the manoeuvrability around the garden and many have excellent cutting performance. The only thing to consider will be the battery runtime of the machine.

EGO Power+ HT1500E Cordless Hedgetrimmer
EGO Power+ HT1500E Cordless Hedgetrimmer

The EGO Power+ HT1500E Cordless Hedgetrimmer offers a well-balanced design for more comfortable operation. A two-speed selector lets you choose the right speed for every task and the large cutting capacity means you can get to work on larger hedges with thicker branches and stems.

Take a look at our range of Cordless Battery Powered Hedgetrimmers

Long Reach Hedgetrimmers

Long Reach Hedgetrimmers
Long Reach Hedgetrimmers

If you have higher hedges then a long-reach, extendable hedge trimmer is a good option and depending on height you should be able to reach the top from standing safely on the ground. Different lengths can be obtained by adjusting the long shaft and the blade on the end can be rotated to cut the hedge at different angles.  Long Reach Hedgetrimmers are available in electric, petrol or cordless models. Many of the petrol and cordless models can be bought as a multi-tool – often being sold with a main power head with different extensions such as chainsaw, brushcutter and pruner.

See our range of Long Reach Hedgetrimmers

Single Sided & Double Sided Hedgetrimmers

Generally, the average domestic user will need a double-sided hedgetrimmer. These are easier to use as the blade tends to be shorter and allows the user more manoeuvrability when trimming bushes and shrubs.  Single sided hedgetrimmers have longer blades and tend to be used mainly for commercial applications. They are better suited to cutting long extensive lines of hedgerows on large estates and park land.

For advice on choosing a hedgetrimmer, please call Nigel or Sam on 01380 828867.

Drought Resistant Planting

The drought this summer and the threat of hosepipe bans are a reminder that it’s more important than ever to think about the need to conserve water when choosing what to grow in the garden. Including some water-retentive plants helps to keep the garden colourful in dry conditions, and even if we don’t have a drought it cuts down on watering.

Many plants from around the world are naturally adapted to dry conditions. They often have small leaves or needles that are waxy or have fine hairs.  Foliage is grey or silver, and some have fragrant foliage such as herbs where the oils help prevent the plant from drying out.

It’s still important to water them in well in the initial months to ensure they establish a strong root system.  They are often sun-lovers but there are also some that do well in shade.

Cider-Gum-Tree-(Eucalyptus-gunnii)
Cider-Gum-Tree-(Eucalyptus-gunnii). Photo: www.trees-online.co.uk

Good trees and shrubs for dry areas are Buddleia, Fig and Eucalyptus. Eucalyptus is also evergreen and a fast-growing tree with scented foliage.  Pittosporums are medium to large shrubs that are also evergreen, slower-growing and bear flowers in late spring.  The Mediterranean herbs Rosemary, Sage and Lavender are useful and very easy to grow.

 

Osteospermum Akila Mixed
Osteospermum Akila Mixed. Photo: www.mr-fothergills.co.uk

The list of perennials and biennials is long, but some favourites are the beautiful and long-lasting Sea Hollies, Artemisias, Cistus (Rock Rose), Nepeta (Catmint), Geums, Agapanthus, hardy Geraniums (Cranesbills), Sedums and Verbascums.  Osteospermums can flower from spring through to the autumn if dead-headed, providing ground-cover and a nectar feast for butterflies.

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’
Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’. Photo: crocus.co.uk