Last minute gifts for green-fingered friends

If you can’t face another trip to the shops, it’s easy to find a gift to delight your green-fingered friends without leaving the house. Turn them into a gardening-pro with a plant subscription box, a magazine or membership for one of their favourite places. It’s a great way to get their gardening year off to a good start.

Gardeners Box
Gardeners Box. Photo: www.gardenersbox.com

Gardeners Box – This garden subscription box takes the guesswork out of gardening and provides monthly inspiration to help your garden thrive during all four seasons of the year. Every month you will receive eight carefully curated packs of seeds, easy to follow instructions and plant markers delivered to your doorstep. That means you spend less time researching and buying seed varieties and more time enjoying yourself in the garden doing what you love best.
£9.99/month or £115 annual gift subscription.

Monthly Nature Crafts and Gardening Activities
Monthly Nature Crafts and Gardening Activities. Photo: www.mudandbloom.com

Mud & Bloom Monthly Nature Crafts and Gardening Activities – If you’re keen to get your little ones away from the screen and into the outdoors, then Mud & Bloom might be the box for you. Boxes are seasonal and include a gardening activity and a nature-based craft one. The activities are designed by qualified teachers in line with the national curriculum.
Delivery is monthly. 6 months £53.70.

Book - The Generous-Gardner.
Book – The Generous-Gardner.

The Generous Gardener – What do the celebrated actors, the bestselling novelist, the Nepalese Sherpa and the famous model have in common? Like millions of us, they love their gardens. The gardening editor of The Sunday Times, Caroline Donald has been allowed beyond the gate of more than forty private gardens. If you can’t get to see a place for inspiration, reading about it is the next best thing.
Amazon £15.87.

RHS Encyclopedia of Garden Design
RHS Encyclopedia of Garden Design

The RHS Encyclopedia of Garden Design – Whether you’re looking to revive a tired flowerbed or aiming for a complete design overhaul, the RHS Encyclopedia of Garden Design will show you how to make your ideal garden a reality. Grasp the fundamentals of garden design, find a style that suits you, and bring your ideas to life.
RHS £30

Book - BBC Gardeners' World
Book – BBC Gardeners’ World

BBC Gardeners’ World magazine is the perfect companion to the BBC2 TV series that celebrated its 50th birthday this year. Subscriptions include valuable extras – including seeds, an annual calendar, 2-for-1 Gardens Entry Card & Guide and exclusive digital content.
£39.99 for 12 issues.

 

 

RHS or Arboretum membership. Photo: RHS
Arboretum membership

Arboretum Membership – Unlimited visits to your favourite places. A Forestry Commission Discovery Pass gives access to one of thirty forest sites around the UK.

Or how about RHS Membership. Enjoy unlimited days out at RHS gardens for the member and a family guest or 2 children, exclusive access to shows and expert advice, and a monthly subscription to The Garden magazine, all while helping to support their extensive charitable work.
Individual one-year membership £45.

Designing a new border

Herbaceous border
Herbaceous border. Photo: www.saga.co.uk

For gardeners, the good thing about this time of year is that there’s not much to do outside so there’s plenty of time to plan. If a part of the garden didn’t quite work out as well as you hoped last year – perhaps it was a one-season wonder, or full of shade-loving plants and then the neighbour cut down his overhanging tree – it’s time for a rethink.

Garden design
Garden design. Photo: www.contemporarygardendesign.co.uk

Start off with some squared paper and draw a plan of the patch to scale. Indicate north and south, fences and overhanging trees and anything that you want to keep. Think about a theme for your border, and what kind of planting you prefer – contemporary, cottage-garden, urban, formal, wildlife-friendly or perhaps mediterranean. These days there’s a wealth of ideas just a few keystrokes away.

A bed and border planning book will be a great help in deciding which plants look good together, and help you to visualise how big they will grow. You will need to decide if you want some plants at their best all year round (a mixed border of bulbs, shrubs, evergreens and perennials), or if you’re happy with a blaze of glory in the summer months. An easy to care for family-friendly border should major on resilient shrubs and weed-smothering ground cover, or if your priority is butterflies and bees plan for sedums, buddleia, herbs and lavender with some hardy annuals. If you want to bring birds to your garden make sure you include fruit and berries, with twiggy trees and dense bird-hiding shrubs.

If you’d like some help the RHS have lots of inspirational photographs and key plants to choose to bring different styles to life. Or consider bringing the professionals in – the Society of Garden Designers offers a search facility to find the perfect designer for you.

Give cordless this Christmas

Stiga Multimate
Stiga Multimate.

Struggling to pick the perfect present? Here at More Than Mowers, we’re all-too-familiar with the difficulty of buying for green-fingered family members. Their shed’s fully-stocked, they’ve built themselves a potting table and have already purchased tickets to ‘Gardeners’ World’!

Fortunately, Stiga have come up with the perfect solution for Christmas 2018: A cordless multi-tool called the Multi-Mate, which boasts:

  • 75 – 110 minutes of battery life
  • An 8cm grass blade and a 10cm hedge blade as standard (with more optional attachments available)
  •  A 180-degree, rotating handle with three positions – for reaching tricky spots
  • A tool-free click system so that you can switch
  • An incredibly reasonable price-tag
Stiga SGM102AE
Stiga SGM102AE

This sleek and sophisticated little gadget might not scream ‘gardening essential’ but after trying one out, we see it as an indispensable piece of kit. Despite its small size, the Multi-Mate makes light work of any finishing job and it’s more than powerful enough to chomp through most domestic hedges too.

Better still, it’s small enough to use one-handed and it weighs just 1kg . Because it’s battery powered and cable-free, you’ll be able to use it anywhere in the garden and there’s absolutely no chance that you’ll strain your wrist while you’re using it either. Even if you do decide to keep using it for the full, 110-minute run time.

In fact, we think the Multi-Mate is equally well-suited to novice and veteran gardeners, and we’re confident that anyone could make good use of its outstanding feature-set.

Irrespective of whether you’re touching up a hedge or trimming those irritating little patches of grass that tend to crop up around table legs, the Multi-Mate is consistent and reliable. It’s also one of the few multi-tools that are suitable for people that struggle to manipulate standard, cordless hedge trimmers.

Stiga SGM 102 AE multi-function tool
Stiga SGM 102 AE multi-function tool

The optional attachments are nothing to sniff at either: Alongside the standard hedge- and grass-trimming blades, Stiga have also produced a pruning disk, a soil grubber and a telescopic handle attachment that gives a full 15cm of extra reach, which could be just what’s needed for those hard-to-reach spots in the garden.

At times, it does feel a bit like you’re carrying a whole garden shed in the palm of your hand, but that’s never a bad thing – particularly if your chosen recipient is a stickler for finishing touches.

Stiga SGM
Stiga SGM

The attachments are nice and easy to change too with a tool-free click system that allows you to eject the current attachment with one button press.

For those who like the technical stuff – Stiga have used a brushed motor and hardened steel gears to ensure that the Multi-Mate can go the distance. They’ve also installed a high-quality, high-capacity battery in the machine’s handle.

Unlike the batteries of yesteryear, these powerful, lithium-ion power packs hold enough charge to keep the blades whirring for 75-110 minutes. They also charge up in around 5 hours, so the days of waiting all day for 30 minutes of charge are (fortunately) long behind you.

There are currently two different models of Multi-Mate; the SGM 102 AE, and the SGM 72 AE. the SGM 102 AE does have a slightly larger battery (10.8v Vs. 7.2v) and slightly more power to boot, but the smaller, 72 AE model is still perfectly capable of coping with most domestic tasks, so it’s really just a question of whether or not you need that extra ‘oomph’.

You can learn more about the SGM 72 AE here, or click here to read about the larger SMG 102AE.

And remember, if you have any questions, we’re always on-hand to advise. We’re also committed to helping you find the very best presents for your green-fingered relatives, so if you’re looking for general advice or recommendations, get in touch using the contact form on our site, calling 01380 828961 or dropping into our showroom in Melksham, Wiltshire.

Gifts for serious and not-so-serious gardeners

We’ve asked our gardening friends what they’d like to see in their stockings this Christmas and have come up with some practical and quirky ideas that should fit the bill.

Postbox bird house
Postbox bird house. Photo: qwekity.com

This Postbox Bird House from Qwerkity would add colour and interest to a garden wall. With a keyhole hook on the reverse for hanging, it’s perfectly frost proof so you can leave it out all year long. £18.99

 

Monty Don Book
Monty Don Book. Photo: waterstones.com

Monty Don’s latest book is a distillation of his 50 years of gardening experience, with all the tips and gardening wisdom to make your garden flourish. Discover his thoughts and ideas around nature, seasons, colour, design, pests, flowering shrubs, containers, and much more. £17.99.

Leather gauntlets
Leather gauntlets. Photo: harrodhorticultural.com

A pair of these thorn resistant leather gauntlet gloves from Harrod Horticultural are a great investment for working with rose bushes, brambles and thorny shrubbery, providing protection for hands and forearms, and they’re British-made. £32.95

Big Ben frame
Big Ben frame. Photo: suttons.co.uk

The Big Ben frame from Suttons is perfect for climbing beans, sweet peas, cucumbers, gourds, squashes and melons. £129.99

Secateurs
Secateurs. Photo: johnlewis.com

A good pair of secateurs is always useful. This Kew Gardens ratchet anvil pair is suited to cutting thicker, harder branches and comes with a 10 year guarantee. £26.49

Seed ruler & dibbled set. Photo: worm.co.uk
Seed ruler & dibbled set

A seed ruler and dibblet set helps when planting out seeds and small seedlings, giving perfect spacing for everything from peas and beans to cauliflowers. You won’t know what you did without it. £26.95

Mud kitchen. Photo: johnlewis.com
Mud kitchen

And finally, for the kids, this TP Toys Muddy Madness Mud kitchen will provide hours of messy play for children aged 3 and above. £149.99

Frost proof – preparing the garden for winter

Frozen shrub
Frozen shrub. Photo: saga.co.uk

Now that the temperature has dropped it’s tempting to lock up the garden shed and head indoors, but a few hours of preparation now for the cold winter months gives you a head start when spring arrives, so that you can get busy planting rather than clearing out plants that haven’t survived the winter.

Continue tidying the borders

Continue clearing dead plants and cutting back perennials (but don’t be too tidy – seed heads are good for insects). Clear away debris that may harbour slugs and snails and rake up the last of the autumn leaves and make leaf mould with them. Once tidied, spread manure or a mulch to protect plants from hard frosts.The worms will work it in for you and your plants will come back happy and healthy next spring.

Soil care

Fork over vacant ground, turning soil several times to expose any soil pests to birds.

Lawn

Avoid walking on the lawn.Send the lawn mower off for service to ensure it’s in good condition when next needed.

Protect and survive

Frost Protection Fleece
Frost protection fleece. Photo: therange.co.uk

Move containers to more sheltered positions close to the wall of the house, and use pot feet to aid drainage. Bubble wrap or horticultural fleece helps prevent contents from freezing solid. Protect potentially tender plants, such as hardy fuchsias, with a deep mulch. Truss up tree fern foliage with straw tied around with string. Check stakes and ties on newly-planted trees.

Water works

Clean out gutters, downpipes and drains. Clean and disinfect water butts.

Tools

Wash your tools and sharpen those that need it. Dry thoroughly and oil metal parts to prevent rust. Oil wooden handles with linseed oil.

Greenhouse

Remove all rubbish from the greenhouse and disinfect the staging. Scrub off any shade paint and ventilate to dry thoroughly. Wash pots and seed trays.

Sheds, Fences and Decking

Inspect for loose boards and posts. Check roofing felt and make minor repairs.

Insulate

Lag taps and water pipes. Roll up the hosepipe and put it away

Pond care

Clear ponds of leaves and rubbish and add to the compost heap. Float a rubber ball on the surface (should ice form you can remove it and leave a breathing hole for fish, or melt a hole by standing a hot saucepan on the ice for a few minutes).

The Holly and the Ivy – plants to enjoy in December

These quintessential winter evergreens are perfect backbone garden plants, evergreen, unfussy, suitable for any soil and and providers of fruits and berries for hungry birds. Both plant families offer a huge range of varieties. As Christmas approaches, it’s traditional to celebrate the season by bringing armfuls of foliage and berries into the house, perhaps to make a wreath for the front door, or table decorations and flower arrangements.

Hollies will grow in shade but prefer some sun. All hollies are spiny, so are a good choice for a secure boundary hedge. They’re typically either male or female, so it’s essential to plant a partner nearby to ensure they bear berries. If you only have room for one, then choose a haemaphrodite such as Ilex Aquifolium Pyramidalis.

Ilex Aquifolium 'Bacciflavia'
Ilex Aquifolium ‘Bacciflavia’. Photo: RHS

The yellow berries of Ilex aquifolium ‘Bacciflava’ (f) display beautifully against its glossy dark green leaves, whereas the Ilex Silver Queen (m) (male – don’t be fooled by the name) has creamy-white margins and dark olive-green centres.

Silver Milkmaid
Silver Milkmaid. Photo: welsh-holly.co.uk

For variegated foliage and abundant red berries Silver Milkmaid (f) offers light green leaves that have a central cream splash.

Ivy Hedging
Ivy Hedging. Photo: hedgesonline.co.uk

Ivies will flourish in shady areas where few other plants thrive, and can be grown as groundcover, as well as up a support. They can also be grown in pots, tubs and hanging baskets, under shrubs or as a climber to cover dead tree trunks or the walls of outbuildings. Once established, they’re a doddle to grow but need to be kept in check with regular pruning to prevent them from becoming invasive.

Sulphur Heart
Sulphur Heart. Source: crocus.co.uk

Sulphur Heart is a variegated Persian ivy with heart-shaped leaves splashed with yellow. Mature plants bear large green flowers in autumn. Hedera Helix White Wonder offers variegated leaves ranging in shades of rich green to white, and Goldchild has grey-green leaves with bold yellow margins, perfect for lightening up a dark corner.

Be prepared this Winter with some garden machinery essentials

Now that Chainsaw in actionwinter is on its way it’s time to start thinking about tidying up your garden and getting everything ship-shape before the colder, wetter weather sets in. For many of us, this will involve fairly routine work; a bit of hedge trimming, maybe repainting some fences or just dragging the table and chairs into a shed.

But now is also a great time for more hands-on maintenance: weak trees, dead branches or dense hedges can all be chopped down to provide extra fuel, or safeguard against severe weather damage.

In preparation for the winter it’s worth considering what jobs in the garden need doing and what machinery you might need. Featured below we give a few suggestions for what we see as well priced, reliable choices for some winter essentials.

Chainsaws

It’s a good Husqvarna chainsawidea to have a decent chainsaw on-hand at all times, just to make sure that you can tidy up overhanging branches or clear fallen trees after a storm. Chainsaws can also be used to cut firewood into manageable chunks, and they’re certainly a lot more convenient than an old-fashioned axe!

Picking out a good chainsaw can be challenging though; particularly if you’re not sure how much power you need, or what size of saw blade is best suited to light maintenance and clean-up.

Husqvarna 236 Petrol Chainsaw
Photo: Husqvarna 236 Petrol Chainsaw

For domestic light-medium maintenance tasks we really recommend the Husqvarna 236 petrol chainsaw

Despite its relatively small (38cc) engine, this fantastic little saw is more than capable of tackling medium-large branches. It’ll happily chomp its way through your log pile too. Fantastic for prepping a pile of firewood as it’s so easy to use.

It’s light – probably much lighter than you’re expecting – weighing just 4.7kg (or 5 bags of sugar). It features vibration-dampening technology as standard, which makes it nice and easy to manoeuvre, and ensures that you can use it for longer tasks without suffering through the usual combination of aching wrists and a sore back.

The Husqvarna 236 is nice and easy to maintain too: Simple tasks like chain replacement can be carried out with the help of You Tube tutorials, and the only other routine tasks are the usual filter replacements and oil changes. Of course, you can always bring it to us at Melksham Groundcare Machinery for any chainsaw servicing.

For bigger tasks, like tree-felling or taking down larger branches, we’d recommend looking at something like the Husqvarna 135 petrol chainsaw

Husqvarna 135
Photo: Husqvarna 135

This saw is slightly larger than the Husqvarna 236, which does mean that it:

  • Uses more fuel
  • Makes more noise
  • Weighs a little more

That said, the Husqvarna 135 will carve through wood like a hot knife through butter, and it’s more than capable of tackling any task you throw its way. It does boast some user-friendly features too: The pull cord has been optimised for home use and it has the same vibration-dampening technology you’ll find on the 236.

Husqvarna have incorporated their own, special X-Torq® technology in the engine too, which means that it produces less emissions than comparable 40-50cc petrol chainsaws, so better for the environment!

All in all, the Husqvarna 135 is a great choice for people with a lot of trees to manage, and it’s often used for light commercial applications too.

Generators

It’s also worth thinking about generators this winter: Volatile weather, heavy snow and high winds can keep the power off for hours at a time, particularly if you live in a rural area. It’s a good idea to have some kind of backup in case of emergency.

A petrol generator might seem like overkill, particularly if you’ve done just fine depending on the national grid in the past. That said, climate change, increasingly stormy weather and a definite up-tick in the number of localised power outages have made portable petrol generators much more popular in recent years, and it’s worth considering one if you value your peace of mind.

Briggs & Stratton Sprint 2200
Photo: Briggs & Stratton Sprint 2200

For home users, something like the Briggs & Stratton Sprint 2200 is ideal and a popular affordable choice.

This lightweight generator has a smaller fuel tank, but it still puts out more than enough power to keep things ticking over during a power cut. It’s also got an 11 hour run time (at 25% load) so it’s great for longer outages too.

Better still, the Sprint 2200 has many safety features including a low oil, auto cut off and a durable roll-cage. It only weighs 45kg too, which makes it a great choice for those of us that need something nice and portable.

Briggs & Stratton ProMax 7500EA
Source: Briggs & Stratton ProMax 7500EA

The Briggs & Stratton ProMax 7500EA is a great choice for small-scale commercial applications. It’s lightweight, which makes it very portable, and it also has a sturdy roll cage that will protect it from knocks and bumps.

This generator is user friendly and has a fairly generous 15l fuel tank, which means that once you’ve got it hooked up, you’ll be able to fill the tank, and then just sit back – confident that it’ll kick into life as soon as the power goes down. This particular option boasts things like an automatic engine shut off, which protects the generator when it runs out of fuel. If you’re looking for a quick way to get power in a secluded spot, there really isn’t a better option.

Log Splitters

If you have a log-burning stove or an open fire, any clean-up tasks offer a good opportunity to stockpile some extra wood for those long winter months. If not, log splitters will help to cut down on waste, and provide a convenient way to break up unwanted wood for easy disposal.

Log splitters will power through your wood pile in minutes, and they’re also great for post-storm clean-up, particularly if you have a lot of large branches to dispose of.

Picking out the right log splitter means you’ll need to choose between electric and petrol models and decide what engine size you’ll need to split your firewood.

AL-KO KHS 3704 Horizontal Electric Wood Splitter
Photo: AL-KO KHS 3704 Horizontal Electric Wood Splitter

For most domestic tasks, something like the AL-KO KHS 3704 Horizontal Electric Wood Splitter is ideal.

This log splitter is designed to chop large logs into firewood, and it’s a great option if you have a wood burner or open fire. Thanks to it’s powerful, 230v electric motor, it’s capable of producing around 4 tonnes of splitting force, and it’ll cope with any log that’s around 37 cm in length, so will split down any small to medium sized log in a matter of seconds.

Because it’s electric, it’s also quite quiet, and doesn’t need to be fuelled before use. As with all electric products, it’s also a bit easier to maintain than it’s heavy-duty, petrol-guzzling cousins.

The KHS 3704 also comes with integrated wheels. This might seem like a small detail, but when it comes to moving 35kg of heavy machinery between your garage and your wood pile, these little extras really do help to make the whole task more manageable.

Mitox LS700BS Vertical Petrol Log Splitter.
Photo: Mitox LS700BS Vertical Petrol Log Splitter.

For bigger tasks, we’d recommend the Mitox LS700BS Vertical Petrol Log Splitter.

This heavy-duty machine is a lot larger than the AL-KO, but it does offer a whopping 7 tonnes of splitting force, which means that you can use it to chop up anything from large branches, right through to small tree trunks.

Because it has a 4-stroke petrol engine, it’s also a great option for use on large gardens, where getting electricity routed to a problem area can be a struggle. Of course, the petrol engine does come with its own downsides – including the need for regular refuelling and slightly more arduous maintenance requirements – but if you want something that will definitely get the job done, these downsides are far outweighed by the machine’s pros.

The Mitox LS700BS also features unique, four-way splitting technology, which means that it can turn large logs into manageable pieces of firewood much quicker than a more traditional machine, with a two-way splitter.

It’s probably safe to say that the Mitox LS700BS won’t be of interest to most domestic gardeners, but if you have a lot of trees to manage and you want the ultimate in log splitting technology, the Mitox LS700BS is definitely worth serious consideration.

If you have any questions about the log splitters, chainsaws or generators that we’ve mentioned here or indeed any other machinery, we’d be more than happy to answer them.

To reach us, just ring us on 01380 828961, or use the contact form on our site. A member of our team will get in touch with you as soon as possible, and we promise that all of our advice is offered obligation-free!

Ways with water

Beautiful garden pond
Photo: Beautiful garden pond. Source: www.thetimes.co.uk

As winter approaches you could be forgiven for letting up on garden chores, preparing to batten down the hatches and hunker down indoors for the next few months, perhaps to muse over your garden successes and disappointments earlier in the year, and to think about what you want from your garden next year.

Rockery waterfall.
Photo: Rockery waterfall. Source: Sheffield Paving

If one of the things you want is the addition of a pond or water feature, this is the ideal time to do any construction and digging, whilst there isn’t a lot of routine gardening to be done. A pond can then be left to mature for several months before introducing plants, which are in any case not usually available until late spring.

Ammonite fountain
Photo: Ammonite fountain. Source: birstsall.co.uk

Almost every garden can be enhanced by the addition of water in one form or another, whether it be a fountain, cascade, pond or a simple half-barrel planted with miniature water lilies. It brings an extra dimension to a garden, a focal point and an opportunity to introduce style, movement, reflections and the soothing sound of running water.

Water fountain
Photo: Water fountain. Source: silver helmet.org

Factors to take into consideration may be the requirement for a submersible pump to circulate the water, and you will probably need a safe electricity supply, although solar-powered units are becoming increasingly popular. The safety of small children is always a concern around water, but there are ways to mitigate risk; ponds can be covered in strong mesh, and a simple bubble fountain that doesn’t contain standing water is a safe option.

We’ve chosen some inspirational designs to help you decide which watery option suites you best.

Triple bowl water feature
Photo: Triple bowl water feature. Source: digits.co.uk

The wildlife-friendly garden in winter

Hedgehog
Photo: Hedgehog. Source: WildlifeTrusts.org

As we approach the end of the year many garden creatures start to seek sheltered places to over-winter. Providing suitable sites for overwintering is an easy way to support them.

Log Pile
Photo: Log pile. Source: www.anglianhome.co.uk
      1. Build a log pile. A pile of logs, twigs and leaves in a quiet corner will provide a habitat for species from beetles to hedgehogs that help to control pests naturally. A shady area of the garden is best.
      2. Don’t be too tidy. Leave some perennials uncut until the spring.  They look great covered by frost and provide food for birds throughout the winter.
      3. Put up nesting boxes and feeders.
        Bird Feeder
        Photo: Bird Feeder. Source: www.duncraft.com

        By putting up a few insect homes – bird and bat boxes, feeders designed to attract bees, butterflies, insects, hedgehogs, frogs and others – you’re giving wildlife a helping hand and safety to feed and hibernate.

      4. Feed the birds. Put out nuts, seeds, scraps and fat balls, especially in winter when there’s not much food around and later on in spring when they’ve chicks to feed.  Place feeders close to shrubs and trees for cover and near to the house, so you can watch them.
      5. Use mulches to control weeds and be careful with chemicals. This will encourage pest-eaters like frogs, toads and song-thrushes.
      6. Help the hedgehogs. Leave holes in fences or newly constructed walls so hedgehogs can come and go from the garden.  If you want to feed them try plain pet food, not bread or milk.  Check long grass before strimming, compost heaps before forking and bonfires before lighting!

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.