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!

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!

Choosing A Walk Behind Lawn Mower

Choosing a walk behind lawnmower can be quite confusing when it comes to the different types of mower, your requirements, your type of garden and of course your budget. There are many types of mower available: rear-roller rotary, four-wheel rotary, hover mower, cylinder mower, and then the question of whether to choose petrol, electric or cordless.

For some people, the priority is to find the very best quality mower available for their garden and for others they will have a set budget and want to find the best value lawnmower for their money. All of these points are relevant when choosing a mower. This is a broad guide to the sort of questions you should consider when buying your lawn mower.

Size of Garden.

Probably the first place to start is considering the size of your garden as generally speaking, the bigger your garden the bigger the lawnmower. However, what constitutes a small, medium, or large garden? A rule of thumb is to think of your garden in terms of the size of a tennis court – so up to ½ a tennis court would be considered small; a tennis court size would be medium and any bigger than that would be considered large.

Small Garden
For a small garden, you might consider a small petrol mower, electric mower or cordless mower. The decision here can be down to several factors such as budget, access to the garden (consider steps), acceptable noise levels, and storage as a petrol mower will take up more space. Electric and Cordless mowers are lighter in weight than petrol mowers and of course, they need less servicing.

ATCO-15E-1600W-Electric-Lawnmower
ATCO-15E-1600W-Electric-Lawnmower

For a small garden, a good electric mower that we would recommend is the ATCO 15E 1600W Electric Lawnmower.

If you are considering a petrol four-wheel rotary mower for a small garden with a general-use lawn then one with a 16in/41cm cutting width will do the job well and really there is no need to go for a wider cut as it will simply cost more.

Hayter Spirit 619
Hayter Spirit 619

If you have a flat even lawn and want to have stripes then you will need a mower with a rear roller so could look at either a Petrol or Electric Rear Roller Mower. The Hayter Spirit 619 is an ideal choice with a 16in/41cm cut and offering a good combination of reliability and performance.

Cobra RM40SPCE 16 inch Rear Roller Petrol Lawnmower
Cobra RM40SPCE 16 inch Rear Roller Petrol Lawnmower

Cobra produces a range of electric and petrol lawnmowers which offer style and exceptional performance at a very good price. The Cobra RM40SPCE 16 inch Rear Roller Petrol Lawnmower is a very reasonably priced, reliable petrol mower with great performance and has been one of our best-selling lawnmowers.

Medium Garden
If your garden is the size of a tennis court then your choices are similar to that for a small garden but probably excluding the electric option due to cable length.

If you require a more formal lawn then you will want to look at either a cylinder mower or rear roller rotary mower (for formal short grass) but if you are looking to cut a general use lawn, then you will very likely be considering a petrol four-wheel lawnmower.

Ego Cordless Battery Mowers
Ego Cordless Battery Mowers

These days some of the cordless lawnmowers with Lithium-ion batteries rival the power of petrol and can be worth considering as well. They are lighter than petrol mowers to handle and are better for the environment as they emit no polluting fumes. The downside can be battery life although this can be overcome by having 2 batteries. If considering a cordless lawnmower, the EGO range of cordless lawn mowers is worth looking at.

Large garden

Toro-Steel-Deck-55cm-AWD-Self-Propelled-Recycler-Lawnmower
Toro-Steel-Deck-55cm-AWD-Self-Propelled-Recycler-Lawnmower

For large gardens over the size of a tennis court, the width of cut is important and you will need to look at large walk-behind lawnmowers with a cutting width over 50cm/20in. These are big mowers and will necessarily be self-propelled. If you have flowerbeds and obstacles in your garden to go around then opt for one with speed control so that you can easily slow down in the appropriate areas. For a more formal lawn (with stripes) if relatively free of obstacles you could consider a large rear roller lawnmower. For large gardens with obstacles and/or a less formal lawn a large 4 wheel rotary lawnmower would be a good choice.

Both Toro and ATCO produce quality large petrol lawnmowers. In particular,  we think the Toro Steel Deck 55cm/22in AWD Self Propelled Recycler Lawnmower is a very good value lawnmower with exceptional performance.

And for an excellent cylinder lawnmower have a look at the Allett Buckingham 20H Cylinder Lawnmower 51cm / 20in

Allett-Buckingham-20H-Cylinder-Lawn-Mower
Allett-Buckingham-20H-Cylinder-Lawn-Mower

 

Choosing the type of lawnmower to buy

Buy a cylinder lawn mower if you want…

  • short fine grass and/or stripes for your lawn
  • a lawnmower where you can change the cutting widths / heights
  • a neat looking finish to your lawn as cylinder mowers can cut the grass at low height
  • to attach a collection box for the grass
  • to buy an electric, petrol or hand push cylinder mower

Buy a rotary lawn mower if you want…

  • a lawnmower where you can change the heights
  • a lawnmower where you can attach a collection box for the grass
  • to buy an electric, petrol or cordless lawn mower
  • a self-propelled lawnmower for ease of pushing – better if you have a heavier lawnmower and also for large grass areas
  • a lawn mower for many lawn types as the blade rotates horizontally and can tackle longer grass

Buy a hover lawn mower if you want…

  • a lawn mower that is ideal for small lawns and easy to use
  • a lightweight mower that can mow the grass, uneven areas and slopes
  • a lawn mower where the finish of the cut is not so important to you and you are looking for something that will do the job effectively
  • some larger hover mowers can tackle larger grassed areas and also come with grass collection bags

Buy a cordless lawn mower if you want…

  • a lawn mower that has the power to rival that of a petrol mower
  • a lighter lawn mower than that of a petrol mower of the same power
  • an easy to start lawn mower
  • a lawn mower with the benefits of petrol and the ease of an electric mower
  • a quieter lawn mower that also offers an environmentally friendly option to petrol
  • to use other garden tools with the battery

Other points to consider when buying a lawnmower

Cutting width
The wider the cut of the lawnmower clearly the more grass it will cut each time you run up and down the lawn. Consider the time you are happy to spend cutting the grass. A wider width of mower will cost more.

Length of Cable
If you are considering an electric lawnmower then make sure that the cord is long enough to reach across your garden.

Adjustable heights
Most lawnmowers have height adjustments so check the settings on any mower you buy to ensure that the height settings are suitable for your requirements.

Adjustable handle
Make sure that you can adjust the handle to the right height to ensure that you are comfortable with the mowing position. Also, see whether the handle folds for ease of storage and space saving.

Battery life
If you are considering cordless then make sure that the battery life is sufficient for the job in hand. Alternatively, buy a spare battery so that one can always be on charge.

Bag volume
Consider a mower that can have a sufficient grass collection bag attached so as to minimise emptying.

If you require any advice at all when choosing your lawnmower then please give Nigel or Sam a call on 01380 828867.