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!

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.

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.