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Choosing The Best Power Tools For The Garden

Updated on September 12, 2013
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Functions and Features Of Garden Power Tools


Power tools can make most gardening jobs easier and quicker, which not only saves time but means larger jobs can be more readily handled. Essentially, choosing tools with suitable functions and features for your specific needs is important, they all have their good and bad points and will not suit all tasks.


Grass Trimmers


Grass trimmers, also known as string trimmers, are great garden tools that make short work of tidying up lawn edges, around trees or in difficult to cut areas. They will give a clean edge to lawns, make small scrub areas, not suitable for cutting by a mower, neat and tidy and can be used to trim grass banks that are too steep to be mowed. A decent trimmer will have either an auto feed or bump feed to keep the line or cutting string at a good length. As the names suggest, auto will do the feeding automatically, whereas with bump the head of the trimmer needs a bump on the ground to feed out more line.


There are three main types of powered grass trimming tools, and which one you choose will depend on your requirements and which one is most suitable for you to use.


Electric Grass Trimmers. These come in two types, either with a power cord or with a rechargeable battery.


The cheapest grass or string trimmers are electric ones that plug into the mains. They are idea for smaller gardens and light work. They are easy to use, being relatively light compared to petrol trimmers, and just requires you to plug in and go. They are limited by the length of cord unless you use an extension cable, but still need to be in proximity to a power source.


Rechargeable versions are ideal for light jobs in areas that are too far away from a power source, or where the user would prefer not to have to worry about a trailing power cord to manage. There is a risk of the battery going flat before the job is completed if the work takes longer than the length of battery charge. This can be frustrating and lengthen the time it takes to complete the job. Buying a second battery will solve this problem but will mean an extra expense.


Petrol Grass Trimmers are more powerful and best suited for tougher jobs such as large areas, or thicker vegetation. They can be used anywhere as they do not need to be connected to a power source, but do need to be refilled with fuel, which needs to be purchased and stored. Some people may regard this as a hassle or prefer not to have to handle the fuel. They are often heavier than electric models and noisier.


Whichever version is chosen, a grass trimmer is an effective piece of equipment for keeping your lawn edges neat and tidy and getting overgrown grass areas under control.


Lawn Mowers


Choosing the right lawn mower can make the difference between cutting the lawn an enjoyable experience or a chore. The right type of mower depends on the type of garden and the person mowing. These two factors need to be weighed together in order to chose the most suitable mower required.


Hover mowers are lightweight and easy to manoeuvre when in use. When turned off, they can not be rolled along like other mowers so will need to be lifted, but as hover mowers are normally quite light this shouldn’t be a problem for most people. The smaller, even lighter ones can be hooked up on a wall, minimising the amount of space required to store it. They are ideally suited for small areas or gardens with lawns that are uneven or bumpy. Some more expensive models may come with grass collection while the cheaper ones without will leave the clippings on the lawn to be raked up afterwards if necessary. There are a few petrol models available but the majority of hover mowers are electric.


Rotary mowers, as the name suggests, have a rotating blade which cuts the grass and runs along on wheels. These are the most suited for the average sized garden and are easy to use. The height can be adjusted easily for the grass length required. Most rotary mowers will come with a grass box to collect clippings as standard. These mowers can be petrol driven, electric or even rechargeable.


Cylinder mowers are idea for anyone wanting that manicured look on their lawn. They give a clean tidy cut and if the mower has a roller, the striped lawn affect can be achieved. Electric versions are less common than petrol versions. There has also been resurgence in hand push mowers, which are quieter to use and cost nothing to run. The majority of motorised cylinder mowers will have a detachable grass box. Some of the hand push cylinder mowers will come with a grass box, though these can be less effective in catching the clippings when in use. Older traditional mowers were mainly cylinder mowers but they have now been replaced with the more popular rotary mower.


Choosing the best mower for you will depend on the size of lawn that needs cutting, the ability of the user to use the mower and the availability of storage. The finish of the lawn and how the mower is powered will also need to be taken into account when choosing which type of mower is best suited to your needs.


Hedge Trimmers


Hedge trimmers are great tools for making the job of cutting and trimming into shape hedges, bushes and shrubs. Cutting your own hedges can be a great money saver compared with paying for a tradesman to do the job, and can be enjoyable.


Hedge trimmers have two blades that slide against each other, creating a scissor action between the teeth. The length of the blade will dictate how much can be cut off with each forward or backward sweeping of the trimmer. The longer the blade the more that can be cut, but a longer blade does take more strength to hold and use and makes balance more difficult if using a ladder.


The gap between the teeth will give some indication of how thick a branch can be cut, though the power of the trimmer will also limit the thickness that can be cut without jamming the blades.


Petrol hedge trimmers are ideal for large areas of work or dense foliage. They are usually more powerful than electric trimmers and so are capable of cutting through larger braches, making the work quicker and easier. If the job required is too far away from an electrical source then one of these is an ideal solution. They are normally heavier than electric powered versions and a lot noisier.


Electric hedge trimmers are lighter and easier to use. As with other electric tools, They are limited by needing to be plugged into the mains but are usually cheaper to buy and easier to maintain. They are suitable for light use, not having the power and cutting ability of petrol models.


Cordless hedge trimmers are great for light work in areas where plugging into a power source is not possible. They run on a rechargeable battery which limits the amount of time they can be used for without needing recharging. Both cordless and mains electric trimmers are quieter than petrol options and usually start at a cheaper price point.


Having identified the amount and type of work that is needed, the best hedge trimmer can be chosen that suits the owner and the required task.


Chainsaws


If you need to fell some trees, chop up logs or prune larger branches, then, with a lot of time and energy, you could use a hand saw. If you want an easier way to do this work, than using a chainsaw will make these jobs quicker and less effort.


So what's the best chainsaw for you?


Look at the chain speed of each model. This is simply how fast the chain moves, and so a faster speed will indicate a quicker cutting time. The length of the bar will differ from model to model. The longer the length, the larger the object that can be cut. It is worth considering that the length of the cutting bar, coupled with the weight of the machine. The longer and heavier the machine, the more difficult it will be to handle.


Chainsaws are powered either by petrol or electric. Deciding which type will best serve your needs depends on the job needing to be undertaken and the person undertaking the work.


Electric chainsaws. Ideal for lighter use, normally starting from a cheaper price range, and less noisy, these are ideal for most small to medium jobs in the average garden. They need to be connected to a power source, so are limited to how far the power cable, and any extension cable being used, can reach. Choose one with the highest wattage you can afford. This will normally mean more power which will enable a quicker, easier and cleaner cut.


Petrol chainsaws. Suitable for larger jobs or where there is no availability to plug into a power source. Petrol chainsaws can be used when more power is required. Refuelling may not appeal to everyone and involves the additional jobs of having to purchase and store the fuel. This requires a little more effort compared to plug in and go electric models. Petrol models can also be heavy and require more strength to use but the additional power will enable jobs to be completed quicker, plus there are no worries about accidently cutting the power cable.


It is advisable to also buy purpose made protective clothing, in order to prevent serious injury from an accident due to using a chainsaw.


A chainsaw can be a valuable tool if you have trees to cut and prune or want to cut up wood for your wood burner, furnace or open fire. Choosing the right one for you will make that work a lot easier.


Safety


Regardless of which power tool is chosen, it is important to read the safety notices and the user guide instructions before use.


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    • jasmith1 profile image
      Author

      Adrian Smith 5 years ago from UK

      rex michaels - thank you and I am glad that the two battery advice was useful - I found that out the hard way too!

      gloshei - weeds can be a huge job can't they? I am glad this was useful.

    • rex michaels profile image

      rex michaels 5 years ago

      Excellent info, laid out so any one knows how to choose the right tool. I Purchased a battery operated weed trimmer from online, I liked the idea of not mixing oil and gas and no fumes but my expections may have been a bit to high however. The battery ran out half way through the job. Two batteries is excellent advice

    • Gloshei profile image

      Gloria 5 years ago from France

      Interesting Hub Jasmith1,

      I totally agree anything for an easier life, I was looking at QVC the other day and Richard Jackson had a gadget for getting up weeds. Now that is what I want our lawn once being farmland is full of the blighters.

      Will bookmark this for reference thanks. Up and useful.

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