Fred's Guide to Lawn Care Tools
Updated 19th May 2016
HAPPY EASTER BRITAIN!
Having spent over 35 years caring for lawns and writing 2 books on gardening equipment I decided to put my favourite tools online.
Lightweight Lawn shears
Telescopic Lawn Shears
Long Handled Lawn Shears
Lawn Edging Shears
Lawn Edging knife
Lawn Edging - Shear verses Electric trimmers
Which Lawn Edging Shears are Best?
Unless you have a large lawn I think a trimmer is a horrible noisy, heavy , messy tool that will cost you money to run and likely be thrown away in a few years. In comparison a quality pair of lawn shears are simple to use, more environmentally friendly and if looked after will last many years.
The best Lawn Edging Shears
Lawn edging shears are simple tools that have been around for hundreds of years with few changes. I have tested dozens of pairs and gave one of my coveted Golden Shed Award to the lightweight Aluminium handled CK legend lawn edging shears.
They have unique solid forged steel blades that put them in a class of their own. The quality of the blade and the adjusting mechanism make them virtually self sharpening. Made in Germany but too expensive so discontinued.
The heavy duty version of these with wooden handles is still available and will last your lifetime if treated well but still cost over £80.
A good compromise is the new model with extending Aluminium handles.
Alternatively - Simple, Good Quality Lawn Edging Shears
The Bahco P75 shears opposite set the standard for no frills, hard wearing lawn shears.
These Darlac lawn edging shears also have a wavy blade profile that some users like as it gathers grass into the cutting area. The downside is a slightly less defined cut that only a lawn perfectionist may notice.
If you just want a really tough, no nonsense , good quality lawn edging shear then the European made Bahco P75 model is ideal and is used by many professionals. Please use link opposite to purchase either tool.
On A Tight Budget?
If your budget is a bit tight then these Wilkinson Sword lawn shears are worth considering. The Teflon coating is also nice if you like to keep your tools clean. Wilkinson Sword are now made in the far east and no longer the real top brand in gardening tools. You can get cheaper shears but you may end up buying rubbish.
Bahco P75 lawn edging shears- top quality - no gimmicks
tried and tested by professional for decades
Handle length 90cm, Teflon coated blade for easy cleaning
click link below to buy
You will find Bahco shears in most professional gardeners sheds.
(Along with an oily rag and sharpening stone)
Using a good sharpening stone will save your tool and you a lot of effort!
(Use on hedge shears and mowers blades too)
Extra Long Lawn Shears
If you are tall and need the extra length then the Darlac flip-lock edging shears are great.. Or if you want work with another person who is taller or shorter than you then telescopic lawn shears are a good option. I have used the Darlac ones for several years and also like the way they telescope down very small for easy storage. Total weight is only 1.2KG! Length of Handles 65cm - 105cm
Folded down for easy storage
The locking slider allow extension to any length up to 1.05 meters
Full length to suit a six footer!
Best Lawnshears for flat surfaces
Flat bladed, long handled shears are known as lawn shears and are ideal for cutting areas of lawn around trees and along the side of sheds and walls.
This type of tool is a great alternative to an electric grass trimmer for smaller areas and is much more pleasant to use.
Electric grass trimmers - or "strimmers" as they are commonly known create a lot of mess for you to clear up.
Lawn shears make little mess, last a lot longer and make no noise!
From my own long experience I can recommend the European made Bahco P 74 lawnshears.
They have well made steel handles, are slightly longer than most others and have good quality blades.
Bahco shears are used by many contractors as they are a no-frills well made and durable product.
Unless you use your shears a lot they should not need much sharpening but running a stone over them occasionally is a good habit to adopt.
These top quality shears make a long lasting and environmentally friendly alternative to electric grass trimmers. No noise, no electricity and 99% recyclable.
Not that you will need to recycle them, just keep them well oiled and these top quality shears will last your lifetime.
Alternative to Nylon Grass Trimmers
Personally I don't like electric trimmers that cut with Nylon cord. I find that the cord is likely to become brittle over time and break, fail to self feed and can be hard to replace or find replacement cord.
For small jobs I prefer an electric version of the sheep shear that has metal blades and is battery powered.
This type of tool has been around a long time and is well tested.
New Product - Smaller grass shear with Lithium Ion Battery!
The Bosch ISIO can be converted from a grass shear to a small shrub trimmer in seconds and is surprisingly efficient. I also like the drop in charger base and metal tin that the tool comes in.
Running time is very good thanks to the Li-ion batteries and I get 20 minutes use which included some woody shrub material. The softer the material you cut the longer the battery will last between re-charges.
The Bosch Isio comes with 2 blades. The shrub cutting blade and the grass cutting blade.
A good accessory is the telescopic handle which makes the Isio a joy to use on your lawn edges. The handle has wheels for easy cutting on top of the lawn but this prevents the Isio from being turned on its side to cut vertical edges.
The more expensive Wolf Accu model has clip on wheels that can clip off when doing vertical edges. However whilst this sounds like a good idea I found the wheels fell off and were really annoying.
The Isio wheels are built into the handle, wont fall off but do restrict the edge cutting ability somewhat when used with the long handle.
NEW IMPROVED BOSCH ISIO FOR 2014 - MUCH EASIER TO SWAP BETWEEN BLADES
You also get this blade for shrub trimming!
Also available - the ISIO battery powered sprayer attachment!
Best Grass Trimmer For Lawn edges
Black & Decker STC 1820-GB 18v Lithium-ion Cordless Grass Trimmer
This new strimmer uses the standard nylon line in a spool to trim and a slide in 18v Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery that holds 2 amp hour of charge. It can be recharged in 2 hours and gives a run time of around 20-30 minutes
A nice feature is the wheel that enables easy trimming of side edges turn the tool on its side and run it along the edge. The handle has telescopic height adjustment with a good range and the spool gives a 28cm cut.
On the handle there is also an extra button to switch between eco and turbo mode . The idea is to gain extra battery time by using less power for lighter work. Does it work? watch this space...
A unique accessory can transform the tool into a mini mower by attaching a small deck with wheels on. This was an idea I had years ago and was really chuffed to see it appear and even more chuffed to try it and find that it is ideal for my small lawn that grows in patches.
I would like to make it absolutely clear that this will not replace a lawn mower on anything but the smallest lawn and even then you would have to keep the grass fairly short as the decking attachment is useless on long grass. The reason for this is that the deck prevents the grass from clearing so for long grass use the strimmer without the deck.
I have not had this product long but so far am pretty impressed , it also uses the easily available and cheap A6481 spool
watch this space or mail me for more info
CORDLESS IS EASIER
USE LINKS OPPOSITE FOR BEST MAINS STRIMMER
Bosch Cordless Grass Trimmers
NEW IMPROVED 18v version
(WITH TOUGHER LONGER LASTING BLADES )
Pictured right is the Bosch ART 26-18 LI cordless trimmer. This is a well balanced and easy to use trimmer and has the all important swivelling head to enable you to trim the top and side edge of your lawn. It also has a telescopic handle that adjusts to your height. This battery powered trimmer also has the advantage of using small plastic blades instead of a nylon spool.
Some people dislike the plastic blades as the original ones where brittle Nylon and tended to break easily when you trimmed against concrete paths or up against brick walls. However many users prefer them as they are so easy to replace, unlike most nylon line spools that are great when new but then seize up with time as they get covered in dead grass , dirt and moisture.
The new 2014 version uses a new type of plastic blade that is 12 times tougher than previous versions and is called the DURABLADE. the image below shows how I cut through some thick weeds with the shark fin shaped DURABLADE.
I have been testing these new blades and can confirm that they are indeed very tough, at least 12 times and I found it very difficult to damage one, even running it along grass growing against a brick wall.
Bosch ART 26 Li Cordless Grass Trimmer
This new model has an 18v 1.5 ah battery and uses the black shark fin like plastic safety blades.
charging time 1 hour - run time 35 mins approx
This Bosch "Power4 all" battery can be used in a range of Bosch power tools
This strimmer cuts horizontally or verticaly
Trimmer shown with option deck attached
WANT A CHEAPER MAINS VERSION?
This is the new 2014 model with extra tough plastic blades
There is also a smaller version the ART23-18LI
DO NOT CONFUSE THESE MODELS WITH THE OLD ONES THAT USES INFERIOR BLADES
USE MY LINKS TO ENSURE YOU BUY THE LATEST VERSION
LARGER CAPACITY SPARE BATTERY
If you want a longer running battery this is the latest Power4all 2ah version!
Click link below to see my new page on
FREDSHED TOP TIP
DON'T USE YOUR HEDGE SHEARS ON GRASS!
The wonderful Golden Ceka shears shown right are made from the best quality steel by German craftsmen. However most shears of this type are made specifically for hedges and not grass. If you use hedge shears on grass the blades will go blunt VERY QUICKLY
Not many people know that!
Click link below for hand shears suitable for grass
There are dozens of single handed grass shears available and the majority are poor quality Chinese tools.
I have used the 2 below for many years and am confident of their quality and performance. The Wolf Garten model has been in production ( and used by me) for over 20 years and now has a grass deflector to keep the grass off your borders.
(blades rotate to different angles)
The Wolf Professional shears have a neat grass collecting edge.
Shears like these are designed for cutting shrubs and hedges and not grass.
If you want a pair of shears for grass and soft foliage then these little ones below are the type to get.
Click link below to see my new page on
Solar Garden Lights
Clearing Leaves from a Lawn
Traditional lawn Rakes verses Blowers and Garden Vacs
Traditional lawn Rake - Best Model
Springbok Leaf rake 48" handle
This is the finest example of a leaf rake available. The Bulldog "springbok rake" is a classic that has been used by professionals for many years. It is the best rake for use on grass.
The reason that so many people chose this rake is that it is so well built that it will outlast most other rakes and still keep its shape and flexibility.
or if you want the very best stainless steel rakes made in Holland click here
The Bulldog Premier Springbok Rake
The best tool for grass, leaves and debris.
Made 100% in Wigan UK.
Garden Vacuum and Blowers tested and reviewd
New even more powerful Garden Vac
Although I personally don't like garden vacs I have tested quite a few mains electric ones and the best was the AL-KO Hurricane. It had a heavy 2400W motor and like most of these dual purpose tools was great at blowing but struggled to pick up wet leaves. Petrol models can have more power but I don't review petrol machinery on Fredshed due to the constant problems users have starting them and also maintaining the engines.
The best new product I have seen in a while is a battery powered cordless blower vac.
Thanks to new high power Li-ion batteries this type of tool can be made lightweight and ideal for smaller cleanups,
like dry leaves and debris like cigarette butts from patios, decking and gravel..
I don't think it will pick up wet leaves but I will report here in the autumn to confirm.
UNDER TESTING- 36V CORDLESS BLOWER VAC
Lightweight Plastic Leaf Rakes
I have tried dozens of rakes over the last 15 years that I have been researching and testing gardening products.
This Wolf plastic rake is one of the best as it is so light and effective and is widely used by professional gardeners.
it is part of the Multi change system so you can save space and have many tools on one handle.
Rake & Grab
This product was invented over 20 years ago and has seen several incarnations. It is a reasonable rake and a very good grabber.
However the quality of this product seems to have declined so I have added a link to a similar grabber rake from Yeoman tools.
For long term use I would advise using a rake and the product below - 2 in 1 tools are always a compromise and each tool function is never as good as that of the original dedicated tool.
Long Handled Leaf grabber
This debris grabber is very popular with my test team as it saves them bending and is a joy to use.
Use link above to purchase with handle included!
Darlac Grab-n-lift - does what it says on the tin.
Great Tip To Save Time!
Use your mower to collect the leavers on the lawn in winter.
Even if the lawn does not need cutting the mower will collect the leaves, beats raking any day!
Best lawn aerators - tried and tested by Fred-in-the-shed
The best Lawn Aerator?
One annoying thing about most lawn aerators is that they leave the extracted soil plugs on the ground. If you use one a lot or have a large lawn there is one model, that collects the soil plugs and makes holes. However these tools take ages to use and for small domestic lawns you may as well use a fork. If you have a large lawn then it would be better to buy a powered aerator or get a specialist in who has one of these machines.
If you are thinking of buying those silly spiked shoes then I would say don't waste your money. I suspect that they are also risky to use if you have any sort of weakness or problem with your ankles of lower legs.
TOP TIP - USE LAWN AERATORS ONLY WHEN YOUR LAWN IS SOFT TO ALLOW SOIL PLUGS TO PUSH EASILY THROUGH THE TINES - ALSO SPRAY WD40 THROUGH THE HOLES BEFORE AND AFTER USE.
At the moment the best lawn aerator I know of is made by Sneeboer of Holland. It has been personally designed by my friend Jaap Sneeboer so it will not clog up and each time you push it in the new plug will push out the previous one. if your lawn is too wet or based on clay then the plugs may stick more and need poking out from the tool occasionally.
The Sneeboer Stainless Steel Lawn Aerator
A wide ash handle and plenty of boot space at the working end.
Fiskars Launch Hi Tech Weed Puller
(but is it any good?)
If you watch TV then you probably will have seen the advertisement for this new wonder tool to make weeding easier than ever. As part of my work I have been testing weeding gadgets over the last 20 years and have tried dozens of them.
The important thing to realise about weed pulling gadgets is that there are many different types and sizes of weeds and none of the gadgets can cope with them all. Another reason for this is that weeds will be located in different soil types or even lawns.
Compared to most of the ones I have tested I can say the Fiskars weed puller is pretty good at pulling out the larger weeds. It is made from very tough but light fibrecomp material and requires that you have reasonable eyesight and hand eye co-ordination so that you can locate the jaws of the tool around the weed. Once located you press down with your foot and lever the handle backwards to remove the weed.
The tool is described as a lawn weed puller but I found it to equally useful on soil. Wherever you use it remember that a large weed will leave a large hole so have some soil ready to fill the hole if you are doing the lawn.
use the links in the box below for the best price and to help support this website
Now available with a telescopic handle!
I tested the Fiskars lawn weed puller on soil and lawns
It is great for the larger , deep rooted weeds.
(It is also fun and a bit addictive to use)
Some recommended books
Any book , CD, DVD or product bought via my links to Amazon will help support my work independently testing and reviewing products
Lawnrakers and Scaryfiers tested and reviewed
Electric Lawn Rakers and Scarifiers
Tested and reviewed by Fred-in-the-shed
My German Made AL-KO 38cm wide raker
To keep your lawn well drained and cleared of "thatch" build up I recommend using a powered lawnraker. (also known as an electric scarifier).
Doing this job by hand on anything other than small areas is for the super-fit, super-skint or totally insane!
Sadly, like grass trimmers there are a lot of poorly designed and made lawn scarifiers out there
Here are some of the better ones I have tried and tested over the last 20 years.
The Black and Decker GD200GB had been around for a long time and is a cheap and cheerful workhorse for lawnraking. It has been replaced by the GD300 with a 600w motor. Bosch made a similar and slightly better built model called the AMR32F lawn raker. It has now been replaced by two 900watt models. One has tines the other has metal blades that will rip your lawn apart.
The Bosch ALR900 is the one with tines and the one to get if your budget is around £130
The Flymo Compact 3400 is a great mid price scarifier and has also been around a long time with mostly very good reviews. I like it and at £80 ish is a good deal with a 750w motor.
If you have a large lawn you will need a more powerful lawn aerator. The budget price 400w electric ones are not up to the job and will take ages to cover the distance, or burn out under the strain. There are better and more expensive machines for larger lawns but at £70 these cheapie lawnrakers I tested were adequate for use once or twice a year on small lawns
TOP TIP - don't set blades too deep or use on hard dry lawns - this may burn out your motor!
I also tested the AL-KO 1300W raker/scarifier which comes with 2 interchangeable cylinders, one with wire blades for raking and the other with fixed metal blades for deeper aerating. The Al-KO is extremely effective and is the model I have chosen to keep and use regularly.
All of the above machines have their pros and cons, all could and should be improved. A common problem with them all is the limited range of height adjustment and small collection boxes. On average I like the Flymo best - for small- medium lawns and usage. Please use my links or mail me if you need help choosing an electric lawn-raker
A good thing to look for is the availability of spares,
Tines may bend or break after a lot of use, especially if your lawn is too dry!
Before removing moss with a machine you should kill it first with the product below
Fred's recommended powered lawn rakers
My old Black & Decker powered lawn raker (RIP)
Years of service and good results ! use link below for newer model
Bosch 900w and Draper 45544 1300w Lawnraker
The Bosch beat the Draper in my test with Flymo a close 2nd
use link below for AL-KO 1300w beast
TOP TIP FOR POWERED LAWN RAKING
DON'T KEEP THE POWER ON WHEN YOU TURN THE MACHINE
AT THE END OF A RUN
IT IS LIKELY TO DIG A BIT OF A HOLE IN YOUR LAWN !
AL-KO also make very good petrol scarifiers for larger lawns, see link below
For really Deep cutting/ scarifying Bosch make a machine with fixed metal blades
it is called the AVR 1100 Verticutter but beware it is BRUTAL - use link below
Wolf Multichange lawn Scarifier
If you have some spare energy or don't like electric scarifiers a good option is a manual one like this German made tool. Some years ago I owned its little brother that did not have wheels and I must say it was a devil to use.
This new model Wolf URM3 rolling scarifier is more vor sprung dork tecknic and is much easier to use. For fitness fanatics and masochists everywhere this is the lawn tool for you!
You will need to buy a separate handle for this tool and can use the link below. The good news is this handle can also fit a huge range of other garden tools too.
It's wheely easy to use!
Managing Lawn Edges
Edging Irons, Shears and Edging Strips
Unique Solid Forged Lawn Edger
Also known as an edging knife or edging iron this tool is the best thing to keep your lawn edges tidy and separate from bedding areas.
This is the finest example of a half moon lawn knife available and the only one I know of where the blade is made from one piece of steel, forged by hand for maximum strength. The Bulldog Edging knife is made in Wigan and I think its the best of its type.
Most lawn edgers are made from 2 pieces of steel, welded together. This introduces a weakness in the tool. As users have a tendency to lever the soil away with the tool, many become bent or broken.
This exceptional tool is actually strong enough to dig with (though I don't recommend it) and also has a solid ash shaft with a generous width T handle.
Stainless Steel Long Handled Lawn Edging Knife
Whilst Stainless steel is not essential for this tool, a good quality stainless steel edging iron may produce a cleaner cut in wet conditions or if you have clay soil. The one below represents good value and reasonable quality.
It will not be as strong as the Bulldog one above so be careful using it and remember it is a knife not a spade
The Bulldog lawn edger shown in brown
(metal parts are now green)
The large T handle is made from the finest Ash
If you want a cheaper and lightweight alternative see the tool below
it has a stainless steel head that can be more suitable if you have sticky clay soil or just like
shiny clean tools. If you want the best and the strongest, and don't mind paying around £30, then i would still recommend the Bulldog one.
If you have the wolf multichange system a stainless steel lawn edger is available too.
Smartedge - Flexible lawn edge strip
Smartedge is a British made innovation for making perfect lawn edges to enhance the appearance and ease maintenance of your lawn edges.
The patented innovation is the A frame mesh that is pinned down to your lawn to hold the edge in place. This "A" frame quickly becomes covered in grass so all you are left with is a nice smooth edge for easy trimming.
At first I found it quite hard to get a straight edge and the level right but maybe it was operator error.
Eventually the lawn grew up to the edge and it now looks great!
coming soon - solid metal lawn edging -as used by stately homes!
Sharpening your Lawncare tools
Cutting grass can quickly blunt even the best steel blades so an essential part of lawncare work will be to clean and sharpen your tools.
Traditionally a carborundum stone was used but nowadays tungsten carbide and even diamond sharpeners are available in a range of shapes sizes and sharpening grades.
If your blade edge is really blunt you will need something coarser like the cigar shaped carborundum stone.
For a finishing a sharp edge and keeping smaller blades like secateurs sharp the Bahco sharp -X-E or the Felco dual sided stone are best.
I favour the Felco sharpener for fine edges and the large cigar shaped stone for larger blades like edging shears.
for free expert advice - on
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email@example.com (please include tool name in subject header)
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