Electric Power Tools For Gardening

Electric Hedge Trimmers, Shredders, Grass trimmers, Chainsaws and Blowers tested and reviewed

Tested and reviewed by Fred-in-the-shed

Updated 14th June 2017

 

 

Electric Lawn Rakers and Scarifiers

Tested and reviewed by Fred-in-the-shed

My German Made AL-KO 38cm wide raker

Click here to buy or get more details

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 It has been replaced by the GD300 with a 600w motor.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 It has now been replaced by two 900watt models.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.

Click here to buy AL-KO scarifier or get more details

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

See different makes and heavy duty lawn scarifiers

 

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!

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

 Black & Decker GD300 30 cm Lawnraker

Bosch 900w and Draper 45544 1300w Lawnraker

The Bosch beat the Draper in my test in every way.

The Flymo came close 2nd

 

 Flymo 750 Watt Lawnraker Compact 3400

compare price of the Flymo Lawnraker 340

use link below for AL-KO 1300w beast

click to see a large range of heavier duty lawn scarifiers

 

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.

 

 

 
 

240v Mains Powered Garden Vacuums

Best Garden Vacuums/Leaf Blowers

 

I have tested quite a few mostly mains electric blower vacs that tended to be great at blowing but struggled to pick up wet leaves.

Petrol models are more power but I don't review petrol machinery on Fredshed due to the constant problem users have starting and maintaining the engines.

One thing I would like to stress

ALL MAINS AND PETROL GARDEN VACUUMS ARE HEAVY TOOLS TO USE

 

After several years of testing I have decided that I don't really like garden vacs- They are noisy, cover you in dust and a pain in the **** to store. Many suck up stones and trash the blade that is meant to shred the leaves. 

ALL POWERED LEAF COLLECTING MACHINERY IS HEAVY - PLEASE TAKE NOTE

They also work better on blow than suck as wet leaves stick to the ground, this is why you rarely see a contractor using a hand held garden vacuum.

 Contractors do use hand held blowers and blow material onto a sheet in a corner. This is more practical and dedicated blowers are very simple and reliable machines.

I think that the electric garden  vacuum can be described as a triumph of marketing over practicality.

However if you are big and strong, like noisy machines and really want one please use the link below where you will see a range of them from a reliable Fredshed recommended retailer

click for prices of blowers and garden vacs

Bosch ALS 2500 Garden Vacuum

 Bosch ALS 2500 Electric Garden Blower/ Vacuum

Bosch ALS 2500 Garden vac

 

 

This is one of the lightest garden vacs and is also a bit of a transformer as you can swop the tubes and bag around depending if you want to blow or suck.

It is well balanced and effectively collects the leaves and shreds them too.

As this type of machine is easily damaged by foreign objects or getting jammed up Bosch have built in a safety cut out mechanism that cuts the motor and saves you wrecking it. Whilst this is a clever feature it is a bit too clever for some owners who don't read the manual and believe the tool has failed when in fact it has just cut out and will start again when it has cooled down.

In fact some early models did have a problem with the cut-out sensitivity which has been resolved and my 2015 test sample works reliably .

Petrol Leaf Blowers

These are a similar weight to the mains electric versions but have more power. If you are confident with starting 2 stroke engines then I would rather recommend a petrol machine. Like the electric ones the budget versions mostly use a second tube that has to be switched over for the vacuuming function.

Mainly on Fredshed I do  not recommend petrol powered products as many people find them difficult to start and to maintain. Also manufacturers use so many different engines that I cannot possibly keep up to date.

With the increased power and reducing prices of Li-ion battery powered tools I think petrol equipment will become almost obsolete except for the largest equipment used by contractors.

If you  do want a small petrol blower for domestic use the McCullogh 25cc petrol blower vac is well priced and has encouraging reader reviews.

click here for prices and more garden vacs

 

 

 
 

 

 Hedge Trimmer or Hedge Cutter? Is there a difference?

Best Mains Powered Electric Hedge trimmers

According to me, a Hedge Trimmer is a lighter weight, smaller bladed machine for removing soft green growth from hedges.

A Hedge Cutter, is a heavier duty, larger bladed and more powerful machine capable of removing the green growth on hedges and is

able to cut back into the older woodier material too.

Some tools will fit into both categories depending on the hedge you are cutting.

However , if a low powered hedge trimmer is used to cut woody material it is unlikely it will do it for long as the blades will blunt and wear or the motor or other components may burn out.

 

Cordless (battery powered) hedge trimmers are rarely capable of cutting woody hedge material.

Some high powered mains electric hedge cutters are better than most cheap petrol machines, so you cant judge just on power as the size and quality of the blade is crucial.

To add more complication some models have anti lock clutches or anti jam, sawing like features.

 

If you are buying a mains powered electric hedge trimmer then it is likely that you have a large hedge so go for one with plenty of power and a long blade if you have the strength to hold it.. More important is the quality of the blade since this is a machine that is going to take a lot of stick!

Don't be tempted by really cheap hedge trimmers, you will most likely be wasting your money as the blades will soon go blunt and fail to cut or damage your stems.

Best Mains Electric Hedge Trimmer

For the money I think  the most impressive mains electric hedge trimmer I have tested is the Bosch AHS 45-16, or its slightly larger cousin the AHS 50-16. This is a real, no nonsense workhorse that has been in production many years either as Bosch or Qualcast.

Qualcast is now Chinese owned and made, (and best avoided)

The Bosch hedgetrimmers are  well made with precision ground  blades and tough motors. 16mm blade spacing ensures that they cut even thick stems with ease.

A good alternative is the excellent Bosch AHS 60-16 which has a very long 60cm  blade and some really good customer reviews. If you want a normal size, no nonsense reliable hedge trimmer with quality blades at a low price then the Bosch AHS 50-16 is the one I recommend.

 

Best Mains Electric Hedge Cutter

The Bosch AHS7000 Pro massacring a thick old Eleagnus 

The largest Bosch electric hedge cutter is the AHS 7000 Pro. This machine is truly awesome and will outperform many petrol machines. If you need to reduce the high significantly of a mature hedge then this is the tool. You will need to be fairly strong as it is BIG!.

It has a 700 watt motor, 70cm Blade Length with Tooth Spacing of 34mm

12m of cable, Laser Cut Diamond Ground blades

Quick Stop Blade Brake and high-torque (80Nm) slipping clutch for easy cutting

Blade tip protector for cutting along walls and paths,

Weight - 3.8kg

This model has now be re-named as the Bosch AHS 70-34 and is the largest Bosch mains electric hedge cutter available. 

 

 

The AHS 50-16 has a bigger motor and longer blade

The AHS 60 - 16 has a 60cm blade for wider hedges.

 

For Heavy Duty Hedge Cutters see links below

 

Both models are the same apart from an extra 10cm blade length

Weight - 4.4kg

So you will need to be strong to use it!

(same for this long reach version below)

 

 Bosch AMW 10 HS Multi-Tool with Pole Hedgecutter Attachment

 

Gardengroom safety Hedge Trimmer

This is the Garden Groom Midi, there is also a higher performance model known as the Garden Groom Pro

Trim, Vac and Shred in one go!

Many accidents happen with electric hedge trimmers, either by cutting fingers or electrocution from cutting the cable. About 10 year ago I met an Inventor called Graham Wilson who had a solution - he designed a hedge trimmer with a concealed rotary blade. Another advantage of this design is that the blade would cut and shred the clippings and then blow them into a bag.

Over the years my testing concluded that the Garden Groom is not the best hedge trimmer for everyone but as a specialist product it works very well. It is definitely the safest and the only one that collects and shreds the trimmings- thus saving you a lot of clear up time.

The Garden Groom works best on well maintained hedges that are not too wide. It is fairly heavy and the collecting box fills quickly. However it is now supplied in 2 sizes and  with a tube and large collecting bag which works well if you have space beside your hedge.

 

 

   

click here for more details on the latest and best cordless electric hedge trimmers

 

 

 
 

Best Mains electric grass trimmer?

Mains Powered Grass Trimmers

Black & Decker Strimmers

 Cordless grass trimmers tested and reviewed

click here for my page on cordless grass trimmers

After testing most of the popular makes of electric trimmer I was very disappointed. Many were either uncomfortable to use or had ridiculously complicated nylon line dispensers that were very hard to replace.

I know of at least 2 people who became so frustrated that they smashed their trimmers against a wall and threw them away!

Another annoying thing about electric grass trimmers is the cable - that's why I much prefer the battery powered cordless grass trimmers.

Luckily Li-ion batteries have improved the performance of these cordless tools and they are now worth looking at.

The new cordless trimmers from Bosch have a wheel that supports the weight of the machine and the handles and shafts are adjustable in every way to make the tools easier to use.

click here for my page on cordless grass trimmers

Black and Decker GL690 Grass Trimmer

Black & Decker Strimmers -

One of the most  powerful electric trimmers available was the Black & Decker GL690 Strimmer,  which has a 630w motor. As with other higher spec machines it has full adjustment and can be used to trim the top or sides of your lawn.

An interesting feature with the GL690 is that is has two different and interchangeable cutting cassette systems. One conventional spool of nylon and then a "heavy duty" clip in blade like a big nylon cats whisker. Overall, due to the vast number of models with different spool and line systems and constant changes I do not like to recommend Black & Decker strimmers.  For this product I am happier recoemneding Bosch as they keep the models going for longer and don't use as many different parts.

see more electric trimmers from a Fredshed recommended supplier

DID YOU KNOW?

The word "Strimmer" belongs to Black and Decker. If you call any other make of grass trimmer a "strimmer" you could be sued!

When it comes to Strimmers B&D have gone through more models than Peter Stringfellow. So please don't ask me about spares or repairs as I just cant keep up with all the numbers!

Many retailers and websites want to sell you the Grass Trimmer - but can't be bothered to sell the line and spools you will need to continue using it.

My heavy old B&D Strimmer ( above)

Black & Decker Trimmer Spares

Black and Decker trimmers use 3 types of nylon cutting systems. Manual for the older and low spec models and reflex for later models.

The large machines like the GL680 GL685 and GL690 use the Reflex plus system which has the option of the heavy duty "cats whisker" type blade.

I quite like the cats whisker blades as they are easier to fit. Personally I hate nylon trimmer spools as I have wasted many hours trying to fit or fix them. I have also wasted many hours gazing at a rack of plastic spools and lines in B&Q wondering which one to buy!

If you have a Black & Decker Strimmer the most likely spools you will need are the ones below, click for specific model details.

 

Black & Decker A6481 and A 6441 spools, and best value 50 metre line !

Buy the cats Whisker heavy duty line for the Black & Decker GL680 GL685 and GL690 Trimmers

 

click here to buy nylon spool for the GL680/685/690 Trimmers

 

Electric Garden Shredders

Garden shredders are one of my favourite tools. Gone are the days of smoky bonfires, neighbours complaining of smelly washing, dusty cars and burned down homes. I now longer disguise my car as a mobile forest and spend hours in a queue waiting to see the waste of an entire city. Instead I sit happily beside a shiny machine feeding in branches and receiving bags of woodchip mulch that I USED TO PAY ,S FOR. Shredders are lovely, the equipment  industry knows this and has flooded the market with domestic shredders. Many unfortunately are rubbish.

I have tested the following shredders

AL-KO SP5000 Silent shredder, AL-KO Powerslider2500R shredder, Atco 1800 Quiet shredder, Bosch AXT 180 Rapid Shredder, Bosch AXT200 Rapid Shredder, Bosch AXT2000 HP Silent Shredder, Bosch AXT2000 Rapid Shredder,  Bosch AXT2200 Rapid Shredder ,Bosch AXT2200HP Quiet Shredder , Bosch AXT25D , Bosch AXT 23 TC, Black & Decker GA 1600e shredder, Draper 1800w and 2400W Shredders, JCB GSB 1800 Shredder, Makita DSH201 Shredder, Powerdevil shredder. Ryobi ESR2400. Flymo Pac-a-shred. Wolf Shredder, GE250 shredder.

my readers have also provided good feedback on the

Aldi 2500w, Ryobi RGS 1500 Shredder, MTD 115E shredder, Viking GE35L shredder, and VikingGE103.

STILL WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT SHREDDERS ?

Click here for my page dedicated to BOSCH GARDEN SHREDDERS

also links to Bosch Shredder parts

and repair tips!

 

Black & Decker Alligator Pruner

The Black and Decker Alligator had a 550w motor and weights about 4KG. It will easily cut branches up to 100mm ( 4 inches)

This tool is fun to use but you still need to take care with it to protect yourself and also make the tool last longer.

his one got abused and a small cog broke. Luckily Black & Decker spares are easily available and the parts were not too expensive.

 

 Black + Decker GK1000 Alligator Powered Lopper 550 Watts

 Black + Decker Alligator Chain

My old test model shown, new model is orange in colour but same spec.

This unique tool from Black and Decker combines the features of a small chainsaw with the action of loppers.

The result is a very effective pruning tool that is easy to use and most importantly very SAFE.

The Alligator is light enough for me to use from my wheelchair and the clamping jaws and double safety switches make it much safer than any other powered pruning tool.

There was an 18v battery version but it has been discontinued.

 use link below to buy a replacement chain for your Black & Decker Alligator

 

Mains Powered Electric Chainsaws

If you want to buy a corded electric chainsaw my recommendation is Bosch - They have a wide range, good performance and can be easily contacted for spares and repair. The range covers all requirements with no fancy gimmicks and all the features, including tool-less adjustment of the chain on the higher end models. Another good feature of the Bosch chainsaws is the longevity of the range which means that spares are also going to be around longer.

click here for prices and info for Bosch Electric chainsaws from a Fredshed recommended discount supplier

 

Use above links to find replacement chains for all Bosch and Black & Decker Chainsaws

 

 

 

 

I always wear goggles and gloves when testing garden shredders as thorny branches can get whipped about in your hand or face.

DO ME A FAVOUR!

If you use a powered product like a shredder , trimmer or hedgetrimmer then buy these cheap but effective goggles.

It's so easy to damage your eyesight , from a speck of blown dust to a flying thorn.

Buy now  - what have you got to lose - only 6 or your eyesight.

 

 

 

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Thank you. Fred

 

 

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