Thursday 3 October 2019

Batty about battery electric (in the garden)

My Black and Decker battery electric hedge trimmer
Remember the days of the drama when you cut the cable on your electric hedge trimmer? Remember all those connections as you strove to reach the end of a long hedge or the frustration when the cut out cut in?

Julie has moved on from hand shears
I am afraid I even remember when I cut my hedge with hand shears. (Still used by some expert  topiarising practitioners or pains-taking gardeners)

You might in desperation have turned to petrol driven hedge trimmers. So heavy and unless of professional standard gut wrenching starting and a lottery ticket for even starting at all.
I myself use a STHL model with some reliability (Despite when new, a faulty plastic tube quickly disintegrated to clog up the innards and the uncaring supplier cleaned up the symptoms but even when told failed to cure the cause.
Talented Peter Williams got me up and running).

To be honest although my petrol hedge trimmer gets quite heavy use cutting back end of season perennials and general ‘rough pruning’ and tidying, I have retired from cutting my seventy meter long hedge. Brenda says at my age I ought to pay a certain respect to advancing years and it is cheaper to pay Eric than downsize our home.
In truth he does it better.

Battery technology in recent years has so improved that you can use powerful light weight cutters that go a long time on one charge. You can have a cup of tea or do something else whilst it rapidly charges.

I write today about Peter’s recent experience with his new professional STHL electric hedge cutter and rather repeat myself from an earlier post about my wonderful Black and Decker electric strimmer.

Electric edges and flayed weeds
I have always been suspicious of petrol strimmers and sympathy with those who slave away cutting grass in awkward places all day. I have a dislike of two stroke petrol engines and a fear of constantly fumbling re-threading broken strings

Three years ago a former colleague visited my open day and was drawn to my six hundred meters of meandering lawn edges. I am not sure whether it was was sympathy or just well disguised horror. Years ago I had decided that long handled edging shears had been the best solution but even with sharp shears (thank you Peter) the edges lacked a certain ‘ne sais quoi’
My friend promised me a demonstration of his own Black and Decker electric strimmer. It was a complete revelation! With its monofilament line set vertical (I can fine no other word for the ‘cable’) it whizzed round the edges. Even I soon got the knack of how to use it.
Jim emphasised I should wear goggles for the very occasional flung ‘mud’ or very small stone. I now modify my technique to wander into small weeds in the bottom of my very shallow edge trench.
What a transformation. Even Brenda my consistent ‘advisor’ (and former edger before she hung up her boots) admires them.
What I should have learned years ago is that if used properly, modern electric strimmers automatically get to the end of their spool without human intervention!

I recently witnessed a similar  dramatic revelation when I took my strimmer to Bolton Percy churchyard and showed Jacky Giles how quickly it tidied up small weeds and soft vegetation. Her eyes shined as she saw its potential.

Black and Decker strimmer
30cm 36V 2.0Ah Lithium-ion Strimmer® Grass Trimmer

Stands ready
I don’t seek today to promote a particular product and anyway my own is no longer available. Do get one of sufficient power for your needs and I would go for no less  than the above specification. I get more than half an hour of continuous cutting and an hour or so if I am not in a hurry and stop and start to take out a weed.
I take a break or more often do something else whilst it recharges which takes about half an hour. The battery flashes a reassuring green whilst recharging and remains on its stand until needed again. Sometimes it flashes red which worried me the first time. Peter explained that is what is meant to do and indicates it is nearly fully discharged - which is no sin.

You will have gathered that I now use it for many more things than originally planned; particularly small annual weeds. I align the line vertically most of the time but you will find you discover the best orientation for differing small tasks.

I have a foolish ambition to get rid of coarse grass weeds in my lawn and I find if used to cut in vertically on my sandy soil my strimmer is an absolute godsend and perhaps in a decade or so my lawn will be all fescue

This fescue grass path has been mown once and strimmed once in the two years since sowing

I hope you will have read about my successful use of un-mown pure Chewing fescue stands as grass paths running into my large borders and as a foil to plants in Cathi’s grass verge and in Lyndi’s grass field.
I can struggle into the fescue grass paths and patches once or twice a year with my mower in my own garden and on the village plot but find the strimmer a good substitute and a real boon if I want to cut back the fescue grass after flowering in the other grass features.

Please note my own electric strimmer does not have enough power to 'mow' normal long grass, nor to cut back thick herbaceous perennials for which I still use my hedge trimmer. For all edges it is terrific.

I guess many of my readers have a much greater experience of electrical garden aids and would love to hear your comments. Should I now be considering a battery operated mower?

Peter’s hedge trimmer

He has just splashed out £400 on a super dooper electric hedge trimmer. It is a more powerful cutter than his previous petrol one and cutting his ‘miles of hedge is pure pleasure (I exaggerate the ‘miles’ and even the ‘pleasure’). It goes almost two hours on a single charge.
I feel very tempted.

A beautiful cut

They have been clipping with this small  trimmer for topiary work for several years now

If you would like to read more about how I use Chewings fescue in my garden

If you would like to read more about my use of the Black and Decker strimmer


  1. Years and years ago Harry advised you to get one for Brenda to use !!!

    1. Such wisdom - but don't think she will use it now. Fair weather gardener you know!
      We did try a flimsy liitle cadget but abandoned it. Not sure now what Harry advised but if it was like the one I use now, how wrong I was. Hope you are both well. I put a little note to you in my previous post, hope you saw it1

  2. Battery operated tools are really useful on the allotment. Most of ours use the same battery pack and we bought two of them which gives plenty us power for an afternoon’s plotting.

    1. whoops I have just rubbed out my reply when buzzing through de spamming
      I think it a good idea to have a spare battery.
      I can just imagine you huddled away plotting on your allotment

    2. My sister won’t let me use the word plotting when on the phone with her. She says anyone listening in will misconstrue our conversation,

    3. I would go along with the shady character image

  3. Yes, I have that same trimmer (though I call it a weed whacker). Love it! Works fine and so much quieter, which I value highly.


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