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Robot lawnmowers – To buy or not to buy?

If you feel that cutting the grass twice weekly at this time of year is important then there are two ways of looking at this job, a chore that has to be done or a way of getting some useful exercise before the BBQ!

Whichever way you look at it there is now the opportunity to buy the latest tech to cut the grass so you don’t have to lift a finger.

The benefits of a robot lawnmower is that you just get out the charging station, set up the lawn boundaries, programme your lawnmower and off it goes – simple. It does all the hard work for you and then after it’s completed the task of mowing the lawn makes its own way back to the charging station

robotic-lawn-mowerYour robot lawnmower can cope with any shaped garden including slopes and garden furniture such as tables, chairs and even trampolines. The environmental benefit is that all robot mowers mulch the grass they cut, shredding it finely and scattering the cuttings back onto the lawn to feed the soil with nutrients and protect the grass from drought.

If you are considering buying a robotic mower, make sure it’s suitable for the size and shape of your garden as the more expensive ones are really only worth it if you have a big plot. Check how long the battery lasts on a full charge and how long it takes to charge up as you will find that some take under an hour to charge whilst others take up to 16 hours.

Other things to consider are

  • Setting up a perimeter wire
  • Do you want it to cope with wet grass?
  • Do you want it to be quiet?
  • How long does the battery need to last to do the whole lawn/lawns?

Below we have listed 8 robot lawn mowers that are currently on the market that you may want to consider.

1. John Deere Tango E5 Series II: £2,130

2. Robomow RX12U Automatic Robotic Lawn Mower: £499

3. Honda Miimo HRM3000: £2,499

4. Flymo 1200R Robotic Lawnmower: £599.99

5. Bosch Indego 400 Connect: £750

6. Viking iMow 632 PC: £2,299

7. Husqvarna Automower 450X: £3,100

8. McCulloch ROB R600 Robotic Mower: £779

If you have any questions, require help choosing a robot lawnmower then please contact Jeremy or Graham on 01403 700743 or email us and we will be happy to help.

Book a full service now and save 10% with NO VAT! Offer ends 1st April 2017

Our Winter Service Supersaver offer is back, with a 10% discount on parts and labour, plus FREE local collection and delivery when we service your garden tractor, lawn tractor or ride-on mower. The 10% saving is for full services only, on any machine. And now we are no longer VAT registered there’s no VAT added to your bill, making your overall service even cheaper. Our Winter Service Supersaver is always popular so book now to be sure of your 10% saving. And remember, this offer must end on 1st April 2017 .

So what’s included in a WG Gardencare Machinery full lawn tractor, ride-on mower or garden tractor service?

The answer is, a thorough and meticulous check on every element of your machine including cleaning, lubricating and tuning.

For petrol mowers, for example, we steam clean the machine, strip the carburettor, flush the fuel tank and replace the pull starter cord, fit a new spark plug, replace the air filter, sharpen and balance the blade, check and adjust the drive belt, lubricate the height adjuster and all control levers and cables. Finally, we tighten the engine mounting and handlebar bolts, run and test all machine functions, check the running speed and tune the carburettor. You can find out more about our full service here.

As part of your full service we also supply a complimentary fuel stabilizer, which means you don’t have to drain the tank prior to storing your machine for the winter – a practical, time saving touch that’s typical of WG Gardencare Machinery’s service.

Why not book your garden tractor or mower in for its full service now before you put it in storage, and be sure it’s running smoothly and ready to go in the spring? Email us now or call us on 01403 700743 and we’ll be happy to help.

More information and advice on buying a ride-on mower, lawn or garden tractor

Ride-on mowers
A ride-on mowers main function is to cut the grass. This type of mower is the smallest kind of garden machine, where the seat towards the front and the engine is at the back. Ride-on mowers have smaller cutting widths, from about 60cm, and engine sizes, from about 4.4kW. They are the least expensive to buy.

Lawn tractors
Generally lawn tractors are larger than ride-on mowers and are the opposite way around with the seat at the back and engine in front. Their cutting widths start at about 76cm and they have more powerful engines, from 8kW upwards making them suitable for larger areas of lawn, tougher terrain and harder tasks.

Garden tractors
Garden tractors are real heavy-duty machines and have the most powerful engines, 11kW and above, the widest cutting widths and the strongest build. In addition to regular mowing, they can be used for towing, tilling and snow clearing. And for this reason it usually makes garden tractors the most expensive of all.

Ride-on mowers and tractors for a difficult lawn

Sloping or uneven lawns
Some of the more expensive mowers have four-wheel drive, also named ‘all-wheel drive’, often with a differential lock. These mowers or tractors are particularly useful for difficult gardens with sloping lawns offering better traction and less wheel slip.

Whichever mower you choose, it is important to go for as powerful an engine as you can afford, as this will have the force needed to tackle a slope. Also look out for engines that have pump lubrication to ensure that there is continual lubrication to the engine even when the mower is at an angle. Wheel chains can also help, as can a pivoting rear axle.

Most manufacturers give recommendations about the use of garden machines on sloping ground, and limits on the slope on which a machine can be perform normally.

A lawn that’s covered with obstacles

For lawns that have a number of obstacles, individual trees, large bushes, water features or ponds, a ‘zero-turn’ model could be the best option. These machines are designed to turn on the spot, so they’re easily negotiate obstacles on the grass. And there’s also no wasted movement when you’re turning at the end of each ‘stripe’, and they’re good for parking in tricky storage areas.

The ‘zero-turn’ models have two steering handles that separately control the rear wheels, instead of the conventional steering-wheel system, controlling only the front wheels. They usually have a faster top speed than most conventional models, too. Hydrostatic transmission models are better than manual ones for ease of manoeuvrability and tackling obstacles.

Mulching or grass collection

Whether you want ride-on mowers or tractors that collect the grass or mulch it, the information below may help you decide which is best for you.

Large areas of grass generate a lot of grass clippings, and what you decide to do with them will affect the lawn’s finish and the amount of work needed. There are two options for you to consider, you can collect and dispose of clippings on the compost heap or recycle them back into the lawn.

Rear-collection mowers
There are a number of mowers or tractors that have a rear collection facility. The cheapest rear-collection mowers rely on airflow to push clippings into a collection bag. However, the more expensive machines use a powered sweeper to brush them up, or have an integrated rear-collection system. If you don’t want to pick up your grass clippings, you can often buy a deflector, which goes on the back or side of the mower and helps distribute the clippings evenly over the lawn. But if considering this option check the size of the collection bag as the larger it is, the less frequently you’ll have to stop to empty it – although it will also be heavier. Some have to be emptied manually, while others have an automatic tipping system to reduce the amount of effort involved.

Side-discharge mowers
Lawn garden tractors that have mid-mount cutting decks with side ejection give you the option of spreading the clippings from the side of the deck when you don’t want to collect them. This is a good choice if you mow your lawn regularly and have a small amount of grass clippings as in hot conditions it helps to protect the grass from drying out and scorching.

Mulching mowers
As an alternative mulching mowers can give you the best result – the machines blade cuts the clippings until they are very fine, and then blows them on to the lawn. Here overtime they decompose and help feed the grass. You can combine or convert some collecting mowers into mulching mowers by buying a special mulching plate which you can alternate between mulching or collecting depending on the weather conditions and the length of the grass.

Guide to buying a petrol chainsaw

Is a petrol chainsaw right for me?

A petrol chainsaw is a good choice if you have a lot of logs to cut or heavy pruning to tackle in the garden as it will cut through large logs faster than any other machine and you can use it anywhere without the hassle of a trailing power cable.

It will need regular maintenance including:

• Servicing the engine
• Keeping the fuel tank topped up
• Sharpening the cutting teeth
• Keeping the chain at the correct tension

Petrol chainsaws can also be heavy, so it’s worth testing one out before you buy to check whether it’s one you could use comfortably for a reasonable period of time. Consider how you would use a chainsaw for different jobs: pruning branches would involve making single cuts with rests in-between but chopping logs would be a series of vertical cuts in a continual motion.

Petrol chainsaws are noisy, some more than others, but all are likely to irritate the neighbours if you use them constantly and they give off powerful petrol fumes.

Pros: Powerful, portable, great for chopping logs

Cons: High maintenance, noisy, overpowering emissions, expensive

Which petrol chainsaw should I buy?

Petrol chainsaws come in different sizes and power capacities depending on the sort of work they’re designed to do, from pruning the branches of a shrub to felling large trunks.

There are three categories of use:

• domestic
• heavy
• professional

Most of the petrol chainsaws you’ll find in DIY stores and garden centres are designed for domestic use and have a guide bar of 40cm or less and are the best choice for cutting jobs around the garden. Howeverer, choosing a chainsaw isn’t just about cutting. You want a machine that’s easy to use, manoeuvre and maintain.

How does a petrol chainsaw work?

With a petrol chainsaw the engine drives a metal chain, with lots of cutting ‘teeth’, at high speed around an oblong-shaped guide bar. As the spinning chain makes contact with a log or tree trunk, its teeth are dragged along the surface, cutting the wood. The circular motion of the chain keeps the teeth in contact with the wood, so the saw keeps cutting until it has sliced all the way through or the power is stopped.

Most petrol chainsaws have two-stroke engines, which are similar to those used in mopeds or outboard boat engines. It’s worth bearing in mind that a petrol chainsaw’s engine will require regular servicing to keep it in good working order.

Oil and fuel for petrol chainsaws

Petrol chainsaws need a specific mix of petrol and engine oil. Most petrol chainsaws run on a 50:1 petrol-to-oil ratio, but check the user manual for the exact ratio your chainsaw needs.

Petrol chainsaws also need lubricating oil to ensure the chain runs smoothly and doesn’t snag. Look for a chainsaw with an integrated oil chamber that supplies oil automatically, as this will save you time and hassle. Most petrol chainsaw models come with these as standard, but check before you buy.

If you don’t use a petrol chainsaw regularly you must drain it of fuel and oil between uses.

If you have any questions, require help choosing a petrol chainsaw or your chainsaw needs servicing then please contact Jeremy or Graham on 01403 700743 or email us and we will be happy to help.

5 Tips for buying a ride-on lawnmower

Now is the perfect time of year to get that ride-on mower or tractor you’ve always wanted. Here are some things to keep in mind if you are shopping for a new one.

How to Buy the Right Ride-On Mower or Lawn Tractor for You

1. Buying the right Ride-On Lawnmower for your garden. Make sure that the mower you purchase is able to drive around trees, bushes or swings in your garden. Also take things like ponds, hills and fences into account. Ride on mowers typically have front wheel drive, rear wheel drive or zero-turn mower handling.

2. Do you have the need for speed? If you have a garden with lots of obsticles, you may need to slow down to achieve the desired cut. If your garden is large and mostly clear, you may want to speed up to get the job done quickly. A multi-speed system gives you the best of both worlds.

3. It’s all in the engine. Engine power is important in buying a new ride on mower, but it’s not the only thing that should be taken into account. Make sure the ride on lawnmower engine has a quality cooling system and an oil filtering system to extend the life of your engine.

4. Cutting path. Ride–On mowers or lawn tractors are available in a variety of widths – the size of the mower deck is the width that a mower will cut in a single pass. As a reference, here is a guide for what jobs need which cutting path

a) 30-40 inch mowing deck for gardens up to 1 ½ acres

b) 40-48 inch mowing deck for gardens 1 ½ to 3 acres

c) 48-61 inch mowing deck for gardens 3 acres or larger

5. Consider the maintenance schedule. While regular tune-ups and lawn mower maintenance are critical to your new mower’s health, consider factors that may also help protect your engine and reduce the need for repairs. For instance, dirt and debris can damage an engine. Make sure you thoroughly clean the engine surrounds after each use.

If you are looking to purchase a new ride-on tractor or lawnmower then contact us or click here for more information. If you have not already had your ride-on lawnmower or lawn tractor serviced ready for Spring then please give us a call on 01403 700743 to see how we can help.

Caring for your lawn in January and February

General maintenance

Your lawn still needs work in the winter months when you have stored your lawnmower or Ride-on-Tractor away.

If the weather is mild you can lay a new turf or repair hollows and bumps in an existing lawn. For the latter, make a ‘H’ shaped cut in the turf, peel back the grass and either fill the hollow with loam, or scraping away the soil from a bump. Re-lay the turf, press it into place and pinch the cut edges together.

Repair lawn edges, especially around flower and shrub beds, with turf cut from other areas of the lawn.

If your lawn suffers dieback from treading during the wet, muddy season, then laying stepping-stones through it to allow easy access across it without causing damage is a good idea.

Troubleshooting

As the weather gets wetter watch your lawn for signs of waterlogging. If you missed the opportunity to carry out autumn lawn maintenance, then you can still remedy the situation a bit, by spiking the lawn with a garden fork or mechanical aerator. Then fill the holes with a mixture of sharp sand and loam, brushed in using a stiff broom.

In January and February mole activity will increase due to mating and nest (fortress) building. You will need to move the largest molehills and re-firm before overseeding the bare patches in the spring.

Worm casts are particularly troublesome at this time of the year so keep brushing them away so that there is not a build up of soil on the turf surface.

Snow mould can be a problem in wet weather, particularly on overfed and lush lawns that have been left a bit too long. During wet conditions these small patches of yellowish, dying grass become covered in a white or pinkish, cottony fungal growth. The only fungicide available to buy over the counter is Bayer Garden Lawn Disease Control and can be used all year round except when there is a drought or the ground is frozen or covered with snow. However, use should be kept to twice yearly and combined with other non-chemical control methods.

Algae can be a problem on lawns where there is poor drainage, excessive shade, or under the drip-line of trees.

And remember if you have not already had your lawn mower serviced ready for Spring then please give us a call on 01403 700743 to see how we can help or click here for more information.

What to consider when buying a lawnmower.

What to consider when buying a lawnmower.

Whether you are buying a new lawn mower from scratch or upgrading or replacing your existing mower, here are a few tips on what you need to consider before doing so.

The size of your lawn

The most important consideration is the size of your lawn.

A small garden would be mowable with either a hand push or electric mower. Medium and larger lawns will probably need a motor but with a large garden the awkwardness, not to mention the danger, of an electric wire trailing behind you could mean a cordless electric or petrol machine would be the best option. If the power cable is not an issue then make sure it is long enough to extend to the end of the garden.

Your options

Cylinder mowers – These have a rotary blade at the front of the machine which cuts the grass in a scissor motion. Cylinder lawnmowers work best on frequently cut lawns, and struggle more on damp/longer grass or uneven surfaces. However, they can be the most expensive.

Hover mowers – These can be effective on uneven surfaces, on smaller or sometimes medium sized gardens as well as irregularly shaped lawns. You can get hover mowers that either collect the grass or just redistribute the clippings on the lawn for you to rake later and they are usually cheaper than electric cylinder and rotary mowers. Heavier machines can, however, make your arms ache if you have a large lawn.

Rotary lawnmowers – These have a blade that rotates underneath the mower. The machine is on wheels and often has a rear roller, giving the ‘stripe effect’ seen on many football pitches. A rotary mower with a roller is also useful because you can go to the edge of the lawn, cutting the edges.

Other considerations

How a lawnmower is powered will make a difference to its portability and how much effort it takes to use it. A hand push mower will mean you are doing a lot of the work. A corded electric mower will be less effort if you have a medium sized lawn, whilst a cordless electric lawnmower means that you don’t have to worry about how far the cable will reach. Petrol mowers are the most powerful but can be heavy. And cordless lawnmower can be £200 – £300 more expensive than corded models and electric mowers are cheaper to run than petrol.

When it comes to the grass, a lawnmower that collects the grass clippings saves the hard work and time of using a rake. If you have a medium or large lawn mowers with a collection bag/box is a good investment or one which mulches. It chops up the cuttings, pushing them into the turf, where they decompose and feed the soil. With mulching you are putting the nutrients back into the grass and over the course of the season the quality of your lawn will improve. You can get a mulch facility on a mower, or some allow you to add a mulching plug; check this before you consider buying your machine. Mulching works most effectively after the grass has been cut a few times at the beginning of the season.

For further advice or help choosing a lawn mower that is suitable for your needs please contact us or call 01403 700743 and Graham or Jeremy will be happy to help.

What to consider when buying a lawn tractor

What to consider when buying a lawn tractor

When deciding on a new lawn tractor there are 3 main options to consider:

These are a ride-on mower, lawn tractor or garden tractor, however, there are further options if you have a lawn this is difficult to mow.

Ride-on mowers
A ride-on mowers main function is to cut grass. This type of lawn tractor is the smallest type of machine with the engine at the back and a seat towards the front. They have smaller cutting widths (from about 60cm) and engine sizes (from about 4.4kW) and are the cheapest type to buy.

Lawn tractors
Generally, lawn tractors are much larger than ride-on mowers and have the engine in front and the seat behind. Cutting widths start at about 76cm. With more powerful engines, from 8kW upwards, this makes them suitable for larger areas, tougher terrain and harder tasks, such as towing (although they are limited to fairly low towing weights).

Garden tractors
Garden tractors are the real heavy duty machines with the most powerful engines (11kW and above), the widest cutting widths and the toughest build. Not only can garden tractors do all the regular mowing, they can also be used for towing, tilling and snow clearing. With all these extra features they are, unsurprisingly, the most expensive of the three types of lawn tractor.

Ride-on mowers and tractors for a difficult lawn

Uneven or sloping lawns
Some of the more expensive tractor mowers offer four-wheel drive (sometimes called ‘all-wheel drive’), often with a differential lock. These are particularly useful for difficult ground, such as those that slope, as they offer better traction and less wheel slip.

Whichever mower you choose, go for as powerful an engine as you can afford, because then the mower will have the force needed to tackle a slope. Also look out for engines that have pump lubrication to ensure that the engine is lubricated even when the mower is at an angle. Wheel chains can also help, as can a pivoting rear axle.

Manufacturers have recommendations about the use of machines on sloping ground and limits of the slope on which an engine can be expected to perform normally.

A lawn that’s dotted with obstacles
If you have a garden with plenty of interest including areas with small turns and hidden spaces consider a ‘zero-turn’ model. These are designed to turn on the spot, so they’re easy to negotiate around obstacles. There’s also no wasted movement when you’re turning at the end of each ‘stripe’ and they’re good for parking in tricky storage areas.

They have two steering handles that separately control the rear wheels, unlike the conventional steering wheel system which only controls the front wheels. These mowers generally have a faster top speed than conventional models, too.

If you need any help or advice on which ride-on mower, lawn or tractor mower to choose then please contact us or give us a call on 01403 700743 and our trained and experienced team will be happy to help. We also offer a wide selection of garden tractors and ride-on mowers which can delivered direct to you.

When is the best time to stop mowing your lawn?

When is the best time to stop mowing your lawn?

There is an Old Wives’ Tale about when to stop mowing your lawn in the winter months. The true is grass does not actually stop growing even when it is really cold, it simply slows down. So the question of when you should stop mowing the grass is more a question of the prevailing weather and ground conditions that quite often prevent you getting onto the lawn when you have the ideal opportunity to mow it.

The factors restricting lawn mowing in the winter months can be –

• Ground frost and snow
• Water logging
• Earthworm casts
• Rain
• Reduced daylight hours
• Temperature
• A heavy lawnmower or ride-on-tractor

The lawn’s growth pattern will naturally slow as the soil and air temperatures reduce. If the air temperature is above 5 degrees centigrade the grass will keep growing. Reflective heat from buildings and localised sheltered microclimates will aid growth and where you live in the UK geographically.

As we are now into the winter months the frequency of mowing will reduce from twice a week or more normally once a week only to once every 10 days then down to once a fortnight and finally down to once a month in December and January. The aim is to literally take the ‘top’ off the lawn, so that means no more than 25% of grass growth at one time. This will keep the lawn tidy and help in the removal of leaf litter and debris.  And mowing the lawn if you are able to a few weeks before Christmas keeps the garden looking neat and tidy ahead of the festive season.

If you have any questions regarding what type of lawn mower, ride-on-mower or tractor you should be using then give us a call on 01403 700743.

Lawn mower servicing

At this time of the year getting your lawnmower, ride-on-tractor or any other garden machinery ready for storage or use is as important as keeping it maintained through the spring and summer months.

At WG Gardencare Machinery Ltd when we service a lawnmower, ride-on-mower or tractor we will look at a whole host of things. Our full service on a petrol rotary mower, for example, includes: 

1. Remove all covers and guards

2. Steam clean the machine to remove any grass build up and oil residues

3. Remove and strip the carburettor and clean it in an ultrasonic tank

4. Flush the fuel tank to remove stale fuel and contamination

5. Replace the pull starter cord and re-wind the return spring and lubricate all moving parts

6. Check the air gap on the ignition coil and fit a new spark plug

7. Replace the air filter

9. Sharpen and balance the blade

10. Check drive belt and cables and make any necessary adjustments

11. Lubricate height adjuster mechanism and all control levers and cables

12. Tighten the engine mounting and handle bar bolts

13. Run and test all machine functions

14. Check the running speed and tune the carburettor.

We also supply a fuel stabilizer with each service with our compliments. This addition means that there is no need to drain the tank of fuel prior to storing your machine for the winter.

Our service price is carried out at an hourly rate with free estimates. Please call us on 01403 700743 for a quote.