Wednesday 22 August 2012

Z needs advice

Darlings, advice needed, please.  We're pretty well without help in the garden again and it's all running away from us.  The Sage is keeping reasonably up with the grass cutting, but I'm going to have to buy a strimmer.  And so, since personal recommendations are always the best thing (and the 'don't touch it with a bargepole' ones sometimes the most useful of all), can any of you help?

It needs to be pretty heavy-duty, so possibly a brushcutter - certainly not something for lawn edging, which would be the last job I'd do after everything else: ie, never.

It'll have to be petrol-driven, because I'll be using it too far from the house for an electric one.

I'm short and not that strong, the handle has to be adjustable and it shouldn't be too heavy.  I have done some research (blimey, it's boring, which is why I'm asking you) and the lighter-weight ones don't seem, from the reviews, to be especially well made.  But I'm looking at a Draper one that seems to be well made, efficient, easy to start, not too expensive - but it weighs over 10 kilos before fuel and I'm not sure what I weigh in kilos but it's somewhere in the 50s, which seems to make it quite a lot, proportionally.

I've got to use it, it's too much for the Sage, who has had mini-strokes and needs to take care.

There seems to be a sudden price jump from between £100-£200 to £400+ and it would have to be damn good to consider spending the latter.  I'd rather not.

I want to order it soon.  I'm going down to the local shop to see what they have, because ease of carrying and use is fairly vital.  But I'd appreciate your input, if you can help.



Ms Scarlet said...

A goat?

I will ask the expert, when he arrives home - which will be late. Brush cutters are good - will ask him about make etc.


Mago from the mines said...

Two goats ...

Stihl has some good products, robust and made to last, used by professionals in Landschaftsbau etc. (FS 260 Ce), but they are heavy and expensive.

Compostwoman said...

We have a Stihl FS 80 petrol brushcutter - with bicycle handlebars and a full harness which takes a lot of the strain out of using it. It is a scary bit of kit though with a wickedly sharp metal blade on the end. You can get a strimmer line (bump feed) to go on the end instead, though. And other sharp stuff.

It is excellent - but get the full harness not the single strap as that will do in any back!

Expensive, but IMO worth it.

Z said...

Bloody internet cut out just as I tried to publish my comment. Hmph, try again.

Goats would have to obey instructions as to what they may and may not eat. So maybe that's out.

I did look at a Stihl, but it was even heavier than the Draper. However, if a full harness helps then that might be manageable (I'm not supposed to carry very heavy weights because of my hips). We pay £10 an hour when we can get someone to do some strimming, so it will pay off in the end if I do it. After all, I have plenty of time on my hands :/

Compostwoman said...

Try a full harness in the shop before you buy - or better yet get someone to bring one out for you to try - thats what we did and any decent garden tool shop will do that for you. You can't buy this sort of stuff without trying one.

Compostman found using it with the single strap did his neck and back in - I couldn't even use it - so we got the full harness. It cost a bit more but is well worth it.
Although most of the time now we use a scythe.

Hope you find something which helps.

Unknown said...

Might not a jobbing gardener who will bring his own gear with him be a good alternative? I'd have thought your area would be full of retired farm labourers who'd be glad to earn an extra few pounds.

Z said...

I'm happy to use a scythe earlier in the year, but it's hard work now when stalks are so tough - I can't keep up with everything and a lot of stuff has to be cut down once a year, in the summer. Some of the nettles are taller than I am, scything is a bit hazardous!

Is your machine easy to start?

Compostwoman said...

yes very easy to start - we rate Stihl products highly!

Agree about the scything though - we have nettles which are like small trees here! And they hurt like mad if they sting...special herefordshire
nasty ones I think

Z said...

It isn't working out, Mike, there's too much to do. We did have someone two days a week for a year which was brilliant but he's now gone back to a full-time job. I need to take on more so that an occasional jobbing gardener can do other things such as digging the veg garden and cutting hedges.

Unknown said...

Get a gardener, we have!

Z said...

John, I'm afraid I'm going to have to be the gardener. There's a lot of unruly undergrowth around here, it isn't a case of a bit of weeding and pruning.

Unknown said...

A gardener doesn't just mow the lawns and weed/prune. They do what you pay them to do!

Z said...

I know love, but we haven't got anyone to do the amount of upkeep this place needs and we'd be pushed to afford it. I have to do more than I'm doing at present.

Blue Witch said...

Second the Stihl plus harness.

2nd choice, Echo. Don't bother with anything else. They'll never stand up to your acres

But, you'll find them hard going, even with harness. £10 per hour sounds an absolute bargain.

Blue Witch said...

Have you thought about offering 'allotment space' in return for the person undertaking defined gardening tasks for you?

Perhaps that's not trendy round where you are: but I know lots of (mostly older, but some city banker types too) people do it successfully round here, and so can stay in their houses with large gardens that would otherwise be beyond them.

Compostwoman said...

BW is right - such schemes are getting very popular - Landshare is one ( Hugh F-W river Cottage set it up ) and they would LOVE you!

I am seriously considering joining such a scheme in the future, as my health is not great and CM is not getting any if it meant we could stay here at Compost mansion a bit longer and someone could benefit from growing on our land as well, it would be worth the thinking about.

Compostwoman said...

And yes, £10 per hour is a bargain, even in (cheaper) Herefordshire!

Z said...

If we could get as much gardener time as we could afford, that'd be fine. But no one is available regularly at present. And honestly, since allotments are already in the village, I can't think of anyone who'd want to take on any work on our land in return for space for growing vegetables. Many people in the village already have gardens bigger than they want.

Compostwoman said...

Oh dear Z I do feel sympathy for you in this situation as I really do know how it feels.

Apart from suggesting a good make of brushcutter I am not sure what else I can add.

But have a hug, anyway and if I were near to you I would come and help out with the trusty Stihl.

Z said...

Thank you, love. We did get a lot done in the year we had regular help, it's such a pity that he took a full-time job. The Sage loves this place, he never wants to leave.

dinahmow said...

Too bad I'm so far away - that's twice what I earned at the vineyard!
Copostwoman and Blue Witch have said what I would say.Definitely try before you buy.
Don't know whether you have decent hire places? When we were clearing our 10 acres (years ago) we hired big machines when necessary.That might be an option.

kippy said...

Is there a rental shop where you can rent the items needed/when you need them? That way you could test them out first before making a big purchase.

PixieMum said...

May we suggest that you look further afield for a landscape/agricultural contractor to price bringing the grounds at which you can look after.

In order to do this it will be necessary to specify in some detail exactly what clearing has to be done in order they may price it. Then they could visit once or twice year to maintain the level.

As regards to the strimmer to get a feel the weight of the machine liken it to bags of sugar and see if you can manage that sort of weight. Your ability to handle a machine of that size will reduce over time.

BTW if you do buy it you will need safety goggles and protective clothing.

Any chance the family could do it, you could pay them!

Ian and Madeleine

Z said...

The going rate locally for a full-time job for an unqualified but hard-working groundsman is £7.50 per hour. Pay is very low around here. A self-employed gardener who brings his own tools, lawnmower etc, is £11 or £12 per hour I think, that's about what we pay to get the churchyard cut.

Madeleine, it's more like carrying a year-old child around, that sort of weight. And there's so much land here, however easy it is to maintain (and it's just a matter of keeping grass and weeds down, much of it), it's the time it takes. Two days a week from our gardener was keeping things in check and leaving time over for a few projects.

Thanks very much, all, you've been enormously helpful.