When it comes to keeping your front garden as clean-shaven as a sailor on shore leave, the mighty lawnmower will be the machine to which most of the heavy lifting falls. However, there are some areas that mowers just can’t handle, whether because the undergrowth is too coarse and stubborn or too out-of-the-way and fiddly to reach.
It’s here where brushcutters and grass trimmers come into their own, as these machines are able to provide the extra oomph and outreach that a lawnmower simply can’t. The former are more suited to cutting undergrowth on undeveloped land down to size and knocking it into shape, while the latter are a better choice for neatening up borders and areas around ornaments, whirligigs and other backyard fixtures. Which one you choose will depend upon your own individual needs and circumstances.
When it comes to brushcutters and grass trimmers, there are three main variations – and these all relate directly to the power source. Electric models are the most popular choice for standard gardening requirements, since they are easy-to-use, quieter and more lightweight, affording inexperienced greenfingers the chance to neaten up their patch of turf with the minimum of fuss.
It’s worth noting, however, that electric brushcutters and grass trimmers generally don’t pack the same punch as their petrol brethren. For heavy-duty, industrial applications, an electric model probably won’t cut the mustard (or, more importantly, the grass either) but for all common household tasks, an electric doohickey is almost certainly up to the job. Which doohickey in particular, we hear you ask?
If you’re keen to stick with electric as your brushcutter power supply, you’ll probably need to go with a battery-powered model since corded brushcutters are few and far between. This is due to the difficulty (not to mention dangerousness) of trailing lengthy cables behind you while you work, as well as the limited reach that being connected to an AC power supply entails.
However, the development of lithium-ion batteries has revolutionised the brushcutter market. Dispensing with noisy, polluting petrol models has allowed those in search of a cleaner, quieter brushcutter to trim away to their heart’s content.
Bosch have long led the charge for electric models and it’s no surprise to see their GFR 25 at the top end of the scale. This high-performance model retains all of the advantages of a petrol engine with none of the fumes, noise or vibration issues, and boasts a running time of 90 minutes (chargeable in just 42 minutes).
While the GFR 25 represents the cream of the crop for electric brushcutters, its price does reflect that. A more budget-friendly alternative might be the Husqvarna 536 LiL, which has been specifically designed with performance in mind and offers a 25% efficiency improvement over competing models. Its bite might not be quite as forceful as the Bosch model but it’s every bit as muted, making for a pleasant strimming experience for you and your neighbours.
For lightweight, affordable but accomplished machines capable of tackling all grass trimming needs around the garden, Bosch have several models which fit the bill. The ART 26 SL is the perfect choice for the gardening layman who just wants to neaten up his borders without getting too bogged down by bells and whistles. At a budget-friendly price, the ART 26 SL offers superb handling and a cutting circumference of 26cm, making it ideal for smaller, simpler jobs.
The ART 35, on the other hand, is a beefier option with a 600W motor and a 35cm cutting circumference, making it better suited to tackling areas of stubborn scrub and brushwood. As is to be expected, it’s both more expensive and heavier than the other Bosch model, but the manufacturers have put every effort into making it user-friendly, with ergonomically-designed gripping areas, a comfortable shoulder strap and even weight distribution for optimised handling.
But Bosch isn’t the be-all and end-all for corded grass trimmers, with Efco also offering higher-end products suitable for heavier-duty gardening needs. The Efco 8061 and the Efco 8091 are both equipped with powerful motors (600W and 850W respectively) and both weigh less than the equivalent Bosch model (3.2kg and 3.5kg compared to 4.6kg). As such, they could be seen as the ideal combination of brawn and manoeuvrability for tougher home jobs.