How to Choose the Best Cordless Strimmer for your Allotment
Whether you’re struggling with overgrown grass, weeds or brambles on the allotment, investing in a cordless strimmer will be one of the best ways to keep it under control.
Of course, finding effective tools to work on the allotment can be tricky; you’re often forced to rely on battery-powered machines given that there aren’t any plugs nearby, and some of these can be a lot more reliable than others.
The following information will give you a better idea about how to choose the best cordless strimmer for allotments – taking into account the specific restrictions of the allotment as a working environment.
Things to Consider When Choosing Allotment Tools
It can be hard to find tools that are practical and convenient to use on the allotment because there are more limitations compared to just working in the garden. Here are a few things to bear in mind when choosing allotment tools:
Most allotments don’t have easy access to a mains plug, so using any mains-powered tool is generally out of the question. Although you could use a generator, it’s generally easier just to find an alternative and use either battery-powered or petrol-powered tools. You’ll find more info on the pros and cons of these tools in the next section.
Allotments aren’t always positioned right next door. You might be lucky enough to have an allotment that can be accessed from your garden, but the likelihood is you’ll have to walk at least a little way to reach your plot.
Carrying heavy tools can get tiring fast, and this will be particularly true if your allotment is a block or two away from your house. You may even try to transport all of your equipment at once, and having several heavy tools will make this a lot harder.
For this reason, it can help to have lightweight battery-powered tools, as these can be a lot lighter than petrol alternatives.
Although many people can access their allotment by foot, many people still need to get in the car to get to the allotment. In this case it’s important to think about the size of the tools you’ll be taking to the allotment, and whether they are sufficiently compact to fit in the backseat or boot.
You may even be able to cycle to your allotment, so having tools that can fit in a backpack or pannier/rack bag will be very useful.
A lot of people head to the allotment for a bit of relaxation and to disconnect from the outside world; therefore, it’s important to think about noise pollution when choosing tools to use there. Whilst it’s accepted that people will occasionally need to use a lawnmower or power tool, consistently using machines with loud engines is unlikely to be appreciated.
Generally speaking, petrol-powered machines are noisier than battery-powered models (and they also cause the air to smell of petrol fumes).
Battery-Powered Strimmers vs Petrol-Powered Strimmers
Both of these strimmers are technically ‘cordless’, and therefore possible to use on the allotment without a mains power supply; however, there are pros and cons to each type of machine.
Here we’ll take a more in-depth look at petrol-powered strimmers versus battery-powered strimmers, so you can see which will work better on your allotment:
Nowadays, battery-powered tools are pretty powerful. Most strimmers can cope with grass, nettles and weeds. Some will even be able to tackle light brambles. However, it’s unlikely that a battery powered strimmer will stand up to the task of cutting larger plants with thick stems, tough brambles or heavy brush.
The benefits of a battery-powered strimmer are:
- They’re very lightweight. Unlike petrol strimmers, cordless battery powered strimmers are lightweight and easy to manage. They’ll be easier to carry to an allotment than a petrol machine, and easier to lift into the car if necessary too. Naturally, they’re also easier to hold for prolonged periods whilst working.
- Versatile and easy to use in small areas. Battery powered strimmers can be used to neaten up areas where mowers can’t reach, and they’re generally well balanced (with no heavy engine) so they’re easier to control.
- Limited maintenance or preparation required. Lithium-ion batteries will hold their charge well, so as long as the battery was charged some time after its last use, the strimmer will be ready to go straight away. No fuel or oil mixing required.
- Powerful enough to cope with grass, nettles and some thicker vegetation. Battery-powered strimmers will cope with the majority of vegetation that will be found on an allotment.
- Quiet to run (particularly compared to petrol machines). The motors of battery-powered strimmers are quieter than petrol engines. Battery strimmers generally run at around 80 dB, whereas petrol strimmers reach approximately 90 – 110 dB.
The potential drawbacks of a battery-powered strimmer are:
- Short battery life. Depending on the battery you’re using, a battery-powered strimmer can last anywhere from 15 – 40 minutes. Tougher tasks will drain the battery much faster, and recharging can take up to an hour which will disrupt your work. Cordless strimmers aren’t the best option for longer jobs.
- They aren’t suitable for very heavy-duty tasks. If you’ve got a lot of tough undergrowth to work through, you’re better off opting for a petrol-powered strimmer or brushcutter. If the area is very overgrown, it’s unlikely that a battery-powered strimmer will be up to the task.
Petrol-powered strimmers are heavy-duty machines. They’re also just generally quite heavy. For most general allotment maintenance, a petrol-powered strimmer will be more powerful than necessary. They’re useful for cutting through heavy brush, thick brambles and tough weeds.
The benefits of a petrol-powered strimmer are:
- Extremely powerful. You’ll be able to clear overgrown areas with thick vegetation.
- Achieves power without using electricity. If you think you might forget to charge a battery in advance, you might find it easier to have a petrol strimmer.
- Longer running time than battery-powered models before fuel runs out.
The potential drawbacks of a petrol-powered strimmer are:
- They tend to be a lot heavier than battery-powered machines. This can make them tiring to hold whilst working, and also difficult to transport to the allotment.
- They’re loud and emit fumes. This may not be popular with other allotment-goers and also isn’t good for the environment.
- May be more powerful than necessary. Unless you need to clear thick brush, you may find a petrol-powered machine unwieldy. Using one could end up being a waste of energy when you could have an easier time with a less powerful model.
Different Cutting Mechanisms
Strimmers either use cutting line, or cutting blades, to cut the grass/weeds. You can choose a model with either one or the other, depending on which will work best for you.
Cutting Line Strimmers
Strimmers that use a cutting line have either one or two lines of nylon string inside the strimmer head. They use centrifugal force to cut – the line is no good for cutting when it’s not moving, but it becomes stiff and blade-like when it spins.
When the line wears out, new line needs to be fed into the cutting head from the spool. On some strimmers, this process is done manually; however, the majority of strimmers replace the line either automatically, or semi-automatically.
The two most popular ways to distribute more line are ‘bump feed’ and ‘automatic feed’.
A ‘bump feed’ strimmer requires you to ‘bump’ the head on the ground to release more line. With this method, you’re in control of when to release more line, and can control how quickly it is used.
‘Automatic feed’ strimmers tend to release new line each time the machine is turned on. There are pros and cons to this. It can ensure that you’re never using weak line; however, it can occasionally result in using line too fast. This can become costly.
If you’re using a battery-powered strimmer, you’ll naturally want to keep turning it off to save battery whilst moving about the allotment. This may waste line though, if it is automatically released each time you turn the unit on.
There’s also a choice of ‘single-line’ or ‘double-line’ strimmers. Single-line strimmers have less cutting force compared to double-line strimmers, but this isn’t always bad – you may want less force depending on the job. Some gardeners feel that grass strimmers with a double cutting line are too powerful. Their force may damage tree trunks, fencing or netting if you get too close.
Bladed strimmers generally use nylon blades which attach to the head of the strimmer and spin at speed. These spinning blades generate a lot of cutting power.
Generally speaking, blades will need to be replaced after two hours of use. They often get damaged whilst cutting, and occasionally will spin off and end up lost in the undergrowth.
Replacement blades are easy to come by. Packs of approximately 30 blades can be found online for about £10.
In terms of cutting power, blades are often considered slightly stronger than cutting line. You should be careful using blades around trees, rocks, and other hard surfaces as they can cause damage. Some gardeners prefer blades because they don’t have to mess around with cutting line, whilst others don’t like needing to frequently replace the blades.
Cordless Strimmer FAQs
How long is the battery life and charge time on a cordless strimmer?
Cordless strimmers will last for approximately 15 – 45 minutes depending on what battery you are using and what vegetation you are cutting. Batteries with less power (such as 2.0 Ah batteries) will generally last around 20 minutes. More powerful batteries (such as 4.0 Ah batteries) can last closer to 40 minutes.
If you are forcing the strimmer through heavy vegetation, the battery will run down faster.
The charging time will depend on the charger. Some strimmers come with quick chargers that will charge the battery in approximately 1 hour; however, others may take up to 5 hours to complete charging.
How much power does my strimmer need?
If you want to clear a large area of unkempt grass and weeds, a strimmer of approximately 20 V will be sufficient. In many cases, an 18 V strimmer will manage, but it might struggle more on thick grass.
Petrol strimmers are usually too powerful for small jobs like edging lawns or cutting back smaller patches of weeds. Petrol strimmers are better suited to cutting back thick brush and brambles.
What should I wear whilst strimming?
Wear protective clothing such as ear defenders, particularly if the job is going to take a while. Even electric motors can be very loud.
Sturdy boots are also a must, in order to protect your feet, and you should avoid wearing loose clothing that could get caught in the strimmer.
For overgrown areas, opt for protective glasses. Strimming can throw up stones and other sharp objects which can get in your eye if you’re not careful.
Finally, wear a pair of gloves to protect your hands while strimming. If your strimmer vibrates a lot, you should take frequent breaks.