9 Oct 2017

Easy grass and hedge tidying with Stihl

Ooh, I love a tidy edge.

While I enjoy a good 'green gym' workout in the garden, there are all too frequent times when the more energetic tasks on the To Do List are a stretch too far at the wrong end of a tiring day.  Thus the shears are put away in favour of a cup of tea and a sit down while the hedge surrounding the middle garden is allowed to slowly thicken once again and the allotment grass is left "for another day".

So it was with great anticipation (not to mention joy, relief and some trepidation) that I gladly accepted Stihl's opportunity to review a few products in their compact cordless range.  First to arrive was the grass strimmer.  Now, normally, I'd have no use for this as the lawns in the flats are regularly mown by maintenance gardeners but I'd just agreed to help out on the allotment.  One glance at the rusty push mower in the plot shed confirmed that a grass strimmer would be a huge help.  A couple of plotters have petrol strimmers which are extremely noisy and intrusive so I waited until the plots were mostly empty before I pressed the two buttons to activate mine. My fears of intrusive noise were groundless. Powered by a push-in rechargeable Lithium-ion battery, any noise is considerably reduced compared to petrol strimmers, plus there's no fumes. The strimmer is supplied with a charging station which takes around 20 to 40 minutes to fully recharge the batteries at home.



The second time I went to strim the grass, I was more confidant of both what I was doing and when. Gardeners stopped to chat which is when I realised the value of the double click battery. The battery can be quickly part released with the push of a button which cuts power to the machine - an invaluable safety measure for absent-minded novices like me. It's also very reassuring to know that once the battery is partly or fully removed, the machine can't be accidentally brought to life by anyone lifting it and activating buttons - very important when working in a team or with family around.

There's a clever mechanism on the machine for spooling out more line when needed - you simply knock the base of the strimmer head on the ground as you work; more line is shot out of the canister and the ends trimmed on a blade in the head. Things didn't go well on my first attempt as I frequently bumped the strimmer on the lumpy grass leaving snippets of blue plastic line behind. Would birds be tempted to eat these? For safety and tidiness, I gathered them all up, a time consuming task, and quickly learnt to handle the machine better.  The grass had been well trampled over the course of a team allotment afternoon and, because it was very long, it was damp at the roots.  The strimmer dealt with this easily and although it looked a little rough afterwards, this was easily remedied with a second strim a couple of days later. (As in the top photo!)

I quickly got the hang of using the strimmer which meant that I can now do all the allotment grass without using up the battery. Strimming every couple of weeks on my quarter plot, I found the battery lasted well, usually recharging it every few weeks. (The AK10 supplied with the strimmer is intended to last for at least 20 minutes of continuous use.) After use, I make time to wipe over the strimmer head before putting it away - again, with the battery removed to be sure of retaining all my fingers!

Having seen other plot holders fiddling about replacing the strimmer line on their petrol machines, I found replacing the spool on the Stihl cordless strimmer a doddle. The head unclips, the old spool taken out,  and the new canister dropped in with the line threaded through the side holes and the head replaced. Easy peasy, although I admit I resorted to watching a You Tube video the first time just to make sure.

What about the life of the line spool?  After my first attempt, I got the hang of handling the machine without knocking the spool head so only spooled line out when I needed to. More line is used up in very long grass or when strimming against raised beds or path edgings.  Dock leaves don't do it any favours either.  I'm guessing that more line would be used on an allotment than in a garden where only the lawn edges need strimming. It's only recently that I've replaced the canister - so I reckon it's done well, given that I've done both my plot, the neighbour's and the paths inbetween several times.

I collected my strimmer from Briant's of Risborough in Oxfordshire. They gave me a demonstration on how the strimmer works and supplied safety glasses to protect my eyes when working - a very good idea as I found out when not wearing them one day! I'd been given a pair of medium sized leather Stihl work gloves and Briant's were kind enough to swop themfor a better fitting small size. I have to give them a big thumbs up as their customer care is exemplary. I'd expect nothing less from a Stihl dealer!



Another of Stihl's compact cordless range that I've found incredibly useful is the hedge trimmer. It's lightweight (like the rest of the range), works with the same battery (interchangeable between the items in the range) and temptingly easy to use. The privet hedge that borders the south side of the middle garden has grown like mad this year but that's been no problem as I can have the job done in 5 minutes with the hedge trimmer - the job barely reduces the battery levels. Instead of having to find shears and secateurs and snip away for a good half hour, I now think, "Oh, hedge is getting a bit untidy, I'll just quickly do that". I keep one of the batteries in the car and the trimmer in the shed so the whole job is seamless. Think, Do, Done.  These are sharp, efficient tools so, like the others in the range, safety features abound. On this model, as well as the removable battery and two button start, there's a lock switch. It's all very reassuring and foolproof.  And because I want to be using my hedge trimmer for many years to come, I've bought a can of Stihl's special oil spray to wipe down the blades and keep them in top condition before putting the protective cover back on the machine.

As you can probably tell, I'm overjoyed at having these products in my garden tidying armoury! The Compact Cordless range also includes a chainsaw (which I've yet to use) and a leaf blower which would be particularly handy at this time of year.  I must admit that this is the first time I've used any of this kind of garden machinery but it seems that there's plenty to recommend, not least Stihl's excellent reputation that has made the company a trusted industry standard.  Their machinery has always been available to all (there are over 700 authorised dealers in the UK) but a domestic gardener would previously have had to weigh up the cost of buying professional tools; this compact cordless range is very affordable and makes Stihl's high quality accessible to all ... plus they're a joy to use.

My strimmer is part of the original compact cordless range and retails for £199; this summer Stihl extended the range and the latest strimmer, the FSA 45, retails at £99 inc VAT. To my mind, that's Stihl at bargain prices.


Disclosure: Stihl provided me with three items from the Compact Cordless range for review - FSA 56 grass trimmer, HSA 56 hedge trimmer and the MSA 120 chainsaw.  My thanks to Rosie at HROC pr for organising this - and waiting patiently for my review! x




10 comments:

  1. We use battery operated stringers, hedge cutters and pruners and they are very useful. We have a sPre battery so we can cover the whole plot if we wish to.

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    1. Battery operated is definitely the way to go on an allotment. I haven't heard of sPre batteries (not surprisingly) but a battery that gives plenty of power is a time saver. The Stihl AK20 has double the power of the AK10 but either of them suit my purpose. Good to have a spare just in case, as well!

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  2. Caro, seen your post on the Garden Bloggers Facebook page so thought I would have a read. How did you find the weight of the cordless strimmer? I know Stihl is generally heavy duty.

    I have tested and reviewed a few cordless strimmers but have never had a Stihl to put though its paces. I have used other Stihl equipment and they have all been high performing tools. One of their latest Petrol leaf blowers is like the Rolls Royce of blowers.

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    1. Hi James, thanks for reading and commenting! I'm 5'2" and find the both the strimmer and hedge trimmer very manageable. The strimmer is around 3kg with the battery in so no contest for the bag of groceries that I lug up to my flat every week! I think that Stihl put a lot of thought into making the range appealing to consumers including weight, ease of handling and ease of use. Hope that helps! Caro x

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  3. That's a very helpful review for when our petrol one expires since I can never start the damn thing. I use cordless hedge cutters here for the box, beech and yew hedges and rate them highly too. Yes rechargeable battery appliances are the way to go. Backlane Notebook.

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    1. That's why I love this range, Sue - no faffing with flammable liquids! Definitely check out Stihl products when the time comes, the latest in the range have been produced at a very good price!

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  4. Wow, lucky you, these sure are handy tools to have!xxx

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    1. They sure are, Dina! I love having them on hand but I'm guessing you won't need a grass strimmer any more! I'll be reviewing the chainsaw next, once I've got to grips with my non-fruiting plum trees! xxx

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  5. We have used powerless garden equipment in the past and have returned to using electrical equipment as we found that the effectiveness wound down as the power decreased. It was however useful to have them at the allotment. Sarah x

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  6. I'd like grass between the raised beds on my allotment but they are too close together for a mower to fit. Maybe this would be an answer - though at £200 too much of a luxury I fear.

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Comments on my posts are much appreciated and help to build an online community of blog friends. Everyone is welcome! I love to discover new blogs so please leave a comment to introduce yourself.
Caro x

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