Strimmers, or grass trimmers, easily cut grass and maintain paths and borders on an allotment.
Compared to grass cutting at home, an allotment poses a different challenge:
- There is a security concern with storing expensive items in an allotment shed
- Weeds grow wild at amazing speed on the allotment, and sometimes to significant size
- Compared to garden lawns, the ground can be bumpy and covered in stones (less suited to a lawnmower)
- There is often no electricity, and if there is, cords may not be longer enough to reach all areas of the plot
Increasingly, at my local allotment, people seem to be opting for an allotment strimmer as the solution.
Strimmers are reasonably portable compared to a lawnmower so they do not necessarily need to be stored on site. They also cut quickly and are ideally suited to uneven ground.
Not all plots on an allotment are alike, let alone the differences between different allotments. Perhaps the biggest difference is between a newly acquired allotment covered in wild grasses, brambles and mature weeds, compared to a well established plot that simply needs regular care and maintenance for the paths and borders. For this reason my suggestion is as follows:
- Newly acquired plots (overgrown mini ‘forests’!)
A new – but overgrown – plot can stretch the capabilities of cordless strimmers. Petrol powered strimmers have the power, run time, and cutting ability for the task at hand.
- Established plots
Similar to many tasks at the allotment, it is better to keep on top of the maintenance of paths and borders to avoid them getting out of control. Taking this as the objective, my suggestion is to opt for a good quality cordless strimmer, ideally with a spare battery so that you can be confident you have enough run time for the task at hand. The reason I put this forward is the extra maintenance requirements of petrol strimmers. Petrol grass cutters are powerful and breeze through the maintenance tasks, but in my experience that are not always easy to start. Another consideration is that changing the line on petrol strimmers can be a fiddly task compared to swapping blades on cordless varieties.
Given the above approach, if you have recently acquired an overgrown allotment my suggestion would be to borrow or hire a petrol strimmer to clear the plot. Once everything is under control it may then be worth investing in a good cordless strimmer.
Strimming paths and borders can be a very satisfying job as the results are fast and make a big difference to whether a plot looks ‘under control’. The features described below can be used as a checklist:
Allotmenting creates aches and pains in a gardener. To avoid increasing the physical burden it’s worth choosing an allotment strimmer that is light and easy to manoeuvre. Electric strimmers are usually sufficiently light to be held with two hands. Powerful petrol strimmers sometimes have a shoulder strap to help support the weight.
- Battery type
For an allotment I suggest purchasing a strimmer that uses lithium batteries rather than NiCD. Unfortunately (but not surprisingly!) these models are more expensive. Lithium batteries often last longer and are more durable than NiCD batteries, and are therefore more suitable to the demands of allotmenting.
- Cutting angles
What is worth looking at is the ease at which the head can be rotated – if can be frustrating to have to struggle with the machine to get the cutting head at the right angle.
At my allotment I frequently see people struggling with their petrol grass cutters. Common problems are difficulties getting their strimmers to start, or struggling to change or untangle the cutting cord. Electric strimmers my be more straightforward, but this often comes at the expense of power and a more light or lower spec build quality.
- Extendable shaft
It’s uncomfortable bending over to strim, so many strimmers have the ability to extend the shaft to the height of the user. The best allotment strimmers will have an easy to use mechanism to extend the shaft.
- Cutting line or cutting blades
Grass trimmers work by rotating very fast a line or cutting blade underneath the protective head. The cutting line or cutting blades need frequent replacing as they wear out. My personal experience with my cordless strimmer is that each blade lasts between 1 to 2 uses. It is worth checking the price of replacing line or blades, and that you can conveniently get them. It may be worth buying in bulk at the same time you purchase your strimmer.