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Mowing and snipping - all the stuff the dude in the shop you bought your equipment from, didn't tell you

I realise I don't actually hate mowing and whippersnipping. I love admiring the finished job - great pity it only lasts such a short time, but the grass is great for the compost pile so there's plenty of pluses.

I just hate the equipment.

It's heavy (whippersnipper and humungous long cord), awkward to hold and hurts my hands (whippersnipper), doesn't start when it's supposed to (mower) and seems designed to drive people crazy instead of being reliable trusted gardening friends.

I bought both new this time last year (Briggs & Stratton mower and Stihl snipper). Mower has been recently serviced (a chore in itself as it is impossible for me to lift it into or out of my boot - have to wait until big strong son is around).  Both bought on recommendation from the big strong guy in the Mower Shop.

When I asked the guy if there were any lessons I could take part in he looked at me like I was stupid. His look said it all, everyone knows how to mow and snip! Don't they?

I "taught" myself to mow at some point a few decades back when I was young, lean and energetic. My husband was away for some reason and I needed the lawn tidy for a garden comp. I had one of those push edge trimmers in those days. It became my husbands job again though. I also used to do a bit of whippersnipping in the Kindy yard and I can remember hating that machine back then for always fouling up and running out of cord.

I had seen my Dad mowing, had seen my husband nowing. Nothing to it. The mower men I hired for years make it look so easy and quick.

But what do I do if the mower won't start? (all psyched up, weather is right, but it won't start despite having put the lever down, primed it carefully three times and just about given myself a hernia pulling that damned cord - suspect it's flooded, but why!!?? I did it all to direction - all I can do is walk away for an hour and come back and try again)

...what do you do if the grass is wet? (I just leave it until it dries another day - repreive)

...how do you make sure the cord keeps running smoothly out of the snipper? (know now to bump it on the ground)

...how to stop the electric cord from falling off the snipper every time you take a step? (young neighbour came over and tied them in a knot around each other - that one almost drove me crazy in the beginning)

...how do you change the cord in the snipper? (keep the cord in the fridge! one thing the guy did tell me - but why are the bits you have to remove so awkward to get hold of and designed only for mens strength!)

...what to do if the b. mower still won't start!!?

...that you should wear protecitve goggles so you don't get stones in your eyes/ or chip your $1000 tri-focals (too late for that one)

....that you shouldn't wear thongs (not only from a chop-your-toes-off point of view, but also the Green Ants that get flung back on to your near naked feet are very angry and it stings for a long time after)

...which direction should you walk and how to hold the snipper to achieve best results? (still working on that one)

Is there truly reliable equipment out there that starts every time? Should I have bought an electric mower?

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Comment by Elaine de Saxe on January 4, 2013 at 7:18

The first battery-powered whipper-snipper had a lead-acid battery, it gave about a half-hour of work for 24 hours of charge. It wasn't strong anyway so lots of tough grass escaped. And that was over 20 years ago, technology has changed. Since living here we bought a bigger mains-operated one and the 'tap and go' neither tapped nor went and the cord as with all of these things, was a pest. I'd only recommend an electric mower (forget the whipper-snipper!) if there's two of you to deal with it: one watching and handling the cord, the other mowing.

'Strokes' - the the way the engine works, cycles of inlet and exhaust. If you have a separate oil tank, then it's a 4-stroke (like a car engine) and if the oil goes into the petrol then it's a 2-stroke. Usually mowers are 4-stroke these days and usually they start reliably. Getting yours sorted might fix the problem - is it still under warranty? See the shop and get something done about it if so.

Comment by Lissa on January 4, 2013 at 5:12

Your little battery powered snipper sounds good to me.Where did you buy that? Mind you, Elaine warns that these don't hold enough charge.

I have no idea how many "strokes" my mower is. I just know that as an almost new and not cheap machine it is extremely choosy about starting.

I will work myself up to getting rid of both these hateful machines I have once I've found something better to replace them. So brand names and sources are good if you know them :)

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on January 3, 2013 at 21:47

Oh dear - I was taught by my dad at age 10.  Here is my extensive knowledge base (summarised) which of course is completely the opposite to everything I was taught:

I may be male, but I ain't no "real man."  So, I gave up on line/cord whipper snippers.  Mine never bloody fed right after the first cord replacement was done.  I use a really light little battery powered one that has these cool and easy to swap plastic blades underneath.  Righteo, solved that probelm! (yep, by being lazy).

The new four stroke mowers are a god send.  Mine actually starts!  Yep, you heard right - it starts!  Again - be lazy!  Pick one that is really light with big wheels (makes pushing easier).  

I try to stay the hell away from garden equipment with cords - ever since I cut through the power cord on my electric hedge clippers (Oh, I'm tingling. Oh, the clipper has stopped.  Oh, there's no power in the house any more! Oh, it's a miracle I'm not dead!)

Don't man-up, lazy-up. That's my sage (but not so manly) advice. 

Comment by Lissa on January 1, 2013 at 17:14

Like my old edge cutter - you know the star shapped cutter at the end of a stick that you just pushed hard! It worked well too.

My grandfathers family were cane growers up Bundaberg way. There's a Clayton Rd up there where they had their farm.

Comment by mark sturdy on January 1, 2013 at 11:18

my dad  was a sugar cane cutter so when he did the yard he usrd his  old buy unfailing cane knife took a while but nevre any problems with the string getting stuck low tec but worked every time first time.

Comment by Lissa on December 31, 2012 at 18:43

I bump mine on the ground (the big button on the bottom) and it feeds more line out. What sort of snipper do you have Mark?

To be honest, it's enlightening to think a fella might have the same problems. I thought men learned all this stuff from their fathers.

Comment by mark sturdy on December 31, 2012 at 11:35

but how do you keep the line comming out mine keeps getting stuck so i have to stop almost every time i need more line?

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on December 30, 2012 at 14:23

I can relate to being told and being sold equipment designed by men for men. When you're 5ft 3in and a senior woman, you just can't handle these things. I well remember the solid plastering course I did ... Anyway we bought an electric mower and between us we mow once in a while. I hold the electric cable and keep it out of the way so it doesn't get cut. I've had 2 electric whipper-snippers, 1 battery, 1 mains. Both not up to the job power-wise and the cable is a pain or the battery doesn't hold enough charge.

The newer generation electronic-start 4-stroke mowers are reputed to be reliable starters. Never had one, don't know. The electric one starts every time ;-) ours is a Talon and was bought new on eBay. And 'yes' to 'knotting' the cable, it's a good trick. Goggles are brill, hot but essential.

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