Best electric battery powered lawn mower in 2021

Wednesday, May 12, 2021
best cordless gas free lawn mower

Choosing a battery powered push lawn mower for home use in 2021

Just as there are many ways to skin a cat, there are many ways to cut grass.

  • You've got your standard push mower that runs on gas
  • You've got manual mowers where you gotta push them along
  • You've got electric mowers that plug into the mains
  • Using a pair of scissors if you have a lot of time...

And in this modern world, you've got battery powered lawnmowers.

A battery-powered lawn mower? 


Yep, today's technologies mean there are lithium batteries powerful enough to turn the blades to cut grass. If Teslas and Swifts cars can drive around town all day on battery power, lawn mowers can cut grass! This means you can have the 'clean green' cutting experience as an alternative to using gas.

Here's our top three picks which are Amazon best sellers:

While petrolheads and Obi-Wan might love maintaining their engines by adding oil and replacing spark plugs, there's many a person out there who simply wants to mow the lawns as quickly and without any stress or maintenance fuss.

An electric mower is ideal for those who are slowing down in life and don't want to have to pull start a mower 15 times before it kicks into life or run over the cable and cutting it!

With an electric lawn mower, you charge the battery, turn the mower on, and you are cutting your grass in no time.

A cordless electric mower is ideal for mowing small and medium-sized yards and lawns. With no petrol or cords to worry about, they are very portable due to their lightness. 

A self-propelled mower also makes this chore even easier.

How long does a cordless lawn mower battery last?

While you might be able to mow your lawns in 30 minutes, a quality battery should last up to at least an hour, ideally 90 minutes.

Such a range should give you enough time to do the front and back and maybe your neighbor's lawns and the curbside berm too!!

What is the best battery powered lawn mower in 2021?

As you might have suspected, the major brands such as Dewalt, Black and Dekker, Ego and Ryobi have done their best to capitalize on the battery innovation market and so there is a fairly broad range of products to choose from.

You can cast your purchase decision into price and performance meaning you'll be able to find a mower to suit your budget.

That said, battery performance is the key measure on which you should make your purchase decision. At a bare minimum, you will want to consider a battery that when fully charged will last at least an hour. If you have a larger lawn, you'll probably want 90 minutes (usually a 7.5 Ah battery will reach perform at this level).

You'll also want to consider the kind of battery and to cut to the chase, you'll want to make sure your mower features a lithium-ion battery. They are lighter than traditional lead-based batteries meaning they are easier to push about. They also charge quickly and efficiently and will also have a longer life span. 

While batteries that are quick to charge are ideal, I reason that if you mow your lawn and then charge the battery, you'll be ready to cut next time you need to - and if that's the case, it doesn't matter how long it takes to charge the battery. Unless of course, you forget to charge it... but wait, most mowers will come with two batteries...

So with that in mind, here are some options that you may wish to consider:

greenworks cordless lawnmower best

Greenworks PRO 21-Inch 80V Cordless Lawn Mower featuring a 4.0 AH battery 

A stylish looking mower, this sharp cutter from Greenworks has the following specifications:

  • Up to 60 minutes of run time with a fully charged 4.0AH Battery
  • 4.0AH battery and charger included. 
  • Has a maximum cutting height 1-3/8 inches and a minimum cutting height of 3-1/4 inches
  • Greenworks brushless motor provides your tool with longer run-time, more torque and more power. This has the benefit of less wear and tear, extending the life-time of the mower.
  • Smart Cut Load sensing technology. Versatile 3-in-1 discharge capabilities allow for rear discharge, mulching and side discharge

Greenworks boast that this 21-inch cordless lawn mower features a durable steel deck, large 10-inch rear wheels, and Smart Cut(TM) load sensing technology. Load sensing tech means the lawn mower can tell when it's got to do some hard work (longer grass) and will amp up the power from the battery to the engine. Even though it's a handy feature, all practised lawn mowers know you just need to simply slow down your pushing rate when tasked with tall or thick overgrown grass to minimize the chance of an engine cut out. 

Lightweight and easy to use (heck, it's a lawn mower), it has a single lever height adjustment and 3-in-1 operation for mulching, bagging, and discharging. It's so light, you can easily store this vertically, meaning more floor space in your shed!

Designed for durability and heavy-duty jobs, it features a brushless motor that delivers the power and performance of a 160cc gas engine. 

A real con perhaps is that this machine is not self-propelled. 

Don't take the manufacturer's word on all this guff, however.

Here are some genuine reviews from buyers on Amazon who have bought and used this mower. This is the real test of judgment, people with skin in the game:

'Mower was light enough to lug it down alone to the basement for Winter and back up for Spring. Absolutely no preparation needed (no gas burn off, stabilizer, spark plugs, filters, etc.), aside from blowing off old grass clippings and covering for dust (cover interchanged with snow blower).'

'No messy, smelly gas or oil needed. No nauseating exhaust! The electric motor is far quieter than a gas engine; my toddlers fell asleep fine during my mowing. There are none of the headaches of maintaining a gasoline engine: buy/store/pour jugs of gasoline, buy and keep engine oil topped off, buy fuel stabilizers, deal with spills, clean/replace spark plugs, burn off excess gasoline for off-season storage, etc.'

'The mower is very easy to push (note it’s not self-powered), so I speed-walked most of the time. It’s easy to turn 180-degrees for parallel mowing. The blades cut very near to the outer edge of the wheels (see attached picture), so there’s minimal need for overlap. There’s a rubber rear skirt to protect you from any rock or debris projectiles, which is a godsend for my large yard, full of landscape stones and sweet gum tree spike-balls.'

'The GreenWorks is superior quality in every respect, I don't even know where to begin. The single lever height adjustment is something I didn't consider that important when comparing alternatives, but something you really appreciate once you have it. The variable speed on the mower is really an awesome feature. When going through light grass you save energy, and when going through heavy grass it makes the mower not stall. The gasoline-powered mower would stall almost every lap on the lower part of our property, where the grass seems to grow thicker. The electric mower has not stalled even once, ever. By the same token, starting the mower with a button instead of pulling the cord is a dream too.'

'My experience with the mower and the blower which I purchased together has been just great. They mow and blow just like my old gas powered tools. I'm never going back to gas!!'

'Cuts grass as tall as the motor housing. Be prepared to go slow though. When I did manage to kill it in thick grass nearly as tall as the motor (well above the front wheels), it likes to wait a few seconds before starting again. Starts right up (until the battery is out of juice).'

'To turn on, you push and hold the green button on the upper-right of the handle, then grasp the green lever arm together with the handle bar, then let go of the button. When you release the lever, the mower turns off completely; there is no idle. To restart, you’ll need to repeat the hold-button and grasp-lever routine. There is no cord-yanking involved.'

'I purchased the mower with the 4ah 80v battery. This is the best lawn mower I have had. We live in Costa Rica and mow the lawn year round, our property is about 1/4 acre and has a steep hill. The battery lasts as long or as longer as a tank of gas on the mower it replaces, that was a Poulan Pro 6.25 hp with California compliant emissions.'

If those reviews, float your boat, check out the price on Amazon.

snapper briggs stratton lawn mower cordless

Snapper Electric Cordless 19-Inch Lawnmower Kit with two batteries & a rapid Charger

A popular seller on Amazon, the beauty of this mower is it features a Briggs and Stratton lithium ion battery!

The Snapper XD 82V Max* 19” Cordless walk mower is built for durability and ease of use. The 19” and 21” walk models feature a steel 3-in-1 mowing deck, providing mulch, side discharge or bagging options.

You can get the job done efficiently by being able to mow up to 45-minutes** off a single charge of a 2 Ah battery. If you desire long run times, you'll need to swap out with a with separate 4Ah or 5Ah battery).

The Snapper is a very quiet, efficiently operating machine making it a good choice for anyone that just wants to get the lawns done with little fuss. 

  • Powered by a Briggs & Stratton 82V Max Lithium-Ion 2Ah, 4Ah, or 5Ah battery.
  • 3-in-1 steel mowing deck is ready to mulch, bag or side discharge. The included large grass bagger fits about 2.1 cubic feet of grass clippings.
  • Compact vertical storage capability allows you to store your mower out of the way.
  • Features easy push button starting mode and a brush less motor meaning less maintenance for you.
  • Single lever height-of-cut adjustment allowing you to choose from 7 different cutting heights.
  • Maximum initial battery voltage (measured without a workload) is 82-volts. Nominal voltage is 72.

  • snapper cordless lawnmower

    Again, those specs look solid enough and merit consideration for purchase, but what about the road testers, the weekend warriors who have walked many miles behind the Snapper?

    'First off, everything about this mower SCREAMS quality and durability. Batteries??? OMG. I am wondering if they're not actually ZPMs from Stargate Atlantis!

    For those of you who cannot appreciate the reference, suffice to say, they are a very good size, and have a real good quality heft to them- along with a little button to show you how much power is left. There are two of them, and they charge in less than 30 mins.

    Use one up, charge it while you use the other, or weed whack, or take a break. The choice is yours. And btw, the battery does not slowly lose power and then slowly taper off to a barely spinning blade: It goes full strength until it's depleted. I really like that.'

    'This mower cut like a champ. One pass was enough. there was NOTHING left standing. Not a blade of grass, not a weed.'

    'I was using the rear bagger, which functioned superbly. Why the bagger? Because I was certain the mulching mode would be a joke. I mean, an electric mower that mulches? Sure. When pigs fly.
    Well, the pigs have flown the coop. This thing also mulches very well.'

    'Did the whole front yard and part of the backyard on the first battery, and I am particular. I should have taken pictures of my backyard...lotta weeds, thick stalks, and weed bushes. The Snapper absolutely DESTROYED them. Keep in mind that the low setting IS pretty low. You might want to start off at the second or third lowest setting and see what your cut looks like.'

    'The batteries charge extremely fast and last the whole 45 minutes each, when they're dead, they're dead. No power loss toward the end.'

    'It effortlessly cuts my thick grass, is very easy to push and maneuver, and I'm really enjoying how quiet it is compared to my previous gas mower. I couldn't be happier with all aspects of this mower and its performance.'

    So, see for yourself how impressive it is on Amazon.

    DEWALT DCMW290H1 40V MAX 3-in-1 Cordless Lawn Mower

    best dewalt 40v battery lawnmower

    We love Dewalt. It's a tried and true brand. Have you tried their work site fan? Mint. 

    Anyways, the DEWALT DCMW290H1 40V MAX 3-in-1 Cordless Lawn Mower features a powerful 40V MAX brushless motor that can cut up to 1/4 acre. 

    The mower is a 3-in-1 battery powered lawn mower which means you can mulch, bag, and discharge clippings out the back. 

    Its metal deck gives it durability which is great for those wary of the trend to plastic models. 

    This lawn mower also features a single-lever height-adjust system so you can easily change blade height. The handle also folds to allow for compact storage.

    As you would expect from the Dewalt system, the battery is compatible with their line of 40V MAX DEWALT outdoor power equipment.

    Here are the specifications:

    • Powerful Brushless motor for high power output
    • 3-IN-1: mulching, bagging, and rear discharging all-in-one
    • Heavy duty 20 in. Metal deck
    • Single lever Height adjust ranging from 1.5 - 3.4 in
    • Folding handle and lift handles make for easy transport and compact storage

    The battery is very simply able to be taken out for charging:

    easy to change battery dewalt lawn mower

    Here's some reviews from people who have pushed the Dewalt across their yard:

    'I really like this mower. I have generally been skeptical of battery-powered large appliances, having never owned anything rechargeable larger than a cordless hammer drill. A weed whacker and leaf blower converted me enough to risk buying my first electric mower. It worked like a charm right out of the box.'

    'I charged the battery overnight and mowed the front and back of my modest quarter-acre block *just* before the battery died. I've since mowed again twice with the same result and it handled it well both times. very easy to stop and start light and with small rubber wheels so it's easy to push and turn, it has several simple but effective safety features, all controls are large, robust and easy to operate even with gloves on. No more hard starts, strenuous cord pulling, cans of gas in the shed or oil dripping on the floor.'

    'Able to mow my back yard on a single charge easily. Lightweight mower folds up for easy storage and transport. Built-in safety features is a nice bonus.'

    'This is an amazing piece of equipment. I couldn’t be happier. Hardly any setup right out of the box. Cuts better than my past gas mowers. Runs smooth and quiet. I’ll never go back to gas. I also have string trimmer, chainsaw, and handheld blower. The whole line is awesome. What's the best lawn mower battery charger?'

    If those honest reviews sound like you could be onto a winner, check out the options on Amazon.

    Battery powered lawn mower maintenance tips

    How to make sharp, safe cuts with a chainsaw

    Monday, May 3, 2021
    A good clean cutting action works for many things.


    And chainsaws.

    To make a clean chainsaw cut, here's a few ideas

    Provided the saw has been turned on now:

    1. Hold the front handle of the saw with your gloved left hand with your thumb wrapped tightly underneath. 
    2. Grab the rear handle with your gloved right hand. Get into sawing position by spreading your legs apart for stability. 
    3. Now pull back the chain brake to disengage it. 
    4. Then squeeze the throttle. The saw cuts best when the engine is at full throttle.

    Pretty simple eh? - there are some clear principles at play - be well-positioned with your feet, use a good grip action and make sure your chainsaw is well sharpened and well oiled and the depth gauge cutters are properly filed down.

    Here are some more tips for an efficient cut:

    • Cutting with the upper portion of the tip could cause a kickback reaction, which can be bloody dangerous and may engage the chain brake. Basically, try to avoid cutting with the tip. 
    • It's good practice to cut at your waist level — never raise your saw above shoulder height. This is just asking for trouble if you run into trouble! You are less able to properly control the saw at this height and angle.
    • Avoid cutting too close to the ground where the blade could dig in and kick back (at least try and not do this so the chain stays clean as possible).
    • Try to cut from the side of the saw. This is to say, do not stand 'over' the saw. A kickback in this position could be lethal as the saw will kick back into your line of sight - meaning a chest or face injury is on the cards. It's really easy to suddenly find yourself in this position if you have moved around a bit so keep an eye on your positioning at all times. 
    • You should cut with a downward pressure with the bottom of the bar — known as cutting with a pulling chain since the chain pulls the saw out from you. The vice versa applies when cutting upwards. We suggest you have a fair bit of practice with the standard method before trying an up cut motion. At the least, have a really good appreciation for how your saw feels in your hands.
    • It is very easy to overwork your back while using a chainsaw. Try not to curve your spine to move lower, instead bend your knees.

    The four basic rules of chainsaw chain maintenance

    Friday, April 30, 2021
    how to care for a stihl chain

    Your chainsaw's chain health is vital to a successful cut

    Obvious right?

    Just like the barber's blade is a well-honed instrument, your chainsaw chain blade needs to be given the same love and attention so that it stays sharp and cuts the wood just right.

    In effect, the chain is the most vital and important part of the saw. It's also the part that needs the most maintenance - the beauty of this though is any user with a little bit of know-how can maintain the chain really well.

    A dangerously undermined chain can increase the risks of a safety incident - incorrect sharpening angles, incorrect depth of gauge setting, a poorly tensioned chain and of course a dull and blunt chain that can all cause real issues for the operator.

    The Four Basic rules of chainsaw chain maintenance

    There are four simple rules that will ensure that your chainsaw chain performs up to spec.

    The operator should keep the chain:

    1. Properly oiled; 
    2. Correctly tensioned correctly; 
    3. Sharp, cutter angles correctly made; and 
    4. The depth gauge height to consistent and correct. 

    Let's work through these now.

    A chainsaw chain needs to be properly oiled

    The chainsaw's guide bar and chain are designed to be constantly supplied with oil. It's just how they work. If they did not get oil, the parts would overheat and seize and not cut properly. They would also suffer friction deterioration.

    One should then regularly check that the chain oiling system is supplying oil. We recommend you use oil designed for chains and chain bars - not waste oil from other engines.

    Chainsaw oils are designed to stick to the chain, whereas used car part oil has no such properties and is probably filled with impurities and metal that could damage your gear.

    chain maintenance tips

    A correctly tensioned chain is a safe chain

    At best, a loose chain is not cutting properly and at worst, it is likely to fly off the chain bar - causing you to lose time putting it back on and also run the risk of injury to hands or legs (unless you are wearing safety gloves or chaps!)

    A loose chain also increases the potential chance of a kick back from happening. And no one wants a kickback blade to the face. 

    An incorrectly tensioned chain will also place more pressure on the sprocket, causing it to wear.

    A properly tensioned chain is one that has been adjusted to that it is touching the whole way around the guide bar. It should feel like a snug fit but still be easily pulled forwards from the chainsaw body towards the guide bar tip.

    Some tension tips:

    • Tension the chain prior to each session. Tension the chain often, or at each occasion of refuelling.
    • Never tension your chain right after cutting wood.
    • A chain tensioned while hot can cool and then shrink, causing tension to be too tight which will break shit. Trust me on that...
    • Let the chain cool first before doing anything.
    • It's a smart idea to wear protective gloves, especially if you have diligently sharpened your chain or it's a brand new chain - those things are factory sharp!

    Here's a handy video which demonstrates how to correctly tension the saw:

    A sharp cutter makes a sharp cut

    It just seems so sensible to ensure that your chain cutters are well maintained - damage free and sharp.

    The basic rule is that you sharpen inline with the manufacturer's recommendations for your chain.

    At the most basic level, you simply need a round file with a handle and also file guide to sharpen the chain.

    Your goal when caring for your chain is for the cutters to be kept at an equal length and shape for the life of the chain.

    It's best practice to use a file guide to ensure the file is held at the proper depth and angle.

    Here's our guide to sharpening a chain. The basic method is to file from the inside out with firm and smooth strokes of the file. This should be done in conjunction with a file guide to maintaining the correct angle.

    Complete one side of the chain and then swap over. If they are damaged, file and repaired as necessary. If you have had to make a replacement cutter then you need to ensure the cutter is the same length as the rest of the chain else it will lead to a less efficient cutting rate.

    Check out this video tutorial which shows how to sharpen the chain:

    The correct depth gauge setting 

    This is a part of chain maintenance that is easy to overlook or ignore but as always, doing it right will mean a good and safe cut.

    The depth gauge controls the thickness of the chip the cutter will remove from your wood target.

    The basic tools required for this task are a flat-file and the correct depth gauge tool as recommended by the manufacturer of your device.

    To ensure the correct gauge once places the depth gauge tool in position over the cutter.  The excess is filed off from the inside of the cutter outwards.

    It's good practice to check the depth gauges after 4 or 5 sharpenings.

    Another really important component of chainsaw maintenance is ensuring you keep the chain and bar well oiled.

    And once you're done for the day, catch up on some Mandalorian TV show Star Wars trivia. Or why not learn how to fix a flooded chainsaw engine.

    Best Reviewed Soil Testing Kits in 2021

    Sunday, April 18, 2021
    You are the boss of your vegetable garden. You're in charge of weeding and watering.

    You decide what to plant in the soil and how to cultivate it.

    Your soil might have other ideas, however. A soil that has a poor pH level or is deficient in the right nutrient content (NPK) is not the ideal growing environment and your treasured plants and vegetables will not grow to their optimum size or taste.

    To solve this problem, using a soil testing kit will help analyze the nutrient content of your soil, showing you any deficiencies.

    This gives you the necessary knowledge allow you to make decisions around adjustments to the soil by using additional fertilizer or other nutrient formulas.

    This guide will help you choose the best soil tester for your needs

    As you will appreciate, you simply shouldn't go down to the local garden store and grab any bag of fertilizer and dump it onto your soil, you probably won't have the results you desire.

    Knowing however that your soil is low in nitrogen or phosphorus as the result of using a quality soil tester means you can add the correct mineral so your carrots will grow straight, long, and nicely orange, putting you back in charge of your garden!

    best -soil -test- kit -for- npk - ph levels

    Listen, Tool Guy, I'm just here for your recommendation on the best soil testing kit, save me the marketing speech ok and show me the money.

    Understood, dear reader:

    Here is it, a very popular test kit on Amazon:

    What data do Soil Testing Kits provide?

    You can test for the level of light exposure that your plants receive using a light probe, or you can use a probe that tests the moisture content of your soil and those two points of investigation can be handy but we're gonna focus on two really important parts of plant growth:

    Your soil's alkalinity, that being measured in terms of the pH level.

    What the nutrient composition of your soil is - generally speaking, the test is for the terrific trio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium -which are collectively known in the home gardening and farming industries simply as NPK.

    Testing kits are also great for grass lawns, not just vegetable gardens!

    The five steps to use a soil testing kit

    Pre-step: Read the instructions that come with your soil testing kit.

    While most kits and their use are stock standard affairs (a chemical test is a chemical test right) however measurements and volumes can vary, so it never hurts to read the manual!

    Step 1: Get Your Soil Sample

    It should seem obvious but you need to gather your soil samples from the preferred sections of your garden patch.

    Keen testers have been known to divide their garden into equal segments and pick a sample from each.

    One of the crazy things about nitrogen is that it can ‘clump’ in pockets so you can have some nitrogen-rich areas and poor areas in another spot, go figure!

    Take a clean gardening trowel, and collect the sample(s). Place it into a clean containment vessel.

    Try to remove any mulch or debris from the top of a small area of your soil, and then dig down about 2-6 inches. give or take, and then dig out your sample

    In order to do all four tests (pH and the N.P.K.), you’ll need about one coffee cup of soil for the NPK testing and a less than one teaspoon amount for the pH test.

    Step 2: Preparation of ‘Soil & Water’ solution

    Remove any worms you find and replace them into the garden out of direct sunlight...

    To get the right reading your soil-water mixture solution should be a ratio of one part soil to five parts water. Your testing kit maker will tell you that it's best that you use distilled water to prepare the mixture but you can get away with any decently maintained urban water system.

    Now, shake your solution vigorously and place your bottles somewhere where they will not be disturbed. You now have to allow the mixture to settle undisturbed for about 24 hours.

    Yeah, we get it, that’s annoying!

    You still can carry on with the testing.

    Step 3: Checking the pH levels of the dirt

    To check the pH of the soil, you need to fill the (usually) green-capped tube with soil, and then pour the powder from the green capsules.

    Now, (distilled) water and shake vigorously.

    When you allow the mixture to settle, it will slowly change color. When you think the color change has settled you now may compare with the provided pH level chart (provided with the testing kit) to determine the alkalinity of your earth.

    Now you have the knowledge of what pH level is, you can now investigate what options exist to correct the alkalinity of your soil (if that’s what the result was!)

    Step 4: Check Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorous Levels

    Most of the ‘home use’ soil testing kits come with a super handy color chart that allows you to test and determine the level of the NPK elements by matching colors. So, here is how to how to go about it:

    Using a dropper, draw water from your soil-water mixture and fill your tube.

    Add the testing powder to the capsule, and shake well.

    Allow the mixture to stand for about ten minutes and note the color development.

    Then, compare the color with the chart included. The chart is very easy to follow because it categorizes the levels of potassium, nitrogen, or phosphorous into three; high, medium, and low.

    If the NPK are each tested separately, then you’ll need to repeat this testing process for each element.

    Step 5: write down the results and use them for soil management decisions

    Now that you have your testing data, you can make judgments on how to adjust your soil.

    Chances are though, now you’ve discovered your soil is deficient in NPK, you’re just gonna head down to Amazon and buy a big bag of stock standard fertilizer and dump it on your garden. 

    Just don’t add too much alright? 

    An overabundance of NPK can cause issues such as root damage.

    Why is NPK so important to plant growth?

    Nitrogen is heavily used by plants as the primary nutrient to spur leaf and stem growth.

    Phosphorous has been scientifically demonstrated to encourage fruit and flower growth, and is essential to 'green thumbs' growing tomatoes!

    Potassium is the foundational element for developing routes. Without enough potassium, root systems can become stunted which obviously prevents the plant’s future growth. However, farmers and the agriculture industry know too well that too much potassium can cause misshapen roots.

    Have you ever seen a wonky carrot in your garden? A lack of potassium could well be the cause of the deformities (the truth is lots of things can cause carrots and parsnips to not grow straight!)

    How To Test Soil pH with a digital pH tester

    Back in the day, before scientific methods were available to test the soil, farms and other toilers of the soil, would literally taste the earth to try and determine the soil's composition - you had to get a taste for it... which meant eating dirt often.

    Go figure.

    In the modern digital error, digital meter readers with probes can be used to measure the pH level of soil, It's amazing how crucial correct pH levels affect our lives - even beer needs to be brewed at the correct pH level!

    Calibrating ph testers can be a tricky thing, so we're gonna assume you're all over that ;)

    When your soil's pH is too high or too low for a plant, either the plant can't access nutrients already in the soil or the nutrients effectively become toxic to the plant.

    Kind of like Goldilocks, the pH needs to be just right.

    A digital soil pH meter takes the guesswork tells you which soil amendments are needed.

    If your soil is too low in pH, a really good way to raise the pH is to add lime. Lime is actually, calcium carbonate, (CaCO3).

    Basically, the method is to take your sample, add water, and then use the calibrated probe to test for the pH. 

    Gotta make sure those red cabbages grow well right?

    Here's a handy video that shows how to test:

    What is micronutrient testing?

    We appreciate that the correct NPK ratio for your soil is crucially important but there are many other elements / minerals that are important for plant growth. These are commonly referred to as 'micronutrients'

    Let's be clear, most home soil testing kits don’t test for nutrients other than the NPK. However, your fruit and vegetable plants also require other micronutrients to maintain health. These include calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and many more.

    Specialised kits can test for these micronutrients. We venture however that if you are a 'home hobbyist' looking to improve the performance of your garden, you should focus on remedying any deficient NPK levels.

    Can I use pH test strips with soil?

    pH Test strips are great fun. They remind me of litmus testing we did all those years ago in high school. 

    Just like you can test your Kombucha's pH level with strips, you can test your soil's pH with them.

    Standard or “Universal” pH test strips do not necessarily provide the most accurate results when used to test the earth. Garden Tutor Soil pH Test Strips are specially designed and calibrated to ensure accurate soil pH readings.

    They will never be as accurate as a digital meter but if you're an "I just want to be in the ballpark" kind of green thumb gardener, then there's nothing wrong with using a strip.

    Here's a guide to using them, it's a pretty straightforward process:

    how to use pH strips to test soil hello

    I need a new lawn mower, what is the best one for me?

    Tuesday, April 6, 2021

    I am on the hunt for a new walk behind lawn mower for my yard

    This is a legit, genuine hunt and I can show you why.

    But first, let me tell you the story of how I have to start my lawnmower.

    It's a bitch and a half.

    The pull start is rooted. The internal workings are gone. The recoil spring is bung and removed. The idler pulley is just done. It drinks mower oil like a fish.  I have to manually reset it every time I want to use it.

    Today I went to mow the lawns and I realized that one of the 'grip bits' had disappeared. I thought about it and wrapped a small rope around the THING and eventually managed to turn the engine over.

    And that's when a disaster I'd been expecting finally struck!

    While I was mowing the lawn, I managed to rip the handle arms out! The joints were pretty rusted and the metal hard started to come away.

    So it's kind of impossible to mow the laws when your mower looks like this:

    busted lawnmower handles

    So now I am on the hunt to buy a new lawnmower for my 400 square meters of lawn. It's a small lawn really so I'm very happy to push it around in my gumboots for about half an hour.

    I think I'm after a classic home lawn mower with a catcher.

    One that will last at least 6 - 10 years and one that I'm able to maintain fairly easily. I don't want to buy the cheapest lawnmower out there but I think a mid-range, sturdy beast should suit my needs.

    I also want a petrol/gas engine as I think petrol just adds to my lawn mowing experience. Even when I flood the damn thing...

    What are my options? 

    Given how much we love Husqvarna products due to their renown for reliability, let's check out the:

    Husqvarna HU800AWDH Walk Behind Mower

    husvarna lawn mower

    Tackle your lawn care with a superior mower! 

    The Husqvarna HU800AWDH has an all-wheel-drive system that guarantees balance and power in hilly terrain and the toughest mowing conditions. 

    A durable mower, it features a 22" heavy-duty steel deck and a powerful 190cc Honda engine. 

    The mower comes equipped with a quick pin, four-point adjustment for level cutting and a water hose connector for easy deck cleaning. 

    The specifications as described by the manufacturer:
    • Honda gcv190 190cc 4 cycle engine. Net power at preset rpm: 3000 rpm
    • 22-Inch, 3-in-1 steel mower deck that gives you the option to side discharge, mulch or bag your grass
    • All wheel 4x4 drive rear hi-wheel that is exclusive to Husqvarna products - this provides improved maneuverability in all types of grass or terrain
    • Auto walk self-propelled all wheel drive system lets you control the pace of your mowing.
    • The cutting width is 22 inches
    • Ball bearing wheels 8-inch front and 11-Inch Rear Ball Bearing Wheels, 3 position handle height adjustment

    In terms of power, this machine is nicely placed for your traditional lawn set but also has enough grunt for unlevel terrain.

    You can employ three grass cutting modes - standard collection for a tidy lawn, a mulching mode for lawn fertilization and ejection!

    Here's some reviews from users who brought this mower from Amazon.

    "This self-propelled mower is really strong and pulls me along anywhere I want to go. I have to wear hearing protection with this thing because it is so loud, but that's fine with me. I love the power behind this beast and you will too!"

    "I held off on the review until now to give me some time with it. The Honda engine has been great, has started effortlessly on the first pull every time I've used it, nothing required other than fuel. The AWD system has been excellent as well with only one hiccup, mulching high wet grass led to some drive belt slippage that remedied itself within a few minutes. The Honda engine combined with AWD allowed me to add a lawn striping roller and the unit effortlessly climbs my hill while mulching and striping."

    "This mower is a beast. Built a pool in the back and I have a VERY steep hill behind it now. VERY steep. Climbs right up it perfect. You just walk along with it. Very pleased with it. Plenty of power, easy to start, great packaging/ boxing. Great mower so far. Lots of power."

    If this mower sounds like it suits your needs, check out the price on Amazon.

    Greenworks 20-Inch 12 Amp Corded Lawn Mower 25022

    long world gas lawnmower

    Want some grunt with your mower? Have a look at the Long World 161cc 20“ Deck 3-in-1 Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower

    • gas-powered push lawnmower with 161cc OHV powerful engine to get grass cut sharply & quickly in small yards.
    • 3-in-1 cutting system, equipped with a 20-inch steel mulching deck to side discharge, mulch and rear bag.
    • One Lever Adjustment, 8 grades of cutting heights (1-3 inch) which lets you cut grass at the size you want
    • 1.2 litre gas tank
    • Front wheels: 7” height; rear wheels: 10” height, wheels for easy operation and control while mowing.
    If this mower will chop your lawn down to size, check out the price on Amazon.

    The Power Smart range features machines that are ideal for the smaller yards of America. 

    The compact, 159cc self-propelled gas-powered power smart DB8621S self-propelled lawn mower is easy to operate in tight spaces & features three cutting systems including side discharge option & mulching capability plus a collection rear bag. 

    This is a no-nonsense model that offers a lightweight design balanced with power. The DB8621S features a rear-wheel drive mode that makes it easier to manoeuvre on uneven & rough. 

    The deep dome deck design accompanied by the sharp & solid blade makes for better mulching. 

    Easy to operate & weighing just 76 lbs., the mower also features a durable steel deck that cuts a 21 in. swath with an adjustable height from 1.18 to 3 inches.

    So that's three simple choices for you and for me. Of personal interest, it's been a long time since I've brought a new lawnmower - the key point of change for me appears to be the move from metal to plastic.

    ... and now this has got me thinking about the best kind of battery based lawnmowers...

    Can I use vegetable oil for lubricating my chainsaw bar?

    Sunday, March 28, 2021
    vegetable oils for chainsaws

    How do I use vegetable oil with a chainsaw bar?

    In a world where manufacturers make oil designed especially for use on a chainsaw's bar and chain, it could be a considered an odd question.

    You should always use the recommended specification oils.


    Can you actually use vegetable oil as a substitute for chainsaw oil?

    The short answer is you can but it's not without some pros and cons of which you should properly consider before adding some cooking oil into your chainsaw!

    First up, let's consider why some woodmen and women may want to do this.
    • Is it a cost saver?
    • Is it better for the environment?
    • Does it make the chain cut better?

    Regards the last question, we doubt this very much...

    Let's discuss the environmental side of the equation. 

    Standard chainsaw bar oils are derived from petroleum so each and every time you use your chainsaw, this product is being left in the environment. You know this because it comes off the chain attached to the sawdust. The continuous operation of the saw sees the bar being continuously oiled.

    So the issue then is petroleum-based oil products being deposited on to the land and cause an environmental risk.

    The use of veggie oil, which is of course plant-based, poses no such risk to the environment and by using it you, your chainsaw saw is a lean mean, environmentally friendly machine!

    If you are storing your chainsaw for a time (say over winter when it's cold in the shed) then you should drain the vegetable oil from your unit's reservoir. 

    Have you ever had a really cold bottle of olive oil in the back of your couple? 

    The cold... changes it. 

    So you don't want that in your engine.

    And what about cost savings of using oil?

    Canola oil is, as a general rule of thumb, at least half the price of bar and chain oil so there are some real cost-saving incentives there.

    Can vegetable oils work in cold conditions when using a chainsaw?

    This is where petroleum-based oils win out over veggie oil every time. The cold-temperature properties and oxidation stability of vegetable oils mean that they will not perform as well as they do at warmer temperatures.

    That said, there are now vegetable based chain oils that have additives to combat the cold.

    I'm sold, BRB, just gonna grab some canola oil from the kitchen

    Not so fast, you environmental hero.

    Before you grab some oil from your kitchen or supermarket, you may wish to bear in mind that there are manufactured bar and chain oil products that are environmentally friendly and they will biodegrade when left on the earth.

    These 'green oils' can be found at your local chainsaw store or on Amazon.

    Brands like Stihl make their own such oils and state their products feature no loss of lubrication or adhesion when compared to traditional oils.

    These green oils contain products which help the oil before like traditional oils.

    The benefits of using vegetable oil on a chainsaw

    • Environmentally friendly as they are biodegradable
    • Cost effective and cheaper than standard oil
    • Can be quite 'sticky'
    • Easier to clean from clothes and equipment.
    • Users also experienced less skin irritation.
    • If using a saw to cut meat, then vegetable oil is the obvious choice so the meat tastes good (you can use sunflower, canola, palm oil etc). 
    • You won't breathe in carcinogens that you can get from petrol based oil

    The disadvantages of using vegetable oil on your cutter

    • Occasional chainsaw users may find the cooking oil will dry up and hold the chain like glue (if you use a specially formulated 'green oil' then you should not have this problem.
    • Kitchen oils are not necessarily designed for use on a chainsaw in the long term which could cause maintenance issues, so we'd recommend the use of a vege oil designed for your chain.

    Best adjustable wrench for home maintenance in 2021

    best 12 inch wrench

    When I was a wee lad, we had a fantastic garage that my dad worked in.

    It was huge!

    It had couches, a rocking horse, a clothes dryer, an unbelievably old radio (made of wood) that he would play horses races on and a pool table.

    All of that and the tools. 

    There were tools for chainsaws, the lawnmower, and so many rusted hand saws

    But that crescent wrench of his! It was a shiny tool of wonder. He had painted the end blue so he would know it was his.

    Even as a child, I knew it was something special. It was adjustable so as a kid, it meant I could use it for all kinds of mischief and later on, maintaining my bicycle.

    And now as an adult, I miss that wrench.

    So, dear reader, I'm in the market for a new spanner.

    It's got to be a quality one.

    One that won't rust if MY son leaves it outside in the grass for a week.

    One that's easy to adjust and one that feels just right in the hand like my dad's did.

    It's got to have a sense of weight about it that just says, yep, I can get this nut undone, piece of cake, just put some elbow into it mate!

    So what's the best adjustable wrench on the market for me to have a look at then? Are they any popular brands or newer kinds of material I should be thinking about? I have no idea, so let's find out on my journey to get a new wrench.

    The first thing to ask ourselves is what size wrench do we need? Are we fixing car engines, adjusting wheel alignment on a bicycle or what?

    If you want a stock standard, no fuss wrench, then, by all means, grab a cheap steel wrench that will do the job but it might make you work a little bit harder than you need:

    steel adjustable spanner

    This kind of spanner will set you back less than 10 bucks on Amazon. It's the classic style, drop forged and made of steel with a chrome plated finish and it will do the job but it might not be the kind of tool you keep in the shed for thirty years.

    We reckon though you should insist on a quality wrench, and we think Ares have just the tool for you.

    The Ares15-Inch adjustable wrench boasts a 2-inch (50.8mm) jaw capacity and a precision machined 4-thread knurled non-protruding jaw adjustment worm, making it perfect for jobs requiring exacting precision in tight spaces.

    Both the handle and jaws have an HRC 40-50 hardness rating, so it’s tough enough for stubborn jobs. It's tough as it is made of durable, heat-treated Chrome Vanadium Steel with a corrosion-resistant Manganese Phosphate coating.

    Its handle grip features an anti-slip design which delivers the user more gripping power to help reduce fastener damage and provide more torque while preventing hand stress and fatigue during prolonged use. 

    The wrench is a wrench for all jobs. DIY around the home, plumbing, working on the farm or doing automotive work. 

    Here's the specs:
    • Size: 6-inch
    • Jaw capacity: 15/16-inch (23.8125mm)
    • Constructed of Chrome Vanadium Steel
    • Corrosion-resistant Manganese Phosphate coating
    • Unique jaw and neck design increases steel hardness (HRC) by 3 degrees and reduces the wrenches’ overall weight by 10%
    • Ergonomic TPR handle grip
    • Anti-slip design 
    • Precision milled 4-thread knurled non-protruding jaw adjustment worm
    • Metric and SAE measurement markings
    • Special jaw design protects nuts during use for increased torque

    But you want to know if the Ares spanner is the real deal. Well, buyers on Amazon have road tested it and given their review feedback:

    "I use this wrench almost daily. The grip is nice, fitment of the adjuster is excellent, the small teeth on the jaws are a nice for a little additional bite. Well worth the price for quality tools."

    "Good quality and very small for very tight spaces"

    So check out the price on Amazon:

    Ares also do a pretty handy set of wrenches:

    This sets wrenches features up to a 1 5/16-inch jaw capacity and metric and SAE measurements, eliminating guesswork when doing precision jobs.

    The 8-inch wrench also features a V-jaw with aggressively angled teeth perfect for gripping pipes and rounded fasteners.

    handy wrench set

    Coilover spanners

    coilover wrench
    There are also plenty of other kinds of wrenches that have specific design features to help with particular tasks such as the coil-over.

    Coilovers can be used to tighten side slot nuts on collars, lock nuts and bearings.

    Because of the action when using them, they can give great leverage when turning stubborn bolts.

    These kinds of spanners are very popular for motorcycle maintenance as they can fit shocks, steering columns, and all kinds of nuts.

    Top five facts about spanners and wrenches

    1. Crescent wrenches are actually a trademarked brand all of their own!
    2. English engineer Richard Clyburn is widely credited with inventing an adjustable spanner in 1842.
    3. The first patent for a spanner was granted to Enoch Harris in 1885. This featured an adjustable jaw. Since then many different patents for differing forms of spanners have been accepted over the years.
    4. No one knows how the term "monkey wrench" came about
    5. The expression "spanner in the works" came about from employees deliberately sabotaging factory production lines with tools such as wrenches. Or not...

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