Garden Tools & Sewing Machines Buying Guides | Go Argos

Buying guide - leisure time

Whether you're continuing to explore an interest or picking up something new, hobbies add colour and fun into our lives. From crafting to gardening, our buying guides will help you choose the right tools to help you make the most of your hobby.

Sewing
machines
Gardening
hand tools
Gardening
power tools
Woman using Brother electric sewing machine

Sewing Machines

Whether you are just starting out on a new haberdashery hobby or are an advanced stitcher, a sewing machine is sure to give you hours of creative enjoyment.

There are three main types of sewing machine you can choose from: electric, computerised and overlocker. This guide will explore these main types of machine and take you through some key considerations to help you choose the right machine for you.


Considerations before buying a sewing machine

You'll need to think about how you're going to be using your sewing machine before you decide which type is right for you.

Are you a sewing novice or more experienced?

Picking a machine suited to your level of sewing confidence will give you the most enjoyment. If sewing is a new interest, a simpler, low cost electric machine will get you going with plenty of projects.

Already a regular stitcher? You may want to invest in more functionality with a higher spec electronic or computerised machine so that you can work with higher sewing speeds and impress with more complex stitches.

What type of projects are you going to be working on?

Start by planning the type of projects you are going to be working on so that you can pick a machine best suited to your designs. For simple patterns or light alterations, an electric machine that includes a straight stitch, zigzag stitch and buttonholer is ideal.

If you are planning to work on more complex projects that require a bigger range of stitches, or if you want to design and programme stitches and embroidery patterns yourself, you will need to look at more sophisticated, computerised machines.

What fabric will you be working with?

Most electric and computerised machines will work well with light to medium-weight materials, as well as thicker materials such as denim. To pierce through heavier fabrics you may need to change to a thicker needle, which is often included with your machine or can be purchased from a craft store.

You can buy specialised electronic and computerised machines that are designed to cope with sewing through several layers of thick material at a time, however you would only need to consider one of these if you are planning to frequently make garments from heavy materials.

Where are you going to use and store your sewing machine?

If sewing is a new hobby, you may not have a dedicated space where you can keep your sewing machine. If you need to regularly pack and store your sewing machine away, it's a good idea to consider its weight.

A lighter, more compact electric machine will be much easier to lift and will take up less room in your cupboard. However, lighter machines are not as well suited to sewing heavier fabrics.

How much do you want to spend?

Sewing machines vary in price depending on the number of features they have. Electric machines with all your essential functions are generally priced between £60 and £220.

Models featuring a larger range of stitches and extra features that make using the machine quicker and easier are more expensive, but if you regularly sew it may be worth the investment to get this extra functionality.


Different types of sewing machines

The range of sewing machines available for the at-home haberdasher broadly groups into three main categories: electric machines, computerised machines and overlockers.

Electric sewing
machines

Computerised sewing machines

Overlockers

Electric sewing machines

The needle of an electric sewing machine is controlled by a single motor. By applying pressure to a foot peddle you control the speed on the stitching, with more pressure increasing the speed and a lighter touch slowing it down. This means you have both hands free to guide the fabric through the machine. Despite running on an electric motor, some manufacturers call these mechanical machines because of their simple design.

All electric machines let you choose the stich type and length by turning dials. However, the range of stitches and number of extra features available categorises these machines into entry level models and more advanced ranges.

Entry level electric machines

  • Prices range between £60 and £120.
  • Generally can perform up to 20 different stitch types, including straight and zigzag stitches.
  • Will work well with light to medium weight materials. Change the needle to work with thicker materials.
  • General features: 4-step buttonholer, automatic bobbin winding, 1 to 3 possible needle positions and twin needle capability.

More advanced electric machines

  • Prices range between £150 and £220.
  • Generally can perform more than 20 different stitch types, with more decorative stitches available.
  • Will work well with light to medium weight materials. Some also designed especially to work with thicker fabrics, such as multiple layers of denim.
  • General features: 1-step buttonholer, automatic bobbin winding, up to 7 possible needle positions and twin needle capability.
  • Additional features: Automatic needle threader, higher sewing speeds and embroidery feature.
Check out our range of electric sewing machines >

Computerised sewing machines

Caught the sewing bug? Investing in a computerised sewing machine will give you much greater functionality. A foot pedal is used to control the needle but many of the functions are automatic and can be set-up in a few simple steps.

Hundreds of stitches, and a host of other clever features, are all controlled by a simple-to-use keypad or a touch controlled LCD screen. Some models can also memorise past designs and download new stitches from the internet when connected to a computer.

  • Prices range from £230 to £800.
  • Generally can perform between 50 and 225 stitches, with more decorative stitches available and the option to download more from online.
  • Works well with light to medium weight materials. Needle can be changed to work with thicker materials.
  • General features: LCD screen and control panel, automatic needle threader, sophisticated embroidery feature, slide speed control, 1-step buttonholer.
Check out our range of computerised sewing machines >

Overlockers

An overlocker is a separate machine that is used to neatly stitch seams. You can finish seams using an electric or computerised machine, and if you are just starting out with sewing this would be good practice. However if you are more experienced or make clothes frequently, the addition of an overlocker alongside your sewing machine will neaten and speed up finishing off seams.

  • Prices range between £200 and £250.
  • Generally can perform up to 10 different overlocking stitches.
  • Able to cope with almost all fabric types, these machines can sew, cut and finish seams when making clothing, soft upholstery and furnishings.
  • Due to the number of different threads, it can be more complicated to set-up these machines. However, many come pre-threaded and the user guide will include full instructions of how to use your machine.
Check out our range of overlocker machines >

Sewing machine helpful features

Here are some helpful features to look out for when picking your sewing machine.

Buttonholer

Creating a buttonhole is simple and easy on machines with this feature. While most sewing machines will have a buttonholer function, they will differ in the number of steps it takes to complete and how much involvement you will need to have. More basic electric models will generally have a 4-step buttonholer function, while more advanced electric and computerised machines can create a button hole in just one step.

Adjustable thread tension

This feature lets you adjust how loose or tight the stitches are made through the fabric. This is important if you are planning to work with a variety of fabrics from heavy to very thin materials such as silk. For thick materials, you may need to loosen the thread tension to avoid pulling or puckering the fabric. With more delicate materials the tension may need to be higher so that the stitches are not too loose.

Automatic needle threader

Although not an essential feature, an automatic needle threader will let you avoid the fiddly task of threading the needle. Most electric and computerised machines have this handy feature, so setting up your machine is quick, easy and hassle-free.

Lighting

Some machine models have an inbuilt light directed at the needle so you can clearly see each stitch. This bright light on your workspace can make a big difference to your sewing quality and helps to prevent eyestrain. If the model you are looking at does not have a light feature, consider a craft lamp for a brighter workspace.

Automatic bobbin winding

A bobbin is a small, cylindrical container that holds the bottom thread for stitching. Before starting to sew you need to load this bobbin with thread which, when done by hand, can be time consuming and fiddly. Many machines feature an automatic bobbin winding function that winds the thread onto the reel automatically, with some also automatically stopping when they sense that the bobbin is full.


Sewing accessories

Don't forgot these handy sewing machine accessories.


Delivery & payment

If you now know which sewing machine model is for you, then you're ready to shop. Still not quite sure? Our customer services team are happy to give you more information and advice.


Fast Track in-store collection

Pay online and enjoy super-fast collection at our dedicated Fast Track counters in-store. Subject to availability.


Fast Track same day delivery

Can't wait to get stitching? Buy before 6pm and we'll deliver by 10pm the same day for only £3.95, 7 days a week. Subject to availability.


Standard delivery

We'll deliver your order for as little as £3.95.


Reserve online

Reserve your sewing machine online and collect and pay for it in store.



Useful information & advice

Follow our top tips for an enjoyable and comfortable sewing session.


Use the right needle

Make sure you are using the right needle for the type of material you are working with to avoid damaging your machine. Many machines come with a starter set of needles that include a variety of types.


Avoid sewing across pins

Pins can be used to hold material together or a hem in place while you sew - but take care not to sew over the pins as they can damage your machine. To avoid this try tacking, where you hand-sew a seam roughly as a guide before you use your machine.


Keep the instruction manual near by

It seems simple but people often forget about the instruction manual and leave it in the box. These guides often have loads of tips, tricks and solutions to any mishaps you may have with your machine, so keep it close beside you while you sew.


Get a magnet

Sew with a small magnet close at hand. Simply wave around your floor, chair and workspace once you have finished sewing to pick up any dropped pins or needles - no more painful pin pricks!


Sit in the right position

Position your sewing machine on a table where, sitting comfortably, your elbows are at table height. Here you should be able to work the machine with straight wrists. A chair with an adjustable height can help you get to this comfortable position.


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Man and children collecting leaves with gardening tool

Keeping your garden looking great is a hobby sure to keep you busy all year round. Whether you're pottering in the greenhouse or pruning the borders, it's important to have the right hand tools for the job.

Follow our guide to find the best tools for each green-fingered task, and the specialised features to look out for that make trimming, digging and planting comfortable and easy.


Considerations before buying

Consider these points to make sure you pick the right garden hand tool to suit your needs.

What jobs do you plan to do in your garden?

Which tool to buy depends on the type of garden you have and what tasks you will need to complete. While many tools are useful for more than one job around the garden, some are more specialised. For example, if you have a vegetable patch you may want to invest in a specialised cultivating tool.

What size and weight are the tools?

It's important to consider the weight and size of the tools to make sure you will be able to use them comfortably and easily tidy away. Tools made of aluminium or plastic are lightweight options, however for bigger tasks it may be necessary to use tools made of heavier and sturdier materials. Some larger tools are available that fold down or shorten for easier storage.

Where are you going to store your tools?

Leaving gardening tools outside can lead to rust and frost damage. To protect your investment it is best to keep them in an outdoor storage box, cupboard or shed. Depending on where you have room to store them, you may need to consider the size and weight of the tools. If you have to keep your tools outside, look out for ones that have a rust-resistant, PTFE coating.


Different types of gardening hand tools

Some tools are good all-rounders to have in your garden tool kit, while others are more specialised to particular jobs in the garden.

Tools for
planting

Tools for
pruning & weeding

Tools for
lawn care

Other
tools


Tools for planting

Hand trowel

A hand trowel has a small, curved head for precision digging and can be used for putting bedding plants into your borders, window boxes, planters and pots. Many trowels have wooden handles which offer great grip, while some have plastic handles that are specially shaped for optimum comfort.

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Hand fork

A hand fork usually has four sharp prongs and is a good all-round tool to have in your kit. It is useful for planting and transplanting, weeding, aerating and breaking up or mixing nutrients into your soil.

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Spade

A sturdy garden spade with a large, flat head is perfect for digging larger holes, lifting roots and edging lawns. Some feature a telescopic handle, where the length can be adjusted to a comfortable position for your height.

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Fork

Slightly lighter than a spade, the garden fork is ideal for lifting plants and turning soil to prepare for planting. The four prongs break up large clumps of earth easily and are useful for aerating.

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Tools for pruning & weeding

Secateurs

Secateurs are hand-held pruners that can be used for removing small branches, cutting back shrubs and dead-heading plants. There are two main types of secateurs, anvil and bypass. Anvil secateurs only have one moving blade and are more suitable for cutting dried out plants, while bypass secateurs have two blades that move like a pair of scissors and are suitable for cutting living plants.

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Loppers

A lopper has longer handles and a bigger leverage than a pair of secateurs, and so is suitable for cutting through thicker branches. Like secateurs, loppers are available with both anvil and bypass blades depending on whether you are cutting back dead or living plants. As you will often use these with outstretched arms, look out for models made of lightweight materials such as aluminium.

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Hedge shears

Hedge shears have long blades and can be used for shaping and trimming hedges. These are likely to be used with outstretched arms so it is a good idea to pick ones made from a lightweight material.

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Hoe

A hoe has a light blade and handle and is used for removing the top growth of weeds in beds and borders. It only needs a light touch to remove the very top of the growth and is a good, chemical-free alternative to using weed killer if you only have a small number of weeds in your soil.

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Weeder

A weeder or weed extractor is useful for slightly bigger weeds that are tougher to remove. Designs vary but most feature a pointed end that digs into the soil to remove the weed from the root. Some models feature a long handle so that weeds can be removed from a standing position.

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Tools for lawn care

Lawn & leaf rakes

Lawn and leaf rakes are lightweight and have soft teeth suitable to collect leaves, twigs and dead grass from your lawn, without lifting up your turf. To tidy up this garden waste, grabbing tools will help you pick up piles of leaves without having to bend or strain.

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Thatch & moss rakes

With metal teeth, these rakes are designed to aerate your lawn whilst lifting moss. Some thatch removers can be rolled along on wheels, putting less strain on your arms and back as you use the tool.

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Edging blade

An edging blade is a semi-circular blade with a long handle that you can use to cut lawn edges and create borders. You use your foot to push down on the blade and cut through the turf, leaving your path edges and flower beds neat and tidy.

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Grass & edging shears

Edging or grass shears may have longer handles and angled blades to trim lawn edges and around trees where your lawn mower can't reach. With a long handle, these lets you neaten your lawn edges with minimum effort and without having to bend down.

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Other tools

Cultivator

A cultivator tool has three hooked prongs attached to a long handle that can be used to turn and aerate soil. This is a useful tool if you have a vegetable patch as it helps to prepare your soil for planting bulbs.

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Multi-change tools

Some garden tool brands offer multi tools, where you buy a handle and the tool heads separately. There are a wide variety of tool heads available and you are able to interchange these attachments depending on what garden job you need to do. This saves space in your garden shed and lets you use a length of handle that is most comfortable for you.

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Hose

A hose with a spray gun attachment is useful for watering around your garden, however they can be heavy and get tangled. For a lightweight option that does not kink or twist, look out for expandable hoses.

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Helpful features

Here are some key features to look out for when you are picking your garden hand tool.

Easy-grip handles

Some tools have curved or specially shaped handles that are designed to minimise the stress put on your wrist so that you can garden comfortably for longer periods of time.

Lightweight

Choosing tools made of lightweight materials will help make gardening tasks much easier, especially if you need to use the tool with outstretched arms. Tools made from aluminium, plastic and carbon will provide you with lightweight options.

Telescopic handles

Telescopic handles let you extend the handle of the tool to make it longer or shorter. This means that you can change the length depending on what job you are doing and the height of the user. It also allows you to shorten the handle height for easier storage.

Long-reach handles

For safety it is not recommended to use garden tools above head height, but some jobs such as trimming tall hedges require reaching up high or using a ladder. Longer handles give you extra reach for these tasks, so you can avoid straining your arms or back.

PTFE coating

A PTFE coating is put on some tools to make them non-stick. This helps prevent your tools from getting clogged up with mud, leaves and other sludge from the garden and makes them very easy to clean. It also helps to protect your tools from corrosive substances that may also live in your shed or garage.


Accessories

Don't forget these handy garden accessories.


Delivery & payment

If you now know which tools are for you, then you're ready to shop. Still not quite sure?
Our customer services team are happy to give you more information and advice.


Fast Track in-store collection

Pay online and enjoy super-fast collection at our dedicated Fast Track counters in-store.
Subject to availability.


Fast Track same day delivery

Can't wait to get gardening? Buy before 6pm and we'll deliver by 10pm the same day for only £3.95,
7 days a week. Subject to availability.


Standard delivery

We'll deliver your order for as little as £3.95.


Reserve online

Reserve your garden hand tools online and collect and pay for it in store.



Useful information & advice

Here is some useful advice to help you maintain your garden tools.

  • Clean your tools regularly to get rid of any soil or chemicals and allow to dry completely before storing to prevent rusting.
  • Carefully wipe pruners, shears and loppers with a rag and some water-displacing oil. This will help to prevent them from rusting.
  • If your tools have wooden handles, occasionally rub in some linseed oil to prevent the wood drying out or splintering.
  • Sharpen your cutting tools and smooth blades on shovels and spades throughout the gardening season to keep them in prime condition. To hone cutting tools use a sharpening stone or a sharpener, which should both be readily available from gardening centres or hardware stores.



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Man cleaning outside steps with pressure washer

Whether you're cutting the lawn or trimming the hedges, power tools make looking after your garden a lot easier.

This guide will explore the garden power tools that will help you maintain a neat lawn and hedge,
as well as tools that make clearing up quick and effortless. We will focus on lightweight and low maintenance options that require minimum user effort for hassle-free garden maintenance.


Considerations before buying

Consider these points to make sure you pick the right garden power tool to suit your needs.

How will your tool be powered?

Whether you are looking at lawnmowers, hedge trimmers or garden vacuums, one of the main choices you will have to make when buying a new garden equipment is the
power-source of the tool.

Electric-powered tools are lightweight and cheap to operate, while battery-powered tools have the benefit of being cordless. Petrol-powered tools are heavier, however have more power and endurance so are better for tackling bigger jobs.

Where will you store your power tools?

Think about where you will store your power tools as this may affect the size and weight of the power tool that you choose.

If you have less room for storing tools, you may look for lightweight electric or
battery-powered models that can be hung up or folded down for easy storage.

How much effort do you want to exert?

Although power tools take much of the effort out of managing your garden compared to hand tools, different models require different levels of physical exertion.

Generally electric or battery powered power tools are lighter than petrol tools, making them more manageable to use. There are also a number of specialised features that make certain tools easier to use and these specialised models are discussed in more detail in the following section.


Different types of gardening power tools

Lawn care

Hedges

Clearing up


Lawn Care

Creating a lush lawn can require a lot of care and attention, however lightweight, low maintenance and compact lawnmowers and grass trimmers can help to make light work of looking after your lawn.

For a more detailed look into all lawnmowers types, why not take a look at our dedicated lawnmower buying guide.



Cordless lawnmowers

Battery-powered lawnmowers are powered by a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery and are much lighter than petrol-powered mowers. This cordless option also allows you to move freely around your garden without the risk of running over the wire or getting tangled with cables.

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Hover lawnmowers

Ideal for the regular upkeep of small to medium sized lawns, the blades of hover lawnmowers float on a cushion of air, making them very easy to manoeuvre and use. Gliding over any uneven surfaces, these mowers are lightweight and require minimal effort to push.

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Robotic lawnmowers

For a truly effortless option a robotic lawnmower uses sensors to map out your lawn and cut it without you having to lift a finger. Prices start at £900, but this smart device will save you time and effort.

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Self-propelled lawnmowers

If you have a larger garden and require a heavier petrol-powered lawnmower, look for models with a self-propelling function. By pressing a handle, these models propel themselves forward, meaning you can put less effort into moving them.

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Wheeled grass trimmer

To neaten any lawn edges a trimmer can save you time and effort. Models with wheels allow the tool to be rolled along the turf edge as the blades trim the grass, taking some of the strain off your arms and back.

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Hedges

Maintaining a neat hedge can be hard work, especially if they are tall or overgrown. If the task is too big, it is best to get a professional to cut back your hedges. However, for light pruning and regular upkeep, there are many lightweight power tools that help to make the job more manageable.

For a more detailed look into all lawnmowers types, why not take a look at our dedicated hedge trimmer buying guide.



Cordless hedge trimmers

Ideal for small to medium sized hedges that have branches around 20mm thick, a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery powers most cordless hedge trimmers. Without a cord, these are a great option if you have a large garden and don’t want to be restricted by cables. It also avoids any risk of cutting through any wires while you work.

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Pole hedge trimmers

If you have tall hedges, a pole hedge trimmer avoids the need to use a ladder or reach up above your head. The blade is attached to an extendable pole and some also come with a pivoting head so that you can trim the tops of the hedges with ease.

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Battery hedge shears

Battery hedge shears have a much smaller blade for detailing and so are perfect for lighter pruning or shaping. Far quicker and easier to use than hand shears, these will give smaller box hedges or hedge sculptures a professional finish.

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Clearing up

There are many garden power tools available that help you clear up any garden waste
or tidy up after a bout of bad weather.



Garden vacuum with mulcher

Garden vacuums suck up leaves and other garden debris straight into a collection bag - so no need to bend down to collect leaves. Some also have a mulching function, where the debris is condensed before being stored in your collection bag, which saves space and creates nutrient-filled compost that you can reuse in your garden.

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Garden shredders

A garden shredder transforms piles of bracken, branches and hedge prunings into wood chips ready for your compost heap. Often quite a large machine, you will need room in your garage or shed to store, however these machines are simple to use and a great way to recycle garden waste.
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Pressure washers

A pressure washer blasts water at a high pressure through a nozzle and can be used for a range of tidying-up jobs around the garden. Lighter settings can be used to clean cars and windows, while higher settings can be used to remove dirt from patios and decking. Lightweight and compact models are available with wheels for easy manoeuvring around the garden.

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Helpful features

Here are some key features to look out for when you are picking your garden power tool.

Lightweight materials

Electric power tools tend to be the lightest and therefore easiest to manoeuvre. Cordless tools with a compact battery pack can also be a good, lightweight option. If you are looking for a lightweight tool, avoid petrol-powered models as these are often quite heavy. Also consider the material of the casing of the tool as plastic tools will be much lighter than those with lots of metal components.

Low maintenance tools

If you are not confident with the workings of power tools you may want to consider equipment that is low maintenance. Petrol-powered tools have engines that will require regular attention, while electric or battery powered tools require less care and may be more suitable if you want to avoid maintenance.

Foldable

If you're short on storage space then garden power tools that fold down to a more compact size are a great space-saving solution.

Wheels

Some models of grass trimmers, garden shredders, pressure washers and other tools have wheels built into them. This means they can be wheeled around your garden instead of carried which helps to take some of the strain off your arms and back.


Accessories

Don't forget these handy garden accessories.


Delivery & payment

If you now know which garden power tool is for you, then you’re ready to shop. Still not quite sure?
Our customer services team are happy to give you more information and advice.


Fast Track in-store collection

Pay online and enjoy super-fast collection at our dedicated Fast Track counters in-store.
Subject to availability.


Fast Track same day delivery

Can't wait to get gardening? Buy before 6pm and we'll deliver by 10pm the same day for only £3.95,
7 days a week. Subject to availability.


Standard delivery

We'll deliver your order for as little as £3.95.


Reserve online

Reserve your garden hand tools online and collect and pay for it in store.



Useful information & advice

Garden power tools can save time and effort in the garden and by taking a few simple precautions, you can make sure you and your family stay safe in the garden. Here are our top safety tips.

  • Avoid holding any garden power tool above shoulder height when using it. If you need to reach up high, look for long-handled tools to give you that extra reach.
  • Keep your garden power tools locked away in a shed or garage. This will protect them from the elements, prevent you tripping over them and keep them out of view when not in use.
  • Check that any garden power tool is turned off before you plug it in. Avoid using any electric-powered garden tools in damp or wet conditions.
  • Inspect your tools when turned off and not plugged in by checking for any frayed cables, missing or damaged parts. If broken and newly purchased or under warranty, you can return the product to the retailer or manufacturer. Avoid trying to fix the tool yourself and if necessary have it repaired by a reputable company.
  • Always read through the manufacturer's manual for each garden power tool before you use it to ensure you are comfortable and confident with all the user settings.



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