To obtain the perfect grass lawn, it doesn't half take a lot of work. From cutting grass regularly to feeding the lawn with grass seed to cut and kill weeds, the next aspect of maintenance has always bowed down to raking grass because of associated moss growth due to rain. Whilst in England some areas are permanently brown for the lack of rain, Scotland doesn't tend to suffer from that problem due to nearly all year around of rainy weather and as a result, the grass lawns with plenty of homes are green, lush and fresh.
I have been looking for an electric lawn raker for some time and one that scarifies and rakes up moss, thatch and collected cuttings that my old 9 year old Flymo Vision hover has perhaps missed. This model by Flymo is perhaps one of the cheapest models on the market where an electric rake is concerned. There are other rivals in terms of the venerable Black and Decker cylinder style push model with a bag at the front, but I have been taken with the Flymo Lawnrake 3400 because it comes with high recommendations from other reviewers, not least on Ciao UK where I first learnt of this model and then saw the model in the flesh at my local Home & Hardware store priced at £89-99 at the start of the year.
In April, the price fell to £69-99 and it is then that I felt the time was right to purchase the lawnraker in an attempt to do early grass maintenance in time for summer.
The model currently sells at Amazon UK at £83-25 (product code B00159M01W) and Flymo promise “A powerful electric lawn rake with unique compacting collection box. Removes moss and thatch for a healthy lawn.”
GENERAL QUALITY & ASSEMBLY
The first aspect that I noticed when I got the rather heavy packaging box home was how big this Flymo machine is, physically. It reminds me of my late parents' old Flymo cylinder mower from the 1970s. With a huge orange box that sits on top and to the front of the Flymo Lawnrake 3400, it does look distinctive and different to what has gone on before, in my opinion, though it isn't a lawn mower.
The decision to coat everything in orange and black still stands for the Lawnrake Compact 3400 and reinforces the typical Flymo signature brand. It makes me wonder why the model is called “Compact,” though when it is anything but in my shed. Taking up as much room as my normal Flymo Vision 34” hover with its grass box, also on the top and at the front, the Flymo Lawnrake 3400 can be compacted down by unscrewing the twin orange bolts on the double brace handle and swung over – but it still makes for a very bulky machine regardless of how easy the handles can provide this storage solution.
All I required to do was seemingly bolt two handles together to make up the double "C" shaped frame of this lawn raker and its associated power handle with excess cable being able to be clipped to the bottom frame to the side. I recognise the twist style bolts when putting the two handles together though as they are the same ones fitted to my old Flymo Vision box hover mower.
However, in my experience the bolts are liable to crack over time from constant screwing and untwisting to pull the handle over for storage, or setting up the handle for use.
Elsewhere thick grey and orange PVC plastic makes up this electric lawnraker in general but the feeling to me is that of stability rather than long term durability and I was surprised that Flymo have fitted a permanent 8 metre cable as opposed to pig-tail removable cables available in other countries – which the friendly user manual clearly points out. You also get two packs of spare metal tines, only five “left” and “right” hand ones though, which can be confusing to look at as only the packaging envelope hows the markings, not the tines themselves.
Where the main design is concerned, Flymo have tried to make this the Lawnrake 3400 as flush and modern as possible with a concealed internal roller wheel bar at the back that features 7 rows of double placed removable tines. Even the large flush, vented and curvy bin at the top has a stylish look but on the underside I found a rather flat and flush fitting which may aid gliding, but coupled with the roller bar with thin, metal tines, this isn’t like a rotary lawn mower that can be rolled on concrete to the garden before use. Flymo have made the base of this machine so flush that it is impossible for me to roll it from my shed to my lawn without one or two tines threatening to break off mid-journey.
There’s a handy height adjustment wheel on the rear left hand side wheel for depth of cutting to 6 different roller heights, but I was a bit disappointed to find that I had to manually slide the orange knob onto the metal pin and the metal used doesn’t feel that all well made. All four wheels to this unit however are plastic PVC and thickly ribbed with orange tri-star like hub caps to ensure some degree of stability, so for all intents and purposes it feels and looks like a rotary mower with 4 wheels, when it clearly isn’t by design and purpose.
PERFORMANCE & DOWNSIDES
When I first started using the Flymo Lawnrake 3400, and finding that the power cord measures 8 metres, the first impression I get is how quiet the 750-watt motor is, and how easy the long metre cable can travel, but this electric raker is also pretty powerful when I inadvertently set the roller bar at its lowest height.
Confusingly this can be done with the height adjustment knob set at its highest.
There are various lines set at the side that show the height adjustment but I don’t think they explain far enough as to which setting is better for the lightest scarifying process. It's all very well quoting measurements from the user manual but why Flymo can't emboss the actual gradients into each height selection of the metal backing plate, is beyond me! As is, I ended up nearly burning the motor out as well as making the deepest gouges in my lawn with widths big enough to house an Olympic running track for a family of mice!
Now three weeks later, the grass is still growing back but still shows signs of its awful, ripped and almost burned treatment. When the Flymo Lawnrake 3400 has been used on a higher setting, my lawn does look much improved, but it's not as easy as the company would have me believe...
Once I had realised that the height adjustment adjusts the opposite way to the roller, life does become seemingly easier with the Flymo Lawnrake 3400 on a flat and level surface, but when it comes to a sloped lawn or areas that requires a hover style mower, I find a four wheeled job such as this lawn raker can start to become a bulky affair.
All the while the roller wheel at the back becomes more obvious as a poorer location for awkward areas on a garden lawn that needs to be raked but can’t be accessed because the roller isn’t at the front. Angling the Flymo around corners seems to be okay but it isn’t before long when areas gets missed because of the squat, square shape.
Then there’s the rather useless Vision plastic window at the rear of this Flymo machine. It is very large and very useful to begin with, but because it is situated directly above the roller wheel, it inadvertently becomes caked in so much grass, it is impossible to rely on to when the grass box needs emptying.
Clearer indications to my eyes are the copious air vents at the front of the box that will happily show bits of cuttings sticking out. For a company who have forever put windows on the top of the bins on their mowers, Flymo have been a bit unwise here to put a window at the back in my opinion.
I find it so difficult to rely on the window that by the time I realised the roller had clogged up, the Flymo had already scattered some of the cuttings underneath the machine where the roller is located, making for a very messy clean up process!
Where its actual scarifying and raking consistency is concerned though, the Flymo Lawnrake 3400 just about satisfies the usage on my lawn. I find it copes better on a higher height, which skimps the lawn surface rather than deep digging and it can still perform to a fair standard rooting out moss, thatch and weeds in my grass. But I always have to go over spots I have raked with the Flymo, which is more time consuming. The highest setting will still take out moss, but expect anything deeper and you may have to knock the height down a notch, with the quicker result that the roller will clog up and scatter cuttings every where without a suction motor fitted to pick up the cuttings.
Unless you have a large enough disposable area, setting the roller to the lowest will see you emptying this machine over 25 times in one use with an average sized UK garden. Electric lawn raking shouldn’t be this difficult! The 34 litre capacity in my opinion just isn't big enough for a bigger fill without continuous emptying and by the fifth time I emptied the box and already filled FOUR 80 litre bags of moss and thatch, I was getting a serious workout as well as feeling fed up..
Another issue that I am bewildered about is the lack of airflow in this machine that other brands such as Bosch have engineered to stop the clogging process. Other brands even go as far to including a suction motor - and for a company who were previously owned by Electrolux, I find it utterly surprising that the omission of a suction motor to compensate for clogging hasn’t been fitted here.
EMPTYING AND OTHER MAINTENANCE
When it comes to emptying, it isn’t as easy as Flymo would have me believe, either. The pull up bin may be easy to pull up, but the bin is anything but easy when transferring straight to a garden bin liner. Even with an 80 litre bag in my hand, I severely struggled to empty the huge box without bits falling out to the sides of the box. Even with a flimsy plastic vented grid door that can be unlocked and swung down rather like a ramp, the cuttings fail to scoop in due to the lack of a tapered, inward chute design. Husqvarna of Sweden owns Flymo; I’d have thought there would be more Swedish ingenuity here.
Unless you consider dumping the cuttings into a compost bin or wheelbarrow and then manually scoop up the cuttings for bag disposal later on, there doesn’t seem to be an easier way of disposing due to the small weeta-flake like cutting consistency that the raker can achieve.
The orange grass box looks easy enough to pull upwards, but then it seems they have forgotten put a grab handle at the back of the box where there is an obvious plastic partition. Like the idea of having a replaceable power cable, it could well be a market specific model that has the much needed grab handle. I found it difficult to grab the box at the sides to angle it into the bag I wanted to dispose the grass cuttings in.
Where removal or replacement of the tines is concerned, the process is easy-ish to do but in my opinion it can be time consuming because it all involves unscrewing braces that keep in the metal tines in. Although Flymo give you a free pack of replacements, there's only five tines each and replacement packs from Flymo are very costly ranging from £15 to £23.
Elsewhere the machine needs to be cleaned out after use before next use to avoid any old clumps of cuttings grass to clog up the sides and spill out. Failure to unclog and clean means the grass will just fall out all over a freshly mown lawn which kind of defeats the purpose – the machine is there to rake up grass, not spread it around!
There are a few awkward areas in the recovery bin and by the motor that need to be unclogged as well. And when you have huffed and puffed with emptying and unclogging the excess cuttings from both the roller bar and the motor vents inside, you then have the joy to find no cable hooks for the 8-metre cord to wind around. Had Flymo fitted the double bent style handle at the top, the cable could easily be wound around it. As is, the curved and flat C style handle doesn't really make for a fast and convenient way to store the cable after use. A clump of cable bunched into a heap, reinforces lack of design thought for space storage after use.
Generally when it comes to electric lawnmowers, I am probably first to jump in defence of Flymo hovers and particularly those with grass boxes that make the experience of cutting grass easy and quick.
But, when it comes to electric raking where a lawn needs scarifying or raking, I am not all that impressed with the design of the Flymo Lawnrake Compact 3400. Beset with unbelievable design problems from a company who should know better, the biggest problem seems to be its general design and a roller at a rear trapped in a rotary mower like body with four wheels. It may be light to push, but that's probably one very good aspect over a lot of disappointments.
Fitted around a lightweight plastic design that should be a heck of a lot more space efficient and far better designed begs the question to why Flymo have failed at a reasonable attempt of helping the home gardener. When it makes so much mess in the way it is supposed to alleviate, it barely ticks the box of being able to rake and scarify a lawn – without creating more mess than it should - and when it chucks out cuttings and requires a manual rake to scoop up whatever is left behind, the idea of Flymo's electric lawn raker is hardly time saving. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2015.
I bought this Flymo Lawnrake Compact 3400 from Ebay last year and paid £30.00. It was in superb condition and had hardly been used so I think I got quite a bargain there as the recommended retail price is £99.99 although you can currently get it for £79.99 from Homebase.
*** WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE ***
This electric Flymo lawnrake has a 750 watt motor so it is quite powerful. The cylinder with the rake is 34cm wide so you can cover quite a large area at one time. It has six rake heights to choose from which range from -5mm to +8mm and it is easy to change by a dial at the side of the machine. The collection box is a bright orange and it holds 34 litres which is a lot of moss, and it is easily removable by pulling a wide lip at the top of the box, and it then clips back down after use. It has a clear plastic window at the front of the box so you can always see exactly how much you have collected, so you don’t have to keep opening the box to look inside.
*** HOW TO USE IT ***
You use this lawnrake very similar to how you would a lawnmower. To start it you need to press an orange button which is on the underneath of a plastic panel which comes off the handle at the top. You then need to press one of the two orange lever handles which are situated at each side of the handle and then it starts (as long as you have plugged it in first!) It does have quite a long lead so should reach the length of an average garden. We have quite a long back garden and it manages to get to the top without any problem. You just then slowly walk up and down pushing the machine whilst holding the two orange levers and the cylinder will turn and pull the moss out of the lawn. It does hold quite a lot of moss but if we haven’t used it for around three months we find that it has to be emptied during the use.
Don’t be put off with how the lawn looks when you have finished as it does look a right mess as it pulls large lumps of moss you are left with patches of just dirt and it looks as though it has been attacked by moles! We also find there is also some clumps of moss which have been pulled up but haven’t been collected in the box, however with a quick rake these are easily removed. I would say that it takes at least a week before the grass starts to grow and a couple more weeks before it starts to look really okay, but it really is worth it as you are left with a very healthy looking lawn.
The Flymo 3400 Lawnrake has a powerful cylinder rake that removes unwanted moss and thatch from your lawn. The Vision window and easy to empty grass box makes this Lawnrake simple and effortless to use. Motor power 750 watts.34 litre waste collection capacity.Metal blades.6 raking heights, from -5mm to +8mm.12m cable length.34cm cutting width.34cm raking width.Weight 12.3kg