* Prices may differ from that shown
I love sitting out in my garden during the summer months, however I don't quite like gardening just as much. Let's just say, its not for me. My mum advised me to buy the Black&Decker Strimmer GL301 to try keep the edges of my garden tidy, without too much hassle and too much work. I bought this from B&Q for just under £40.00.
The strimmer come in a large cardboard box, which once opened I was surprised to see a few parts that needed putting together, however after a quick look through the manual this was fairly easy and quick to do. The strimmer and parts are made from plastic, and I was surprised by how light it is, I was expecting it to be quite heavy. The blades of the strimmer are already attatched at the bottom, and in the box comes a safety guard which you can put over to ensure that no accidents happen. The strimmer is easy to get up and running, its simply plugged on and press the button - then you're off!
I have never used a strimmer before, so I cannot compare it to others, however, I can tell you about how I feel this one works. I like this fact that this strimmer is not too loud when you start it up - I expected it to be much louder. Don't get me wrong it is not silent by any means! The strimmer works well on the edges of my lawns making them nice, neat and straight. I have not tried to use it on any other plants, bushes etc yet - but my friend has asked to borrow it for that purpose so once I get feedback from him I will update my review.
The only major downside to this item is the short lead it comes with, but I have managed to work around this. Overall this was a good buy for me and worth the money.
Now summer is here, my garden is fast becoming my pride and joy. Before we had new turf laid down, the grass just didn't grow and we had a brown stain for a lawn. Now it won't stop growing and seems to be spreading if I don't control it! We bought the Black&Decker Strimmer GL301 to try keep the edges nice and neat along with tackling unsightly weeds quickly with ease.
*Price and availability*
I paid £35.00 for the strimmer from my local garden centre. The model is widely available and used to come in the orange colour shown in the dooyoo image. It has now been revamped and comes in a sexy green colour. I don't know if stores will have the old model still in stock so it just a little pointer to look out for.
The strimmer is made from cheap green plastic and comes in two parts that need screwing together. They look pretty flimsy and definitely feel it. The box the strimmer comes in is a lot smaller than the strimmer so don't be misled in thinking it is a small machine. Once the strimmer is whole it stands about a meter tall. It's not a big macho machine but it is at a comfortable height and is fairly light to hold at 2.2kg. Underneath the strimmer, where the magic happens, there is a plastic safety guard to protect yourself against the cord. This comes separate in the box and it is worth remembering it is in there. We didn't see it at first and used the strimmer without it! This could be really dangerous so I'd recommend you attach it. It simply slots in place underneath. On the side of the strimmer is built in hooks so that the cable can be stowed away neatly.
The cable is really short which is very disappointing and is impossible to use without an extension lead. The cable tucks is positioned behind the trigger area so that it is always behind you, minimising greatly the risk of damaging it with the mechanics.
To get the strimmer to work, all you need to do is plug it in and press the 'go' button. This is a little trigger that constantly needs to be held throughout use. Once you release the trigger, the strimmer stops. This is a great safely feature.
It has 300W of power and starts up with a whirring sound. It is fairly noisy and makes quite a girly high pitched squealing noise which is very irritating. However, I've never met a strimmer that doesn't make some form of horrible noise so I've come to accept it.
When using the machine, the length of the cutting thread is 25 cm. This blasts away deep grass and plants but anything thicker; such as anything with branches, causes the strimmer to either send little chunks of wood to collide with peoples ankles or to cut out. The cutting out is slightly annoying, yes it is a safety feature but a more powerful machine would make fast work of a few overgrown brambles.
The strimmer has a two handled design which is good as I couldn't image being able to control it with just one! The vibrations are quite strong and you need two hands to control it.
*Storage and Cleaning*
Although the machine came in two parts, I just leave it whole. The cable has a nifty way of looping round the machine to keep it safe. I always give it a quick wipe down with a dry cloth after use, just to remove any wet grass or debris.
Through use of the strimmer my garden has become neater, and I am able to cut all the grass around my fruit trees and close to the shed. It is definitely a tool for tidying up and I would not use it for anything more heavy duty than this. It cuts out at anything more anyway!
It is nice and light to hold and although holding the trigger gives me a sore thumb, I like having more control over the machine and feel safe knowing if I take my finger off, it will stop.
After around 15 minutes the machine gets quite hot and starts to smell. I won't say it smells like it is burning but it doesn't smell healthy and I know it's time to put it to bed! 15 minutes is all I need to get what I need to be done, done. It is a delicate flower and gets worn out easily. However, it always works first time for me every time I get it out.
I have a love hate relationship with the machine. On one hand she is easy to use and helps me get neat edges where I need them. However on the other hand, I get really angry when it can't handle a few twigs from a hawthorn hedge! It is a very frustrating strimmer and I probably would not buy it again. For thirty pounds, I expected a little more from my machine and it is a little disappointing. Especially when you only get 15 minutes of work out of it!
I am currently on my second Black & Decker GL301 strimmer ("301") so thought I would share my experience of the 301. My first 301 lasted about an hour and a half an hour before giving up the ghost and packing in. Whilst I did attempt to fix the 301, unfortunately it was beyond repair since many of the moving plastic bits had become so hot they melted and stuck together. You may ask how and why I got another 301, especially given the short life span of the product, so I had better explain. After a bit of whinging to the retailer the manager of the store reluctantly agreed to give me a replacement. I could not get my money back, I was not offered an alternative and as there was no way the manager was going to give in (and I didn't want to push her to the point the offer was totally withdrawn) so I reluctantly accepted another 301. However, this time I was in a fortunate position and knew how and when to use it and how to treat it to elongate the life of the 301.
The 301 comes with a full instruction booklet and user guide. This is an 'idiot's guide' that is written in easy to understand language with no technical jargon whatsoever. In addition, there are plenty of diagrams and pictures to make the content even clearer. The 301 is so self explanatory to use that, personally, I don't think that the guide is required, although I guess there is some Health & Safety law or something that dictates one must be produced.
The instruction booklet includes the usual 'safety instructions' such as keeping children and animals away whilst in use, dressing properly (i.e. not wearing loose clothing, wearing goggles, wearing correct footwear, wearing trousers etc)
****Setting up the 301****
Like many bits of garden machinery the 301 cannot be used directly out of the box, and requires some assembly to get it fully operational. Fortunately, the assembly is minimal, can be done by anyone and there is no requirement for any specialist tools. This is a product for those with no technical know how whatsoever, so it suits me down to the ground.
The body of the 301 comes in two sections and the assembly process consists of pushing the top section on to the bottom and then screwing it clockwise motion to secure. It is then a matter of attaching the plastic safety guard at the bottom of the 301, i.e. near the moving parts, by pushing the lugs in to the designated holes. The plastic guard is not essential since the 301 will work without it, but the user guide recommends consumers fit the guard for safety reasons. After slicing my leg open with the cord (and that was with the guard fitted, I was just very careless and got a bit too close) I can't recommend enough to fit the guard.
****Using the 301****
Like all electric strimmers the 301 is very, very easy to use especially since it is a 'plug and play', i.e. simply insert the plug in to a power supply, press the orange trigger button and get cutting.
Whilst the 301 is ok for trimming edges and taking down normal grass it is not man enough for much else. The bank outside my house consists of grass, dandelions, cow weed and other weeds (I'm afraid I'm not green fingered enough to know what they are) so my 301 had, what I considered to be an easy job. The grass was no problem, the dandelions took a bit more effort and all smaller weeds took multiple going over starting right at the top and gradually getting lower and lower. The 301 struggled with the cow weed and whilst it did finally cut through the weeds, it did take a bit of time.
In my experience, it is not advisable to use the 301 for long periods. I find that after 20 minutes of use on my bank the 301 starts to struggle somewhat and it gets very hot. In addition, it starts to smell hot, which is not a good thing. After 20 minutes I find the best thing is to let the 301 cool down for a good 10 minutes or so. Whilst a bit of a pain, after all I just need to the get the job done, it is a good excuse for a drink.
The 301 kicks out 300 watts of power, which in my opinion, is just not enough.
The 301 is small, light weight and made out of green plastic (Not orange as pictured by Dooyoo). When I think of power tools, which is what the 301 is, I imagine butch, powerful and manly pieces of equipment that require a bit of strength to use. I do not picture the 301 since it looks like more of a toy than a serious piece of gardening equipment.
We live in a transparent world where looks are very important and the 301 doesn't fit in to this world at all. It is not something that I would 'strut' around with hoping the neighbours are looking, but would you do that with any piece of gardening equipment? Can any items be described as cool?
Even though the 301 looks like something made by Fisher Price, and looks cheap and nasty, it does assist in maintaining the garden which is all I want it for.
****Quality, strength and durability****
Like all of the Black & Decker strimmers in this range, the 301 is made out of very thin plastic, which at first glance does not appear fit for purpose. Whilst 'man handling' the 301 (I'm not a destructive person I was merely doing this for the purposes of seeing how much hard the 301 could take) I noticed that the plastic bent, twisted, distorted and disfigured very easily indeed. In my opinion, the plastic is inferior but given the price of the 301 you can't really expect anything else. After all, when making these products the manufacturers have to cut their cloth accordingly, so cheap materials are almost certain to be used.
As a result of the thin plastic used in the manufacturing process the 301 is not that strong, nor is it that durable. Despite this I can confirm that I have had no problems with my second one in the year or so that I have owned it. I must stress that I have treated it with the utmost care and respect and whilst it has suffered a few knocks and scrapes (predominantly from being knocked over in the shed) it has not received any real hard. The 301 is clearly designed for light domestic use and, in my opinion, is unlikely to stand up to any heavy or industrial use.
The 301 is effectively a moulded unit that cannot be taken apart very easily. There are screws down the body, suggesting that it does come apart, but don't be fooled by these as these simply secure the handle and other 'bits and pieces' to it. In my opinion, moulded units are fine until something goes wrong with them. Then they are an absolute nightmare since it is usually not possible to take them apart and fix them, and this is the case with the 301. The bottom line is if you break it then you throw it away and buy a new one. Personally, I don't like this approach since I think it is wasteful and is bad for the environment but this 'break it, chuck it, replace it' is common amongst most modern day pieces of gardening equipment. Long gone are the days where you kept repairing things.
****What the manufacturers claim****
According to the box the 301 has the following features;
Intelligent automatic single line feed system that is convenient and saves time
Two-handed design that provides comfort and balance
25cm cutting swath that is the perfect size for medium sized gardens
300w supplies the power of a job well done
Lightweight and ergonomically designed, this strimmer is ideal for every gardener
Best value reflex string strimmer
Light and powerful string trimmers for cutting around trees, garden furniture and up against fences and walls
When I read the above I was quite impressed, however after using the 301 I do doubt some of the claims on the box.
I agree that the two handed design does give balance and comfort. In addition, at just over 2.2kg it is very lightweight but what is the use of this when you can only use it for short periods of time? I should also point out that you will still get the 'power tool' shakes from using the 301.
300w is fine for thin grass but for anything else, no way. I question the 'job well done'. What a load of codswallop.
I am unable to comment on whether it is the "best value" reflex strimmer since this is down to personal opinion. Don't get me wrong, I am glad I purchased the 301 and I do think it represents good value for money but the "best"? Unfortunately, I am comment on this.
The 301 is ideal for cutting around trees, furniture etc. but then so is every other type of strimmer. Surely this is a key feature of all of them? In my experience just catching a fence or wall is fine and the strimmer will not be affected. However if you catch it too hard then the string will snap or the string holder will spit out additional string (the momentum keeps the rotor spinning when the string has come to a halt hence there will be additional string spat out of the line feeder) which will stop the strimming process since the tiny motor can only spin a short length of string. This will not cause too many problems since it is easily rectified by trimming the excess string, but it is an annoyance.
****Price and availability****
The 301 is widely available from many online retailers and physical shops. The most likely stockists are going to be garden centres, DIY shops (I actually purchased mine from Homebase during one of their 10% days) and similar shops.
I paid £17.99 (£19.99 (on sale) less an additional 10%)) for my 301, which I don't think is too expensive when compared to other electric strimmers of the same size and power. At the time of writing, a quick look on the internet shows the 301 is available from £23.99 (excluding P&P) to £32.99 (excluding P&P). If you are looking to buy a 301 then, as always, I would recommend shopping around for the best deal.
****Summary and conclusion****
So, in summary;
i) The 301 is cheap and cheerful
ii) The 301 is lightweight
iii) Being a 'plug and play' the 301 is very easy to use
i) The 301 is really only suitable for grass, making it ideal for edging and general tidying but not much else.
ii) The 301 cannot be used continuously for long periods of time
iii) The 301 gets hot (and smells hot) quickly
iv) The 301 requires periods of rest to let it cool down
v) If you break the 301 it is not repairable
i) The 301 looks like it is made by Fisher Price
ii) The 301 looks like a toy that should be carried around by a 5 year old
iii) The 301 looks cheap and nasty
I bought the 301 under the impression it was a strimmer, however since owning it I have come to the realisation that it is no more than a trimmer. The difference between the two is quite significant. A strimmer will cut thick vegetation whereas a trimmer is only suitable for grass and less dense vegetation.
If you have what estate agents refer to as a low maintenance and manageable garden (i.e. one the size of a postage stamp that is mainly concrete) then you don't need anything more than a 301 and I think it would be the perfect purchase, especially since it is so cheap.
If all you require is a tool that will edge the lawn and take down a bit of excess grass in those hard to reach places with the mower then I would recommend the 301. However, I would suggest that it is not used for long periods and that you let it cool down for 10 minutes or so, otherwise you may find the plastic parts melting together like I did.
If you are looking for a 'proper' strimmer to take down weeds, thistles, thorns and all other similar foliage, or looking for something that will go for hours then the 301 definitely is not for you and I would recommend spending a bit more and getting a petrol strimmer that is man enough for any task.
The Black & Decker 300w Reflex Strimmer uses the intelligent reflex line feed system which is convenient and saves time. With a two-handed design, it provides comfort and balance. The 25cm cutting swath is the perfect size for medium gardens and 300w supplies the power for a job well done. It's lightweight and ergonomically designed and ideal for every gardener. Best value Reflex string trimmer.