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It's that time of year again, almost, when the garden is looking its worse and you know that you need to get out there to sort it out. every time you look out of your back windows, frightened by the thought of what could be hiding in the long grass, ready to jump out at you when you step outside. Then there's the shrivelled plants that look like much, the twigs that have been ripped from the trees in the high winds and, in some cases, cat plops in surprisingly silly places.
Well, as it should not be long before I tackle the grass with a multitude of garden weaponry I decided to check that all the tools were still in working order, so, on a rare dry day, I went into the tool shed to give the gardening tools the once over.
It was whilst in there that I spotted something in the far corner. Something green and quite long, hidden behind a few sacks of god knows what. As I grabbed for it, wondering what it was I felt it was made of plastic and was quite light. Then, on closer inspection I knew exactly what it was, and, seconds later, I knew exactly why it was at the back of the shed covered in bag of something that could possibly be from outer space????
What I then had in my hand was in fact a grass trimmer, or strimmer as I tend to call them, that I had stopped using a long time ago, tossing it to one side, or, to be precise, tossing it into the shed, and popping out to the shop to get another one. The reason for my utter disgust of the strimmer will soon be clear.
The strimmer I am talking about is one called the Bosch Art 23 Easytim Electric trimmer... which, if I recall correctly, and I really do, is the strimmer of nightmares, a strimmer that makes Freddie Kruger look like Mary Poppins.
* So what does this strimmer look like..?
This green coloured tiny tear away is made of a lightweight plastic material, blow moulded to give it the strength with out making it too heavy to handle. I do think it comes in another colour as I think I have seen a blue one, although the blue one may well be a newer model.
Anyway, the one I've got, but not for long now that I've found it again, is a green plastic model, being about 195mm long, with the base, the thickest part where the motor is section, being about 155mm, with the cutting width being about 230mm.
Right at the top there I the little red button that is on the underside of the top section of the trimmer, surrounded by a guard type area, which helps when it comes to getting a good grip on the trimmer.
Just down from this section there is a chunk of plastic that sticks out at the front of the handle, which is for your none trigger hand to grab hold of in order to direct the trimmer around the grass area you want to trim. Then, on the underside of the handle, opposite the chunk of plastic handle, there is a strange looking plastic hook whose sole purpose is for hooking the wire over, and that's all, nothing else really.
As we go further down the strimmer, right to the bottom, where the action happens, there is a black semi flexible half moon, with a slice of the half moon having been bitten of in one chomp shaped cover. This is the guard which sits over the spool that the line of plastic wire goes into. This guard is designed to stop the line from flicking in the users direction when the line snaps off, which is quite often on this strimmer.
On the rear of the handle, just above the guard, there are a few slots which are vents for the motor to try and help it stay cool during use.
On the underside, beneath the guard, is where the spool of line sits, clicking onto the little rod that sticks out of the machine and spins about like a dog chasing his tail, on ice, with satin socks on his paws.
When the spool is on place, clicking onto the rod, ramming through the centre of the spool, all you can then see is a plastic cover with a thin plastic piece of wire sticking out of a tiny hole....
And that's what this machine looked like...
* Is it powerful..?
You do get a good 300 watts of power in the tiny motor, which is enough really for the simple trimming of the edge of your lawn, but if you want to use if for more stubborn things, brambles maybe, then a 300watt motor may not be enough.
Basically, this is for those shorter jobs around the edges rather than a full days strimming around your 50 acre ranch.
* Is it easy to use..?
It's as easy as any other strimmer, to start with, and as it only weighs about 2 ½ kilos it's in the featherweight list of gardening tools.
The first thing you have to do before using it is put it together, which saves on packaging. But don't panic, putting it together was easy, and if you've used similar strimmers then you'll find this one fits together the same way.
Basically, you just slot the two halves of the handle together, clicking them into place. Then you press the guard into place, which is a matter of placing the plastic guard on the front of the lower section then sort of slide and push it into place, until you hear a lovely little click inside. If you hear a loud cracking noise then you've broken the guard and will have a few problems in the future using this trimmer now.
If you've done it right, and heard a clicking noise, then you're almost ready to start strimming. But before you do that you have to put the cutting line in place.
To do this, make sure that there is enough cutting line on the spool, wrapping it around in the direction that the arrow indicate. Then you have to push the entire spool onto the little rod that stick out of the bottom of the strimmer, the rod that spins around. You slot the spool onto it with a little twist. When the spool in on the rod and sitting secure, you take the plastic ring, slide the end of the line through the hole on the ring and slide the ring around the sides of the spool. This traps the line in place. Finally, you take the cover of the spool and thread the end of the line through the hole, then you slot the cover over the spool, clicking it onto place with a little twist.
And now you're ready to begin strimming.
* What about taking the spool off..?
This is a simple matter of reversing the method I explained above. Take off the spool cover, remove the ring from around the sides of the spool. Then, you either pull and twist the spool to take it completely off the strimmer.... Or, you pull a bit more of the line out, pop it through the hole on the ring and then the cover, replace the rings and cover and way you go.
There's no screws needed, it's all a matter of pushing and clicking. Job done.
* IS there anything else to mention..?
Yes there is. This strimmer has something called 'Bump feed which means that you simply 'bump' the spool on the ground in order for the line to come out when the section that you are using breaks off.
To activate this 'bump' method properly though you've just got to remember to hold the trimmer straight, not at any angle, and then gently drop the trimmer, head down, on the floor whilst still holding the handle that is, other wise all you're doing is dropping the trimmer on the floor which may look like you're throwing a hissy-fit.
Plus, it comes with a good 10 metres of cable so it can handle any small gardens, but if needs be, there's always an extension lead
The trigger is very sensitive, which means that I can get the motor going and keep it going without fearing the horrid threat of finger cramp kicking in after a few minutes.
* My opinion..
To be honest, I had trouble with this strimmer from day one.
Don't get me wrong, it was easy to put together and the initial spool placing took seconds to sort out. But once I got down to using it I realised just what a pain in the proverbial this was.
The line snapped off in seconds, and I'd not even gone anywhere near anything that would have caused it. No twigs, no stones, nothing, just grass. Yet the line flicked off and disappeared somewhere in next doors garden.
Then, when I tried to use the bump feed, I ended up with little holes all around me as I 'bumped' the strimmers spool area on the grass. I even tried bumping it on the patio, paving stone, thinking that maybe a harder surface was what it needed, but this didn't work either.
Then, to top it all, when I gave up on the bump idea, deciding to go about manually taking the line out, I had one heck of a hob getting the spool cover and ring off the thing as the spinning and bouncing movements had seemed to have almost welded the lot together.
Eventually I managed to get more line out and carried on, which lasted another minute or so before, 'ping', more line snapped. So I went through the 'bump' method once more, which failed, and the manual method again, which took me ages once more.
Eventually I finished the edges and gave up for the day, wishing that I'd never bought the thing in the first place. Plus, to put salt on the wound, I had no receipt and had had this for ages before getting round to trying it so there was little chance of me getting my money back. So I just put it down to experience and through this to the back of the shed, until the other day when I saw it again and remembered why it was there.
The actual design of the strimmer is like many others and is light and easy to carry, giving you a good area of cutting power and the 'stump' on the front, which is used as the guiding handle, makes swinging the strimmer around so easy. Then there's the easy to use trigger, which in itself is quite sensitive, which should make this one, on paper, quite a nice strimmer to use. But it's the bump feed that really lets it down, in fact, I'd rather bump my head against a jagged edged brick wall than use this again. This bump feed method is supposed to help the line come out of the spool without having to keep taking the spool off the trimmer. The idea is to 'bump' the bottom of the trimmer, the bottom of the spool that is, and the line should come out of the spool.
It is a good idea in principal, and if the makers could get it right then it would save a lot of time in the garden. Sadly though, as with other 'bump' action trimmers, this one's idea is nothing close to reality as the 'bump' simply fails to get an line out at all. Which means that you're back to stopping the trimmer, taking off the spool, pulling out more of the line, replacing the spool and starting again. So if you've got a lot of debris in you garden, twigs from the trees in the winds, stones from you neighbours kids or even the odd tortoise or two that have escaped from the local petshop, then you're going to end up spending a lot of time pulling more line out than actual trimming.
* What about the price..?
The price of this strimmer is in the £30 region, which you'd think was not too bad for a trimmer with the name Bosch etched on it... but looks can always be deceptive, and in this case they are.
* Would I recommend it..?
No. simple as really.
But why would I not recommend it.
Well, it's the dreaded Bump feed as I spent more time taking to spool apart to get more of the line out than I did trimming my edges. The line breaks a lot, and I mean a lot, it would break when I approached a tiny little daisy poking up through the grass. The line would panic and snap off in fear. Which meant that I'd have to go through the annoying rigmarole of taking the spool apart once more just to get a few centimetres of line back out knowing that I'd be doing the same in a few more seconds.
I mean, if it was easier and less hassle to take to spool apart then maybe I could have lived with the bump fee being about as useful as a set of speaker on a motorbike, but the spool is annoying and that's that.
With the wonderful whether kicking into action a few weeks ago, I decided I could not put off mowing the back garden grass any longer, and so asked my mother in law if she could bring up her lawn mower on one of her Sunday visits. The grass was starting to get a bit long, so this was a job for my boyfriend, but when he started to do the grass something went wrong with the lawn mower, it first started to smell of smoke, then it just completely broke.
The mother in law was nice about the fact that we had broken her lawn mower but we still felt bad, and we decided to to buy her one back and at the same time buy ourselves one as well, as we had only done about half the back garden which left it looking terrible. As we now needed to buy two machines which could cut grass we wanted to get them as cheap as we could and after looking online, decided to go for two trimmers, and it was the Bosch ART Easytrim which we ended up getting off Aamzon.
This Strimmer once it arrived was really easy to put up and we had no trouble with it all, except maybe it takes a little bit of strength to click the plastic bits where they need to be, and once we had clicked on the guard it was time to give it a try. With 10 meters of cable line I did have to get the extension out in order to reach all the area's of my garden, but when using this Strimmer I found it do a brilliant job, it just glided through the grass and was very easy to handle and control.
My only problem with this Strimmer is the same problem I have always had with Strimmer's, and that is due to there size I always get terrible back ache when cutting the grass, this was no exception, and after bending over for half an hour whilst cutting the grass, I got a horrible back ache.
Details: Rated power: 280W
No-load speed: 12 500
Cutting line feed: Pro tap automatic
Cutting line: 1.6mm
Cutting spool capacity: 8m
Cutting circle: 23cm
Weight: 1.6 kg
I have now used this Strimmer a few times, probably more than I need too but I am determined to not let my grass get in the state that it was, and so far this Bosch strimmer has done a great job. I have so far been extremely happy with the performance that I have got out of this Strimmer, and when asking my mother in law how she found her new Strimmer which we had bought for her, she was under the same thinking as me, and that is that this is great little Strimmer, that does a wonderful job and all for a great price.
Like I already said we bought this strimmer off of Amazon, it cost us £21 which is a really reasonable price I though, especially as it does a great job. So to anybody needing to buy something to cut the grass with, I recommend you get this, as the price is great and it does a fantastic job.
As with other things I have purchased, I got this to replace a cheap and not so cheerful competitor.
The first positive thing I noticed was the balance of this strimmer in your hand - you will end up swinging this around in your garden for many hours so having one that is comfortable and does not tire your arm out after 5 minutes use is important. It can be used equally well left or right handed.
The cutting head covers a good area and the cutting blade seems to be very effective, particularly on thick dandelions and similarly tough foliage.
The cutting blade did not seem to snap as much as as the old one I had which reduces time in stopping and changing it.
The cable is good and long and being a nice bright colour, you are less likely to run over it with the mower!
Although it sounds a bit nerdy, do get some eye protection (even some sunnies) as it does flick up stones and debris as it is a pretty high speed machine.
Cleaning is easy and worth doing before the crud dries on as it does go rock hard!
Overall a solid unit - looks like it will last well
I'm not a keen gardener, by any stretch of the imagination, but do try to keep the sizable lawns at the rear of our house looking reasonably trim and tidy. The problem I have is that our back garden is split level, meaning there are effectively two separate lawns to tackle, with the top section being quite a long distance from the house. There is also wooden fencing around most of the garden, with some stonework around the sides at the bottom stretch of lawn. This layout means that our electric lawn mower can't mow particularly close to the edge of either stretch of lawn, which results in scruffy-looking long stretches of uncut grass all around the sides. Due to the split level and the distance from one end of the lawn to our kitchen, the only really safe and practical option to tackle these patches is to use a cordless trimmer - the Bosch ART 23 'Easytrim'- to avoid having a lengthy and potentially dangerous power cable trailing behind.
The Easytrim lives up to its name, being incredibly straightforward to set up, use safely and manoeuvre around the sides of the lawn without difficulty. This is quite a slim handheld tool, simply needing the handle to be slotted securely into position when first purchased. This is a once only operation, so can't be taken apart once it has been fitted, but the unit is slim enough to be stored easily between uses. I particular like how the handle is shaped, making it possible to hang this over a long nail in the side of the shed. This keeps the trimmer out of harm's way when not needed but it is always readily accessible.
The only disadvantage to this as a cordless model is that a certain amount of pre-planning is required to think ahead and charge up the battery before use. Given the size of our garden and the area which needs to be strimmed, we need to have the battery fully charged to provide enough power to finish the job in one. A full charge takes several hours, so this isn't a tool that can just be picked up and used on a whim whenever the sun shines. I tend to charge this up overnight, whenever I think the weather is going to be nice enough to get out and do the lawns the following day. This can be a bit hit and miss though and does mean that sometimes the battery ends up being left on charge for long periods and not actually used, which isn't ideal. The battery does hold a little bit of residual power between uses, however, and can manage around five minutes or so of cutting time without compromising its power, even if it hasn't been properly charged before use, but this isn't really sufficient for our needs. When fully charged, the trimmer offers up to an hour's worth of cutting time, at a rough estimate.
Charging the battery is pretty straightforward as the battery itself can be removed from the handle and comes supplied with its own charging unit that plugs into a mains socket. The charging unit has a green LED light which offers the reassurance of knowing that the battery is being charged correctly, although I do think it would be useful if the light changed colour to indicate when the battery was fully charged, or had some other way of indicating that it was ready for use. Once charged, the battery simply slots into position on the underside of the handle and is removed by squeezing the buttons on the side. There is only one way to insert the battery so there is no need to worry about whether it is in the correct place.
The trimming/cutting mechanism works using individual small plastic 'blades', rather than a spool of wire that some models use. I much prefer this system as there is no need to thread or feed any wire through either between or during uses. Here, the only assembly required is to attach the plastic blade which just sits in position on the underside of the trimmer. My husband tends to replace the blades before each use, as the plastic does wear away slightly due to the friction caused by cutting through grass and weeds. The replacement blades come in packs of 20 and are available from most DIY and garden centres for around £5 or £6 per pack. I personally don't bother replacing them when I use the trimmer, unless the plastic is actually broken, as I find that the trimmer performs well enough without needing to change them every time. The blades don't stand up very well to contact with harder surfaces such as the stonework around some of our lawn and can occasionally break during use. This isn't as annoying as it might sound, as the handle has a small 'notch' providing a convenient spot to store spare blades so they are always ready to hand. The old blade usually comes away by itself if it has broken and the new one just clips into position without any trouble.
The trimmer is surprisingly lightweight and comfortable to hold during use, whilst managing to avoid being too flimsy feeling. The base of the trimmer is surrounded with a shaped hard plastic shield which I think is designed to stop any sharp objects being flirted up during cutting. The trimming motion is operated by a gentle squeeze of a single button which is logically and comfortably positioned. There is also another handle further down, which is handy if you need to lift the trimmer up to reach a particular area. Even after prolonged use the handle doesn't get uncomfortably hot and the whole unit is thick and sturdy enough to stop the potentially unpleasant sensation of any vibrations, even when the blade is cutting. I find this perfectly powerful enough to neatly cut through the edges of overgrown grass, leaving a short tidy surface behind, and I also use it to attack patches of large nettles that tend to grow around the back of my shed. I haven't used it for any thicker items and don't think that it would be strong enough to cut through branches, for example, but it does tackle greenery very well.
We've owned this particular model for a number of years now, without experiencing any difficulties or problems with mechanical or electrical failure. The battery itself is still functioning well, managing to retain its charge efficiently and shows no sign of needing replacing as yet, despite around four or five years of use.
Our cordless model was originally purchased from the now defunct Focus store but it is still available from garden centres and DIY stockists, although this should not be confused with a corded version which, rather confusingly, sports the same model number. The cordless version can currently be ordered online from Amazon for around the £40 mark (September 2011) which I think is a bargain for a good quality product that is still going strong after several years of regular use.
A few weeks ago when I decided I couldn't put off mowing the grass any longer, I trotted off to the shed to get out the mower only to discover that sometime during the last ice age, commonly known as the winter of 2010, it had died. I debated whether to replace it but as I also have a manual mower and I don't have a huge area of grass to cut, I decided that I'd use that instead, which would be kinder to the planet and to my purse. This left me with the knotty problem of what to do about the large area of garden which has become rather overgrown and I decided that what I needed was a strimmer which would also help with those hard to reach spots where the gap was too narrow for a mower.
All this coincided with a 20% off deal at Homebase so off I went only to be confronted with a huge array of strimmers ranging from the very cheap to the ridiculously expensive. I didn't do any research about strimmers before heading for the shops so eventually plumped for one that wasn't exactly the cheapest (that honour went to one at just over £12) and had a reputable brand name. The strimmer I chose was the Bosch ART23 Easytrim.
Price and availability
I bought my Bosch ART Easytrim from Homebase for £21.99 with a 20% discount, plus Nectar points. This particular strimmer is also available from major garden centres, Argos and Amazon for roughly the same price. The strimmer comes with a two year parts and labour guarantee.
Specifications (as per included leaflet):
Rated power: 280W
No-load speed: 12 500
Cutting line feed: Pro tap automatic
Cutting line: 1.6mm
Cutting spool capacity: 8m
Cutting circle: 23cm
Weight: 1.6 kg
My experience so far
I didn't do any research on strimmers before buying this one and I really should have done so but fortunately I've encountered only very minor problems so far.
~ Putting it all together ~
The box itself stands about half the height of the strimmer and far from thinking this was strange, it just struck me as being easy to carry out to the car! Once home and having opened the box, the reason for its smaller size was obvious in that the handle was detached from the base, although the wiring runs through both parts. These two pieces need to be pushed into their corresponding slots until there is an audible click. This is easier said than done as it needs a good deal of force applied to achieve the click. I think a man could probably do it fairly easily but I didn't have the necessary muscle power and needed to push the handle in whilst using the floor as a counter weight and I was rather concerned that this might damage the plastic casing. Once the two parts are 'clicked' together they can't be unclicked which means that once the guard is attached the strimmer won't fit back into its box! The fact that it no longer fits into the box may seem a fairly petty gripe but considering the strimmer will spend its winters in a cold, damp shed, the box would have provided an added layer of protection.
Fixing the guard was again a case of clicking the guard onto the base and I eventually managed this but, again, it needed a fair amount of muscle power and the clips holding the guard in place are fairly flimsy plastic but they were strong enough not to break.
~ Cable ~
The cable is 10m long which is long enough for me to reach most areas of my garden although I did have to keep unplugging from one socket and plugging back into another. Because of the way the cable is attached to the shaft, I found it easier to run this over my shoulder in order to keep it behind me and well away from the cutting line.
~ Using the strimmer ~
There is a long list of safety warnings accompanying this implement, many of which are commonsense such as keep away from children and animals and others which I suspect are there to cover Bosch against possible litigation.
I'm not an expert at strimming by any means but this tool seems more than up to the job for which it's intended, although it does frequently need more than one pass to cut the grass or weeds. The cutting line seems to wear down rather quickly but that could be because my grass gets littered with tiny twigs from the surrounding trees and I've also been strimming tough weeds and ivy so it may not be the case if only using it on softer growth such as smaller weeds and grasses. The automatic feed system, called Pro Tap, ensures that the line is quickly lengthened. To feed out extra line, all that's required is to press the metal tip situated on top of the spool down onto a hard surface. A couple of presses and enough line is released to return it again to the correct length. Personally, I've found it easier to upturn the strimmer and press the Pro Tap button manually, although any feeding of the line should be done when the strimmer has been switched off. After about six weeks use, I haven't needed to replace the spool but following the instruction book which offers very comprehensive instructions on how to go about this, I've gone through the motions and it's a very simple process.
I should mention here something I consider to be a slight design fault. The switch to activate the strimmer is situated in the handle and is a simple push button which starts the motor when the button is depressed and stops it when the finger is removed from the button. However, on first use I found that when the strimming was done, the easiest and most obvious way to pick the tool up and carry it was by the handle which immediately set the machine going again and when the strimmer is suspended in midair, it whirls about in a somewhat dangerous manner. I have the bruise on my shin to prove it! One of the safety warnings does state that the machine should be switched off before moving from one area of the garden to another but I doubt many people will follow that instruction. My advice is to hold it by the shaft when moving the strimmer to prevent the machine from being switched on inadvertently.
The shaft of this strimmer is 1000cm long which Bosch claim is the longest in a strimmer of this class. Don't be fooled by this claim though because you'll still get back ache. At just over 5' 2", I'm not exactly a giant and the I still found I ached in places I didn't know I had the following day!
After only just over six weeks, you may think it's too soon to provide a sufficiently researched review but I'm currently using this tool on an almost daily basis, as I'm working on areas of my garden which have been neglected for a couple of years whilst I was away from home and just never got round to sorting out following my return. It has proved more than capable of dealing with tall weeds as well as being a very effective dandelion decapitator and is great for getting at those hard to reach areas around garden ornaments. I have a stone bird bath the base of which I previously needed to snip round with scissors but this is now dealt with in next to no time by the Bosch Easytrim. I do find it's less effective in dealing with tougher greenery such as ivy, however.
This is a modestly priced tool from a manufacturer known for its high quality electrical goods and comes with a two year guarantee so I have great hopes for its longevity. If I find that it's not up to scratch I will update this review accordingly.