Island Life Magazine Ltd February/March 2007 - Page 48

life - GARDENING All aboard for easier lawn mowing It’s not the cheapest bit of gardening equipment around, but a ride-on mower can turn the dreaded chore of grass cutting into a task that’s more like fun. And, according to Mark “Sooty” Rowell, who works for Ryde Tool Hire - the Island’s main dealership for top brand John Deere – more and more people with pretty averagesized gardens are going for the superior mowers. “People don’t need to have massive gardens to buy one of these,” says Mark, who has been a specialist with world-famous brand for 12 years. “They see the John Deere tractors on a lot of farms and think ‘Hmm, I could do with one of those in my garden’” It’s not just a case of “toys for boys” either, because a growing number of ride-on mower buyers are women. The mowers – which also come in small, walk-behind versions – also appeal to elderly and disabled gardeners, who find them the perfect, easy solution to keeping their lawns in shape. Mark says he has sold the mowers for gardens as small as 30ft x 20ft, and has arranged for adaptations from foot to hand controls for disabled customers. Owners of smaller gardens can choose a width of cut starting at 26 inches, but the range of machines goes right up to a 62 inch-wide cut – the size most commonly used at golf clubs and other amenity sites. Different blade attachments give the machines extra versatility – whether the customer is looking for eye-catching classic striped lawns, 48 or wanting to cut rougher terrain such as paddock grass. There’s also a range of options for dealing with the grass cuttings – from a collecting bag on the back of the machine that gathers the grass for mulching to machine that chops it finely and re-circulates it to feed the lawn. Yet another option will throw the grass out to the sides. The ride-ons, according to Mark, are surprisingly easy to use. Most models are driven by a hydrodrive, which means there is no gearbox – just an accelerator and reverse. Safety is paramount, and the machine will automatically stop dead the minute the user’s bottom is lifted off the seat. As for care and maintenance, there’s not a lot to do apart from washing any wet grass off the blades and underside to prevent clogging. Apart from that, it’s just a case of checking the oil, filling with petrol – and having it serviced at least once a year. Prices for John Deere ride-ons have come down significantly in recent years, which is why they have become a bigger fearture of the domestic gardening market. Prices start at around £1,600 including VAT, rising to a cool £12,000 for a top-of-the-range four wheel-drive diesel model like the ones used by golf clubs. “I think that when people have a bit more money to spare, a rideon mower is something they like to buy to make life a bit easier, and because the John Deere name carries so much weight, it practically sells itself”. If you’re thinking of taking the chore out of your lawn mowing, Mark is the man to talk to about the best option to suit your garden and your lifestyle. Call Ryde Tool Hire on 01983 563331 Island Life - www.isleofwight.net