Gardening Reviews

Decking screws

Posted in Buying Guides, Gardening Reviews on September 24th, 2012 by Julian Cassell – 2 Comments

Decking screws have often been sources of disappointment for me. They’re packaged with big claims about corrosion resistance, sharp points, self countersinking ease of use etc. etc. but in most cases, I’ve found them to fail on more than one of these promises. However, following a recent decking project, I believe I’ve found the best decking screws on the market, that certainly live up to all the manufacturer’s claims. read more »

Green lawnmowers

Posted in Buying Guides, Gardening Reviews on July 2nd, 2012 by Julian Cassell – 1 Comment

Green lawnmowers, and I’m not talking colours here, is a subject that I’ve been meaning to comment on for a while now, and I’ve literally been prompted into action today by reading some extraordinary reviews about a particular mower. The machine in question is a very simple cylinder mower that is completely unspectacular in appearance, but extremely spectacular in performance. Therefore let’s take a slightly closer look at the little green lawnmower that’s selling by the thousand. read more »

Spacers for paving slabs

Posted in Buying Guides, Gardening Reviews on July 30th, 2011 by Julian Cassell – Be the first to comment

paving slab spacersGapfast spacers are a new product on the market, and are quite simply a tile spacer for paving slabs. When I was first approached to offer an opinion on their suitability for the DIY market, I did ask myself the same 2 questions that always come to mind when any new product appears – “How did we manage up until now?” and therefore “Is there any need for it?”.

Well for me, maintaining a gap between paving slabs has always been achieved with offcuts of wood, commonly bits of ply wedged in position, and then removed once the slabs are set in place. The idea with the Gapfast spacer is to position one at all slab corners, and for it to remain in place, and then be pointed over in the same way as tile spacers on a tiled floor or wall are grouted over. I do have a slight problem with this, as although I’m okay with grouting over wall tile spacers as long as the tiles are not too thin, and therefore the grouting will sufficiently cover the spacer, I do have reservations with grouting over floor tile spacers. Why? – Well, because you will often get problems with floor tile joints cracking because there is not a sufficient depth of grout covering over the spacers, and obviously floors are put under much greater stresses than wall tiles.

Gapfast single spacerNow, I do not think this problem is a deal breaker with Gapfast as I think in practice you would use them marginally differently to a tile spacer. Firstly, you’d make sure they were pressed slightly into the bedding layer below the slabs, so that you would effectively ensure that even with relatively thin slabs, there would be a good depth of pointing above the spacer. Also the Gapfast spacer design is hollow, so that your pointing material would be taken into the structure of the spacer itself. But even if you couldn’t bring yourself to point over them, you could just as easily use the spacer in a pegging fashion (like most pro tilers), where you insert one leg of the spacer into a joint, normally two spacers per tile side, and then remove them all once the layout is set. This also means the spacers are reusable.

So in conclusion, yes I think these are useful pieces of kit that would certainly help in laying slabs. Are they essential? No, but you could argue the same about tile spacers, and let’s face it, the vast majority of us use them.

In making your mind up, you need to weigh up the price tag of £11.99 for a pack of 50, against the time messing around in sorting out a load of ply or wooden offcuts. Also, Gapfast do point out the increased structural integrity that the spacers provide, and so you need to add that to your deliberations.

They are due to be launched in all the big DIY outlets, but at the moment you need to go direct to Gapfast, where you will also find plenty more information about the spacer, along with plans for more products in this area. Personally, I’m looking forward to giving the Gapfast spacer a go! Also keep an eye on the ‘Paving Expert’ website as they’re going to give them a case study in the near future.

Hedge trimmers

Posted in Buying Guides, Gardening Reviews on March 25th, 2011 by Julian Cassell – Be the first to comment

Now in this post I won’t be following the usual course of my other tool reviews as to be honest, I haven’t had a lifetime of experience with hedge trimmers. Like many people, I use one a few times a year in my garden, but in my professional life I haven’t had that many long term hedge cutting contracts. So this is not so much about the best hedge trimmer, but more about pointing out something that is so obvious to me now, but clearly wasn’t at the time read more »

Buying a decking kit

Posted in Buying Guides, Gardening Reviews on March 2nd, 2011 by Julian Cassell – 1 Comment

A few years ago, building a deck required a lot more measuring, cutting and general design work than is now the case. Most of the well known outlets now supply your deck in a kit form. The popularity of decks has also made them very competitively priced, and the overall quality of the wood supplied is in most cases fit for purpose. In general buying a deck and constructing it over a weekend is very achievable for anyone with a little bit of DIY know-how. read more »