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Start Up Help for Equipment

Hello everybody I've been reading this website extensively for the last 2 weeks.  Thank you for all the great help and advice on this site.. its amazing!!!!

Also, sorry if I should be posting this somewhere else, but this is my first post!

I'm just starting a garden maintenance business after many years working behind a desk (going back to my roots as a farmer's son).  I'm incredibly excited about getting started, after spending the last year as a "stay at home Dad."  Money is tight starting out & as I'm sure you all appreciate that while I'm not buying everything on my list right away, I certainly can't afford to buy bad gear.

I'm a 1 man band, focusing on maintenance & quick tidy ups... staying away from hard landscaping (hoping its easy to develop relationship with somebody).

We moved to the city 3 years ago & broke my heart doing up our own little garden using all the "retail garbage" tools available in the local hardware places.

So now that I'm taking this seriously I need serious tools that won't break after mild strain.  This is what I've decided (nearly decided) on so far:

Power tools: Stihl for my new strimmer, leaf blower, & hedge cutter.  I was tempted to go for Tanaka for some of these, but found a great Stihl dealer who gets me almost wholesale prices :)

Hard Hand Tools (spade, fork): Probably True Temper (carbon steel, not stainless)

Other Hand Tools: Probably Wolf Gartner (rake, hoe, trowel etc)

Pruning Saw (pocket sheath & telescopic): jury is still out, thinking Silky would be best, but might just go with Wolf Gartner as its cheaper & a local nursery stocks them.

Lawn Mower: Completely undecided. I've looked at a Rover with swinging blades for nearly 1,000, & a rotary Garden Flight for 500. Not sure what width to get!!

Reference Books: Chiefly RHS (loads of them) including a plant encyclopaedia, & I've ordered Paul Power's start garden business book, but have yet to come across a great "what/when not to prune guide"

Vehicle: wow this is hard! Tool security & passengers were my initial considerations.  I've been through all sorts of options! I do the school run with my 2 young kids, but in the end decided on a small van (such as a ford connect or vw caddy). This will mean returning home to collect the van after school run with the family car, but the space compromise of a double cab pickup or larger van with a crew cab made either option pointless.  For now I'm just going to use the family car which is a hatchback, but once clients start coming in & sums start to add up I'll get a 5-10 year old dedicated vehicle & have 100% decided on a small van (until I can afford bigger;)

Clothing: Just using what I have for now, but will be getting some Englebert Strauss when things get going.

Gloves: local supermarket brand & if it gets really cold some leather musto fingerless with neoprene backing (designed for sailing).

I'd really appreciate your feedback on the above.  

Everything I've read on this site is pure gold, & I know you guys will steer me right.

And thank you for all the great advice on this site which has gotten me this far!

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Replies

  • PRO

    Eric, welcome to LJN and you've posted well in the right location :)

    As the evening progresses you'll get feedback (esp on the subject of lawnmowers, vehicles and tools.... ) !

    As you found there is a wealth of knowledge within the Forum posts and the BOG section.

    It's yours to use :)

    • Thanks Gary, I'll look into the BOG when i can :)

  • PRO

    Hi Eric, welcome.  Sounds like you're on the right track.  Would always recommend the brands your local repair man can deal with/get spares for, Stihl works well for me FS70, HC56, and SH56 - avoid the 4 mix units.  I started with a cheap Ryobi multitool which expired after a couple of months, so it's worth spending more up front for decent kit.  The mower discussion could run and run, it depends on what type of gardens/finish you are looking for.  A small Hayter Harrier and a larger 4 wheel Toro does me fine for small to medium size gardens.

    As for vehicles you may struggle with space and access with a hatchback, but many here started out that way.  Beware back strain due to heavy lifting and kinked cables if you're folding the handles down to get mowers to fit in.  I use a transit which is great, most have three front seats so that might be ok for the school run ?

    Last advice - price by the job and price it right from the start as it will be harder to increase prices later, and join the BOG on this site to access more open discussions...  Good luck !

    • Hi Russ,

      Thank you for the confidence booster!!

      Thats the same streamer I'll be getting, but going for the SH86 blower & the HS45 hedge trimmer.

      Gardens will likely be mostly pretty small (l50m^2 to 200m^2), so something good & reliable for that type of work is what I'll be getting, & if I need something larger at a later date I'll be sure to ask on LJN :)

      Those mowers both look great (thank you google), are your models rotary or the rotary with "swinging blades" on a disk that one of the salesmen was insisting are the greatest thing ever?

      Hatchback will be for very short term only, planning to get a dedicated vehicle after the New Year.

      Thank you for the pricing (& other) advice

      • PRO

        I presume you've gone for the SH86 because the anti vibration is so much better than the SH56? Smart move. However, you should be aware that the HS45 is to the HC56 what the SH56 is to the SH86- very unrefined.

        A double cab pickup or even better a club cab pickup would be ideal for you (how much legroom do kids need anyway? :D  ) I'd say there's not much in it between a club cab pickup with a hardtop and a Caddy size van. Cheap enough for a 2WD version and you can add a trailer when you're ready.

      • PRO

        Hi Eric, just checked and it's the SH86 blower vac I have rather than the 56... I'm getting senile in my old age.  Would agree with others about going for the HC56, it's well balanced and low vibes - something that's important when you're waving it around all day.

        Another tip my dealer gave me was to get a HT pole pruner and HL135 hedgetrimmer head which will fit onto the FS70 shaft, whip off the strimmer head, bang on the trimmer head and it gives you a long reach trimmer - a kind of multitool set up.  You can make good money on large hedgetrimming jobs, especially if you get a Henchman platform or tripod ladder for the taller hedges which the average householder can't take on themselves.

        Both mowers are rotary, no swinging blades.  If you do consider the Hayter Harrier bear in mind wet collection is pretty gash on the current model but there's new design coming out next year so worth looking out for it http://www.hayter.co.uk/range/harrier-41-pro-autodrive

        The Toro I use is model 20797 which has performed very well and gives you the options of collect, rear drop, mulch or side discharge.  Good for the calls you get in mid summer where they haven't touched the lawn since the year before !  My dealer tweaked it to speed up the drive a little as I found it a bit slow to start off with.

        One last thing I found hard to deal with to start off with is dealing with the cheapskate customers and handling refusals which often could be quite rude - stick to your guns and leave them to the £10ph brigade.  The general public can range from the adorable to the downright mental, so develop a thick skin and don't take rejections personally.  Once your diary starts to fill up it's easier to shrug and walk away from the chancers.

        On that note it's well worth getting a virtual phone number to isolate your home phone / mobile as you'd be surprised at the number of people that think nothing of calling at 11pm wanting their lawn to be mown the first thing the next day.  I use TTNC which is pay as you go and you can pick a 'local' number as many customers like the reassurance of a 'landline' number.  You can then divert the number to a mobile, landlline or voicemail as you wish.

        • PRO

          i have a "landline" through skype, its amazing, as long as you have enough data, or just wait till you are back home on wifi.. its great.

        • Great info Russ. Thank you! Spent last night looking at my wifi provider services & turns out I have an unused landline I can just "call forward" to my mobile :) But it really took forever!! has anyone been on the virginmedia customer website lately?? incredibly slow website, even though the wifi service I get really is top notch! 

          HS56 looks like better idea than the HS 45 hedge trimmer. Lawn mower will have to wait until March or so... I'm not getting any of this equipment until next year (& it will be piece by piece when I do), maybe my battered budget will have improved when I'm making some of the purchases (...a little dose of optimism mightn't hurt ;)

  • I started off with a  Nissan Micra Hatchback............. took the passenger seat out so I had a bit more room. Then got a trailer to pull behind the micra. Finally bought a Connect van 10 years ago which has been great and everything fits in nicely. Never used an  HS45 though the vibrations are apparently bad...... I had the hs56 which is far better though unfortunately, more expensive. The vans also come in very handy for carting the kids stuff to and from university!

  • Have a look at fiat scudo/ citreon despatch etc. Thats what i have and its not too big but hat two passenger seats. The school run was the main reason for getting this van. It will also take a pallet of turf or just about bag of turf base so it has been more flexible than a small van and cheaper to run than a transit. Buy tools from a local dealer no matter the brand because they will breakdown and need fixed quickly
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