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Expert Reviews Garden Awards 2023: The best of everything

The very best gardening essentials of 2023, tested by us

The days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer and everywhere you look, plants are blooming. It can only mean one thing: Spring is here. With sunnier days and new growth comes the urge to get back outside and give your garden the TLC it deserves; to wander into the dark recesses of your garage or shed and dig out the tools and appliances that you need to do the job well.

More often than not, though, those tools and appliances have seen several years of heavy use, which means that Spring is also a time to upgrade. Swap out the tired old petrol mower gathering cobwebs in your garden shed for something modern, or replace those rusty secateurs with something that will trim dense grass with ease. After all, the last thing you want is to be caught short by a garden tool that breathes its last just as the sun comes out.

It can be difficult to know where to begin with garden essentials, but that’s why we’re here. At Expert Reviews, we want to help guide you to the tool or appliance that suits you best – whether you’re on a tight budget or looking for something heavy duty, we’re here to put you on the right track. That’s why we rigorously test each of the countless garden products we review: to arm you with the knowledge you need to buy something that will serve you well and last for years to come.

With that in mind, we would like to welcome you to the Expert Reviews Garden Awards 2023. The following article is a summary of the absolute best garden products of the past year. We’ve chosen a winner and a noteworthy runner-up in 15 garden-related categories from pressure washers and hose pipes to lawn mowers and chainsaws, so you know exactly which products are worth your hard-earned cash.

Expert Reviews Garden Awards 2023

Best pressure washer

Winner | Ryobi RY130PWA | £138

Marrying power, versatility and value for money, the Ryobi RY130PWA thrived under pressure to claim this year’s power-washing crown. Delivering 130 bar pressure and a max flow of 420l/hr, the Ryobi can deep-clean everything from driveways and walls to patios and decking, but where it truly stood out for us was its excellent performance in car-cleaning tasks. Making it especially suited to these jobs are its handy on-board 0.9l detergent tank, sturdy, flexible hose, variable pressure lance and its commendable range of cleaning accessories. Overall, the Ryobi is a powerful, well-designed and efficient option available at a very reasonable price.

Highly Commended | Kärcher K4 Power Control | £210

While last year’s winner is in the silver medal slot this time round, the Kärcher K4 is still as attractive an option as ever. With an 1,800W motor, 130 bar pressure and 420l/hr of water flow, the K4 has great base specs which it puts to good use via its Power Control gun and Vario Lance attachments. These attachments allow you to modulate pressure and spray pattern to match the job at hand, complementing its power with lots of versatility.

Best lawn mower

Winner | Bosch UniversalRotak 36-550 | £395

The Bosch UniversalRotak 36-550 comes out on top for a third year running. A cordless mower with excellent cutting power, the UniversalRotak 36-550 continues to reign supreme thanks to some clever design touches. Among these is the ability to adjust the mower’s 38cm cutting deck with a single click straight from the handle, and its blades are specially designed to grind up any stray leaves that find their way onto your lawn. The ProSilence motor also means it runs much quieter than its rivals. Pair all that with a solid 30-minute battery life and a generous 40l grass box and you’ve got yourself a lawn mower that sits comfortably at the front of the class.

Highly commended | Cobra MX3440V | £207

A low-cost option that punches well above its weight, the Cobra MX3440V has everything you need to maintain a small to medium-sized garden. It has a 34cm cutting deck, a 35l grass box and easily adjusted height settings ranging from 2.5 to 7.5cm. In testing, it cut neatly and effectively and handled slopes, thicker grass and wet lawns without issue. Beyond that, it proved itself eminently practical, being sturdy yet manoeuvrable, easy to store compactly and quick to recharge.

Best robot lawn mower

Winner | LawnMaster VBRM16 | £400

While it may not be the most advanced robot lawn mower, the LawnMaster VBRM16 triumphs in the robot wars thanks to the excellent value for money it represents, as well as its refreshingly straightforward approach to mowing. A light and compact “drop and go” mower, the VBRM16 comes with no guide wires, app setup or outdoor charging station to install. Instead, it can be plonked down on any lawn with compatible borders and begin working autonomously. Once finished, its removable battery keeps recharging a simple affair. Between its auto and spot cutting functions, the mower has all it needs to keep your lawn neat and tidy without overcomplicating things. For anyone with a smaller garden who would rather take it easy, the LawnMaster VBRM16 is a well-priced model that will allow you to put mowing to the back of your mind.

Highly commended | Yard Force EasyMow 260B | £400

Balancing features and affordability, the Yard Force EasyMow 260B is a worthy runner-up in our robot lawn mower category. While significantly cheaper than most of its peers, the 260B delivers all the standard features of a robot mower, navigating around your lawn via a boundary wire and cutting neatly with its 16cm blade, which can be adjusted to a cutting height of between 20mm and 55mm. Impressive for its price is the fact that it comes with a relatively well-featured app, which expands the level of control you have over your mowing.

Best lawn mower for small gardens

Winner | Bosch CityMower 18 | £220

Bosch has consistently impressed us with its lawnmower products and with the CityMower 18, it packs its top-line technology in a pint-sized package. It’s eminently portable and that small size helps it remain impressively quiet. The trim it provides is excellent, with the minimum cutting height of 30mm delivering a sharp shear during its one-hour battery life. Add in handy qualities such as comfortable Ergoflex handles, and the Bosch CityMower 18 is the perfect package for small gardens.

Highly commended | Gardena HandyMower P4A | £164

Roughly the size of a manual cylinder mower, the Gardena HandyMower P4A is another capable customer for pruning smaller lawns. With a 22cm cutting width and 30, 40 and 50mm cutting heights, it’s capable of getting the roughest-looking lawns in tip-top shape. Gardena claims it can cover 50m² lawns, and at 4.2kg it’s light enough to tackle the job with one hand tied behind your back.

Best grass trimmer

Winner | Bosch AdvancedGrassCut 36 | £136

Even the largest of garden lawns are no match for the Bosch AdvancedGrassCut 36. Its 36V battery sets it apart from your average strimmer – you’ll struggle to find a cordless model with more raw power – and when paired with its 30cm cutting width, tackling a good-sized plot takes no time at all. You’ve got a solid 40 minutes of battery to play with from a full charge, but thankfully its movable soft-grip handles and adjustable pole will make sure you aren’t aching all over from your weed-chopping escapades.

Highly commended | Bosch EasyGrassCut 18V-230 | £90

As the name suggests, the Bosch EasyGrass Cut 18V-230 makes your garden strimming chores as straightforward as possible. Light and well balanced, you’ll feel less weary after trimming for its full 30-minute battery life than most other grass trimmers since Bosch’s ultra-efficient 18V motor keeps raw power high enough to tackle the thicker thistles around. And considering those credentials, the Bosch EasyGrassCut is well priced, too.

Best secateurs

Winner | Vonhaus 7.2 Cordless Garden Pruner | £60

Pruning shrubbery with a pair of secateurs is one of the more physically exerting garden chores, so a little extra help is always welcome. Ergonomically designed to alleviate hand and wrist strain, these electric Vonhaus cordless pruners sit your fingers directly over their dual safety switches, both of which are required to be pressed to be used. At 920g, they might feel a little weighty on first use, but that allows them to pack a punch and smoothly cut wood up to 25mm thick in just a few seconds. And following a three-hour charge, you’ll have approximately 800 cuts – that’s some solid juice to get your garden snipped to perfection.

Highly commended | Opinel Le Secateur Hand Pruner | £53

For those who prefer a pair of manual secateurs that don’t need any charging, the Opinel Le Secateur Hand Pruner is a powerful and elegant choice. French knife expert Opinel knows how to craft a sharp blade, and using its thumb-controlled system you should be able to cut cleanly through most branches, chiefly those that are less than 20mm wide. There are three positions to use them, so no matter the size of your hand, you should find them easy to use while holding its aesthetically pleasing beech wood handle – what’s not to like?

Best hedge trimmer

Winner | Bosch AHS 55-20 Li | £107

If you want a hedge trimmer that balances great cutting power, a large blade length and good value for money, the Bosch AHS 55-20 Li is the best you can buy this year. In our testing, it was able to tackle big, dense hedges fast, thanks to its 55cm long blade and its impressive cutting power. To sweeten the deal, you won’t need to faff about with wires or worry about accidentally chopping them, because this hedge trimmer is cordless. It comes with Bosch’s 18V “Power for All” battery, which means it’s interchangeable with other cordless Bosch devices. Moreover, it lasts for around an hour, which gives you plenty of time to trim even the most untidy hedges.

Highly commended | Makita DUH751Z | £282

This heavyweight trimmer packs a punch – its blade is a whopping 75cm, which means you’ll be able to trim large hedges in far less time. It has a rotating handle to keep the user comfortable during trimming, as well as three different speeds to cover a wide range of hedges. Unlike many trimmers, this can tackle much thicker branches without fuss, thanks to its larger maximum branch width of 23.5mm. In our testing, it quickly became our favourite heavy-duty cordless trimmer, making it an obvious contender for this year’s highly commended hedge trimmer award.

Best chainsaw

Winner | Makita UC3541A | £133

Don’t let its affordable price fool you – the Makita UC3541A is much more powerful and well equipped than you might expect. On top of its exceptional performance in our testing, it has professional-standard features that improve its usability no end. For example, it was simple to set up and adjust the chain tension without extra tools, it has a handy built-in 200ml oil tank, as well as a replaceable set of spike bumpers, which is a rarity among domestic chainsaws. All in all, this chainsaw was a clear winner for this year’s best chainsaw award, and is a fantastic option for anyone hoping to invest in their tool shed.

Highly commended | DeWalt DCM575 | £525

Cordless is the name of the game this year, which is part of the reason why the DeWalt DCM575 is the winner of this year’s highly commended chainsaw award. It has a lightning-fast 15m/s chain speed and, despite being cordless, we couldn’t tell the difference between it and a mains-powered saw. There’s no need to worry about its 9Ah XR Flexvolt battery running out of charge because, as our reviewer put it, “we certainly ran out of tree before we ran out of power”. Essentially, it’s all bite and bark, if you have the budget.

Best leaf blower

Winner | Bosch AdvancedLeafBlower 36V-750 | £127

In our testing, we were blown away by the Bosch AdvancedLeafBlower 36V-750. It quickly became our favourite overall cordless blower, thanks to its impressive power that can easily be controlled using the adjustable power dial. On its highest setting, it disentangled leaves in bushes and lifted sodden leaves from the ground with ease; on its lowest, it carefully gathered the leaves into a neat pile. Throw in a comfy handle and a well-balanced design that allows you to use it one-handed, and you’ve got a pretty flawless leaf blower. If you already have cordless Bosch tools in your arsenal, it’s an even better choice, too, since it uses Bosch’s interchangeable “Power For All” batteries.

Highly commended | Gardena PowerJet 18V P4A | £100

Despite its best efforts, this surprisingly quiet leaf blower didn’t go unnoticed in our testing, and is a worthy winner of our highly commended leaf blower award. It’s lightweight, well balanced and easy to control. Not only does it pack a powerful punch, it’s perfect for small gardens, with its 2Ah battery lasting 25 minutes, and there’s a handy charge level indicator to let you know if you’re running low on juice, too. Luckily, it’s also compatible with batteries that fall under the “Power For All” initiative, so you’ll be able to switch if you need to.

Best garden vacuum

Winner | Bosch UniversalGardenTidy 3000 | £91

Doubling up as a vacuum and leaf blower, the Bosch UniversalGardenTidy successfully covers all bases. You can shift stubborn leaves and debris from your lawn before sucking them up to be mulched into the 45l bag with ease, making for the perfect garden tool. As well as being fantastically well built, it’s also a vacuum that won’t annoy your neighbours. With noise levels of around 99dBA thanks to Bosch’s ProSilence technology, the UniversalGardenTidy is a superb all-rounder for keen gardeners.

Highly commended | Mac Allister MBV2800 | £50

The MBV2800 is a solid piece of equipment, both in practicality and weight. The 6kg vacuum and leaf-blower is equipped with wheels and a shoulder harness to make clearing your garden or driveway painless. With the flick of a switch, you can blast away leaves and debris or suck them up into the 40l bag with an impressive mulching action. For your basic gardening needs, this Mac Allister dual-action vacuum is fantastic value.

Best garden shredder

Winner | Bosch AXT 25 TC | £429

The AXT 25 TC is a beast, in shredding terms. Thanks to Bosch’s Turbine Cut system and 2,500W motor, it can take on branches up to 45mm in diameter and spit them out with ease. It also makes for easy and convenient use, being able to take on bigger workloads and jamming less than its smaller, more compact counterparts. With a plunger to safely push through the remaining branches and a handy 53l bin to collect the chips and clippings, clearing your garden of trees and shrubs has never been easier.

Highly commended | Draper 230V Quiet Garden Shredder | £253

For the Draper 230V, it’s in the name. In no-load conditions, this easy-to-operate shredder has a noise rating of 94dB, similar to an electric drill. Once assembled, a task that takes five minutes, the Draper is impressive in operation. Taking a wide variety of 40-44mm thick branches without jamming, the small clippings are disposed of into the 55l bin that slides underneath.

Best garden hose

Winner | Hozelock Auto Reel with Hose | £118

Easily mounted and with 30 metres to play with, the Hozelock Auto Rewind boasts excellent usability. During use, the reel pivots 180 degrees, so you can readily angle the hose where you need it. When you’ve finished, the wonderful auto rewind function makes for a simple pack down. A gentle tug and it will wind itself in, where a slider inside the reel ensures the hose is coiled neatly, without tangling. If you’re looking for efficiency, the Hozelock stands above the rest.

Highly commended | Hozelock Tuffhoze | £51

“Tuff by name and tough by nature.” That’s how our reviewer described the rugged Hozelock Tuffhoze, a hosepipe that’s built for durability. With a traditional PVC dura-tech core and woven textile jacket, the Tuffhoze is both burst-resistant and long-lasting. With over 40 bar of pressure and secure Aqua Stop metal connectors, this heavy-duty hose is more than capable of meeting your watering needs.

Best patio cleaner

Winner | Wet & Forget Mould, Lichen & Algae Remover | £33

As the name suggests, the Wet & Forget patio cleaner is much less effort than a power washer or a scrub brush. Simply mix one part concentrate with five parts water in a garden sprayer and cover the affected area. There’s no bleach or acid involved – the pH level is barely above water, in fact – and this one bottle will get you a massive 30 litres of spray, so if the first go round doesn’t completely clear up the issue, you’ve got plenty more for a second attack.

Highly commended | Algon Organic Path & Patio Cleaner | £9

If you’ve been holding off addressing the life sprouting on your garden path for fear of nasty chemicals affecting your pets, Algon Organic uses a non-toxic, pet-safe acetic acid that should only be a danger to plant life. Just clear the area of any dirt and spray on the solution, and within a few days your stone or woodwork will be looking much cleaner for another year. If you can forgive the strong vinegary smell, this is an effective cleaner that won’t upset the local wildlife.

Best garden sprinkler

Winner | Gardena AquaZoom M | £31

The Gardena AquaZoom M is our favourite all-round garden sprinkler, with its adjustments for spray range, width and water flow making it easy to adapt to the size of your garden. Provided there’s adequate water pressure, the jets can fire up to 18m away, covering a total area of 250m². The build quality hits a sturdiness that cheaper models just can’t match, and best of all, the whole thing is supported by a four-year warranty. There’s stiff competition, but none of the others can match the Gardena for overall quality.

Highly commended | Hozelock Rectangular Sprinkler Pro 200m | £28

Coming in at a close second is the Hozelock Rectangular Sprinkler Pro 200m. Added extras such as a metal hose connector and sliders to control the oscillation range give you the option to tailor your watering, and a dial that switches off the outer nozzles can produce a tighter, more directed fan of water. The big thing here is consistency, with Hozelock claiming that it will provide 100% even water coverage, regardless of the water pressure. If your water pressure isn’t the best, this sprinkler is the best bet for you.

Best weed killer

Winner | Resolva 24H Ready to Use | £17

This biodegradable weed killer is designed to get in quick, kill the weeds at the root, and get out of the soil before it overstays its welcome. Promising visible results in just 24 hours, Resolva 24H Ready to Use is as efficient as it is affordable. If you’ve already got your own garden spray, the 3L bottle gets you enough solution to treat 120m². If not, there’s a 5L bottle that comes with a pump and adjustable spray, for more targeted weed killing. Either way, this is the most effective weed killer you can buy right now.

Highly commended | Wilko Ready-to-Use Path & Patio Total Moss Control | £4

If stubborn moss is causing you grief and you don’t want to shell out for a pressure washer, this solution from Wilko should be on your shopping list. Emitting a fine mist – which, most importantly, doesn’t drip down onto your trigger finger – this bottle holds enough to treat an area around 35m². Once applied, effects can be seen within a few hours.

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