Gardening: Tool Box

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The Independent Online
HEATH ROBINSON, the cartoonist who specialised in eccentric contraptions, would have loved the Kemp Yardvark. Powered by a 3bhp Briggs & Stratton petrol engine, this 'breakthrough in yard clean-up equipment' from America is a combined chipper, shredder, blower and vacuum cleaner.

We echoed Dylan Thomas's reaction to a bewildering Christmas present - 'Oh, easy for Leonardo]' - when the Yardvark arrived in kit form. Assembling it took almost four hours.

The brochure refers to 'dry' organic material for the shredder. Sure enough, it had difficulty digesting damp leaves and hedge clippings. Are we expected to dry the stuff in winter? As for the blower, a flexible attachment would often be far more convenient than having to aim the actual Yardvark.

The chipper worked well. We applauded the vacuum's efficiency, but would have been even more impressed had it been able to bag leaves without removing gravel from the drive.

The Yardvark costs pounds 663.87 (including delivery) and represents good value in relation to the pounds 450 price tag on a rival's mobile shredder. But there are times when this interesting jack-of-all-trades is less than a paragon of convenience. 'Try before you buy,' is our advice.

Information from: Globe Garden Services, 163a Warwick Road, Solihull, West Midlands B92 7AR (021- 707 4120).

(Photograph omitted)