Gardening: Tool Box: Progress comes to the rake

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ALTHOUGH not known for my intelligence or practicality, I could have operated the Flymo Gardenvac without watching the six-minute video that came with it. This electrically powered answer to ye olde rake comes complete with a plug, has a big debris bag and is as easy to use as a domestic vacuum cleaner. But there are no wheels, so it is carried by hand or hung from an over-the-shoulder strap.

Gardenvac can be used to blow debris into a pile before switching to the vacuum mode. 'Debris', in this context, embraces all manner of rubbish, from grass clippings to dead leaves, twigs and, heaven forbid, empty drink cans.

The blowing mode is powerful enough to shift gravel, but even the more powerful of the two vacuum settings will not ingest the stones, unless they are exceptionally small - the balance of power is about right, in other words. Changing modes would be easier if the 1-2-3 switch were nearer the handle, rather than being a long arm's stretch away on the nozzle.

It works well, but at pounds 79.95 it is another reminder that you must always ask yourself whether the task justifies the expense.

Flymo, Aycliffe Industrial Estate, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham DL5 6UP (0325 300303).

(Photograph omitted)