Tool Box: Mow power to you

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The Independent Online
ACCORDING to the blurb, Atco's new Consort 14 cylinder mower is aimed at 'mature consumers with a keen interest in gardening'. Is that degree of enthusiasm a sine qua non for well-kept lawns? This electric mower performed well in favourable conditons - cutting close and leaving the traditional striped finish - but was less impressive on a lawn whose irregularities serve as reminders that the turf conceals the remains of farm buildings.

The specification includes easy adjustment of the cutting height, variable speed control (there are six settings), good safety features, a big, tough, plastic collecting box, and 75ft of cable with a fitted plug.

All but the keenest DIY mechanics should buy the Consort in built-up form. Assembling it calls for patience and dexterity. The fact that it weighs 54lb should be taken into consideration if your garden has steps.

But the most fundamental factor is the choice between electricity and petrol. The convenience claimed for electric mowers is offset, to a degree, by the need to trail yards of flex behind you, having first draped it over your shoulder in the approved manner. Think on this before parting with pounds 289.

Atco Qualcast Ltd, Suffolk Works, Milton Road East, Stowmarket, Suffolk IP14 1EY (0449 612183).