How does your garden vac?

A new `labour- saving' device has emerged to blow, slurp and mulch its way through our backyards and our lives

Share
Related Topics
Margaret has a secret but it's the kind that everyone already seems to know. "I'm the phantom lawn mower," she says proudly. This means that, when her neighbour is away, she runs over and mows his scruffy lawn. "He should be grateful. It was about knee high, you know," said another neighbour with hearty approval.

"Isn't that illegal?" My question is ignored as the discussion returns to the irritation - nay, the agony! - at having to look at a neighbour's long grass. Love thy neighbour but not his lawn is their view: a Good Samaritan is not afraid to mow.

Margaret is American but she could be British. The whispers here also reveal similar secret mowing missions. You can see their point of view. Their gardens are perfect. Marigolds march in military lines. Roses fear to drop a petal. The grass looks like photosynthesised velvet (it's amazing what you can do with electric nail scissors these days). The edges are so abrupt that insects and errant burrowers will need motorcycle stunt bikes to cross.

Such perfectionists are aghast at the idea of a neighbour who claims to be creating an environment for nestling hedgehogs or a nettlepatch for days of wine and butterflies. Fortunately for all, this spiral of obsession is interrupted by autumn, which is egalitarian enough to mess up to everyone's garden.

But now Mother Nature has met her match. No, it's not God who has intervened. It's garden vac - the "labour-saving" device that blows, sucks and mulches its way through autumn with such drama that a TV mini-series cannot be far behind.

"We effectively invented a new garden care market with the garden vac," says Flymo's marketing manager, Andrew Mackay. Before Flymo launched its first garden vac in 1993 only 5,000 were sold in Britain. "Now it's in excess of 100,000 per year and that's worth pounds 10m to pounds 12m. This is our peak season - some 60 per cent are sold in October and November.

Down at the DIY shop many of these things are labelled in a way that might attract Arnold Schwarzenegger on a dangerous day for dahlias. The Flymo petrol-powered Blowervac (pounds 99.99) looks like a lethal weapon, while one Black & Decker number claims to blow up to 180mph. There is much talk of "high impact" and "top velocity". The "LeafBuster" is so impressive that it will no doubt need a high-protein diet and its very own garden shed.

The claim is that the garden vac is the easiest way to tidy "the outside of your home". Call me paranoid but this use of words is worrying: could it signal a plot to make the garden an extension of our front rooms? Such tidyness will require constant strimming, vaccing and clipping. The real give-away is the use of the world "labour-saving". Every housewife (and husband) knows this is a ploy to get us to raise our standards, clean more and therefore buy more products. Our homes are full of labour-saving devices and we have less leisure time than ever before.

This is all bad news for your common-or-garden hedgehog: there is no room for common nature when your garden is blow-dried. Margaret would not allow such a thing.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Children of a bygone era  

Kids these days aren't what they used to be — they're a lot better. So why the fuss?

Archie Bland
A suited man eyes up the moral calibre of a burlesque troupe  

Be they burlesque dancers or arms dealers, a bank has no business judging the morality of its clients

John Walsh
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series