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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Larry Fink, the boss of fund manager BlackRock , is among those sounding the alarm  

Not all discounts are welcome: Beware the myopia of company bosses

Ben Chu
Cilla Black lived her life in front of the lens, whether on television or her earlier pop career  

Cilla Black dead: A sad farewell to the singer who gave us a 'lorra, lorra laughs'

Gerard Gilbert
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen