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I have a rather large lawn that probably has seen better days and one the must do jobs each year is to scarify it - that is to essentially rake out all the dead thatch and moss to ensure and encourage healthy grass growth.
Due to my lawn size and not wanting to drag a power cable around (and it will slow down the process as you manoeuvre the cable out of the way), I decided to go for a petrol driven scarifier. To be honest I was looking for something at a decent price (as electric ones are significantly cheaper), which was not just a lawn rake, but had proper scarifying blades. The Al-ko range seems to be most versatile within a a price range (that is around £300-350) - there are not too many competitors.
The low end petrol driven model is the 38 VLB (the electric version is the 38 VLE), and I plumbed for this.
It required some assembly on arrival, though the instructions left something to be desired. It is German in make but tin my opinion hey do not seem to have go themselves a good English instruction writer. It was probably more lightweight than I thought - being primarily plastic and maybe feeling a little less durable for that - but as its only to be used a few times a year maybe not a problem.
I had a few frustrations trying to work out how to start it as it needs priming of the petrol and oil engine, and then pulling a cord to fire it up. It took a few goes but I did eventually get the hang of it.
Using it is fairly straightforward - you set the height of the blades but again the instructions are a bit vague - and fire up the engine. It then just pulls away, which is great as you do not have to push it, but can strain your arms as you attempt to control it. The lever on the handle should control the engine speed but its not that sensitive and so you tend to leave it on full throttle. A number of times the engine cut out when hitting a difficult patch where the blades can not turn properly - this was more around hard soil areas. I found a technique though that as you recognise the engine starting to cut out, just push one quickly past the problem area and the engine should keep going.
It did a good job of scarifying more lawn - probably took me a day and half as I did two passes and then raked up the large quantities of grass and thatch. Having considered hiring one, I am glad I bought now, as I think over a 5 year period this should pay for itself as long it remains working. It should be fine as I will probably only use it a couple of times year.
It also comes with a lawn rake cylinder that will allow a lighter moss and thatch removal in the autumn before winter sets in.
So, overall, I think that despite some instruction issues and its tendency to want to run away, its worth it price.
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