Who can enter:

The BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Garden of the Year competition 2016 is open to amateur gardeners who do not earn a living by designing or maintaining gardens for money. The gardens must be private gardens that may be open occasionally to the public for charities/fund-raising activities only, not as a profit-making activity for the benefit of the owner. The gardens must also be maintained by the owner with no more than one full-time helper or employee.

The competition will comprise of three categories: Small Space, Family Plot, Wildlife Garden. The winning gardens will be those that the judges and readers deem to best fulfil the criteria in the submitted category. You should submit your garden for one category only. Please choose the category most appropriate for your garden:

1) Small Space Only open to gardens up to the size of a tennis court (approximately 25m x 10m / 80ft x 30ft). You must demonstrate full and varied use of all the space, showing creativity and practicality throughout, and year-round interest.

2) Family Plot Open to any size of garden. You must demonstrate full and varied use of the whole space, and show in particular how the practicalities of your family life have been met by the garden’s design and execution.

3) Wildlife Garden Open to any size of garden. You must demonstrate the provision of a wide variety of wildlife habitats, with appeal beyond a single species, including relevant, year-round planting and feeding for named, specific wildlife

How to enter:

Follow this link for details of how to enter http://www.cobragarden.co.uk/GW_Comp.pdf

Complete the form for the category you wish to enter and submit it with up to 8 jpegs of your garden to the relevant email address. Image files submitted should be saved using the following information: – the category – surname – Image number For example, the first image should be saved as WildlifeJones1, the second image as WildlifeJones2, then WildlifeJones3, etc. The email subject line for your entry should include the category, surname and date you entered, e.g. WildlifeJones15Feb16. The total size of your entry form and images should not exceed 18MB.

The closing date for entries is 5pm on 27 June 2016.

Judging and selection process:

The BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine editorial team will create a long list of gardens for each of the 3 categories. From this list, a specialist judging panel will produce a shortlist (3 gardens from each category). If your garden is shortlisted you will receive a visit from the BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine editorial team.

The final judging panel will select a winner in each of the 3 categories, plus an overall Judges’ Choice winner. The category winners and overall Judges’ Choice winner will be announced in October 2016 on gardenersworld.com and in the November 2016 issue of BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine.

The three category winners will be entered into the People’s Choice Award. The People’s Choice Award will be voted for online by visitors to gardenersworld.com during late October 2016. The People’s Choice winner will be announced on gardenersworld.com in November 2016 and in the December 2016 issue of BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine.

Judging panel:

The judging panel will be chaired by Lucy Hall, Editor of BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine and will include expert judges from the world of gardening.


All shortlisted gardens will be professionally photographed, unless by prior
agreement or circumstances prevent this, and will appear in gardenersworld.com
and BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine.

The three category winners will each win £2,000 RRP-value of Cobra garden machinery
of their choice and a trophy.

The Judges’ Choice winner and People’s Choice winner will each win a further
£1,000 RRP-value of Cobra powered gardening equipment of their choice.
The six runners-up in the category shortlists will each win £250 RRP-value of Cobra
garden machinery of their choice.

Also, voters in the People’s Choice award will each be automatically entered into a
prize draw to win 1 of five prizes of £100 RRP-value of Cobra garden machinery of
their choice.

Click to view the full Cobra garden machinery range.

Get gardening and good luck!


As the sun shines through and warms up the soil and when temperatures regularly exceed eight degrees Celcius, your lawn slowly begins to grow.

So now could be time to fetch your lawn mower out of the shed for the first time after the winter break, although the first cut should only be made around two weeks after the grass has sprouted. Many people base this on the first spring flowers such as tulips or daffodils; the lawn is only mown for the first time when their petals have dropped. You will really have to be the judge and jury on this. The general advice, and this is still determined and influenced by many factors, is if you decide to set your winter grass length at 25-40mm and the grass grows beyond the limits that you have set, then the grass can be cut.

MTD-3- 43184

Don’t forget to check your lawn mower before starting it up. Are all the screws still tight and the blades sharp enough? If you have a petrol-powered model, then the oil level, the spark plugs, the carburettor and the tank should be given a once over.

When it comes to the actual mowing, frequent mowing of small amounts is often better than more infrequent mowing of large amounts. As a general rule of thumb, the grass blade should be cut by a third or at most by half to a length of four to five centimetres. The dangers of cutting off too much in one go are several. Firstly, a shocked grass plant will spend a period of convalescence and become insular as it recovers. In this time, moss, weeds and undesirable grass species may infiltrate and start to colonise leading to competition and eventual exclusion of the desired grass.

You could be faced with an expensive over seeding or turfing exercise to get your lawn back on the right track. So if your grass gets away a bit, then take two or more cuts, reducing the height each time, until you are back to the required length.

Every time you mow, make sure you change the direction and pattern of mowing so that the grass is not always pressed in the same direction.

The best way to give your lawn a good start to the new season is to mow it regularly as this will increase the density of the grass which, in turn, leads to a better looking lawn. The old saying “a stitch in time saves nine” is probably a good adage so little and often and before it becomes a problem are good rules.

Enjoy your lawn! 

Need a new lawn mower? Check out The Green Reaper’s lawn mower range now!



There is an ever increasing demand for cheaper methods of heating the home over the last few years as the cost of oil and gas climbs higher and higher. This has increased the popularity of wood burners and open fires and, of course, burning logs is much more environmentally friendly so we can save the polar bears.wood-burner

As a result the log splitter is becoming an essential machine for those households that have these installed in their homes.
Now it is all very well doing the macho thing with an axe to show off the bulging, gleaming muscles, but it’s not that safe, especially for those of us who are accident prone and would end up burying an axe in their foot!  So using a log splitter is the easy and safest option to split timber.

There is an array of machinery to choose from and the following should help you in making the correct choice for what you need for your circumstances and at the right price bracket. Most machines are mains electric but as they get more powerful and are asked to split heavier material, petrol engines are used to power the units. All machines, whether petrol or electric, have to be operated by both hands so that even idiots cannot get their fingers trapped between the ram and the timber. The way these machines work is that the timber is positioned on the machine between a V shaped metal plate and the ram, which is a moveable arm operated hydraulically so that when the machine is started, this arm moves along the bed of the splitter forcing the timber onto the V shaped plate and splits it. Most machines have this V shape but some have a multi-directional splitting ability (Multisplit), so you won’t have to split the log over and over again.chopping-logs-axe

With some machines the ram is adjustable, which does save a lot of time, as it can be adjusted so that it doesn’t have to travel so far on the bed of the machine. Very handy if time is of the essence. All these little benefits are explained in the description of the log splitters, so please study the specifications carefully to make the right choice.

It is also better to burn logs once they have been split and weathered outside as burning wet timber is annoying and wasteful. To weather your logs they should be left outside exposed to the sun and wind for at least six months and not stacked in a big pile as you will not get the airflow that is needed to weather them. Stack carefully making sure that they are in sunlight and that the wind can blow through and remove the moisture from the timber. If it makes you feel better to cover the top of the stack, do it, but I personally don’t like chasing tarpaulins across the county that have blown off! Ideal time is to split and stack early spring so that it is ready for October time.

Mitox LS55 Horizontal Log Splitter

Horizontal bench machines

These are the cheapest option and are placed on the floor or up on a bench and all are electric machines varying from four to seven ton splitting capacity. The big disadvantage if you cannot place it on a bench is that you have to bend down all the time to place and remove your logs. A little back breaking especially if one is getting on in life! There are a lot of machines in this category with the Mitox, Forest Master, AL-KO and Lawnflite prominent.  As mentioned previously all machines have be operated by both hands, because if one lever is let go of the ram will stop moving. All these machines have transport wheels, some with larger ones, for ease of moving about and all are very powerful.

AL-KO KHS 5200L Horizontal Log Splitter

Horizontal machines on legs

These machines are built on a frame which provides the optimum working height so loading the logs would enable you to work at a height that is comfortable for your stature which therefore saves the bending down. They have more or less the same splitting capacity of the bench machines but are more user friendly because of the height you can work at. The outstanding machine here is the Al-ko KHS5200 which has won several awards over a period of time and is one of the best sellers in this category followed closely by the Mitox LS55X. Both are manufactured using heavy duty steel in the construction and are very easy to assemble and use.


Lawnflite LS80P Petrol Log Splitter

Vertical machines

These machines are self explanatory as they work in the vertical plane as opposed to the previously mentioned machines that are horizontal. The benefits of these units are that they can take much bigger logs that are perhaps too heavy to lift onto the horizontal machines. Splitting capacities are therefore much bigger going up to ten tons. Most of these have heavy duty electric motors, but some such as the Mitox and Lawnflite have petrol engines. Petrol engines obviously produce much more power and are very handy if you are working out of range of an electric power supply. Once again please check on the specifications to tailor the right machine for your application.

There is another category of vertical splitters and that is those that can be towed. Not on the road but behind a garden tractor or car, around a large garden or estate. They also can be used in either the vertical or horizontal position depending what is the most comfortable position to use and go up to a mind blowing 25 tons splitting capacity.

So in conclusion, machinery is much more efficient and safer than man power and there is a machine for everyone. But of course if you want to use the traditional method buy an axe, get blisters, headaches and work up a sweat!



Before we start on the technicalities of chainsaws, it must be pointed out that they are a lethal weapon in the wrong hands and should be treated with the utmost respect. As a result it is now very difficult to hire a saw as so many accidents have happened over a period of time. I have witnessed some to quite intelligent people who appear to have no common sense. With that warning out of the way, when buying a saw you should invest in good Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which we will cover at the end of the buying guide.

There are three types of chainsaw, battery, mains electric and petrol powered. We will start on the petrol powered models of which there are quite an array of models and makes, so the following is to try and steer you in the right direction.

Petrol powered is inherently the most powerful saw and, of course, can be used away from power points in a variety of locations. Having a good saw will enable you to cut through timber easily and quickly. But it is not just about cutting; it is more about ease of use, weight, maintenance and most of all, the price. Petrol chainsaws all have 2-stroke engines, which means that oil has to be mixed with the petrol in a ratio of between 25:1 and 50:1, depending on the brand of the chainsaw. This is very critical and if the correct ratio is not used the saw will seize up i.e.: the piston will melt into the bore of the machine because of the heat generated whilst in use and will be rendered useless and will be irreparable. Also on all types of chainsaw whether they be petrol or other, there is an oil chamber, separate from the fuel tank, which must be kept topped up at all times as this lubricates the cutting teeth. If the teeth get blunt they wouldn’t even cut through butter. This is the most important area of the chainsaw. It doesn’t matter whether you spend £100 or £900, if the saw chain (the cutting teeth) runs dry, it will not cut. It is always best to purchase this oil when buying the chainsaw. It is sticky oil so that it stays on the chain, along with the special 2-stroke oil for mixing with petrol. Not just any old oil you might have kicking about in the garage please, just buy the correct oil for the job. Sorry to bang on about this but it is designed to help you not to waste your hard earned money. As with all petrol engined machines; it should be serviced regularly by a qualified garden machinery mechanic. All chainsaws whether they are petrol, electric or battery do have a chain brake, which is a safety device that prevents damage to you if the saw ‘kicks back’ in use.

Mitox CS410X Premium Petrol Chainsaw 40.1cc/40cmPetrol Chainsaws

Generally there are three categories of petrol chainsaw, domestic, heavy and professional use, with the bulk of sales being domestic. Bar length will vary from 14” up to 24” depending on what diameter timber you wish to cut and what power the engine has. Price is obviously important but remember the old adage ‘you only get what you pay for’ and this is so true when buying a good chainsaw. Some research is necessary if you have not used a chainsaw before but generally a good buy for light domestic use would be around the £160 mark, these brands being Mitox, Gardencare, MTD and some Efco. Some of these have an ‘easy start’ option which is very simple to use, for first time users, but do look at the weight of the machine as some of the cheaper options can be quite heavy, so check the specification of the models that catch your eye. Heavy duty and professional machines are more for felling trees and every day use, around large gardens, estates, farms woods and forests. The brands to buy here are Efco, Echo and some Mitox and therefore are consequently more expensive.

MTD ECS 1800/35 Electric ChainsawElectric Chainsaws

Mains electric chainsaws are obviously much cheaper and much, much quieter so better for use when noise could be an issue perhaps with the neighbours. They do tick all the environmental boxes as there are no exhaust emissions and less noisy. These machines range in price from about £70 to £149 depending on bar length and size of electric motor. As mentioned before the most important part is the oil chamber which keeps the chain lubricated, because when the chain is dry it will blunt almost immediately. Again the more expensive saws are the best buys but always the best to go for.

GreenWorks 20117-A G-MAX 40V Cordless Chainsaw (with 2Ah Battery and Charger)Cordless Chainsaws

Battery electric chainsaws are available but are obviously not as powerful as their electric cousins, but are essential if you do not want to trust a mains electric machine with the cable trailing about. Also you will be limited very much by how long the battery lasts on a charge.

PPE (Personal Protection Equipment)

Garden Power Combi HelmetThis is must for any user of a chainsaw, whether it is petrol, electric or battery powered. The very least that should be worn is a combination of helmet, ear muffs and visor, such as the Garden Power Combi Helmet at £24.99. From this starting point gloves can be added to reduce the vibration when using a saw up to protective trousers and full protection kits. I can’t emphasise enough to take precautions when using a saw, as fingers, hands and legs don’t grow back, so be warned!

Log Saw Horses

Saw horses are items of equipment that hold logs in place while cutting through them with your chainsaw. Very simply they hold the log in place whilst using the saw and are very stable. Prices vary from as little as £25 for a basic unit up to £65 for the best buy Mitox. This latter horse has a chainsaw holder integrated into it and the chain is covered by a protective guard, so all you do is use it one handed in perfect safety getting evenly cut lengths of timber.

b3cB3C Fuel Additive

Modern fuel these days does have up to 15% ethanol in it. Without going into too much detail ethanol is added to fuel to prolong life and decrease pollution but the down side is that the fuel decomposes and goes stale very quickly. Simple single cylinder engines, such as chainsaws and mowers will not start if fuel is left in them even after only a month. Ethanol also attracts water, is corrosive by nature and causes decay in the engine and has devastating effects on power equipment. You might say ‘that’s as well, but my car runs on ok on it!’ Yes it will, because car engines are sealed units that don’t allow air in and it is the air that does the damage. Air contains water and ethanol attracts that, so in small engines they are inherently open to the elements. The percentage of ethanol in fuel is going up on an annual basis and B3C products are the only answer to this. So to prevent any future problems just add the recommended amount to your petrol can and it will stabilise the fuel, eliminating water, oxidisation and other ethanol related issues. It will also save a lot of swearing at your machine when you come to start it after a period of non use!

You can check out all these products and more at The Green Reaper!


blog-by-syd-scythe-2Autumn is just around the corner, or is it? Here we are at the start of November basking in near summer temperatures with the grass still growing and 80% of the leaves still on the trees. So what to do? It is a difficult time in the garden but it is always good to tidy the grass up by just taking another cut, but make sure that you don’t set the mower too low and scalp the lawn, otherwise when the first frost arrives the grass will turn yellow and take an age to recover.

Now I love trees and plenty of them, but there are two to three weeks in the year when I could curse them. We don’t have any mature trees in our garden, but neighbours have a couple of lovely copper beech trees and up the road about fifty yards away are three horse chestnut trees, which having dropped the conkers and turned the road into a good skid pan, are starting to shed their leaves. Shed their leaves they will, along with the others and our garden, at the end of a small cul-de-sac soon will be knee deep in leaves, millions of them. So how do we dispose of them without too much fuss? There are various answers, you could blow them into the neighbour’s garden when they are out and blame a freak whirlwind I suppose, or just grin and bear it and do the job yourself.

If you do suffer the leaf problem you will know just how we feel and there are some options before the first frost arrives and they come down like confetti with the increasing winds. Firstly, just leave them to rot and risk the nagging of the wife as they make the place look untidy, but if you do let leaves rot on the lawn it will encourage moss to form underneath as the grass cannot breathe and that will cause more problems in the spring. I spotted an older gentleman only yesterday trying to rake leaves into a pile, but there was a breeze blowing so they just kept scattering about and judging by the language he was quite frustrated and gave up!

Choosing the right model doesn’t have to be complicated! There are three types of machines, listed below, that deal with the leaf problem and are one of the most useful tools to have and should be purchased soon; otherwise you will be inundated by leaves of all shapes and sizes being blown about by ever increasing winds.

BlowersMitox 26B Select Hand-Held Garden Blower

You can simply blow all the debris into a pile, and collect by hand to dispose of in the green bin. Blowers are quite useful at other times during the year for blowing cut grass from pathways and the like.

Blower/VacuumsFlymo GardenVac 2700 Turbo

Just like the above, but at the flick of a switch on some models it will turn into a vacuum so you can hoover up all debris, which gets mulched into the large capacity bag that attaches to the machine. I use one of these myself and it is great, no effort at all and will collect quite happily over gravel without picking up the stones and with both of these machines there is an alternative of mains electric, or if you are too far away from a power source, petrol engined units.

Walk Behind VacuumsBilly Goat Little Billy LB352 Wheeled Garden Vacuum

For those with large areas, whether it is on grass or hard surface you can purchase machines that you push, or are self propelled for even bigger, perhaps undulating areas. Some of these have a wander hose kit that attaches to the machine so that the flower borders etc. can be cleared as well.

With any of these machines leaves can be collected when wet (even horse chestnut) and when blown into the collecting bag (if fitted) they will get shredded down into a reasonable mulch.

Blower Cartoon Small FlippedLook out for more useful tips and machinery guides in future weeks to help everyone purchase the correct machinery at the right price for the job in hand.

Autumn’s dazzling display of colour is accompanied by the inevitable fall of leaves. Over the next few weeks many of us will be faced with the unenviable task of clearing them away. Luckily there is no need to spend your weekends bent over a garden rake. Here’s a selection of leaf blowers and garden vacuums to make the job so much easier.

With up to 25 minutes of run time and equipped with a 24V high power rechargeable lithium-ion battery and charger, the GreenWorks GW2400007-A will cope with clearing leaves from the smaller garden. Weighing just 1.5kg, the two-speed motor delivers air speeds of up to 200km per hour. This GreenWorks cordless blower benefits from a zero carbon footprint and is priced at £99.99 with free, next working day delivery.
GreenWorks 2400007-A 24V Cordless Blower (with 2Ah Battery and Charger)

GreenWorks 2400007-A 24V Cordless Blower (with 2Ah Battery and Charger)

Part of the brand new and most comprehensive range of garden machinery introduced in 2014, is the Cobra BV2600 electric blower vacuum. Priced at a mind blowing £42.99, the Cobra BV2600‘s Watt motor produces a wind speed on 270km per hour. It has the added advantage of a power mulching system which reduces debris by a ratio of 10:1 into the 45 litre collection bag. The ergonomically positioned ‘quick change’ lever allows you to confirm from collect to blow in an instant, making clearing your garden of leaves a breeze. The Cobra BV2600 also features ergonomically positioned controls for improved support and balance. The front roller wheel increases the machine’s manoeuvrability and provides operator support for long periods of use, as does the strap which is included. This versatile garden blower vacuum boasts increased user control thanks to its variable speed selection.

Cobra BV2600 Electric Blower Vacuum

Cobra BV2600 Electric Blower Vacuum

Awarded Which? Best On Test, the AL-KO Hurricane 2200E electric blower vacuum is powered by a 220 Watt motor that will shift even damp leaves. This versatile, multi-function tool has vacuuming, blowing, shredding and collecting functions. Coarse debris automatically drops into the innovative pre-separator during vacuuming, while the leaves are chopped up by a shredder turbine on their way to the 40 litre collecting bag. Not only does this mean the collected material loses up to 90 percent of its original volume, it also rots down faster. German-engineering, ergonomic and lightweight design combine to make cleaning your garden a more enjoyable task. At £109.00 including free, next working day delivery, the AL-KO 2200E blower vac is supplied with a practical shoulder strap and also has a wheel kit so it can also be used for clearing hard surfaces.

Offering superb value for money at £259.00, the Makita 24.5cc petrol blower will take the hard work out of the garden clean up this autumn. Weighing only 4.4kg the BHX2501 is a light weight, easy to handle machine  complete with a vacuum kit. The easy to start mini four stroke petrol engine has a mechanical decompression system and the Makita BHX2501 is environmentally-sound, quiet-running and fuel-efficient, with no need to mess about mixing fuel and oil. Four stroke engines are better for the environment than two stroke, running quieter and with less harmful emissions. The Makita BHX2501 blower / vac is a practical addition to your garden machinery for clearing leaves, grass clippings and other garden debris from around the lawn and garden.

Makita BHX2501 4-Stroke Hand-Held Garden Leaf Blower + Vacuum Kit

Makita BHX2501 4-Stroke Hand-Held Garden Leaf Blower + Vacuum Kit

At the leading edge of blower technology, the Echo PB-500 backpack blower combines dependability and comfort with economical performance in a hip-mounted throttle configuration. Suitable for professional, heavy duty use and backed by a whopping five year homeowner (two year commercial) warranty, the Echo PB-500 features a 50.8cc Air Infusion Vortex engine, Pro-Fire recoil start, variable speed, cruise control, positive locking pipe connection system and padded shoulder straps and backrest. At £369.00, the Echo PB-500 backpack blower will blast through the toughest clear clearance jobs.

Echo PB-500 Backpack Blower

Echo PB-500 Backpack Blower

Finished in a high quality red powder coated paint, the AL-KO 750B wheeled garden vacuum / leaf collector looks as good as it performs on large areas such as grass, patios, paths forecourts, tennis courts and driveways. The powerful AL-KO 750B wheeled vacuum features a large 75cm working width, covering large lawns and patios with ease. It will make quick work of yard and garden clear-ups, whatever the conditions, whether tackling leaves, fruit or other debris. Fitted with a powerful 4hp Briggs & Stratton Quattro engine and a specially designed steel turbine housing, the 750B can even collect damp leaves on grass, paths, patios and driveways. The large 200 litre collector packs leaves in and is easily emptied via the zip release. Another feature of the 750B is its adjustable working height, allowing users to collect leaves off of smooth flat surfaces or grass areas. The practical hose accessory facilitates access to the tiniest cracks, corners and niches so nothing will escape you. The AL-KO 705B is poised and ready for next day delivery at £529.00.



This year marks the launch of Cobra, the largest single range of domestic lawn mowers and powered garden equipment to be released in recent times.

The Cobra range consists of over 70 products which have been specifically designed to meet British lawn and garden conditions. The range is deliberately priced to provide a cost-effective yet hard working solution for UK gardeners without compromising on quality.

The Green Reaper is pleased to offer new Cobra petrol, electric and hand-push lawn mowers, plus a full range of other powered garden equipment including mini riders and lawn tractors, lawn scarifiers, brush cutters, hedge trimmers, chainsaws, cultivators, blower vacuums and a garden multi tool systemLawn rollers, spreaders, hand carts and sack trollies complete the range.

Cobra lawn mowers

Cobra lawn mower line-up

As we are all only too aware, the UK has quite unique lawn conditions. But this is not a problem for Cobra mowers. They feature uniquely flexible height of cut adjustment with a larger than usual collection system. Cobra garden cultivators have powerful engines to cope with the wide range of soil conditions found in Britain.

Petrol power extends across Cobra garden maintenance tools with two options for chainsaws, cultivators and brush cutters. Cobra also offers a lighter weight range of electric tools including three electric chainsaws, a long reach pole pruner, hedge trimmers and two blower vacuums to help keep your garden under control.

The aim of the Cobra range is to make the customer’s choice easy. The market contains a bewildering range of options for products but Cobra hopes that by offering everything that gardeners need under one brand, the customer’s decision making process will be simplified.

2014 is set to be a big year for Cobra, with many models already in stock, and the rest arriving throughout the spring. In stock models can be delivered free of charge to most UK mainland addresses on a next working day service.

Checkout the Cobra brand – the most comprehensive range of garden machinery!

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