Which? reveals the most reliable garden toolsBest brands to keep your garden looking great

04 November 2015

Garden tools can be very expensive and so you want them to last for years, not weeks. 

Which? Gardening surveyed 6,000 Which? members to find out which brands last the test of time and which are short lived. They told us not only about the brands of tools they had bought and how long they lasted, but also what faults they developed and how quickly this happened after they were bought. You can read our reviews of many garden tools, and advice on how to buy the best ones, here

Which? Gardening machinery expert Adele Dyer said: "This survey has thrown up some fascinating results. Not only have we been able to pinpoint which brands are reliable, we have also gained a valuable insight into the problems our members have experienced. They also told us about the things that annoy them about the machinery, which made for very interesting reading."

Best gardening brands

We have found the best and worst brands of gardening tools across all powered garden tools. We did this by looking at the number of faults reported for each brand, how severe they were and when they occurred.

How long a tool lasts is only part of the story, though, and so we also found out how our members rated the tools for such things as ease of use, value for money and build quality. From this we calculated an overall customer score. 

This brought out some interesting figures. For electric lawn mowers, for example, two of the biggest brands scored around 80% and 60% for reliability, but this figure widened for the customer score with one scoring over 80% and the other around 50%. 

Common faults

This year we asked owners about the faults they had encountered and when they had occurred. Some of these turned out to be far more common in some brands than in others. One hedge trimmer brand was the most complained about for poor cutting, with one in three owners complaining that this make did not cut clearly through branches. Compare this to just one in ten owners of another brand, which is regularly awarded a Best Buy in our tests. 

With leaf blower/vacs, the most common complaint was that the collection tube frequently blocks, but one brand was far worse than others, with 77% of owners complaining of this, compared to just 33% of owners of another brand. 

Niggles and annoyances

We also asked our members what annoys them most about their garden tools. We found some that we thoroughly expected. The line feed mechanism on many strimmers can be infuriating to use, and we were not surprised to have a huge number of complaints about this. We did not expect, however, that so many people would have problems with emptying the lawn mower box, with one in six owners of a well known brand complaining about this. 

Reliable garden tools: 

We looked at the seven most popular garden tools. They are:

  • lawn mowers
  • strimmers
  • leaf blower/vacs
  • hedge trimmers
  • chainsaws
  • pressure washers
  • garden shredders

More on this...

  • Read our advice on how to buy the best lawn mower
  • Find out how to avoid strimmer line feed problems
  • Discover all the tools you need for the big autumn tidy up