Garden Equipment and the environment – why we have moved to electric equipment

Milligan Gardens has gone electric…our lawn mowers, edge trimmers, and leaf blowers are powered by lithium batteries to provide Southern Tasmania’s first zero emissions lawn care service.

Why have we done this?

For several reasons…

Firstly, on a purely selfish level, electric equipment is much more pleasant to use. There is less vibration, less noise (many machines can be used with no hearing protection!), there is no muffler belching toxic exhaust fumes into the operator’s lungs, and no handling of petrol. This alone is good enough reason to make the switch…but it’s only scratching the surface…

Small engines are dirty…really dirty! One average lawnmower operated for an hour emits as much pollution as 40 modern cars being driven for that same hour. Forty!!! That’s not a typo…

Why are garden machines so bad? Well, for a start they are relatively crude. A modern car will have computer controlled electronic fuel injection and mapped ignition to ensure clean burn at all times and the best possible economy, some of the best can  even turn 30% of the energy in fuel into useful work! They have a catalytic converter on the exhaust to reduce pollutants. They have a sealed fuel system with vapour recovery equipment to prevent volatile hydrocarbon emissions. There is onboard diagnostics to alert the operator if there is a malfunction in the system.

By contrast, a lawnmower has a simple engine, many are still being built with side valve configuration! They use a basic carburettor, straight exhaust, magneto ignition, and have a vented fuel tank which will evaporate your entire tank of fuel in a few weeks in the summer…. Many garden tools are also 2 stroke, which burn oil as well as petrol, and up to 30% of the petrol/oil mixture leaves the exhaust unburned……

It is estimated that 4% of all volatile hydrocarbon emissions in Australia are from lawn mowers, and approximately 5% of all greenhouse emissions in the US come from small garden equipment. Gardeners in the US accidentally spill more fuel in a year while refuelling lawn equipment than was spilt in the Exxon Valdez disaster…food for thought!

Battery powered garden equipment has long been a laughing stock for serious users…they were small, underpowered, had ridiculously short run times and long charge times as well as being stupidly expensive. The last 6 or 7 years have seen the cost of lithium cells drop to less than a tenth of what they were…and battery equipment has finally got the teeth to do a tough job. This is the way of the future, and Milligan Gardens is going to be there for the ride.

Even in a worst case scenario such as parts of Victoria where the electricity is from brown coal, a battery powered mower is producing 5% of the pollution that a petrol mower would be making…here in Tasmania where most of our power is from hydro or wind, battery powered machines are close to zero emissions. We will shortly have a charging solution for mobile battery charging using solar, which will make our service truly zero emissions!

We do still have a few petrol powered machines, some specialised jobs simply don’t have an electric option yet, and for those rare clearing jobs with half an acre of chest high grass there just isn’t a substitute yet for petrol grunt…but all of our routine work is now petrol free and we are loving it!



A little bit of landscaping

While our main focus is caring for lawns and gardens, Milligan Gardens also does smaller landscaping projects.

Here are a few photos  before and after of a project that we have just done, a sloping piece of ground was turned into a set of swish steps!



Here is almost the beginning…digging has begun, but this is basically what we started with, an uneven slope with some rough terraces formed by rocks.



Steps defined with treated pine sleepers, back filled and ready to add the surface finish!




And here is the finished product!

A double row of 400×400 concrete pavers surrounded by pink crushed rock.

There will be a lot more work done on this property before the yard is finished, but this shows what can be achieved to lift the look of a property without spending a fortune.

These steps cost less than $700 to build, so a modern look can be had on a budget. Most of the cost was labour, as there was a lot of digging and paving  is time consuming. Without the pavers the job would have been a little over half the price, but this does look better.



Milligan Gardens is moving

Milligan Gardens is relocating to the Kingborough region, and will be based in Blackman’s Bay.

Our existing Hobart area customers will be unaffected by the move, and we will for the time being continue to service our South East customers until we find a suitable replacement service provider.

The exciting news is that we are now taking new customers from Hobart to Margate.

We have also begun the transition to an emissions free service, with our lawn mowing, edge trimming, and leaf blowing now handled by zero emission battery powered machines. Our hedge trimming will move to zero emissions shortly.  We retain petrol powered equipment for heavy jobs such as blackberry control and rotary hoe work. This is an exciting time, with advances in technology bringing greater power and longer run time to battery operated equipment, and Milligan Gardens is proud to be at the forefront of this movement.

New sharpening service available

We are now offering a sharpening service to complement our other services.

Greg has many years of experience sharpening all manner of tools, from knives and axes through to carving and turning chisels, planes and spokeshaves, saws and more.

Using state of the art equipment, Greg can sharpen most things that you can imagine, and has the skills to hand sharpen the more unusual items that the sharpening machines cannot handle…

The introductory price list current as at June 2016 is as follows:

Most knives are $5 each, including pocket knives and kitchen knives. Extra large knives, machetes, and serrated knives can be sharpened but these will need quoting.

Chisels and plane irons are $3 if less than 12mm wide, $5 from 12-60mm and $7.50 for more than 60mm width. Badly damaged or chipped blades that need fully reprofiling are $7.50 up to 12mm, $10 from 12-60mm, and $12.50 for over 60mm

Drill bits;

Under 6mm  $1 each

6-10mm        $2

11-13mm       $2.50

14-16mm      $3

17-21mm      $3.50

21-25mm      $4

26-30mm     $5

31-40mm     $6

41-50mm      $7

Over 50mm by quote. Badly damaged drill bits or broken drill bits can be sharpened, but I will need to grind the end flat and start fresh. This costs twice the normal price for a sharpen. As long as some flutes are remaining I can regrind a broken drill bit into a short bit that drills well.

Lawnmower blades are $2 per blade for a touch up on swing back blades like those on Victa mowers and $10 to resharpen the one piece bar blades found on some other mowers.

Hand saws can be sharpened, price depends on the size of the saw and how fine the teeth are as well as the condition of the teeth.

Tool restoration services are offered from a clean up and de-rusting to full refurbishment with replacement of damaged or missing woodwork and refinishing. Contact me to discuss your requirements.

I will sharpen individual tools on a drop off and pick up basis, and I also offer a mobile sharpening service for knives and most tools where I come to your door and sharpen them on the spot! Minimum fee of $50 for the mobile service.

As I said, I can sharpen most things, so if you have an unusual request no matter how weird, please let me know!