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The Stirling 43 Cylinder Mower: Revolutionising Lawn Care in Adelaide's Foothills

From battling pine cone debris to nurturing healthy turf Tom Bamman talks us through his lawncare journey 

 

I live with my wife and kids in the foothills of Adelaide, South Australia. We enjoy cycling, mountain biking, hiking and getting the kids outdoors on little adventures in the hills whenever time permits. We have been in our family home for 5 years and this area is not far from a large wildlife reserve. We're set amongst large tall eucalypt trees and in particular a gigantic pine tree all of which cast a tremendous amount of shade on our front and back lawn areas. Silver Crested Cockatoos love to peck away at the pine cones in the tree which results in an incredible amount of pine cone debris on the front lawn and at other times a covering of pine needles. This results in a lot of raking required. Pine cones are not good for any type of mower. We also have Rosellas, Rainbow Lorikeets, Koalas, Kangaroos, Blue Tongue Lizards and even the occasional Echidna. I'm an engineer who currently works from home so maintaining a nice space means I can walk outside and enjoy the garden and lawn areas and appreciate the presence of the trees whilst I have longer phone conversations. We've also enjoyed setting up ambient lighting in the gardens and overhead festoon lights which sets a nice entertaining feel to these spaces at night, perfect for our small backyard winter camp fires with good friends.

 

 

Where  did your passion for lawn-care come from?

 

So I'm told by my mother as a toddler I used to follow her to the clothesline and complain about these prickles hurting my feet. As a young student I learned it was the Bindii prickles hurting me when I was younger and also as a student who liked to play soccer in bare feet. This interest led me to help my father maintain the lawn. As a young teenager I once spent no less than 20 hours weeding all of the lawn areas in the school holidays. The passion for lawn came back to me when my youngest kid was born and in the rental house we lived in at the time I worked on the lawn by eliminating weeds so we could have a nice play space.

 

 

Tell us a bit about your lawn journey so far

 

We moved to where we are now about five years ago. The lawn and gardens were in complete disarray when we bought the house. I distinctly remember the night when I told my family I was feeling a bit sad that the lawns were in such bad shape and with only the slightest bit of encouragement I embarked on the journey of my first ever complete lawn do-over. I completely replaced the front lawn, hired a tilling machine and removed some large chunks of clay. I added some gypsum and compost but I do regret not replacing the top 200mm to improve the drainage of the clay soil. It started off well, although it didn't thrive. I knew that the couch lawn wouldn't excel with so much shade but I knew it could do better as I have maintained couch lawns with a lot of shade before. I became more curious, did a lot of reading and research in the Australian Lawn Fanatics Facebook group and since discovered via laboratory sample testing from a turf scientist that the sulphur in the soil was 70 times greater than the recommended maximum amongst other imbalance issues with the soil. I now have a plethora of products that I'm using to slowly correct the balance of both the front and back lawn areas and have since repeated the soil testing after 12 months and can observe a solid improvement. There is still much to be improved on the soil properties yet the results are looking great. I highly recommend getting professional soil testing done by a turf scientist if you ever feel that your lawns aren't doing well despite already taking care of the basics. 

 

I won't be sharing any photos of my front lawn just now because I over-sowed ryegrass for a winter period a few years ago now but then never sprayed out the rye in the spring. I kept the ryegrass alive for two summers and three winters and it caused a lot of damage to the couch. I think I have too much shade for the couch to regrow quickly after killing off the ryegrass in spring so I will slowly recover and return to couch-only lawns and just accept a struggling, dormant looking couch lawn in the winter. Although the ryegrass is beautiful, our summers can be too hot for ryegrass even with all of our shade and with several days in a row exceeding 40 degrees Celsius there is no hope of keeping it alive without irresponsible use of irrigation. In South Australia our water supply is often dependent on depleting our struggling river systems so we must be sensible and consider environmental sustainability.

 My youngest son is always wanting to help me spray the fertiliser and additive products on the lawn. We spend a lot of time playing games on the lawn including soccer. I hope that one day he'll learn everything that I know and more about lawn and continue to pass it down the chain.

 

 

Tell me a bit about your Stirling

Ever since my uncle gifted me a cordless drill for my 21st birthday combined with a desire to make environmentally sustainable choices I have always been adamant about never using petrol tools. We don't (yet!) have an electric vehicle but my problem with petrol tools in particular is that their emissions are typically a lot worse than that of car emissions. It is my opinion that governments and councils in our countries need to be setting targets to electrify domestic (and eventually also commercial) garden tools and power tools. So I had a 2 x 18V electric rotary mower which was working great until I started using this new lawn care program and finally the turf (particularly in the sunnier backyard area) started to really take off. I did get a corded electric dethatcher tool which was great but even still the plastic-framed mower was way too light weight and would get bogged on the thick turf and then start to chop into it. The writing was on the wall and I looked into electric cylinder mowers but wasn't particularly impressed with proprietary battery systems which would require a charger in addition to the chargers I already have, and which can't also be used for other purposes. Then when I first saw the Stirling 43 advertised it was love at first sight. Due to the high initial cost it took me a while before I bit the bullet but was fortunate enough that my friend tagged me in an advert of another South Australian moving house, which couldn't readily be used in their new home so he had to sell his almost brand-new Stirling 43.

 

I am so glad that I decided to invest in the Stirling 43 for so many reasons. The dethatcher, verticutter, and scarifier cartridges sit very compact in the garage above the mower mounted on the wall taking up no space at all. I have had limited use of the verticutter but a lot of use from the scarifier cartridge, regularly using it to remove pine cone debris from the lawn before mowing which is a lot more efficient than hand raking. It's also incredibly helpful to easily keep levels of thatch under control. I also have a spare blade cartridge so I don't need to maintain a 'backup mower' for when the blades need sharpening, I can just send one cartridge away via courier and not even need to go anywhere. I also love that it is so heavy yet I can easily remove the cartridges and fuel tank (battery) to lighten it up and then I can manage to pull it backwards up two steps to get to my backyard. Sure it was easier with my lightweight plastic rotary mower but that wasn't powerful enough to cut through a healthy couch with vigorous growth in summer periods. I love that it's all very easy to clean with either a garden blower or the air compressor. I love that with all the available cartridges, I could sell both my rotary mower and also the electric dethatcher tools, and together with the very quick mechanism for folding up the handle, I now have more floor space in the garage. I've also benefited from the EGO batteries being used for other purposes with other EGO products. I also love that in 10 years from now, well after the Allett warranty will no doubt have expired and the battery fails at a crucial time, I can just go to a local store and purchase a replacement EGO battery. Teaming up with EGO is a very smart move from Allett.

 

The quality of the Stirling 43 is exceptional. I'm very pleased with how easy, simple, adjustable and versatile it is. Calling it a lawn mower is not quite fair it really is an all-in-one multifunction lawn care tool with not much else being needed in terms of hardware to maintain a domestic lawn.

 

Below, was my first use of the Stirling 43 led me to want to reset the height of the cut and so I kept cutting lower and lower until not much green remained. This involved repair of some broken pop-ups, irrigation height adjustments, and filling in of some low spots. Two months later we were enjoying the nicest and luscious turf we've ever had.

 

 

 

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