The main factors to look at are the working width, working depth, adjustability, drive system, levels of vibration and noise, price and ease of use and maintenance. Then ask yourself if you just want to cut turf. Or do you want a machine capable of an extra trick or two?
Groundsman Industries offers three models, including the TC HYD Turf Multi Cutter. For cutting turf in 30cm, 35cm, 40cm, 45cm or 50cm widths, this machine has interchangeable sod cutting blades mounted to the rear. But this is more than just a turf cutter. It will also tackle irrigation and drainage jobs, having been designed to perform trenching operations as well as regular turf cutting. Fitted with the Wedge Blade, this system can insert pipe from an attached reel or material from a hopper to a depth of 12cm.
Another machine from Groundsman Industries is the Turf Multi Cutter TCDRB. This is an ideal machine for landscapers needing to precision cut and re-lay turf. Cutting widths are 30cm, 35cm, 40cm and 45cm. Expect to pay around £3,140 ex VAT for this mid-ranger.
Model TCSRB is similar, with cut widths of 30cm, 35cm or 40cm. Optional trenching attachments are available. There are other makes of cutter you might consider, although they tend to be dedicated turf cutters. Ransomes Jacobsen offers the Ryan Sod Cutter Junior with a choice of 30.5cm and 46cm working widths, plus a choice of 5.5hp Honda or 6hp Briggs & Stratton engines. The main feature here is that 95 per cent of the machine's weight is on the knob tread drive wheels, giving good maximum traction and self-propelled action. Cutting thickness is adjustable to 64mm. The 30.5cm version will set you back £4,036 ex VAT, while the 46cm model costs £4,214.
Husqvarna, renowned for its chainsaws, offers the SC18 sod cutter with four-wheel drive, manual transmission and anti-vibration folding handles. This model cuts sods to a width of 46cm and a depth of 65mm. Powering the machine is a 5.5hp engine. It costs in the region of £3,000 ex VAT.
You should also look at the Brouwer professional mini turf cutter 213. Suited to landscapers, groundsmen and greenkeepers, this self-propelled machine comes from the stable that gives us some of the huge turf harvesters used on turf farms. The 213 has a split blade that cuts turf in 33cm widths. Working depth, easily adjusted on the rear roller, ranges from 9.5mm to 38mm. Power comes from a 5.5hp Honda engine.
The original "garden makeover" turf cutter - as seen on TV - is the Powermec PM55HSP from Midland Power Machinery Distributors. This 30cm turf cutter is also powered by a 5.5hp Honda engine. Cutting depth is variable to 40mm. It costs £1,495 ex VAT.
The newest turf cutter on the market is the Camon TC07 from Tracmaster. You might want to check this one out for its vibration levels - 3m/s2. The unit, which replaces the TC12, features a positive gear drive to provide traction and has simple control levers to engage the cutting blade and drive to the rear wheels. At the business end is a 30cm- wide reversible hardened steel cutting blade, adjustable for cutting from 20mm to 40mm deep.
- Sally Drury has reported for HW and its forerunner GC&HTJ for 25 years, and has spent more than five years testing machinery for HW and What Kit? The advice in this helpline is independent.