Predator 350

The smallest in the range from Predator, the 350 is a budget machine aimed at hire shops, professional gardeners, landscape contractors and tree surgeons looking for a second machine - one that's capable of accessing tight spaces.

Westonbirt Arboretum, near Tetbury in Gloucestershire, is famed for its autumn colours. But here, as anywhere else, trees sometimes have to be removed, be it because of old age or damage. And at this point, there is usually a need to remove the stump as well.

At Westonbirt, staff use a tractor-mounted stump grinder but the choice on the market is huge. There are hand-held models, pedestrian-operated push machines, self-propelled units, tracked machines and even radio- controlled versions.

Conditions on the day of the test were dry and sunny.

Predator 350

At just 80cm wide, this machine doesn't have to breathe in to pass through garden gates. The handles fold to give a compact unit, convenient for transport in van or trailer.

This petrol machine, equipped with a 12hp Kohler engine, has recoil start. Starting is easy: fuel on, choke on, hold the OPC and pull. There is a stand at the front to keep the cutter wheel off the ground while the machine is started.

When the machine is in use, the left wheel is locked with a brake to enable the grinder to be pivoted. The handle configuration, plus the fact that the handles are height-adjustable, makes the 350 comfortable to use. But, even with the Multi-Tip teeth, it is still hard work compared to the larger hydraulic machines. The long grass around the stump also makes movement a struggle.

Capable of removing stumps up to 80cm in diameter, Litten again tackles the gnarled old cherry stump. "There is a knack to using these machines," he confesses. "The drive-belt casing gets in the way. It stops you from getting across the stump if you try to take too much off in one go. But all in all, it's a nice machine with very little vibration to the hands."


Ben Jones, arboreta specialist, Westonbirt Arboretum

Justin Litten, arboreta specialist, Westonbirt Arboretum

Richard Townsend, arboreta specialist, Westonbirt Arboretum

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