I have a fascination with brooms. Hear me out, I’m not trying to come up with an interesting way of introducing a dull topic (brooms are anything but).
When I was in India I noticed dozens of makeshift brooms: bundles of stiff grass tied with string. In Thailand they have a similar fan-shaped design. I spent hours looking for one to buy.
I can’t help feeling that here’s some intractable connection between brooms and the places they come from.
Anyway, onto gardening. You can do away with a lot of tools and still manage. Bulb planters, kneeling pads, outdoor clocks and thermometers…they’re not all absolutely essential. Brooms, on the other hand, are hard to do without. And I don’t mean for achieving the intrinsically satisfying look of a swept patio or greenhouse floor.
If you’re doing any kind of gardening work – potting up, pruning, harvesting – then you’re going to make a mess.
I’ve taken a look at some of the best brooms on the market and presented my findings here. Let’s dive in.
The short version: best outdoor brooms
|O-Cedar 18" Broom||$$||10/10|
|Black & Decker Push Broom||$$||10/10|
|O-Cedar Angle Broom||$||8/10|
|Coconut Palms Outdoor Broom||$$||8/10|
Parts of a broom
There are three essential parts of any broom: the handle, head and bristles.
On the heavy-use end of the spectrum you have piassava brooms, so-called because the bristles are made from the fronds of the piassava palm. They tend to have a wide and heavy wooden head. Nowadays, bristles are mostly made from synthetic fibres, particularly nylon. That said, you can still find traditional models.
One of the main problems with old-fashioned brooms is the tendency of the handle to come loose from the head. You can now buy models with anti-rotation locking systems so that’s always something to look out for.
Good brooms and bad brooms
Generally speaking, the wide-head brooms (whether made from nylon or piassava) are less than ideal for gardening purposes. They’re too big to get into crannies and it’s difficult to put any weight on them. At the other end of the spectrum you have soft-haired indoor brooms. Like the wide-head types these are largely unsuitable for outdoor use and should be avoided.
It’s also worth mentioning corn (or “sorghum”) brooms. They’ve got that rustic look about them but aren’t ideal when it comes to “real” sweeping up. Whilst they can be good for larger debris, they won’t pick up smaller pieces.
Features to look for in a good broom
The best kind of outdoor broom is one with a medium-sized head and short(ish) fibres. This design is good for picking up all sorts of garden materials and nimble enough for maneuvering into hard-to-reach places.
- Strong bristles – Though both work well, nylon or synthetic bristles are usually more hard-wearing than those made from natural fibres. Just make sure that they’re stiff.
- Screw-in handle – Look for an anti-rotation locking device where possible. Always go for a screw-in handle. Handles that are slotted in (and usually glued) invariably come loose and are a nightmare to fix back together.
- Width – As I mentioned, the really long-headed brooms are hard to weigh down. Heads above 18 in. wide are, in my opinion, best avoided unless you’ve got a really big space to look after.
Best outdoor brooms: our top ticks for 2017
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1. O-Cedar 18″ Broom
If you’re looking for a sturdy, durable broom in a fairly standard design then this 18 in. wide model from O-Cedar – a company with a strong environmentally-friendly ethos – will be perfect for you. The head is made from a hard wearing resin-like composite material and has an anti-rotation socket that clicks as well as screws into place – think of the child-safe lids on medicine bottles for a rough idea.
The brush itself is made from two types of nylon bristles (which are made from recyclable materials) with a more compact central section which gives a little extra force when sweeping. The head size of this broom is ideal, allowing you to apply pressure but still wide enough to cover a good area.
2. Black and Decker 24″ BroomBlack & Decker Push Broom
As I mentioned earlier, the trouble with big “industrial level” brooms is that they’re not usually very nimble and it can be hard to apply pressure to them. If you do need to cover a bigger space, however, then this 24 in. broom from Black and Decker overcomes these issues.
Like the O-Cedar model it has an anti-rotation lock for securing the handle. The pole is made from steel (so is stronger than wood) and also has a central cushion for extra grip and comfort. An unique feature, that I haven’t seen in any other brooms, is the steel brace that holds the head at an angle. This allows you to apply more force and gives a generally sturdier feel.
3. O-Cedar Angle Broom
The idea behind this kind of broom design – in an angular shape – is that it’s easier to get into corners. If you have a patio or balcony with lots of tight spaces and crevices between pots then it can be ideal. it’s also good to have one along with a bigger broom for tidying up small pieces of debris.
This broom from O-Cedar has stiff synthetic bristles – made from recycled plastic bottles apparently – and a tubular cushion on the handle. The main concern with angle brooms like these is the low strength of the bristles but that isn’t a worry with this one. The handle is also long, which makes a nice change from those waist-high models.
4. Thai Broom
For those tending to smaller space, this Thai-style broom is ideal. I’m a touch biased – I travelled to Thailand and developed a slightly abnormal affinity to these brooms – but they are surprisingly suitable for patios and balconies. The bristles are stiff (some kind of tough grass) and they’re not too big.
I’ve found that it’s easy to knock dirt and debris off too and I’ve never had an issue with cleaning the bristles – just a few knocks over the side of the patio. The other great thing about these is that they’re inexpensive. You will find that the occasional bristle comes away but I’ve never found it too much of a problem.
5. Coconut Palm Broom
I know I’ve already decried “corn brooms” as being generally unsuitable for “proper” cleaning but, if you just want something always at hand to quickly sweep away bigger pieces of debris like leaves, then this could be for you. For one thing, it’s very durable. The fibres are made from coconut palms and tightly sealed around the base of the handle in a traditional design.
It also really looks the part. There’s no plastic (it’s all wood) and it’s weatherproof. You can leave it propped up without any worries that it will be harmed by rain and heat. Because of the strength of the bristles, it’s also suitable for sweeping away snow .
Let us know your thoughts! Leave a comment for me below!
What are your thoughts? Have you tried any of the brooms in this list? Do you have your own suggestions? Leave a comment below and let me know!