10 Tools to Make Your Yard Beautiful
Save on recurring rental and professional landscaping costs by investing in some DIY machines of your own
According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, backyards are the favorite staycation destination of homeowners nowadays. These 10 new tools—many of which are quality compact versions of heavy-duty commercial machines that are easy to store—will help you make your yard a beautiful and relaxing oasis that welcomes loads of summer fun.
We know you love your lawn, but hate mowing it. If you want to make the job quick and easy, you've got to be willing to invest. This residential zero-turn mower gives you the comfort, maneuverability, and speed of a commercial machine for just about what it'd cost for a run-of-the-mill tractor. Husqvarna didn't skimp on parts for the compact RZ3016: It features a long-life, reliable start-up Briggs & Stratton Intek engine, with simplified controls to meet the needs of the homeowner. Sitting through the job on a cushioned sliding seat while handling foam-grip controls sure beats pushing around your dinosaur of a mower in the hot sun, doesn't it? And, the mower's precision will reduce the need for a second pass with the trimmer.
About $2,199; Husqvarna
For smaller jobs, like mowing an urban lot, consider this zero-emission 24V model that'll cut about 1/3-acre on a single charge. Going electric means no difficult pull-cord start, no fuel, and no maintenance or tune-ups. The machinefeatures a 1,200-watt permanent magnet electric motor and can fully charge overnight. Set your mower to discharge refuse, or have it collect in the included mulching plate or bag. The push handle folds down for space-saving storage.
About $359; Black & Decker
Live on a wooded lot? Got a fire pit? Then a chain saw is a must, and you can't do much better than Husqvarna's 50th Anniversary 450 for landowners. It's equipped with a Smart Start decompression valve that ensures an easy, smooth start-up. This machine features the desirable combo of high power (3.2 hp) and low weight (11 lbs). Add an ergonomic rear handle, fuel-efficient and low emission X-TORQ engine with vibration reduction technology plus enhanced safety features, and you've got yourself one impressive cutter. If you're only an occasional user and don't need quite this much power, try the new, smaller 440, 240, or 235 e-seires homeowner models.
Don't forget your safety gear while operating chain saws: protective chaps and/or jeans, eye and ear protection, proper footwear and work gloves are recommended.
About $369 for the 50th Anniversary 450, and about $219-$289 for e-series models; Husqvarna
If your beautiful tree-lined property just means you've got a horrendous mess of soggy leaves to clear, consider shredding them for quick compost. This machine features five settings (from coarse to super-fine) and will turn 11 bags of wet or dry leaves, pine needles, grass clippings, or paper into a bag of mulch in no time. A variable speed motor (5 AMP to 8 AMP) allows you to customize the power you're using, and the included stand makes room for a collection bin beneath.
Make sure you use safety glasses and hearing protection before you get to work. Then get started on your way to having nutrient-rich compost in just one season.
About $199; Gardener's Supply Company
For more forested properties, consider Bear Cat's heavy-duty SC2206. Instead of hauling loads of brush, leaves, and limbs to the curb and paying extra for yard refuse pick-up, have this easy-to-start machine eat through it all for you. Then, add the stuff to your compost heap or use it as mulch. This wheeled, lightweight model features a 206cc Briggs & Stratton engine and a wide handle, making it easy for one person to move by hand. Six serrated and staggered reversible shredder knives ensure efficient wood processing.
Added bonus: Bear Cat is offering a rebate on this model, the SC2206, through November 30.
About $849 before rebate; Bear Cat
This machine may look like an ordinary mini-cultivator, but it's much more than that; it's a multi-tasking yard care system. You can customize your MM 55 C-E Yard Boss with aerator, sweeper, edger, and other attachments (which will cost you less money and space than it would to fill your garage with a bunch of single-function machines). This all-in-one will lend its ergonomic, folding handles and Easy2Start system, which eliminates the need for a fast-pull starting cord, to all of its soil and yard prep functions. This is another high-power, low-weight tool out-of-the-box, but you can add weight to it as needed for tough or rocky ground that's harder to work.
About $369 with Easy2Start, and $339 without Easy2Start; Stihl
If you're not quite living in the wilderness, and only have small tree and shrub branches to handle, this reptile will do the trick. The clamping jaw design grabs and prunes tree branches up to four inches in diameter, behaving like a shear with a bite. Use it for in-between jobs that are too big for manual pruners and too small for chain saws. At least one homeowner we know of has replaced his high-power chain saws with this lopper because it's quiet, gasoline-free model that stays sharp.
About $100; Black & Decker
Nothing beats kicking back near the glow of your backyard fire pit. It's the Paul Bunyan-style log-splitting that's a drag. You can split logs up to 20 inches long and 10 inches in diameter like butter with this 5-ton machine. It features a 15 amp induction motor and will run on regular household current, eliminating the need for fuel and the fumes that come with it. The compact machine can be easily moved by one person and comes with a six foot extension cord for added convenience. Two-handed operation keeps your hands clear of danger, requiring you to initiate the splitting away from the blade. It's no hardcore 27-ton hydraulic splitter, but it's also not going to cost you three times as much.
About $199; Homelite
What's worse than finishing a hedge shape-up, only to look down and realize you've got an hour-long clean-up still ahead? The Garden Groom Pro trims, shreds, vacuums, and collects waste into an attached oversized collection bag. This tool offers a safe alternative to trimming, with completely concealed blades to protect you and the power cord from accidental cuts. Two-hand operation with large top and rear handles makes for even more safety and precision. If you question your Garden Groom-ing ability, an instructional video and the manual's helpful troubleshooting section will guide you along. For smaller jobs, opt for the Garden Groom Jr. (with a smaller, built-in collection unit).
About $225 for the Pro model, and $149 for the Jr. model; Garden Groom
If you're all for getting your hands dirty in the yard, but less enthusiastic about the clean-up, the Haaga Topsweep 255 will make quick and easy work of tidying. This people-powered, push machine features a dual-action sweeping system with rotating brushes and can pick up wet and dry debris, including everything from dust and cigarette butts to pulled weeds and hedge clippings, to even bigger debris, like the Junior's stray juice boxes. Everything gets brushed into a built-in collection unit, stirring up very little dust. This lightweight model is great for walks and drives. It can be easily assembled without tools and stores flat. For larger spaces, consider the heavy-duty Haaga 696.
About $299 for the Topsweep; Haaga Great Lakes