Spring is nearly here, which means it’s time to take the lawn equipment out of the garage…and discover that some of it won’t start after months of inactivity. Good news: There are a range of excellent products available if your old mower or trimmer isn’t cutting it these days…or your leaf blower isn’t blowing you away with its performance.
Battery power has been a game changer for lawn equipment—modern lithium-ion batteries provide sufficient life and power for most equipment, plus quiet use and freedom from annual oil changes and other maintenance. But if you prefer tried-and-true gas engines, there are some great options on the market.
Great walk-behind mowers can be gotten for just $200 to $300, while $2,000 to $3,000 gets you a great ride-on mower—or a robot mower that does the mowing for you.
Best walk-behind gas-powered mower: Lawn-Boy model 17732 Rear-Wheel Drive 21-Inch Variable Speed Self-Propelled Mower. This Lawn-Boy is easy to start and maneuver and tremendously reliable. Other mowers have more bells and whistles such as electric start and all-wheel drive, but that’s just more parts to break. If what you want is a dependable self-propelled gas lawnmower, this is the one to buy. $279.
Best walk-behind electric mower: Ryobi model RY401110-Y 40-Volt 20-Inch Push Lawn Mower.This mower by respected power-tool maker Ryobi is good for lawns smaller than one-half acre…and/or areas where the neighbors complain about noise—it’s around 80 decibels compared to nearly 100 decibels for the typical gas mower. The battery provides up to 48 minutes of run-time per charge, and it can be charged in four hours. This battery can be swapped with those in a wide range of other battery-powered 40-volt Ryobi tools and lawn equipment, so if you buy multiple Ryobi devices, you could have several batteries charged up and mow a larger lawn without waiting for recharging. $299.
Best robot mower: Husqvarna Automower 315X. If mowing your lawn isn’t your favorite use of a nice afternoon, a robot mower might be worth its price—and this Swedish-made Husqvarna is among the most reliable robot mowers around. Intended for lawns up to 0.4 acres, it’s quiet—just 60 decibels. It can be controlled or monitored via a smartphone app, does a great job maneuvering around obstacles and on slopes of up to 22 degrees, and—most importantly—it does a very nice job cutting grass. It has built-in GPS, too, so if a thief snatches it, you can tell the police exactly where to find it. $1,999.
Best riding electric mower: Cub Cadet CC30e. This riding mower is fast, quiet, impressively maneuverable and built in the US. It can handle slopes of up to 12 degrees—most riding mowers are able to handle slopes of a maximum of 15 degrees, so this should be fine for most owners. Its battery provides about one hour of mowing, sufficient for approximately one acre of lawn. Recharging takes around four hours. It’s a lot of mower for its price—as powerful and effective as a gas-powered riding mower, with the electric benefits of easy maintenance and quiet use…less than 80 decibels. $2,799.
Best riding gas mower: Exmark Quest E-Series Zero-Turn. This is the lawn mower for you if you feel mower envy watching professional landscapers zip around lawns on their speedy, turn-on-a-dime mowers—this E-Series can mow up to 2.8 acres per hour. Exmark isn’t a well-known brand among homeowners because it mainly makes mowers for lawn-care pros. The E-Series is priced for the homeowner market—yet it still delivers the speed and durability of professional-grade equipment. $2,999.
Sometimes called “weed eaters,” string trimmers cut grass and weeds that are too close to fences, walls and other areas for mowers.
Best for small jobs: Ryobi 40-Volt Lithium-Ion String Trimmer.This is a reliable and affordable electric trimmer that weighs just 11.3 pounds. It comes with a battery capable of providing about one hour of use per charge, which is sufficient for most homes. That battery is interchangeable with other 40-volt Ryobi products, such as the lawn mower mentioned earlier. It can be recharged in about 90 minutes, and if you own compatible items, you can cut the price by buying this tool without its battery and recharger. $166 with battery and charger, or $98 without. Warning: Some Amazon shoppers have reported that their warranties were not honored because they bought from “unauthorized” third-party Amazon sellers. Buying through a major chain or local lawn store is safest.
Best for large properties: Stihl FS 91 R Weed Trimmeris a made-in-America commercial-quality gas-powered trimmer from a company renowned among landscaping pros for its well-designed, problem-free lawn equipment. If you’re a homeowner who uses a trimmer only once a week, this one should last for the rest of your life. It’s powerful and well-balanced, weighing just over 12 pounds—but it does require premixing oil and gas. $379.99.
Leaf blowers are for more than just leaves. Use them to blow grass clippings that missed the bag or to blow dirt off patios.
Best for small tasks: Stihl BGA 57 Leaf Blower. This dependable unit is a great choice for small chores such as blowing leaves or dirt out of a garage. It’s lightweight—7.8 pounds—affordable and capable of up to 18 minutes of use per charge. Its average air velocity of 103 mph falls short of the 125-mph-plus speeds of some larger blowers, however, so it might struggle to move large quantities of wet leaves. The battery can be charged to 80% capacity in under an hour, or you can buy a spare battery for about $70. $199.
Best for power: DeWalt Flexvolt 60 V MAX Leaf Blower offers impressive power from a handheld electric blower that weighs just under 10 pounds. Its top air speed of 129 mph—175 with its flat “concentrator nozzle” fitted—won’t just move leaves but also any small children and pets that get in your way! It offers variable speeds, however, so you also can blow dirt out of the garage without blowing tools off the walls…or blow leaves into a pile but not onto your neighbor’s lawn. One nice feature—a “speed lock” acts like cruise control, letting you maintain a speed without holding the speed trigger in a precise spot, which can lead to finger cramping. Electric blowers are quieter than gas-powered models—this one is 67 decibels compared to around 90 decibels for gas-powered blowers with similar power. Its battery lasts only 15 to 30 minutes depending on the speed selected and recharges in about an hour. A spare battery is a fairly steep $150, though it is compatible with many other DeWalt tools. $288.
These lawn tools spread weed-controlling chemicals and fertilizers …and remove any weeds that do sprout. They’re both fully mechanical, so no need for gas, oil or a battery that you’ll have to charge.
Best weed-removal tool: Ames Steel Stand-Up Weeder. This weeding tool lets you pull out weeds at their roots without bending over or kneeling down. Position the tool over a weed, and simply push down on its “step” with one foot to extract the weed, roots and all. It’s one of those products that looks like a gimmicky toy in the garden store, but it actually works, though some users report that it struggles with rocky soil. $66.66.
Best spreader: Scotts Turf Builder EdgeGuard DLX Broadcast Spreader. The main thing you want from a spreader is reliability—a spreader that accidentally dumps too much fertilizer on a section of your lawn or otherwise spreads unevenly will cause more problems than it solves. No spreader has a longer or more proven history of reliability than Scotts rotary-style spreaders—you can find more than 10,000 reviews of this model on Amazon, most of them very positive. $56.
*Always protect your ears while using loud equipment such as lawn mowers and trimmers. Molded earplugs that are designed for sound protection are good, but nothing beats full-coverage safety earmuffs. 3M makes excellent hearing-protection products.