(ARA) - As cabin fever gives way to spring fever, it's time to assess your outdoor power equipment needs.
Besides drawing up a plan and getting the ground ready, it's important to have the right tools for the job. From tractors that run on cruise control to mowers that turn on a dime, user-friendly features abound in the world of outdoor power equipment.
"Our cars aren't the only things with lots of horsepower and plenty of creature comforts," says Jeanine Huebner, The Home Depot's top buyer for lawn equipment. "The right outdoor power equipment makes the job easier and a lot more fun."
For lawn aficionados, this year's crop of outdoor power equipment is sure to have you making room in your garden shed. Huebner provides a sampling of new products hitting retail stores this spring.
Enjoy the ride
According to Huebner, the familiar green and yellow John Deere tractors on display at Home Depot are flush with features more commonly found in cars and sport-utility vehicles.
"These tractors are equipped with cruise control, automatic transmission and power ports for plugging in a cell phone or CD player. For extra comfort, the seats have lumbar support," she says.
And, they do more than simply cut the grass. Add attachments like spreaders, sweepers, yard carts and baggers, and hard work gives way to adult play with a tractor-turned-workhorse that quickly and efficiently transforms a plain yard into a lavish lawn.
Or, for those envious of lawn care professionals who zip around trees and other obstacles in record time, Huebner suggests a new specialty mower from Toro. "The TimeCutter Z riding mower is designed especially for residential use, but packs features once reserved for landscape professionals," says Huebner.
With its zero-turning radius, it practically turns on a dime. No more circling endlessly to find the right angle of attack when mowing around walls, trees and flowerbeds.
Leisurely yard work
If exercise, but not too much, is on this year's to-do list, a walk-behind mower may be just what the doctor ordered. Toro promises their recycler mowers will make mulching a blast -- with a 22 inch steel cutting deck to "pulverize" grass clippings. All models are self-propelled, which enables you to mow up to 4.8 miles an hour.
Can't decide if you want to mulch or bag? You can do both with Honda's new HRX Versamow 4-in-1 mower that permits the operator to mulch, bag, shred and discharge clippings out the rear. "It's even available with cruise control," says Huebner.
Not to be outdone by enhancements in the mower category, this year's line of trimmers are packed with more power and new, time-saving features. Indeed, ergonomic designs and advanced technology have transformed even the erstwhile weed wacker into a serious multi-tasker.
"Attachments can convert a gas trimmer to a blower, edger, tiller or pruner," says Huebner. "New designs make trimmers more versatile and easier to use."
A prime example of this improved styling is found in Ryobi's new curved shaft gas string trimmer with 1 horsepower and anti-vibration handle at just over 10 pounds. Electric trimmers are available in even lighter versions.
According to Huebner, other must-have power equipment that's becoming a staple in America's garages and garden sheds include backpack-style blowers, gas-powered hedge trimmers and edgers, and heavy-duty pressure washers.
"These new machines take the 'work' out of yard work," she says.
Courtesy of ARA Content