Spring Tools and Yard Tech

With these new high-tech tools, your yardwork will not only be easier, it may actually be fun.

Spring is just around the corner, and so are all the lawn and garden chores it brings. But with these new high-tech tools, your yardwork will not only be easier, it may actually be-dare we say it?-fun.

It's a Lawnmower, It's a Portable Generator

Think of Craftsman's Powerlink ($3,999) and John Deere's GT235E ($5,549) lawn tractors as the world's biggest batteries-plug your corded tools into the tractors' built-in outlets and they become as nomadic as their gasoline counterparts. Both tractors feature
a Briggs & Stratton engine with an extra-powerful alternator, providing
as much as 1,500 watts of 120-volt AC power, perfect for that take-along television or fridge. Oh yeah, they cut grass too.

A Blower That's Good in the Corners

Cross a crazy straw with a leaf blower and you end up with Black & Decker's Flex Tube Blower/Sweeper, which is designed to give you precise control-via a joystick-like handle-over what you're blowing or sucking. It seems like a small advance on the surface, but the tool saves some real time in tight corners and odd crevices. Price: around $50.

The Perfect Finishing Touch

Nothing says yard pro like perfectly edged grass around the
driveway and sidewalk, something Toro's new 10-inch cordless edger-trimmer makes easy. No tools are needed-you merely press a trigger on the handle and turn the cutting mechanism 90 degrees. You can also adjust cutting width-10 inches for edging and 8 inches for trimming. Price: $89.

Mow at Your Own Pace

Too many self-propelled lawnmowers are also self-absorbed-that is, you're either running after them or struggling to push them along. But the front-wheel-drive Yard-Man D569-R with Smart Speed is more of a self-assist mower-it moves at your pace, thanks to a rotating grip that adds or subtracts power as you push it along. Price: around $400.

Go Ahead, Try to Cut These Gloves

You'd have to get pretty sloppy with the garden shears to hurt yourself while wearing these new SuperFabric gloves-they're 25 times stronger than traditional gloves, yet just as soft and flexible. The key advance: a special silk-screening process that adds each new layer before the previous one hardens. The gloves start at $36, and they're available at lawn and garden centers. In the works are medical gloves, motorcycling apparel, and even spacesuits.

Winter Preview: Snow Thrower for Buffalo

If you learned about lake effect the hard way this winter, put the SilentTrac 450 snow thrower on next fall's shopping list. It's the first with an infinite number of speeds-compared to the usual two-which enables it to tackle a few inches or a few feet without
bogging down. It also features intuitive steering, which powers the wheels in the direction
it senses you want to go. Available late this summer, most likely under the Murray brand name. Price not set.

Golf-Course Grass in One Easy Step

If you're dreading spring lawncare, take heart: Preen for Lawns kills most weeds, fertilizes, and greens in just one application-it lasts for four months instead of only two. It also can be applied to wet or dry lawns,
a first. Price: $25.

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SuperFabric gloves are 25 times stronger than traditional gloves, yet just as soft and flexible.