The temperature is rising, but your blood pressure needn’t: The latest crop of lawn and garden tools is more convenient, efficient and versatile than ever — in short, they’re designed to make your springtime chores a bit less, well, chore-like. Ergonomics are getting better, with more emphasis on even weight distribution, vibration damping and comfortable grips. Even engines continue to improve: New 2-stroke designs burn cleaner yet weigh less and deliver more power than their 2- and 4-stroke predecessors. Here are our picks for the best spring tools of 2003.
Precision Spreader: Fertilizer ends up on the lawn, not scattered on the driveway or your delicate rose bushes, with this spreader. A protective shield directs the flow evenly to one side or both as needed. Price: $75.
Bag of Tricks: The standard mower bag captures grass clippings just fine, but dust often blows right through and into your face. Craftsman’s two-ply bag solves the problem. Dust penetrates the inner layer, hits the impermeable outer layer and is redirected toward the ground. You’ll find it on all of Craftsman’s bagging mowers this year — at no extra cost.
Shear Energy Saved: This tool’s U-shaped blades grab branches closer to its pivot point, enabling you to cut with less force. And because its handles are offset from each other, they don’t separate as much in the open position — that means more leverage for the same amount of squeeze. Price: $15.
The Whole Nine Yards: After you finish mowing, plug the Neuton’s trimmer-edger attachment into the front, push a button and you’ve got
a fully functional trimmer-edger. The trimmer’s cords can slice horizontally, vertically or at a 45-degree angle. Price: $369 (mower), $80 (attachment).
Crossover Engine: The 2-stroke is not disappearing without a fight, despite tough emission laws. Stihl’s 4-Mix hybrid works like a 2-stroke (with even more power) but is as Earth-friendly as a 4-banger. Price: $350.
Reel Neat: The AutoRewind uses water pressure to rewind your garden hose, distributing it perfectly on the reel. You simply pull a lever on the side, which redirects water internally to spin the reel backward at a foot per second. Models are available for 110- to 200-foot hoses. Price: $80
Extend Your Reach: The 326P5x is the first tool with Husqvarna’s E-Tech II engine, a 2-stroke with a fuel system that prevents uncombusted fuel vapors from escaping into the air. Bonus: burning all the fuel not only lowers emissions, but also gives the 326P5x a slight power boost.