More Power to You: Outdoor Equipment

With the help of these outdoor machines, you'll spend less time working on your yard and more time doing what you want.

Whether you're motivated by the Joneses next door, your honey-do list or the desire to get out of the house for a bit, keeping up your landscape is a year-round job. And for many of us, it's not our favorite way to spend time.

Luckily, outdoor-power-equipment manufacturers are constantly researching and creating innovative machines designed to make yard work easier and faster so you'll have more time for the projects you enjoy. Here's a roundup of some of the latest and greatest offerings for homeowners.

Oregon CS250 40V Max Chain Saw ($399) and PS250 Pole Saw (249-449)
Featuring no-fade lithium-ion power and a quick starting system without the hassle of pull cords or gasoline, the Oregon CS250 40V Max Chain Saw makes easy work of tough backyard cutting jobs. Another key feature is Oregon's Powersharp integrated chain sharpening system. With the pull of a small lever, users can precisely sharpen the chain in just a few seconds. And the 40-volt battery is compatible with Oregon's other cordless tools, including the new PS250 Pole Saw that features an oval-shape telescoping shaft that is easy to control and extends from about 7 ft. to more than 10 ft.

Husqvarna SmartSwitch ($2,700-$3,400)
Husqvarna's riding mowers are more efficient and easier to use thanks to SmartSwitch, a new microprocessor-enabled electronic interface for the brand's Endurance Series engines featuring ReadyStart automatic choke systems. Keyless operation allows users to program a code rather than use a key to start the machine and eliminates the potential for draining the battery because the system automatically shuts down after a period of inactivity. Interactive features include indicators that remind users to apply the parking brake, disengage the cutting blades, etc. Battery status is also easy to spot. To enhance safety, SmartSwitch also has one-touch mow-in-reverse capability and headlights that can be programmed for automatic shutoff.

Worx AeroCart ($180)
If hauling power is what you need, the AeroCart from Worx can provide lots of help. It features two wheel positions, allowing it to transfer the weight of the load for a variety of tasks. It can support up to 300 pounds in both the wheelbarrow and hand-truck positions, and it features four attachments to simplify a homeowner's yard chores: a triangular steel cylinder for transporting propane tanks, etc.; a bag holder for moving paper refuse bags; a wrap-around mesh sling for hauling odd-shape items such as small boulders; and drop-down extension arms for anchoring heavy loads such as large logs. A cinch strap and receiving-ball hitch are also included.

Toro 48-volt Max string trimmer ($209)
Designed to provide power and performance comparable to a gas trimmer without the hassles of gasoline, oil and emissions, the new 48-volt Max string trimmer is the highest-voltage cordless trimmer Toro offers. The 48-volt Li-Ion battery is light, keeping the tool's total weight at less than 9 pounds. A storage mode maintains the charge even when the battery is not in use, and an onboard charge meter always displays the battery status. Other features include variable-speed control so users can match the power to the trimming job at hand, a 13-in. dual trim line, an aluminum head, an extended steel shaft and an adjustable assist handle for added balance while operating.

Briggs & Stratton PowerFlow+ (starting at $229)
No stranger to innovations in power, Briggs & Stratton has introduced a new pressure washer featuring PowerFlow+ Technology. This system comprises a pump, a specially designed 30-ft. hose, a custom-engineered PowerFlow+ gun and a 7-in-1 nozzle that is capable of propelling a stream of water up to 30 ft. In addition, the pressure washer features two cleaning modes (high pressure and low flow) that allow users to tackle tough stains on decks, driveways and siding as well as gently wash away dirt and soap from delicate surfaces such as patio furniture, vehicles, etc. In high-flow mode, the pressure washer delivers up to 5 gallons of water per minute. It's available in two gas-powered models and one electric model.

Black & Decker 3-N-1 Compact Mower ($100-$150)
Great for small yards or tricky patches of grass that are hard to cut with a full-size mower, the versatile 3-N-1 Compact Mower from Black & Decker looks like a regular 12-in. string trimmer until you attach its durable mower deck. The deck features a foot-pedal release and can be adjusted to two different heights. The trimmer/edger also includes an Auto Feed System for continuous line advancement and a gear-driven transmission to maintain constant speed without bogging down. The 3-N-1 Mower is available in both cordless and corded versions; the mower deck alone ($50) can be purchased for an existing Black & Decker 12-in. trimmer/edger.

Cub Cadet RZT S Zero ($3,999)
Making a splash in the outdoor power equipment world (in the quietest way possible), the new RZT S Zero from Cub Cadet is the first fully electric-power zero-turn riding lawnmower with steering-wheel-controlled four-wheel steering. This powerful grass-cutting machine eliminates noise, gasoline, oil, emissions, filters, belts, engine maintenance and lap bars — basically all of the hassles of gas-power mowers — while aiding control and traction on all types of terrain. The RZT S Zero's fully charged battery provides 60 minutes of consistent, continuous cutting with no power fade. The mower is equipped with a cutting deck designed for optimum airflow and blade overlap, cruise control, a high-back adjustable seat and SmartJet Deck Wash.

John Deere X300 Select Series (starting at $3,100)
Combining four-wheel steering and user-friendly Twin Touch foot pedals, John Deere's X300 Select Series riding lawn tractors can make precise turns while changing speed and direction — making mowing around trees, gardens and other yard obstacles simpler and offering operators more control than ever before. In addition, the X300s feature tough, durable iTorque Power Systems and improved cooling abilities with a revamped hood design. The deck-leveling system on these machines is conveniently located just below the mower's seat for easy access. The result of this improved design is a faster, more efficient mower.

Ryobi 40V X String Trimmer ($179)
This 15-in. 40-volt cordless string trimmer from Ryobi combines appealing gas-trimmer features with the convenience of a cordless tool. It accepts attachments such as a cultivator, straight-shaft and curved-shaft trimmers, a blower and an edger. It also features a variable-speed trigger and an adjustable cutting width, a dual 0.80-in. twisted line and Reel-Easy bump-feed string head for faster reloads. The trimmer is powered by a 40-volt Li-Ion battery that lasts for up to 45 minutes of run time and is compatible with all other Ryobi 40-volt tools.

Kobalt 40V Max 20-in. Mower ($399)
This lightweight, quiet mower is powered by two 40-volt batteries (one 2.0-amp-hour and one 4.0-amp-hour) that are utilized in sequence rather than simultaneously for extended run time. In addition, it features a large cutting deck (comparable to gas-power mowers) that employs an aerodynamic DoubleCut dual-blade design. On one charge, the 40V Max 20-in. Mower will cut lawns from 1/4 acre to 1 acre in size, depending on grass conditions, all while providing the benefits of cordless power: no gas, no fumes, no pull cords. A one-hand, seven-position height adjuster makes it a breeze to change the cut length of grass (from 1-3/8 in. to 3-3/8 in.), and users have a 2-in-1 option of either mulching or bagging grass clippings.

Kobalt 20-in. mower test drive
Watch HANDY editors put this new mower to work and learn about a few more of its key features.