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Consumer Reports: Fall Cleanup Made Easier

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Powerful outdoor tools are often heavy and hard to use. We recommend some great options that don't take a hulk to operate.

    Not all weekend warriors have muscles to match. But don’t let that stop you from having a picture-perfect yard. Consumer Reports ShopSmart has a roundup of equipment that will make yard work a breeze, or at least a little less backbreaking!

    Gas-powered mowers are heavy and noisy, and require a lot of maintenance. Instead, consider an electric mower such as the $450 Black & Decker model SPCM1936. With an electric mower, all you have to do is push the button and you’re good to go. And it’s super-quiet, too.

    Keeping your lawn leaf-free can be challenging. A full-sized leaf blower can weigh almost 25 pounds! A lightweight backpack leaf blower, such as the $280 model BR-200 from Stihl, makes the job much easier!

    Gas-powered string trimmers are also heavy and hard to start. The battery-powered Ryobi model RY24201 does a great job for $130. All you have to do is push a button and pull the trigger.

    If you’re serious about yard work but don’t want to deal with a chain saw, ShopSmart has another option from Black & Decker. It’s the Black & Decker lopper, model LP1000, and it costs $75. It’s basically a mini-electric chain saw, and even though it’s small, compact, and easy to use, you can prune trees and shrubs. You can even cut firewood and fallen branches. And it’s a lot less scary than a regular chain saw. A bonus? The blade is hidden, so it’s safer, too.

    With those tools, your yard will soon be the envy of the block.

    If you already own any gas-powered yard equipment, you know that mixing gas and oil to fuel it can be a messy job. Consumer Reports recommends TruFuel. It costs about $6 a quart but is conveniently premixed and ethanol-free, which helps prevent problems when starting the equipment.

    Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports' website.