At Consumer Reports, we strongly recommend that any walk-behind mower you buy have a premium engine. These engines, with their more efficient overhead-valve designs, run cleaner and quieter, and are easier to maintain. And the engines have better odds of lasting through the years. Of course, even with a good engine you need a mower that matches the size of your lawn and the type of grass you grow.
John Deere lawn tractors and riders have figured prominently in Consumer Reports' mower tests, and this year's Deere lineup—including at least one newly tested winner—shows that the company is responding well to increased competition from the likes of MTD's Cub Cadet and Troy-Bilt brands.
There's so much more to grilling than burgers, steaks and hot dogs. Fish, veggies, whole roasts, and pizza are also great on the barbecue. But you'll need more than the old burger flipper to whip up those dishes. Special gadgets such as grilling baskets, woks, cooking racks and pizza stones will give you the tastiest and neatest results. But which ones are really worth it? To find out, Consumer Reports' experts tried eight new grilling gizmos and found some big differences in those that are designed to do the same job.
A cold beer may already be your go-to barbecue beverage. But like wine, different types of beer taste better with some foods than others. Here's our experts' beer menu for which types of beer go best with what foods, from pre-party nibbles to dessert (yes, dessert).
If you'll be doing yard work, hiking, or just sitting on the lawn in the spring loveliness this weekend, be aware that you might not be alone out there: It's tick time again.
Garden hoses can be unwieldy so the promise of a lightweight, expandable hose that takes up little space was hard to resist. Consumer Reports tried out three 50-foot models of this new breed of garden hose, which weighs as little as one pound and stretches like an accordion to roughly three times its original length with the water on. And while the so-called pocket hoses don't really fit in your pocket, they live up to most of their claims.
With states in the Midwest bracing for flooding and a rare May snowstorm predicted in the Plains states, other parts of the country have been unusually dry this spring. It's been a tough start to the growing season for some lawns. During dry weather, it's tempting to overirrigate, but grass is actually very resilient—though you may have to settle for a less-than-verdant lawn until the rains return. Here's how to make it through a dry spell.
Consumer Reports recently went to a Paramus, New Jersey, Home Depot to buy a chain saw for an upcoming test, using secret shoppers just as we do with everything from cars and refrigerators to detergent and toilet paper to avoid skewing our results. But when our incognito shopper opened the box of the $159 Homelite UT10589A chain saw, he found a worn, loose blade covered with sawdust and accompanied by leaking bottles of oil.
When Consumer Reports mower testers put new models through their paces in Fort Myers, Florida, each year they look not only for good mowing performance but improved cutting and bagging over models tested in previous years. This season, the newly designed line of walk-behind mowers from Ariens, which had done no better than mediocre in previous tests, impressed our engineers enough that two models were named to our list of top mower picks by our testers.
Superstorm Sandy blew down more trees in New York and New Jersey than any previous storm on record, experts say. And since then there have been several damaging storms across the nation, including one yesterday that knocked down many trees in the Southeast. So it's no wonder that chain saws are flying off the shelves of the home improvement stores. We discovered this when Consumer Reports was buying its own batch for new testing, including models from Stihl, Craftsman, Oregon and Worx, among other brands.
A mowing accident in Florida in which a two-year-old lost both her feet tragically underscores the dangers posed by powerful lawn equipment. "The energy transferred by a typical lawn mower blade is equivalent to being shot in the hand with a .357 Magnum pistol," says the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, whose doctors see many such injuries. "In addition, a lawn mower can eject a piece of metal or wood up to 100 miles per hour."
After months of testing gas grills the results are in and out of the 100-plus grills, the Weber Spirit SP-320 tops Consumer Reports' gas grill Ratings. At $600, the Spirit isn't the most affordable model on our tops picks list, but there's a lot to like about this midsized grill. It's easy to use and preheats quickly and evenly. And the Weber was excellent on high and low heat. Here's what else we found in our tests.
For northerners that lovely time of year between shoveling snow and mowing the lawn is about to end. And now, before the blades of grass reach an unsightly height, is the best time to make sure your mower is in working order. If you put it away in a rush last fall and didn't do it properly, you may be in for a rude awakening or a trip to the repair shop. Here's how to make sure you can fire up your mower and keep it running smoothly through the season.
Hybrid gas-electric power, a built-in generator, and a blistering 17-mph top speed helped make Raven's new $3,000 MPV-710 lawn tractor a brisk seller at Lowe's, where it's sold exclusively. Then Lowe's brought Raven sales to a screeching halt in late February after its manufacturer, Denver Global Products, found a sample that spun its blades when it shouldn't have. Lowe's recently put the Raven MPV-710 tractor back on sale after its manufacturer checked and cleared other Ravens in Lowe's inventory. But when it comes to tractors that deliver performance and value, our latest tests found a number of top lawn tractor picks that leave the Raven on the runway.
The Environmental Protection Agency has approved gasoline with 15 percent ethanol for use in cars year 2001 or newer, yet it prohibits its use in mowers and other power equipment, stating it may cause damage. A Department of Energy study found that E15 caused hotter operating temperatures, erratic running, and engine-part failure. But even gas with the usual 10 percent ethanol (E10) could help destroy small engines.
Our testers put 100s of products through their paces at our National Testing and Research Center. Learn more about how we test for: