Americans burn an estimated 800 million gallons of gasoline with their lawn equipment each year, but there's a growing number of alternatives.
Given that conventional lawn mowers and other gas-powered landscaping tools hold the dubious distinction of being responsible for 5 percent of the nation's air pollution, maintaining a well-groomed yard that's up to homeowners' association snuff comes equipped with environmental consequences.
Although things have improved since the EPA introduced emission standards for landscaping equipment in the mid-1990s, and tightened just last year, making the yard neat and tidy can still be a mighty dirty task.
But plug-in and cordless, battery-operated models can make a huge impact. According to the EPA, if 1,000 gas-powered mowers were replaced with electric models, 9.8 tons of harmful pollutants would be eliminated each year.
Old-school reel mowers are also making a comeback. These models allow eco-conscious landscapers to groom their small- to medium-size lawns completely emission-free.
We've rounded up seven top-notch pieces of outdoor landscaping and maintenance equipment that are available in emission-free electric or non-electric models.
Earthwise 12-inch Cordless Grass Trimmer: Ideal for tackling those overgrown, hard-to-reach areas that have long eluded your lawn mower. Operating at 8,500 rpm, this model features an adjustable telescoping handle that can be adjusted to various heights, and an adjustable head that can be positioned at three angles to tackle a variety of landscape manicuring tasks. Battery charger included.
Greenworks 1,500 PSI 1.3 GPM Electric Pressure Washer: Whether beautifying the driveway or blasting a season's worth of gunk and grime from a deck or patio, this petite yet powerful electric pressure washer with a 1.3 gallons per minute axial pump can handle a variety of tasks with exhaust-free aplomb. Its wall-mounting storage feature is ideal for cluttered garages and garden sheds with limited floor space. It has an adjustable, quick-connect wand for easy, breezy nozzle switch-ups (0-degree, 25-degree and 40-degree spray tips included). Plus, unlike big gas-powered pressure washers, this model can be used indoors or in enclosed areas.
Brill Razorcut Push Mower: The Rolls-Royce of people-powered push mowers, this German-engineered model from industry old-timer Brill features five welded steel blades that can go an entire decade without sharpening, and an ergonomic foam rubber handle. An adjustable cutting height that ranges from 0.7 inches to 1.8 inches allows you to conquer lawns that are either overgrown or just in need of a quick touch-up. A grass-catcher is sold separately.
Toro E-Cycler 20360 Cordless Electric Lawn Mower: This push model from industry leader Toro features a quick-charging 36-volt battery that runs long enough to mow 7,000 to 10,000 square feet of grass. With a 20-inch cutting width and an adjustable cutting height of 1 to 4 inches, the Toro E-Cycler also features a 20-inch steel mulching deck and a rear grass catcher in the event that you want to add the clippings to your compost pile.
Husqvarna Automower Solar Hybrid: The Husqvarna Automower, the world's first fully automatic solar hybrid lawn mower, has an anti-theft alarm and PIN code lock, a sensible feature since it costs $3,000. Ideal for people who want to sit back and relax instead of spending the weekend pushing a lawn mower, the emission-free Automower can be set on a timer that helps establish a regular cutting schedule. An integrated solar panel on the top of the unit helps to extend battery life before this device needs to be recharged. And when it does need to be recharged, the Automower can find its own way back to the charging station with no human assistance required. The device even texts you in the event that it runs into an obstacle or an "unscheduled event."
Earthwise 16-inch Corded Electric Chain Saw: This mighty (yet lightweight at 13 pounds) electric chain saw is corded, but you won't have to deal with the frequent maintenance, gassy mishaps and bothersome pull-cord starting associated with conventional chain saws. Plus, it's oh-so-quiet. Features of this 12-amp machine include a safety tip blade and protective blade cover, tool-less chain tension and automatic bar and chain oiling.
Greenworks 22-inch 18-Volt Electric Cordless Hedge Trimmer: Powered by an 18-volt Ni-Cad battery, this lightweight electric hedge trimmer features a 22-inch dual-action, rust-resistant blade that can cut branches up to a half-inch thick.