Lawn & Garden Tools: 2018 Trends & New Introductions
Each year brings a ton of new features to the gardening tools and outdoor power equipment market.
This year we’re seeing a continuation of many recent trends as the number of both younger (Millennial) and older gardeners increases, such as a focus on convenience, longer life, improved technology, ergonomic design and smaller size.
In this article, we share some of the features to look for in 2018 and highlight newly-introduced garden/outdoor products that are worth considering.
Built to Last
Companies known for quality products, like Felco and ARS, tell us that they’re seeing a movement away from cheaper, low-quality products as people search for tools that are built to last.
Some companies are upping the ante by increasing the length of their warranties. For example, Earthquake reports that they’re the only brand offering a 5-year warranty on chippers and Yard Force has a 5-year warranty on their new 120V self-propelled mower.
Garden hoses are another area seeing improvements in durability, with the addition of UV resistant fabric to create something approaching a heavy-duty hose without the heavy weight (e.g., Stanley FATMAX Exojacket hose, Bond Aeroflex hose)
Convenience / Ease of Use
More companies are introducing complete kits that contain everything you need for a specific task or type of gardening. For example, we’re seeing raised garden beds, irrigation kits, and tools sold as a collection of parts.
Companies are also rethinking products that have been around for ages. Gilmour's new oscillating sprinkler incorporates an on/off switch that eliminates trips from the spigot to sprinkler (or getting soaked) when adjusting it. It’s a simple change that makes a big difference.
Convenience is also a big feature when it comes to lawn mowers.
Toro’s Recycler 22” SmartStow PoweReverse Personal Pace Gas Walk Behind Mower has PoweReverse (you can power it forward and backward with one hand just like you would a vacuum cleaner), an IsoFlex handle (there’s no vibration transferred from the handle to your hands/arms and it keeps the deck level), no need to think about speed adjustment (the more you push forward on the handle, the faster it goes), no oil change needed (just top it up now and then), and you can store it on end (without any leaks!) so it takes up much less space.
Honda’s 21” 3-in-1 Self-Propelled Variable Speed Gas Lawn Mower features an electric start (just push the button instead of pulling the cord – this is a feature normally found only on electric and cordless mowers), while the 21” Variable Speed 4-in-1 Gas Walk Behind Self-Propelled Lawn Mower has a handy lever (the Clip Director) to quickly switch between mulch, bag, discharge and leaf shredding mode.
And, with their 100 Series lawn tractors, John Deere has totally revamped the way they deal with one of the biggest hassles with lawn mowers – changing the oil. With their 30-second oil change filter, you simply unscrew and replace the easy-to-reach filter. Their lawn tractor also features two pedals – one for forward and one for reverse (like in a car, rather than the uncomfortable toe and heel pedals you normally see on lawn tractors).
In the outdoor power equipment category, we were impressed with EGO’s patented POWERLOAD™ Technology that automatically winds a new line onto the spool on their cordless string trimmer. Replacing the string line is as easy as feeding the line into the head and pressing a button!
Finally, as more companies known for their home improvement and construction tools enter the lawn and garden market, we’re seeing greater use of Li-ion batteries and chargers that are interchangeable between the different product lines. For example, DeWalt’s new lineup of outdoor power tools uses the same batteries as their circular saws and drills. So if you own any of their cordless tools, you can use the batteries and chargers across all of them.
Shrinking Size & Weight
As Baby Boomers downsize and Millennials take up gardening on patios and balconies, manufacturers are finding ways to make tools and equipment smaller without losing functionality. Products are becoming more portable, lighter weight and easier to store.
For example, Ryobi has recently introduced a full-featured 1600 PSI, 1.2 GPM electric pressure washer that’s only the size of a breadbox. At just 17.5 lbs you can simply pick it up by the handle and carry it wherever you need to use it. Yard Force and Greenworks make similarly small pressure washers.
Hand tools are also shrinking, like the CobraHead mini (a downscaled version of the original tool) and mini-tools from Gardener’s Supply Company that are ideal for fairy gardening and containers.
There’s a similar trend going on with new plant introductions, especially shrubs, where favorites are being “shrunk” to dwarf sizes. Examples include hydrangea, weigela, butterfly bush and even forsythia.
In terms of weight, recent years have seen a proliferation of lightweight, expandable garden hoses. Unfortunately, they generally don’t last very long (some rupture after just a few uses). Thankfully, newer expandable hoses are made of better quality materials that are built to last more than just one season (e.g., the Bond Aeroflex expanding hose).
Sustainability / Environmentally Friendly Options
New generations of homeowners and gardeners are more eco-friendly, preferring tools that use less gas (or aren’t gas-powered) and choosing options that are more water efficient.
Companies continue to make improvements in the Li-ion batteries used to run outdoor power equipment. For example, EGO’s unique ARC Lithium batteries were developed specifically for lawn and garden applications, with special venting that better dissipates heat so the battery lasts longer.
As the power and run time of Li-ion batteries improve, cordless tools are becoming viable replacements for gas-powered equipment. For example, Ryobi’s new electric riding mower will run for 2 hours and mow up to 2 acres – more than enough for even the largest suburban lawn. Benefits include reduced noise levels, not having to mix oil and gas, less maintenance, and no pull to start.
Energy efficient LED technology has changed the way grow lights are made, saving energy and money for those starting seeds (or growing plants) indoors. We particularly like some of the new lights from the Gardener’s Supply Company.
Finally, there seems to be a return to “old-fashioned” gardening methods and tools, such as using a broadfork for no-till gardening, or the long-handled CobraHead for weeding instead of spraying herbicide.
Technology Moves Outdoors
Apps and wi-fi enabled devices have invaded the gardening world. For example, some Cub Cadet riding mowers have a Bluetooth connection to an app that gives you all the data you need (such as, hours run, oil change needed, etc.). Ryobi takes a similar approach with their Bluetooth-enabled 2,300-watt, gasoline-powered generator.
And even gardening gloves have gotten in on the act, featuring touch-screen safe fingertips so you can use your mobile devices in the garden. We recently reviewed the Digz garden gloves and they work like a charm on a phone or tablet.
Comfort / Ergonomics
As the gardening population ages, ergonomic design is becoming more important.
When it comes to hose nozzles, we’re seeing more companies offering easy-to-operate thumb-control features (Dramm, Gilmour and Melnor all offer good options). Some products, such as Melnor’s RelaxGrip lineup, have earned an Ease of Use™ Commendation from the Arthritis Foundation®. And Gilmour has integrated a very useful hose swivel directly into their hose nozzles to effectively prevent hose kinking.
And, finally, we recently saw an EGO 56V 600 CFM cordless backpack blower that includes features normally found in climbing backpacks (such as a hip strap and ergonomically-fitted shoulder straps), instead of the usual uncomfortable webbing straps.
Lawn, garden and yard tools are constantly changing, and not just in the outdoor power equipment market. Even old favorites will see a makeover now and then as new features become commonplace, technology advances, or a changing customer base requires rethinking existing ways of doing things.
If you’re looking for an honest and thorough evaluation of the latest products, you’ve come to the right place! Browse the website (we cover all major categories of yard and garden tools) and don’t forget to subscribe below to stay in the loop as we add more reviews.
Last update on 2019-01-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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