We may earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of our links. Learn more

Outdoor

  • The most ecological and friendly way to split logs is with a manual log splitter. With no gas, oil or electricity to worry about, you can use these tools virtually anywhere such as at your favorite hunting cabin, on those rustic camping trips, for campfires or even at home for firewood.Now, we aren't talking about axes and mauls here, since they all do a comparable job of splitting wood as long as your back holds out. The splitters on this list are either drop slide-hammer types or hydraulically activated types with handles. They offer a simplicity and effectiveness that can't be beat when you want to split a few logs for the fireplace, campfire, or stocking a pile of logs for a wood burning stove.Although in theory you would be able to split large sized logs with these selections,  smaller diameter logs or thick branches not more than 4 or 5 inches in diameter would be ideal. These best manual log splitters were chosen for their ease of use such as wheels for portability, and splitting effectiveness tops this list, but sturdy construction, and affordability were also considered.
    February 02, 2016
  • Gas powered string trimmers have been the consistent go-to for trimming grass and weeds for decades. Invented in the early 1970s, they were initially called “weed eaters” but are also known as weed whackers, line trimmers and weed whippers, among other nicknames.All gas powered string trimmers are built around a top mounted motor powering a drive shaft which turns a rotating head at the bottom. The most common heads are fitted with string loaded spools, but specialty heads can also be fitted that feature a variety of cutting implements like plastic or metal blades, chains or individually attached thick pieces of cutting string. These attachments make string trimmers particularly versatile when compared to other trimming methods.These best gas string trimmers were chosen based on their ease of use, affordability and user friendly features. Although each one is powered by gasoline, there are 2 and 4-cycle engines; 2-cycle engines are traditionally lighter and more powerful than their 4-cycle engine cousins, and require having a gas and oil mixture as the correct fuel. 4-cycle engines, generally a bit heavier, can be filled with regular lawn mower gas and are usually less maintenance intensive than their 2-cycle brethren. Because ease of use is the main criteria, that means 4-cycle motors will figure more prominently on this list.
    February 02, 2016
  • Leaf blowers are essentially an air broom made to blow leaves out of the way. The more powerful blowers convert to a leaf vacuum so the leaves can be sucked up, chopped into pieces, and deposited into an attached bag. There are three types of power sources for leaf blowers: gasoline, corded electricity and battery powered. Both gasoline and corded leaf blowers provide comparable power, and these types often convert to leaf vacuums. Modern battery-powered leaf blowers are almost as powerful as their gas powered cousins, and the newest Li-Ion batteries give them comparable run time too. They're highly portable, and will readily take the place of fossil fueled and corded blowers for most blowing tasks. For additional information, consult our leaf blower buyer’s guide listed below.
    February 02, 2016
  • Tillers aren’t often thought of as being electric as they are generally considered to be heavy-duty gas powered units for chopping up thick dirt and smoothing out the soil in large garden plots.  However, most suburban gardeners don't need the brute force and power of a gas powered tiller. They need something lightweight, compact and capable of tilling the soil in smaller household garden plots. That's exactly where an electric tiller comes in.To that end, many of the tillers on this list double as cultivators, which might be considered as either a power weeder or a tiller-lite. These best electric tillers are capable of tilling the soil to a lesser depth and they won't break up extremely hard chunks of soil. The best picks on this list focus on being lightweight yet pack sufficient power and greater amperage. After all, weekend will gardeners want to get in and get out of the garden as fast as possible, so we’ve included a best bang for the buck model too. And the best way to do this is with a lightweight yet powerful electric tiller.
    February 02, 2016
  • Patio heaters are an essential fixture for outdoor spaces when you need to create enough usable heat to warm up gathering areas for family and friends. The nature and size of the area you'd like to heat will dictate the size ad type of heater you need. A small table-mounted electric model would be perfect for am outdoor dinner table arrangement while a larger free-standing propane unit would be better for large gatherings under the stars. Regardless your wants and needs, we've assembled a range of the best patios heaters available for you to choose from. To help narrow down your search we've also provided a helpful patio heater buyer's guide below.
    February 02, 2016
  • Lawn mowers come in many different styles, and shapes, and there are even different ways to cut grass too. For example, reel mowers, either the manual or powered variety, cut your grass like scissors. They literally snip each blade cleanly off and always give a yard the best manicured looking appearance. Rotary mowers, which are a cutting blade mounted directly to a rotating engine or deck axle, spin the blades at a high rate of speed and cut the grass as you pass over it. Although effective, the grass tops are frayed where they have been cut and don't look as precisely cut as on a reel mower. To prove this point, virtually all golf courses use powered reel mowers to cut their grass, giving the playing surface a well-manicured look and provides golfers consistent play on every stroke. The control sources for lawn mowers vary, from being manually pushed to self-propelled or even ridden on, and there are both electric motors and gas engines that spin the blades. The newest form of propulsion are battery operated mowers that are very efficient, but these types are best suited for smaller lawns. And for those who don't like cutting their lawn at all, the newest robotic mowers mean you won't have to step foot in your yard to get the grass cut. For additional information, you can refer to our lawn mower buyer's guide listed below.
    February 01, 2016
  • If you want to edge your lawn as professionally as possible, but you want to be green and/or avoid the maintenance associated with a gas powered edger then you’ll need an electrical edger. Granted, there are battery operated edgers out there, but most are merely glorified trimmers using line as the edging medium, and they don’t have a steel blade like a real edger should.Corded edgers give you comparable power to a gas engine edger, but they aren't very portable. They will forever and always be tied to an extension cord, so that means a corded edger is really only good for smaller sized yards with ready access to electrical outlets.Corded edgers are relatively easy to use. You plug them in, flip the "on" switch and go edging. So, keeping that in mind, the best electric edgers on this list were chosen for their overall usability, like height adjustment and blade speed, power in the form of amps ratings, and a good price for what you get.
    February 01, 2016
  • If you’ve ever spent an appreciable amount of time in a garden or dedicated your weekends to landscaping your property, you’ll know weeding is an essential (and time-consuming) chore. Let’s face it, who really wants to be bending over repeatedly to pull these ragged invaders from in between rows of vegetables and away from the sides of your walkways? A dedicated weed killer makes this unenviable task much easier, and depending on the type you choose, can have lasting effects which prevents weeds from returning for months and even years in some cases. We’ve selected some of the best weed killers on the market today as well as providing a weed killer buyer’s guide below to help you determine which type is best suited for your needs.
    August 27, 2015
  • Fire pits fill the need for city or suburban dwellers who yearn for a campfire but who are confined to the rules of controlled burning within city limits. Many fire pits can be set up outside of a home on a patio, and some fire pits are even rated safe for areas where ground camp fires are not allowed. If you're ready to add the ambience of natures flame to your backyard or other outdoor setting, take a look at our fire pit buyer's guide below for all the information you need to get started on your search.
    August 27, 2015
  • Wood chippers are a specialty tool for turning wood stock into mulch, landscaping material, or organic waste. They’re designed around a rotating blade that slices and dices wood pieces, turning them into manageable chips. The most practical chipper will have a side feeder port for larger branches, and they will also have a large rectangular funnel feeder port for smaller branches covered in leaves and twigs.This list will be tailored to a suburban home or a small farm setting, because about 90 percent of all chipper/shredders are purchased for this type of work. Granted, there are commercial style chippers available that will grind up logs, but they’re manufactured for a specific need and don't really apply to a homeowner who needs to get rid of tree branches, tree limbs, or large amounts of brush.Safety features are standard with these gas chipper shredders, as well as being easy to feed, have enough chipping power so that they don't bog down under load, and are adequate for chipping chores in a suburban or a country home setting. Their price and ease of maneuvering was also considered and we’ll also feature a model giving you the best bang for the buck.
    August 04, 2015
  • The best organic fertilizers for general gardening are a combination of fish ingredients such as fish emulsion or fish meal. Fish emulsion alone provides a solid Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (NPK) nutrient factor which makes a terrific fertilizer base. The best fish emulsion fertilizers aren’t cooked but rendered in a cold making process that keeps the vitamins essential to plant growth fully intact. Can certain other organic products be substituted or added to enhance or replicate this formula? Of course, but starting out with a fish emulsion base assures you that your plants will have the essentials for superior growth and health.The organic fertilizers on this list were selected because they contain the necessary ingredients that every organic fertilizer should have to make your plants lush and bountiful, they’re proven to work based on manufacturers testing, and provide a fertilizing component that will work equally well for both the novice as well as the experienced gardener.
    July 28, 2015
  • The bad boys of lawn and gardening, gas hedge trimmers will chop through hedges, bushes and even small limbs on trees. All gas hedge trimmers are portable, since they carry their power supply along with them.Industry standard models are all powered by 2-cycle engines, which means you'll have to supply them with a gas/oil mix, and none of them are particularly light in weight. However, there is one player in the market that offers a 4-cycle engine that makes this list, and it may be a viable alternative for some applications.Power, ease of use and durability are the hallmarks of a great hedge trimmer. The best hedge trimmers we’ve chosen are reliable, thanks to their solid construction by reputable manufacturers, with some of the most well names known for small engines supplying the motors. They’re also easy to start and lightest in weight as well. Price played a role in the selection as well, but there a few featured bang for the buck" models.
    July 24, 2015
  • Since the beginning of gasoline powered appliances, lawn equipment has come to the fore as the largest users of small engines. This revolution began with the first gasoline powered lawn mowers back in 1914. 4 cycle or 4 stroke engines were the original power plant of choice. But as more and more people began to move out into the suburbs (where lawn and garden care became more prominent) 2 cycle engines began to make an appearance. These engines were smaller, lighter and more powerful than their 4 stroke cousins, so they could be more readily adapted to hand-held appliances like brush cutters, trimmers, blowers and weed eaters.
    July 23, 2015
  • Pool cleaners come in a wide array of styles, function and design. In general, they all work off of your return pump with some requiring a booster pump to help them scrub and remove  difficult dirt and debris. Alternately, self-contained robotic models work off a battery pack and are equipped with their own brushes and capture bag that keeps grime out of your pools filtration system. With pool cleaners, the axiom of “you get what you pay for” generally rings true. The most expensive types will be completely automatic, while the least expensive models may be nothing more than an underwater broom attached to a tube for manually sweeping the pool sides and bottom. Be sure to check out our automatic pool cleaner buyer's guide below which contains useful information to help you choose a unit best suited for your needs.
    July 22, 2015
  • Chimineas were originally constructed of clay and existed thousands of years ago in Mexico and central America. They were used for both heating a dwelling and also as a cooking platform. Shaped like a pot-bellied stove with a tall chimney perched on top, this design radiates heat outwards, not only from the fire and the body of the vessel, but also radiates from the chimney as the smoke passes through it. It is a very efficient heating source because of these traits.Although originally made of clay, most are now made out of modern metals giving them increased durability. However, for you traditionalists out there, clay chimineas are still available, and one makes this list.Design and practicality are the basis for the best chimineas, but price and versatility will also be considered.
    March 12, 2015
  • Snowblowers come in two types. There are the single stage models that collect and then throw the snow with one blade, or auger as it is sometimes called. Then there are the two stage models that use a dedicated auger to funnel snow back into an impeller that throws the snow out of the machine. Single stage units are best used for lighter snow falls and smaller areas where the snowfall doesn't exceed 6 to 10 inches. They don't work well clearing snow drifts or very deep snow. Two stage units, on the other hand, are made for clearing deep snow deposits and high drifts. These types are the big high-horsepower self-propelled blowers that will clear huge swaths down driveways or sidewalks. Gas powered units come in either single stage types or two stage types, while electrics generally only come as single stage or electrically powered snow shovels. Even though electric single stage blowers rival their gas powered brethren for power, always having to be attached by a cord limits their effectiveness over longer or larger areas. The upside is that an electric type has virtually zero maintenance and always starts with the push of a button. Conversely, having to start a gas powered snow blower in the dead of winter can be a serious chore. For many city or suburban homesteads, the hassle free aspect of using an electric is a winner every time, but for those with long driveways or walkways, a gas powered blower is the way to go.
    January 23, 2015
  • Ice scrapers - also known as ice choppers or ice breakers - are made to break through standing ice on sidewalks, driveways, porches, or patios. They can be used by using brute force to ram the blade downwards onto the ice, shattering it and making it easy to shovel away. In scraper mode they can scrape under the ice edge which breaks up sheets of ice into removable pieces. Whether you need a chopper, a scraper, or a combination of the two, you'll have to decide what blade type suits your needs bestThe best ice scrapers on this list were chosen in part for their ergonomic or shock-reducing handles, coupled with a tough and heavy steel blade for chopping or scraping. Blade width was also considered since wider blades distribute more of the force over a greater area while smaller width blades concentrate the force of the blow more. Plus, there will also be a best bang for the buck scraper/chopper featured.
    January 07, 2015
  • A snow thrower can best be described as an electric snow shovel and plug into any standard electrical outlet. They have a maximum of 100 feet of extension cord recommended for all corded models and work best when throwing snow off of porches, patios or stairs. Although technically many are powerful enough to take on larger jobs, their small snow intake size would mean spending double or triple the time outside snow blowing than using an actual snow blower for the same task. Their strength lies in the fact that they are lightweight and easy to maneuver, making them able to throw snow out of the way where heavier, more cumbersome snow blowers could never go.The main selection criteria used when considering picks for inclusion on this list was their ease of use; lightweight, having an ergonomic handle, or other additions making them simple to use with the less hassle. Price also played a significant role as well because for the most part they’re only going to be used for small blowing tasks; they don't need add-ons or special features that would jack up the price.
    January 02, 2015
  • Since there’s so much variety for the intended use of binoculars, it's difficult to pick just a few overall models to recommend. Although high-end binoculars offer multiple benefits, many users simply want something that will perform well and not cost so much that accidentally dropping them on the ground is a major tragedy.We've approached this list of best binoculars with the goal of recommending models that are excellent for general use, while having some that specialize more in one area or another such as stargazing or bird watching, for example. We also ensured each pick offers a clear and bright image, while being easy to use for nearly all levels of experience. Some of our picks offer more durability than others, with varying degrees of weather-proofing. Lastly, each of our selections provides excellent value for their price point.
    October 22, 2014
  • One main component to keeping grilling fun and safe is the ability to see what you're doing. Grilling is normally a daytime endeavor but for some of us we want to extend the fun well into the evening. This list of best grill lights was put together by looking at how each light stands up by first looking at the type of light because they come in a few varieties from florescent, halogen and LED. Second, we looked at what material the light is made of. For the most part these lights are going to be outside so we wanted to make sure they’ll stand up to the elements. Finally, we took into account their power supply, depending on where you are cooking your late night snack, you might not have a handy power outlet available.
    August 13, 2014
  • The barbecue is over and now it’s time to clean up the mess. There are many options when you are looking for brushes to clean your grill. This list of best grill brushes was compiled by looking at the brush bristle material because depending on your grill needs, this can be critical in deciding which brush to buy. The next thing we looked at for the list was handle material with some made from wood, while  others are plastic or composite materials; this is a big factor for durability and style. Finally we looked at overall length of the tool. If you have a recessed smoker you may need a longer brush but if you’re cleaning an electric grill you may not need a spear handle to get to all those nooks and crannies.
    August 01, 2014
  • Grilling is for the most part an outdoor endeavor and with that in mind, you’re going to need something to protect the investment you’ve made in your grill. We compiled our list of best grill covers by looking at the cover material itself,  the most important aspect of any quality grill cover. Next, having an inside lining was major plus, as it helps extend the life of the cover and keeps you from having to continually replace them. Finally we took a look at what extra features the cover has, it's always good to have vents, or pockets to help enhance the grilling experience.
    July 31, 2014
  • BBQ Grills come in all shapes and sizes. Depending on what you are looking for, there is something just right for you. While many like the standard gas grill with the electronic ignition, others enjoy lighting the coals and watching them glow. Infrared grills will help you churn out the tastiest, juiciest steaks in a fraction of the time, and disposable grills will let you cook a legitimate meal in the middle of nowhere without having to clean up after yourself. If you know what you want, or even if you don't; these lists will help you make up your mind.
    July 24, 2014
  • Lawn tractors are about as American as apple pie. They come in all shapes and sizes, with horsepower ratings to match. Virtually every hardware store, department store and small engine shop will sell some type or brand of lawn tractor, yet picking the best one of the bunch can turn into a confusing jumble. First and foremost, a lawn tractor should be reliable and easy to use. Cutting grass is almost an afterthought because they were made to do just that. Each one will give a good account of themselves if you just want a lawn tractor to cut grass, but it just may come down to all of the other variables that might make or break a lawn tractor on anyone's best list.Price, performance and bang for the buck are what to look for here in the top rated tractors, and the best one will feature a combination of all three. After all, they will all cut grass, but what you get for the money is going to make the biggest difference.
    March 24, 2014
  • For many people who have their own property, a garden shed is a do-all small building that is perfect for storing gardening tools, all manner of power tools from weed whackers, lawn mowers, tillers and everything in between. With a little do it yourself building experience, they can be turned into all manner of serviceable little buildings. They can be converted into workshops, office space, greenhouses and a host of other types of shelters that can be custom made for virtually any usage. The garden sheds on this list were chosen because they come complete with everything needed to set up and build, assembly is required, and they are functional for a variety of situations, price was also taken into consideration, and the shed that tops this list is able to house virtually all necessary lawn and garden tools under one roof. Although the classic garden shed looks like a little peak-roofed house type of outbuilding, there are so many functional designs on the market right now, choosing one will always be subjective to your specific garden and utility space needs.
    March 17, 2014
  • A cultivator can best be described as a type of machine or implement that loosens the soil, generally around plants in a garden setting, to remove weeds and to keep the ground loose for better water and nutrient penetration. Most anything can be used as a cultivator, and the earliest ones were probably made of long sticks, branches and even bones.This list will comprise both motorized and manually applied cultivators that will work in virtually any garden setting. The cultivators on this list were chosen because they are easy to use, give the best results when loosening the soil and give effective results when destroying and removing weeds. Price is no object here, because performance trumps cost, bar none.
    January 06, 2014
  • Walk behind brush cutters, sometimes called rough cut mowers, are made for clearing overgrown land with little or no tree growth. Some of these cutters will tackle smaller diameter trees, but for the most part, they are in their element clearing overgrown grass, bushes and shrubbery. Although all of them are self propelled, using them is a heavy duty job and may not be right for some people. You don't want to invest in something like this and find out later that it is too much machine to handle.The best machines will be rated for ease of use and effectiveness, with price and durabiltity being taken into consideration.
    December 03, 2013
  • Pool vacuums are a requirement if you are going to own your own pool, so taking the time to find the right one for your needs is a good idea. They come in various shapes, sizes and cleaning ability, from picking up leaves to just picking up accumulated dirt on the pool bottom, where some might be whole pool cleaners and some work best for spot cleaning.The best handheld pool vacuums will be those that work well sucking up any type of debris, yet will be relatively straightforward and easy to use. Debris bags should be easy to empty, and hold enough debris at any given time, to give you more time cleaning and less time hassling with the collection bag.
    September 16, 2013
  • Drowning is the 2nd leading cause of death in kids under the age of 14. In as little as two minutes without oxygen, a person can become unconscious. By using a pool alarm, which works by determining that the water has been disturbed, you'll have time to react in an emergency situation.But pool alarms go farther than that. They will also alert you to unauthorized pool usage by anyone, which can be a hazard all by itself. They will give you a heads-up on errant party-goers, vandals or illegal break ins.No pool alarm should be used as the only means to limit access to the pool. Locked gates and electronic surveillance are two other good choices, that when combined with pool alarms, give you the best possible chance to avert a tragedy. In fact, many states require alarms for both pools, gates and fences for just this purpose. Ultimately, pool vigilance depends solely on you. Know where your kids are, know where your guests are, keep pool alarms "on" and keep gates locked and secured at all times. The pool alarms selected for this list were chosen because they're most sensitive to artificially disturbed water, and they also give the least amount of false alarms when they are in place. Ease of installation and convenience was also considered in these selections, but price wasn't considered because you cannot put a price on safety.
    September 16, 2013
  • For outdoor pathway or walkway lighting needs, solar lights may be the perfect solution. You never have to plug them in and they can be placed virtually anywhere. Depending on your needs, they can be practical, whimsical or both. But remember, the solar panels that charge the inner battery should be placed in direct sunlight for maximum light performance. If you don't let the sun work for you, a solar light will not function properly no matter how highly rated it is.The picks chosen because they give off the most light and last the longest on a charge as well as the ease of use, design and practicality and the fun factor.
    September 13, 2013