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Outdoor Power Equipment Buyer's Guide

Northern offers a huge selection of tough, durable, brand-name grounds maintenance equipment for any size lawn or garden. Let our Outdoor Power Equipment Buyer's Guides inform you of the many options within our selection that will help you get the job done at the right price.

Horsepower - In order to improve mulching performance, higher horsepower engines are desired. Or, if you regularly allow your grass to become tall before cutting, additional horsepower helps get the job done.

4-Cycle Engines - Mowers with 4-cycle engines use the same gas as an automobile. All of our Walk-Behind Mowers feature a 4-cycle engine.

Self-Propelled or Push - All walk-behind mowers can be pushed around the yard. For larger lawns (at least 1/3 acre) or hilly lawns, self-propulsion will help reduce the time and effort to get the job done. Some self-propelled mowers offer a single speed while others come with a variable speed system, allowing the user to adjust the pace of the mower.

High Wheels - Mowers with larger rear wheels offer additional maneuverability, which is especially helpful on hilly or uneven lawns.

Grass Cutting Options - Most walk-behind mowers feature a convertible cutting deck system equipped to disperse grass clippings in at least two ways. Mowers with 2-in-1 capability can handle lawn clippings by either discharging or mulching them (or in some cases by either mulching or bagging them). Mowers are also available with 3-in-1 versatility (mulch, bag, or discharge) and 4-in-1 capability (mulch, discharge or bag from the side or rear of the mower.

Mulching - Cuts the grass into fine clippings that act as a natural fertilizer for the soil.

Bagging - This option is ideal for collecting grass clippings or for leaf pick-up. Great for those who like to compost.

Discharging - When grass is too wet or tall to mulch effectively, this option disperses the clippings uniformly out the side of the cutting deck.

Walk-behind Mowers

Lawn Tractor or Zero Turn Radius Tractor - Lawn tractors and Zero Turn Radius (ZTR) tractors are similar in that both are fine for cutting lawns. However, if your lawn has landscaping that requires added maneuverability to mow, a ZTR tractor could be the right choice. The ZTR tractor is designed for a 360 degree turning radius to mow practically anywhere you need to around trees, shrubs and other landscape obstacles with ease.

Cutting Width - While all mowers can get the cutting job done, yard size helps determine the optimum cutting deck for your riding mower.
Up to 1-1/2 Acres - Choose a mower with a 42" cutting deck.
More than 1-1/2 Acres - Choose a mower with a 46" cutting deck.

Horsepower - If you plan to use any attachments or accessories with your tractor, riding mowers with higher horsepower are recommended. Similarly, additional horsepower is suggested if you regularly allow your grass to become tall before cutting.

Automatic or Manual 5-Speed Transmission - Like cars, riding mowers are available with different transmissions.

Hydro-Automatic - A foot pedal controls forward and reverse speeds. This premium transmission requires no shifting or clutching, allowing both hands to remain on the steering wheel at all times.

Automatic - Similar to hydro-automatic, a pedal controls ground speed. This transmission is different in that it must be shifted into forward or reverse (like a car).

Manual 5-Speed - Shifting and clutching are required to change speeds.

Riding Mowers

When it's time to break ground, put the power of a quality cultivator and tiller to work for you. Tillers handle a variety of tasks, from breaking up ground and aerating the soil to improving water seepage and controlling weeds. When deciding on a tiller, keep in mind the following points:

  • Type and condition of soil (soft, hard, clay-based, sandy)
  • Overall size of the area that needs to be turned
  • Tine location (rear or front tine)
  • Tilling width options (adjustable or fixed)
  • Power rating and features (HP, speeds, reversible)

Cultivators - Cultivators' light weight, control and easy maneuverability make them perfect for small jobs in soft soil. Cultivators churn through already-loosened soil, uprooting and removing weeds from around garden plants.

Front Tine Tillers - Front tine tillers are ideal for those with small-to-medium-size gardens and soft soil conditions. Powered by either 2- or 4-cycle engines, front tine tillers are designed for weeding and general garden maintenance, and are not suitable for tilling hard, tough soil.

Rear Tine Tillers - Transferring power from the engine to the wheels enables rear tine tillers to tackle larger jobs in landscaping, serious gardening and construction. Since you only need to guide the tiller as it does its work, rear tine tillers have the muscle to work through large gardens, tough soil, even sod. You'll find rear tine tillers in 2 types: SRT (standard rotary tines), which have tines that rotate in the same direction as the wheels, and CRT (counter rotary tines), which rotate in the opposite direction from the wheels, effortlessly digging into hard, compacted soil.

Tillers + Cultivators

A gas-powered blower offers maximum mobility and power for clearing your lawn, garden, driveway or deck of leaves and grass clippings. Both handheld and backpack blowers move large volumes of air — in various capacities and speeds — to direct lightweight yard debris where you want it. A blower's AIR VOLUME is the maximum amount of air the blower fan can move, measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). AIR VELOCITY describes the rate of speed, in miles per hour (MPH), air moves through the machine. Of the two, AIR VOLUME is the more significant indicator of how the blower will perform.

In addition, current blower models are considerably quieter than many older models. New technology and design innovations have reduced noise levels while maintaining power and performance.

Handheld Blowers
Handheld blowers are usually lightweight and easy to carry with one hand, making them ideal for smaller jobs like clearing grass clippings from driveways or leaves from a deck or patio.

Backpack Blowers
For larger areas or extended-use clearing applications, a backpack blower fits the bill. Designed to be worn on the operator's back, these blowers can be used for a long time without experiencing fatigue. A padded back/hip rest and tube-mounted fingertip controls are added features found on some backpack blower models.

Handheld + Backpack Blowers

Gas-powered trimmers provide the most power to cut in demanding conditions. The large cutting swath offered by gas trimmers enables the user to get the job done quickly.

Gas Engines
Gas trimmers are available in either 2-cycle or 4-cycle engines. A special mixture of gas and oil powers a 2-cycle engine. A 4-cycle engine requires no mixing and can operate on the same gas as a car.

With a gas model you don't need to worry about moving around a cord or many extension cords to reach your trimming destinations.

Shaft Design
The shaft is the tube connecting the motor or engine to the cutting head. Curved shaft models are generally lighter in weight and are easier to store. Trimmers with straight shafts or extended shafts provide better balance and allow the user to reach greater distances.

Trimmer or Multifunction Tool
Among the variety of string trimmers available are those that can perform additional operations. Some, with a simple push of a button, enable the user to rotate the cutting head to convert the product into an edger. Other multifunction models have a split shaft that allows for the attachment of tools such as an Edger, blower, pole saw, sweeper, or hedge trimmer.

Attachment Examples: Edger, Sweeper, Hedge Trimmer, Pole Saw

Brushcutters + Trimmers

Chain saws have become popular tools among both professionals and homeowners, for whom efficiency, power and performance are important. Whether pruning trees or cutting cords of firewood, a chain saw saves time and reduces effort needed to get the job done. When purchasing a chain saw, consider the amount of cutting your saw will endure. This will determine the type of saw (electric or gas), the bar length and the power you'll need.

Electric Chain Saws
Lightweight and easy to start, electric chain saws are ideal for light-duty and general-purpose uses. Electric motors produce less noise than gas-powered engines, emit no exhaust and require little maintenance (no spark plugs, no air filter, no gas/oil mixture). Access to an electric outlet restricts mobility; however, a good-quality 100' extension cord fits the bill.

Gas-Powered Chain Saws
Gas chain saws are designed with more powerful engines and longer bar lengths for heavy-duty and extended-use jobs. Plus, 2-cycle gas engines provide the mobility to cover a greater work area, making them ideal for farm, landscaping and rural use as well as for general-purpose home use.

Cutting Bar
A chain saw's bar length will determine the cutting tasks the saw can perform:

  • 14in. — Usually light-duty use
  • 16in. — General-purpose use
  • 18in. — Large jobs on the farm or rural use
  • 20in. — Heavy-duty cutting of large-diameter wood; frequent use

Engine Size
The larger the cutting job, the longer the bar length and bigger the engine. An engine's power is often stated in horsepower (HP), while its size is listed in either cubic centimeters (cc) or cubic inches.

Additional Features

  • Anti-Vibration System — Reduces engine vibration through the handle
  • Chain Brake — Stops chain in the event of kickback
  • Chain Oiler — Automatically or manually lubricates the chain
  • Clean Air System — Reduces the amount of dust and debris that enters the engine
Chain Saws

Log splitters are designed and built to take the back-breaking work out of splitting large logs into firewood. A number of features go into making a log splitter a powerful and efficient tool, including engine horsepower, splitting force, cycle time and horizontal/vertical capability.

The greater the horsepower, the more force exerted, splitting larger logs in less time. Ram pressure — often stated in tonnage — is the force behind the wedge necessary to split the log.

Cycle Time
The time it takes a splitter to split a log and reset is its cycle time. The shorter the cycle time, the faster the splitting.

Horizontal/Vertical Operation
Horizontal-only log splitters are ideal for heavy-duty tasks requiring serious horsepower and a great amount of splitting force. Vertical log splitters require less lifting of logs into the log cradle. Splitters with both horizontal and vertical capabilities offer the greatest versatility to meet all your log splitting needs.

Additional Features
Other features to look for when selecting a log splitter include replaceable cast iron wedges, 2-stage pumps, I- or H-beam construction, towing capability, tires, cylinder size and log capacity.

Log Splitters

Increase the versatility of your lawn tractor with the addition of tow-behind accessories like a spreader/seeder, aerator, dethatcher, lawn roller and dump cart. You'll get more out of your tractor while putting more into your lawn with healthy, attractive results.

Aerators - Spike aerators slice into soil with a series of rotating spiked disks to allow water, air and fertilizer to reach the roots. Plug aerators penetrate soil and pull out plugs up to 3 inches long.

Dethatchers - Dethatchers use tines to bring matted buildup (dead grass, leaves and twigs) to the surface, allowing lawns to “breathe”. Moisture and nutrients can freely travel to the root level.

Spreaders/Seeders - Broadcast spreaders distribute fertilizer, weed control and seed in a wide pattern (up to 12 feet), covering your lawn in fewer passes and reducing the chance of over- and under-fertilizing. Drop spreaders distribute material between the wheels (preventing overthrow), making them ideal for applying herbicides near shrubs and ornamental beds.

Box Scraper Blades - The box scraper rolls dirt to the side for serious gardening, cultivating and ground breaking.

Lawn Rollers - Ideal for smoothing uneven ground from moles and frost heaving or packing down newly seeded lawns or sod.

Harrows - Cultivate soil, prepare seed beds and rake up dead foliage with your lawn tractor and a spike-tooth or disc harrow.

Gang Reel Mowers - Cuts mowing time considerably! Excellent for uneven terrain since most reel mowers follow the ground for even, nonscalping cuts.

Yard Carts - Steel carts carry higher-capacity loads and are great for heavy-duty applications. Poly carts handle lighter loads, resist scratches, rust and corrosion, and are less noisy over rough terrain.

Lawn Tractor Tow-Behind Accessories

Still need help?
Email our product experts, or Call 1-800-221-0516 our 24-hour sales line.