Me and Marty have been friends for like 35 years. In that time we’ve probably created our own little hole in the ozone over Orlando. We’re junkies for anything gas-powered. Go-carts, motorcycles, 3-wheelers, scooters, cars, lawnmowers, weed-whackers, you name it, we’ve beaten on it.

Another thing we know is lawn equipment. We’ve been using lawn equipment since like age 10, when we started our first business, a lawn-mowing company with the slogan “You grow it, we mow it”. I think we became addicted to the power, the smell, and the burns from the hot mufflers.

But now we’re dads. Heroes to our kids. We have to help save the earth. Thankfully Black & Decker came along to help steer us down the path toward a greener, more eco-friendly life of lawn care by inviting us to their #KickGas event in Tempe, Arizona. (We were going to do a write-up about the #KickGas event but since Emily at merrypad.com did such a good of a job of it, go read her post and pretend we wrote it.)

Risking their MLB partnership and a darn stern scolding from the Tempe Diablo Stadium grounds crew, Black & Decker let us loose on a practice field with 4 of their 5 brand new tools from their 36v outdoor tool line. We got to use the string trimmer, hedge trimmer, sweeper/vacuum, and the mower. Smartly they did not even bring their 36v rototiller or else the pitcher’s mound may have ended up a pitcher’s hole.

You see that? That's two trouble-makers egging each other on. But we held it together and kept it professional.

 

The basics.

The hand-held tools all use the interchangeable 36v lithium battery and they all have a 1 hour fast charger, not too bad. They are all lighter and more maneuverable than their gas-powered cousins, nice. They all help reduce your carbon footprint, which we hear is a good thing. The mower and tiller use a larger 36V battery.

Black & Decker 36 Volt Lithium Cordless String Trimmer (LST136)

It has what’s called a PowerCommand dial so you can choose between max power (6)  and max runtime (1) to increase battery life. The trimmer was way more powerful than we expected. When we were testing it we actually thought it was on max power (6) and it was only on 1, not kidding. The head spins to become an edger with the push of a button and a twist of the cutting head. The shaft extends or shortens to adjust to your comfort level with the flip of a lever. The handle is in an extruded channel so it can’t come loose and rotate on you. Awesome. And the only way to make it more awesome is if we could’ve turned it up  to “11″.

Black & Decker 36 Volt Lithium Sweeper/Vacuum (LSWV36)

We got to play with the sweeper/vacuum but it was only a prototype so we couldn’t put it through the paces. It’s called a sweeper because it’s not really meant for blowing wet leaves into piles in your back yard. It’s meant as a “sweeper”. Something you’d use to blow the clippings off the driveway while you have a beer. Or blow the leaves off the back deck while you have a beer. Or “sweep” the front porch while you have a beer. And maybe blow the beer cans into a nice pile for the recycling bin. (see we’re earth-friendly). It was super light, only 5 pounds in sweeper mode. This could come in very handy for cleaning up and way more convenient than dragging out that long extension cord for your other blower. It also has the PowerCommand dial so you can dial it down to a light dusting breeze up to quite a gust of wind. As for the vacuum, we didn’t really get to try it but for light-duty I could see it being just fine.

Black & Decker 36 Volt Lithium 24″ Hedge Trimmer

The hedge trimmer was one of the favorite tools we played with. We both liked that you wouldn’t be fighting a cord when you’re way up on that top step of the ladder you shouldn’t be standing on and leaning way too far over with one hand to reach that last little bit of hedge without having to move the ladder.  It was light, balanced, and powerful. Marty was cutting 3/4″ dowels like nothing. No joke. buzzed right through. I’m just glad I’ll no longer have to RE-plug the cord in 50 times like I have to do on my current hedge trimmer because the plug falls out every 5 seconds.

I'm sure we must have been discussing how much trouble would Marty get in for chopping apart the whole hedge trimming test area to REALLY test the thing.

 

Black & Decker 36 Volt 19″ Self-Propelled Rechargeable Mower (SPCM1936)

I think the last time I touched an electric mower was in like 1987 when I rode my bike like 15 miles to go mow my grandma’s lawn with her electric mower and 3 giant extension cords tied together. I remember having to plan carefully with the trees and having to do the crack-the-whip thing to loop the cord up and over garden gnomes and furniture I was too lazy to move. And that’s when I decided never to have an electric mower. UNTIL NOW. We didn’t get to mow since the baseball field was immaculate, but we still got to tinker, and it has some pretty nice features.

  • Mow up to 1/3 acre on a single charge. And if you have a second battery they swap out in seconds so you could switch batteries for a larger lawn.
  • It has some kind of one-touch lever thing that lets you adjust your cutting height in like 2 seconds. There’s no counting tabs on a spring loaded lever and try to match all four wheels. Pull a lever, move it, done. All 4 wheels at once.
  • Starting is so simple. push a button and pull back on a lever, it’s running. BLAM.
  • It FOLDS IN HALF for storage. Kind of like that treadmill you bought that folds up and sits in the corner of your family room that you never use. Except you’ll use this weekly. And not only does it fold in half, it tips up and sits upright on it’s butt so you can stand it in the corner.

Pete trying to run down Marty. FOR SCIENCE.

 

Black & Decker 36V Cordless Cultivator/Tiller (CTL36)

I have a big love for tillers. Tilling the soil, smelling the freshly-turned earth, loosening up all that hard-packed soil. MMMM. Makes you feel like a rugged farming man AND it’s WAY easier than getting in there with a shovel and turning over shovel full after shovel full of dirt. Plus if you plant your rows wide enough apart you can run the baby down the middle of the rows and churn up weeds rather than actually weeding. Anyway, like I said, we did not test the tiller, but we’re very intrigued.

 

SO, what do we REALLY think?

Pete says:

I can honestly see these tools replacing the current yard equipment in the shed right now. For convenience-factor alone I’m thinking of how my parents, or any older person could use these tools. I can imagine the lightweight hedge trimmer being way more convenient for my dad because of the cordless aspect. Since the batteries are interchangeable I can see him jumping to the string trimmer for the grass and weeds around the deck and porch, and then swapping the battery out and into the sweeper/vacuum to blast debris off the deck and sidewalk rather than grabbing a broom and sweeping. And that doesn’t even take into account the added bonus of not needing to have cans of gas lying around to fill and mess with, not having to pull start anything, and not having to smell like exhaust.

Marty says:

I can’t wait to NOT mow the lawn with this stuff. ‘Cause my oldest son will be doing it now. Not only was I surprised by how well the Black & Decker 36V Cordless outdoor tools worked, there was an obvious safety factor without all that flammable gas involved. No pulling cords, fouled plugs, spilled gas or fumes.

So, this is the summer when a boy becomes a kid. The neighborhood kid who mows the lawns. Now, I…ahem…my oldest son can get up and mow at 6:30am on a Sunday morning for the purpose of mowing, instead of just making the neighbors mad. I keep talking mowing, but that’s not all I’m excited about. We’ve got this idea for some urban homesteading too. I’m thinking about turning up about 1/3 of my front lawn for edible plantings—so stay tuned for some tilling action. That oughta make the neighbors happy. And did I mention the 7ft. podacarpus hedges I have in front of my house? Yeah, I came a little too close with the corded hedge clippers one too many times—so I’m ready to #KICKGAS with 36V of clipping destruction.

(I won’t be handing the tiller or hedge clippers over to a nine-year-old, but mower and line trimmer are all his.)

Anyway, look for a summer lawn series, featuring a slew of the Black & Decker 36V cordless outdoor tools, right here at Dadand.com.

You want a promo code too?

OK, here ya go: DADAND36

This code will give our readers 10% off + free shipping on any products in the Outdoor category sold at store.blackanddecker.com. The offer is limited to one transaction per customer and cannot be combined with any other offer. Good through June 30, 2012.

Download a PDF and learn more

If this overview wasn’t enough for you, feel free to go to the Black & Decker website and see all the nitty gritty details, specifications, and purchasing info.

Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming giveaway.

Here’s a not very official disclaimer.

Black & Decker paid for us to go and stay in Arizona to test these tools. They are giving us some tools to test at home and really rag on. They took us to a baseball game. They gave us food. We are not saying nice things because they did all this stuff, all opinions are our own. (Again, here’s a good writeup about the trip.)

Thanks for coming.

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