Home & Garden

Garden tools get greener

Garden power tools have a bad reputation that Tim Peterson of Noble Power Equipment believes is mostly undeserved.

Yes, gas lawn mowers, trimmers and blowers may have, at one time, earned their reputation as fuel-guzzlers and air polluters. But since stringent air quality laws were enacted in California, Peterson said

lawn mower emissions have been reduced by 85 percent over the past 12 years. He also noted that some types of chain saws have reduced their fuel consumption by around 30 percent since last year.

“The EPA is following suit, but California is really the leader in reducing emissions,” he said.

Also impressive are new ergonomic improvements that make machines more comfortable to operate. This includes everything from easier-to-grip handles to lower vibrations that make using the machine less tiring for the hands, arms and back.

Advancements in equipment design may explain, in part, why business at Noble Power Equipment has remained steady over the past few years. The shop, which Peterson owns with wife Joni, has competed well with big box stores, something he chalks up to better customer service.

“People are tired of purchasing something that’s not right for their application, or not being educated on how to use it safely,” he said.

Customers of Noble Power Equipment are never sent home with an unassembled lawn mower in a box. The staff both assembles the mower and provides important safety instructions — such as to never bypass safety features on your machine.

“They’re there for a reason— for your protection,” Peterson warned.

Noble Power Equipment also services the mowers it sells — as well as the ones it doesn’t.

According to Peterson, proper maintenance can greatly extend the life of your machine. His rule of thumb for mowers is to bring them in after 20 to 40 hours of usage. He notes that changing the air filter frequently keeps emissions low. Sharpening blades avoids putting an excessive strain on the motor and keeps the mower working efficiently.

“Otherwise you’re just going out and bruising your lawn,” he said.

As for other green mower options, Noble Power Equipment sells re-chargeable, battery-powered mowers, which have the added benefit of producing less noise.

But Peterson noted that some customers who took advantage of a countywide lawn mower exchange program several years ago are finding that rechargeable mowers, which are best suited for very small lawns, aren’t fitting their needs.

Noble Power Equipment is at 2935 South Higuera St. in San Luis Obispo, phone 541-6090.