This season, Lawn Boy's popular Gold Pro and Silver Pro walk-behind mowers ($418 to $619) have a new component - Easy Stride. This self-propel system allows for mowing at variable speeds when the operator relaxes or tightens the grip on the control bar. In other words, the mower used to control the speed. Not anymore. The electric-start option will also be available on several Silver and Gold Pro models this year.

YARD ART
Why just mow the lawn when you can create a big green work of art? Inspired by groundskeepers at major-league baseball parks who create designs in the turf every time they mow, homeowners are getting into striping in a serious way. Diagonals, diamonds, interlocking moons, or even written messages - anything is possible with the right equipment and inspiration.

Although many people think striping is done by cutting the grass at different heights, it's actually rollers that are used to create the designs. Patterns result when the light reflects off the grass just so. Grass cut with rollers going away from onlookers looks lighter; grass cut with the rollers coming toward them looks darker.

Simplicity Manufacturing's mowers are especially made for striping, and come with a handy how-to brochure. The Coronet, the company's most compact riding mower that retails for $1,849 to $2,865, features a free-floating mower deck and full-width rollers for making stripes during a standard mowing.

FINISH IT OFF
Black & Decker is looking to hog the spotlight on the finishing-touch phase of lawn chores. We say, let 'em! This year, the big news with the $100 cordless 12-inch Grass Hog trimmer/edger is that it trims more per charge - up to an entire half-acre lot. Other great components: an automatic feed spool (centrifugal force feeds line automatically as needed) and the Groom 'N' Edge head, which rotates 180 degrees for edging.