Before you can get started cutting wood, blowing leaves, or trimming for the first time in your very own yard, you’re going to need the right tool for the job. Luckily, we’ve got the tools you’ll need, whether you’ve got a little patch of grass behind your house or a whole ranch to call home.
Choosing the Right Chain Saw
Chain saws come in plenty of sizes and in two basic configurations: rear handle and top handle. Top handle saws allow more control and work well for cutting low branches up in a tree, whereas our rear handle saws are more popular for general use.
If all you need is a saw for light on-ground pruning and occasional firewood cutting, you’ll only need a 30-40cc range rear handle saw. Here’s an easy way to break it down:
Beginner, Occasional User: You can start with any of our lightweight models, like the CS-310 through the CS-400. These saws are easy to use and easy to start—the CS-370F and the CS-400F even have the FasTension™ tool-less chain tensioning system to make quick and easy chain tension adjustments or bar and chain replacements without a scrench or tightening tool.
Experienced, Frequent User: Our CS-400 is popular for both new and experienced users, but if you’ll be using your saw professionally for landscaping or tree service work, you’ll want to have a little more power. Starting with the CS-450P all the way through our CS-620PW, all our professional-grade saws have incredible power and performance.
Once you have the right saw body, you’ll need to choose the right chain saw bar length, which will usually run about one to two inches longer than whatever you’re cutting. Bar lengths for most consumer saws will be 14", 16", and 18". Not sure how to gauge that diameter without measuring? There’s a quick way to eye cutting-size:
Up to 6" – That’ll be about the size of a coffee can. A 14" bar will work more than fine for this job.
Up to 12" – The size of a 5-gallon bucket, a 14” bar can also tackle anything a foot in diameter, but if this is a common job for you, consider a 16" bar.
Up to 18" – If you’re cutting through something the size of an extra-large pizza, it’s time to get a 20” bar.
Up to 24" – As a first-time yard owner, we’d recommend calling a pro for this one. While we sell saws with 24" and 27" bar lengths, these are best wielded safely by a professional landscaper.
Still not sure what saw you need? Try out our saw selector tool and get recommendations based on your specifications! Or watch this helpful video with more information on Selecting a Chain Saw.
If you’ve selected a saw but don’t quite know how to use it, check our How-to Video Library that’s loaded with all type of how-to tips like how to Sharpen a Saw, How to Fell a Tree, How to Install a Bar and Chain and more.
Choosing the Right Blower
Like choosing any piece of equipment, selecting the right blower will really depend on the size of your property, the type of work you’ll be doing, and what is most comfortable for you.
If you’re moving light debris every now and then in the close-quarters of a small yard surrounded by other homes, you’ll want a small, quiet handheld blower like our PB-250LN, while large yards with a lot of leaf ground-cover in the fall will need something more like the PB-500 backpack blower with either hip-mounted throttle (PB-500H) or a tube-mounted throttle (PB-500T).
Handheld vs Backpack Blowers
Handheld blowers are lightweight, low-noise and easy to store
Backpack blowers, though heavier, have padded shoulder straps and a padded back rest for optimal comfort
· Backpack blowers have a higher CFM and more power to get big jobs done faster
· Backpack blowers are popular for larger areas or frequent use while handheld blowers are popular for smaller areas or infrequent use.
Still not sure what blower is right for you? Here’s a helpful video with more information on Selecting a Blower.
Choosing the Right Trimmer
Whether you’re trimming around fence posts after mowing the yard, edging along the sidewalk, or clearing away heavy brush and maintaining a large property, ECHO has a wide range of trimmers. Just like our saws, trimmers come in two main configurations: curved shaft and straight shaft.
Curved shaft: Lighter weight, great for maneuvering around objects like trees and fence posts, and popular among shorter individuals (under 6’ tall) and women.
Our GT-225, easy starting GT-225i, and GT-230 are all great options if you’ll be doing light trimming around the yard.
Straight Shaft: Longer reach, with a wider choice of engine displacements and gear reduction for greater cutting torque.
Our popular SRM-225 and SRM-225i will give you the reach you’re looking for with remarkable fuel efficiency and ease of use. If you're looking for more torque to power through tough regional grasses like Bermuda or St. Augustine, or use a trimmer for edging applications, ECHO offers the SRM-266T or SRM-280T that feature 50% more torque than standard models.
There are other shaft configurations available, too, including a split shaft design that can accommodate most ECHO Pro Attachment Series™ attachments and ones with a steel drive shaft for increased cutting head acceleration.
Now that you’re set with the right equipment, let’s get ready to put those machines to work.
Before you can start up your equipment, you’ll need the right fuel. ECHO PowerFuel™ is a pre-mixed fuel, containing 93 octane gas and oil, that’s ready-to-use right out of the can. With no ethanol, PowerFuel is specifically developed at a 50:1 ratio and is the only pre-mixed fuel that uses ECHO Red Armor Oil™. ECHO PowerFuel is recommended for use in all air-cooled, 2-stroke engines. It facilitates proper break-in and helps extend the life of your equipment. It even features a fuel stabilizer that keeps the fuel stable and useable for up to two years after opening, so you never have to worry about using stale fuel.
If you want to mix your own fuel, you’ll still need the right fuel and, especially, the right fuel mix. ECHO outdoor power equipment (and really all power equipment) is designed to tolerate up to 10% ethanol blended fuel and can’t compensate for higher concentrations of ethanol, so it’s very important to the life of your equipment that you buy only the recommended fuel: 89 Octane gasoline with no more than 10% ethanol or gas with no ethanol at all. The wrong fuel can be so detrimental to the engines that using alternative fuels in ECHO 2-stroke engines will void your engine warranty over time.
You’ll also want quality mix oil that is JASO FD and ISO-L-EGD rated. Both ECHO PowerBlend™ and ECHO Red Armor oils carry this rating. Red Armor Oil uses powerful detergents that quickly remove performance-robbing carbon deposits the first use and protects against future buildups.
Check out this video for proper fuel mixing techniques and check out this infographic about how to get the most of your equipment when mixing your own fuel and oil.
Fueled up and ready to go? There are a last few safety steps you’ll want to take when you get out in your yard with that equipment!
Chain Saw Safety
Always start the saw at least 10 feet from the fueling area.
Use a funnel or a flexible hose when pouring fuel into the saw, and never try to fuel a hot (or running) saw.
Clear away dirt, debris, small tree limbs and rocks from the saw's chain path. Look for nails, spikes or other metal in the tree before cutting.
Keep your hands on the saw's handles, and maintain secure footing while operating the saw.
Always wear the proper personal protective equipment when operating the saw, including gloves, closed-toe or preferably steel-toe boots, long pants, leg chaps, and a helmet system that features head, eye and ear protection.
Leaf Blower Safety
Don’t ever direct the blower toward bystanders, open doors, or windows.
Always wear eye protection, such as goggles or safety glasses and earplugs, and don’t wear loose fitting clothes.
Start with the nozzle close to the ground at first and then raise it to a height where it doesn’t generate dust.
Never add fuel to a blower while the engine is running or directly after use while it may still be hot.
Remove any debris in the yard including glass, limbs, rocks, and trash that could become a projectile before you start trimming.
Monitor the string length. ECHO trimmers feature a cut-off knife in the shield that keeps the line at a safe, optimal length so always keep the shield in place to avoid too long of line – which is unsafe and will wear on the gear case.
Make sure all children and bystanders are out of the way before you begin trimming.
Wear personal protective equipment or clothing like long-pants, long-sleeve shirts, gloves, hard boots, goggles or safety glasses, and earplugs.
Let your trimmer cool before refueling.
All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.
By Pamela Crawford, author, Easy Patio Veggies & Herbs
Photographs by Pamela Crawford
Pamela has written a great article about mixing herbs in containers. Herbs are natural companions with different textures for interest. The herb mix of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme offers lots of flavor from a small combination loaded with textural interest.
To learn more, click here .
Click here to sign up for our monthly NEWSLETTER packed with great articles and helpful tips for your home, garden and pets!