Much Ado About Mulching

By Francis Storrs | Boston Magazine |

THE TOOL Husky HU80833 3-in-1 Hi-Speed Pressure Washer, $399
THE TESTER Mark Mercer, Under Pressure Power Washing, Natick
THE TAKEAWAY Despite a rough start—a lock washer was missing from the box—Mercer was soon putting this Husky through its paces, scrubbing a deck, a car, a sidewalk, and a restaurant patio. "It’s small but it packs a punch," he reports. A punch powerful enough, in fact, to send Mercer shopping for one himself.

Grade: A

Available at Home Depot, 800-430-3376, homedepot.com.

THE TOOL iRobot Looj 120 Gutter-Cleaning Robot, $99.99
THE TESTER Ed Hiller, Fish Window Cleaning, Wellesley
THE TAKEAWAY Hiller compares operating the Looj to driving a radio-controlled car: fun but not exactly life-changing. The robot works between major cleanings but can’t clean downspouts—which cause most gutter clogs—and users still need a ladder to set it up. "As a gift for a new homeowner or for Father’s Day, it’s nice," Hiller says. "But I’m not worried about it putting me out of business."

Grade: B

Available at iRobot, 800-727-9077, store.irobot.com.

THE TOOL Echo ES-210 Gas-Powered Shred ’N’ Vac, $199.99
THE TESTER Joseph Cusce, Black Diamond Landscapes, Arlington
THE TAKEAWAY Cusce found this combination leaf blower and vacuum to be, well, a mixed bag. Though the blower option is weak, the Echo effectively shreds dry leaves for the compost pile when set up for vacuuming. "I don’t see it being faster than raking, but for someone who can’t rake, maybe it’s something they could use," Cusce says. "For 200 bucks, I think it’s worth it."

Grade: C+

Available at Curry Ace Hardware, 370 Copeland St., Quincy, 617-472-8250, curryhardware.com.