In the pipeline

What's new and maybe useful

Backyard blowhard

The big-house boom of the 1990s has left many wealthy Americans with backyards the size of a small golf course. For do-it-yourselfers faced with autumn's final fallings, leaving no leaf unblown can be a tiresome time commitment.

Toolmaker Makita has engineered a partial solution: a cordless blower that can scatter leaves, clear a flower bed, or empty the bed of a truck with a 180 m.p.h. blast. (Resist the temptation to blow-dry the family dog.)

Makita's battery-operated blower weighs about five pounds and runs for up to 15 minutes on a one-hour charge. Batteries, and a charger that works with most Makita tools, are sold separately, for about $60 to $90.

To learn more, go to

Suggested price: $140 to $170

A one-minute tree

There are those who travel two hours to a remote corner of the woods to fell their own Christmas tree, and there are those who annually drag a bulky man-made evergreen down from the attic.

For the latter, high-end gizmomaker Hammacher Schlemmer has a more easily stored option. Its Collapsible Tree can be erected in less than a minute. The tree's more than 1,000 branch tips are connected to a central coil, which can be raised and secured to the top of the 6 1/2 ft. pole. It all packs away into a box about 2 ft. wide.

Unlike most synthetic alternatives, Hammacher's offering comes pre-lit, with 300 white or multicolored bulbs.

To learn more, go to

Suggested price: $200

The wheel, reinvented

Solid rubber tires roll, but offer a stiff ride. Inflated tires can go flat. In between: "carefree" tires, made for lawn mowers, wheelbarrows, and other maintenance machines.

Their spongy interior construction lets them absorb shock while staying round, no matter what you run over.

To learn more, go to

Suggested price: Varies by retailer

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.