All-in-one yard-care system

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Starting in March 2015, Lowe’s stores will sell a gasoline-powered yard-care system that includes a lawnmower, leafblower, snowthrower and pressure washer—all in one.

The Troy-Bilt Flex system includes a power base ($399) and four attachments ($279–$499). For example, the snowthrower attachment ($399), which has a 26-inch clearing path and a 21-inch intake height, clips onto the self-propelled power base with a combination latch/lock that the company says clicks into place easily.

Andrew G. Alleyne, who is a professor of mechanical engineering at University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, wonders whether this yard-care system will be efficient and how long it will last. If the attachment mechanism isn’t tight, he says, the point where the attachment connects to the base could wear over time, which would cause inferior performance compared with that of a dedicated counterpart.

Heidi Ketvertis of Troy-Bilt says the company conducted durability tests, including a test of the attachments “over thousands of cycles,” but she wouldn’t provide us with test results. She says Troy-Bilt is confident that the Flex system will work as well as dedicated outdoor power equipment does.