Americans have created all types of machines and tools to fulfill their quest for the finely manicured lawn. One of the most popular tools is the string trimmer. After the lawn mowers are through cutting, string trimmers come in and polish off the edges. They feature a plastic string that’s whipped around at the end of a metal shaft to mow down soft grasses and weeds. They are great at cutting grass and weeds close to buildings, under fences, and between rocks. Heavier duty trimmers can be used to cut back weeds and with the blade attachment, even brush and small saplings.
What type of string trimmer you buy depends on your yard and usage of the machine. String trimmers come with gas powered engines (two or four cycle) or electric (corded or battery-powered). Gas powdered machines are more powerful, heavier (ten to fourteen pounds) and more expensive than the electric units. If you have a good size yard and plan on using the trimmer to tackle weeds and some brush, the gas-powered unit is the way to go. The four-cycle engines burn cleaner, start easier, pollute less, and are less noisy than the two-cycle engines, but are heavier and more costly.
If you have a small yard or you’re planning to exclusively just trim grass, then an electric unit may be a better choice. Electric units are simple to start, clean running, and less noisy than their gas powered counterparts. Corded electric string trimmers allow you to trim until the job is done and are the lightest weight (around five pounds) trimmers available. However, you have to contend with the extension cord and it’s best to have multiple outdoor outlets to use this machine. Battery-powered trimmers are heavier (around ten pounds) than corded machines and you’ll have to recharge or switch batteries after about twenty minutes of usage. However, they are very portable and perfect for a small yard.
Beside the type of engine, there are a few other choices to keep in mind. A string trimmer with a curved shaft allows you to get up close to a wall, plant or building without having to bend the machine at odd angles. A straight shaft machine is more durable and usually the type commercial landscapers use. The straight shaft units allow for a longer reach under benches, tables, and plants. Some units also have interchangeable heads so you can remove the trimmer head and place an edger, blower, or other yard tools on the shaft.
Most trimmers have two plastic lines extending from the rotary head. The lines are either automatically fed out as needed or you bump the ground to get more line. Newer versions have short lines that are clipped onto the head and easily replaced instead of having to wind a whole ball of plastic string around the head.
For heavy-duty units, or if trimming for hours on end, consider getting a shoulder harness attachment to lessen the weight of holding the trimmer. For trimming brush with a blade attachment or trimming on slopes, consider getting a bike handle bar attachments for easier and more even cutting.
There is even a string trimmer on wheels. These units look like a lawn mower, except in front there is a string trimmer attachment. They are great for trimming large areas and are easy to use, but they are expensive and limited when trying to do detailed trimming.
Whatever trimmer you chose, remember the cord is whipping around at about 400 mph. So wear the appropriate protective clothing. Sturdy boots, long pants, ear and eye protection will prevent accidental injury from flying material and debris.
Here are some of the best units available. I’ve listed a selection of string trimmers from gas to electric for small and large yards.
Best of the Best:
These units are some of the toughest on the market. They are durable, long lasting and powerful. When buying a string trimmer try out the balance and weight in the store. It should feel comfortable and not awkward to use.
The best string trimmers make it easy to have a well manicured lawn that is the envy of the neighbors. We recommend the best weed eater selections that polish the edges without much effort.