Paul has had a variety of jobs, including running his own lawn maintenance company. Born in the UK, he's now a freelance writer in Florida.
Once you've mowed the lawn, your work is not over—you still have to get out your string trimmer to finish the job. String trimmers are great for:
- Tidying grassy areas around gardens, trees, fences, or other obstacles, such as swing sets or decking.
- Going into overgrown areas of brush that are more than a mower can cope with.
Generally speaking, when it comes to buying a trimmer, the more you pay, the better quality model you get. A cheap string trimmer may seem like a bargain at the time, but may give out after a few seasons; whereas a more expensive and higher quality model will last a long, long time, as well as often having other advantages.
String trimmers are sometimes called weed eaters, or weed wackers. They work through a revolving cutting head that automatically feeds a cord (or string) from a spool, as the spin creates a centrifugal force.
Before I give my suggestions for string trimmers, I think it is important to understand the different styles of trimmer out there, because each is designed for a different purpose.
3 Types of String Trimmer Used in Yardwork
Trimmers come in several styles: electric trimmers, gas-powered trimmers, and brush cutters. It is very important that you pick the right type for your needs. To pick the correct style, you first need to consider: the type of material that you are whacking; the size of the area you are working on; and whether you require any restrictions regarding noise.
- Electric string trimmers are quiet and convenient, plus you don't have the hassle of dealing with gas and oil. They are powered either by an extension cord, or a battery pack. Easy to use, they are light and maneuverable and great for small to medium-sized spaces.
- Gas-powered string trimmers are suitable for large lawns and heavy trimming use. Powerful and versatile, these trimmers come with 2-cycle or 4-cycle engines. Used by landscaping professionals, some models also come with attachments for edging, pruning, and cultivation duties, as well as trimming.
- Brush cutters are the big boys of the trimmer world, they have larger engines, thicker line, and strong metal blades for dealing with dense brush and weeds. As well as handheld versions, you can also purchase walk-behind and tow-behind versions for clearing big areas.
A Summary of Trimmer Styles
Quiet and convenient
Approx. Starting Price
Top 4 String Trimmers For a Yard Cleanup
- Best Electric Corded: The GreenWorks 21142 10 Amp 18" Straight Shaft
- Best Electric Cordless: The EGO Power+ 15"
- Best Gas: The Husqvarna 128LD 17"
- Best Two Tools in One: The Blue Max 52623 Extreme Duty
I provide more details and reasoning for my choices below.
Best Electric Corded: The GreenWorks 21142 10 Amp 18" Straight Shaft
The GreenWorks 21142 is a powerful tool that uses dual-string technology to maximize effectiveness. It can be used to trim, taper, or edge your lawn.
This weed eater is more powerful than a typical electric trimmer and its 18-inch cutting path makes it quicker at covering large areas. It is versatile enough to be used as an edger, as well as a trimmer.
Pros of the GreenWorks 21142
- Very comfortable to the feel, easy to use
- Powerful and solidly built
- Easy to maneuver, while the motor is fairly bulky, it's no more bulky than what you'd find on a regular gas trimmer
- More environmentally friendly than a gas trimmer
Cons of the GreenWorks 21142
- As with all corded electrics, your range is dictated by the length of your power cord, so suitability depends on the size and shape of the area being cut
- You get a lot of power with this machine, but the downside is that it's not lightweight
The Best Electric Cordless: The EGO Power+ 15"
The EGO Power+ 15" offers power and convenience combined with cordless technology, enabling you to cover larger yard areas without worrying about power sources and extension cords.
The 56-Volt Lithium-Ion battery and efficient brush-less motor provide excellent cordless power. The 15-inch cutting swath is great for trimming, edging, and tapering grass and brush. The EGO Power+ provides the versatility of a gas powered weed wacker without all the noise, fuss and fumes.
Pros of the EGO Power+ 15"
- Lots of battery power makes this machine great for big yards
- Variable speed gives you a lot of control
- Very powerful trimmer that cuts effectively
- Well balanced and easy to use
Cons of the EGO Power+ 15"
- Replacing the spool can be awkward, especially the first time that you do it
- The machine can start to feel heavy after prolonged use
Best Gas: The Husqvarna 128LD 17"
One of the main reasons that the Husqvarna 128LD 17" is a best-seller is its 28cc 2-cycle engine, that supplies all the power that yard worker needs to cut and maintain a typical medium to large-sized yard. It runs on on a mixture of unleaded gas and 2-cycle oil. Optional attachments enable this weed wacker to be used as an edger, as well as a trimmer.
Pros of the Husqvarna 128LD 17"
- The fuel tank is translucent, making it very easy to monitor the fuel level
- Provides serious power for cutting through thick grass
- Reliable starter, in my experience, as long as you follow instructions for the correct fuel mix
- Easy to use
- Excellent value for money
Cons of the Husqvarna 128LD 17"
- It's easy to turn off the choke switch by accident
Two Tools in One: The Blue Max 52623 Extreme Duty
As its name suggests, the Blue Max 52623 Extreme Duty 2-Cycle Dual Line Trimmer and Brush Cutter is an extremely versatile and powerful trimmer and brush cutter that can deal with almost any sized yard, or brush situation.
Easy to start, this machine gives you two tools in one. The trimmer head enables you to trim and edge your lawn. When you need to work on more serious weeds and brush, you can swap the trimmer head for the heavy-duty 10 inch brush cutter.
Pros of the Blue Max 52623 Extreme Duty
- Powerful, fuel-efficient motor
- Cuts through thick and rough patches easily
- Versatile, there are advantages to using one tool instead of two
- Great value for money
Cons of the Blue Max 52623 Extreme Duty
- The motor is powerful but also heavy, not the easiest trimmer to maneuver, especially over long periods
- The shoulder strap included is low quality, in my opinion
String Trimmer Safety Tips
- Before you get started, make sure that you are completely familiar with your machine, including its safety features, and that it is the appropriate style of trimmer for the job (see above).
- Wear protective gear. Eye protection, gloves, long pants, long sleeves, and closed toe shoes all help to protect you from flying debris and toxic plant material.
- It is important to know which direction the strings in your trimmer are spinning, as this affects where the debris is thrown out. If the strings rotate counter clockwise, that means that it cuts to the right and and debris will be expelled from the left side of the trimmer. If the strings rotate clockwise, the debris will come out to the right side. Always try to keep your body towards the cutting side.
String Trimmer Basics
Using Your String Trimmer
You would think that using a trimmer would be easy, you just hover over the area of grass that you want to cut and let it do the work, but this is rarely the best method and can result in scalping.
The truth is that there are numerous more effective techniques for using a string trimmer, some of which are explained below.
- Edging: To deliver a clean, crisp borderline between the grass and driveways and walkways, you can turn your trimmer so that the strings rotate vertically. You should then walk the into the cut path, allowing the debris to be thrown into the are that has just been cut. It may take several attempts over time to create a crisp edge.
- Tapering: This can be very effective for dealing with borders where the grass grows along trees, decks or fences, or when the border is on a bend. It is a pleasant and practical alternative to edging in many circumstances. Tapering is achieved by simply holding the trimmer at a slight angle, pitching it slightly towards the fence or object that you're trimming against. Done well, the taper will blend with the mowed grass.
- Trimming: As mentioned above, the most obvious method for using your string trimmer can also do the most damage to your trimmer if not performed correctly. When cutting tall grass, start by trimming from the top down to stop the string from getting tangled. When dealing with bigger trimming jobs, start trimming in small sections rather than attempting everything at once. This should stop the trimmer stalling and prevent the string from tangling.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2017 Paul Goodman