Brush cutters easily grind through tall, overgrown fields; up steep hillsides; and into deep ditches where regular lawn equipment doesn’t work. When a lawn mower and weed wacker won’t cut it, a brush cutter might be the answer.
Plenty of powerful tools and attachments can help you cut through heavy and overgrown weeds, vines, briars, and brambles. Keep reading to learn about the key features to consider when shopping, and then explore the picks for the best brush cutter products on today’s market. An in-depth review of the market and thorough product vetting went into assembling this list of top picks.
- BEST OVERALL: Makita 36V (18V X2) Brushless Brush Cutter Kit
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Wild Badger Power 52cc Straight Shaft Brush Cutter
- UPGRADE PICK: Swisher 11.5-HP 24-Inch Briggs & Stratton Mower
- BEST BLADE: Forester Chainsaw Tooth 9-Inch Brush Blade
- BEST ATTACHMENT: TrimmerPlus Brush Cutter with J-Handle
- BEST TRIMMER LINE: Oregon Platinum Gatorline 0.155-Inch Trimmer Line
- GAS PICK: Husqvarna 17-Inch 2-Cycle Gas-Powered String Trimmer
- ELECTRIC PICK: Greenworks 80V Cordless String Trimmer Powerhead
- BEST FOR SMALL TREES: Echo X Series SRM-3020U 30.5cc Gas String Trimmer
Before You Buy a Brush Cutter
A complete brush cutter can be an expensive, heavy-duty machine. Handheld brush cutters are heavier, more powerful, and cost two to three times more than an average weed wacker or cordless string trimmer. Depending on how heavy the brush you need to cut is, plenty of attachments and adapters can help you do the job with other tools in your shed.
High-quality string trimmers can knock down patches of dense weeds on occasion, and they see regular use grooming the yard every week or so. A good solution could be to purchase a brush-cutter head for an existing string trimmer. But if the weeds are extra heavy, the area is large, and the chore occurs frequently, it makes sense to invest in a dedicated brush cutter.
How We Chose the Best Brush Cutters
We researched the most sought-after brush cutters in their respective categories and discovered that the best models are determined by their type, materials, cutting width, ease of use and adjustability, and other special features included by top brands.
While searching for the best brush cutters available, cutting blades and attachments, weed eater strings, and gas and electric brush cutters were the most popular among users. These models are made of durable materials like carbide, steel, metal, Gatorline, and plastic with curing widths ranging from 8 to 17 inches, with select models coming with larger, adjustable lengths.
Many of these cutting tools are suitable for heavy-duty use with tough teeth, universal designs, cutting attachments, and even rechargeable batteries. Plus, many of these top picks are budget-friendly.
Our Top Picks
With all this in mind, some of the best handheld and adaptable brush-cutting products can help you clean up those overgrown corners. For a new handheld brush cutter that also can edge the driveway, check this list. If you have an excellent string trimmer and want to give it a brush-cutting upgrade, one of these products can help.
Those looking for an eco-friendly and effective brush cutter can rely on the Makita 36-volt brushless brush-cutter kit. This versatile option provides a long runtime, quick recharges, less noise, and reduced maintenance while providing no gas emissions. With Star Protection technology, this Makita model will never overheat, overload, or overdischarge for excellent reliability and results.
As for user-friendliness, this model has an improved grip, a Makita-built BL brushless motor, a 9-inch steel-blade cutting head with four teeth, and a variable-speed trigger for controlling the three integrated cutting speeds. The steel drive shaft also provides less vibration, which prevents any strain on the user. Need more? This top pick comes with Automatic Torque Drive Technology that automatically shifts the speeds of the motor for longer runtimes and added power for the toughest projects.
This 30.5-pound brush cutter does not skimp on durability either with the help of the Makita Extreme Protection Technology (XPT), which is a protective seal inside the tool that prevents water and dust from entering into the key components. Finally, the reverse rotation function allows you to quickly clear debris from the blades. All in all, this unit is suitable for the toughest of DIY or professional trimming.
- Type: Handheld
- Cutting width: 9 inches
- Materials: Steel and plastic
- Eco-friendly model; does not require gas or mixing, which equates to zero emissions
- Comes with an improved grip, a brushless motor, and a variable-speed trigger for user-friendliness
- Steel drive shaft provides limited vibration and strain on the user
- Automatic Torque Drive Technology and XPT for reliability
- No runtime listed; may not provide a lot of battery life for larger projects
Get the Makita brush cutter at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools (tool only).
When it comes to power tools, the price is always going to be a little high. But for a budget-friendly brush cutter, there is no better option than the Wild Badger Power 52cc brush cutter. This versatile option comes with two-in-one operation as a brush cutter as well as a string trimmer for cutting fine lines as well as thick weeds and brush. For user-friendliness, this 19-pound model has a harness and bicycle-style handles that prevent strain on the user’s back, shoulders, and arms while promoting stability during use.
This Wild Badger Power model also has a 52-cubic-centimeter (cc) two-cycle full-crank engine for taking on small to large projects, and the straight aluminum shaft is lightweight enough for long periods of usage. The engine itself has a smooth start that reduces emissions and preserves the life of the cutter. Finally, the tap-and-go trimmer head allows for quick line feeding for safety, and the maximum cutting width is a whopping 18 inches.
- Type: String trimmer conversion
- Cutting width: 18 inches (maximum)
- Materials: Aluminum and plastic
- 2-in-1 operation; works as a brush cutter as well as a string trimmer
- Suitable for those with back, shoulder, or arm problems
- Lightweight and ergonomic construction; harness and bicycle-style handles integrated
- Smooth start and tap-and-go trimmer head provide user-friendliness
- Must mix gasoline and oil; not as eco-friendly as comparable options
Get the Wild Badger Power brush cutter at Amazon, Lowe’s, Tractor Supply Co., or The Home Depot.
Those who prefer to have a lot of bells and whistles on their brush cutter can rely on the Swisher 11.5-horsepower Briggs & Stratton mower. This powerful unit comes with a 344cc Briggs & Stratton recoil-start engine and a 24-inch self-propelled construction for heavy-duty trimming or professional use. Plus, this mower has a single fixed hardened-steel rough-cut blade for thick grass varieties, weed, and some brush.
For versatility, the deck height can be changed with the handlebar’s controls between 3 to 4.75 inches, and the front safety deflectors and wire shield prevent any debris from flying upwards while working. The four-speed transmission on this Swisher is reversible for added ease of use and can be used to get stuck debris out of the blade. Plus, this model also comes with an operator presence blade engagement, a drive-control feature, and large pneumatic chevron tread tires for conquering any terrain type.
- Type: Walk-behind
- Cutting width: 24 inches
- Materials: Steel
- Briggs & Stratton recoil-start engine is suitable for heavy-duty weeding, grass cutting, and mulching
- Deck height can be adjusted with the onboard hand controls; heights of 3 to 4.75 inches
- 4-speed transmission and drive control for user-friendliness; great for professional use
- Operator-presence blade engagement, front safety detectors, and wire shield for durability and ease of use
- Gas-powered model; may not be as eco-friendly as some comparable options
- Very heavy; may not be suitable for transporting
Get the Swisher brush cutter mower at Lowe’s or Tractor Supply Co.
The Forester 9-inch brush blade works like a rotary chainsaw. Replace the head on a string trimmer with this circular saw blade to clear out woody brush and coarse weeds. It can quickly cut through dense, woody brush and saplings up to 2 inches thick. The package includes a file to help keep the 20 steel cutting teeth sharp.
This brush-cutter blade is durable, affordable, and easy to install. Be extra careful when working around rocks and other hard surfaces that can damage the cutting teeth. And be sure to consult the trimmer owner’s manual before buying to ensure that the blade will fit the model.
- Type: Cutting blade
- Cutting width: 9 inches
- Materials: Carbide
- 20 teeth per circular saw blade; suitable for thick brush and weeds; blades remain sharp with frequent use
- Suitable for use with string trimmers
- Durable carbide construction lasts for years without malfunction
- Hard surfaces may damage the cutting teeth
Get the Forester brush cutter blades at Amazon or Forester Shop.
The TrimmerPlus brush cutter is a universal attachment for most gas and cordless electric powerheads. The four-tip steel blade makes quick work of tall, thick, grassy weeds and dense brush. The package includes a shoulder strap for added support and a J-bar for increased control and comfort while operating the brush cutter. The 1.65-inch inner coupler tube and 0.20-inch square drive-shaft connector interface with most changeable power heads.
This attachment is highly durable, easy to install, and a good value. Always check the power head owner’s manual before purchasing new attachments.
- Type: Cutter attachment
- Cutting width: 8 inches
- Materials: Steel
- Suitable for use with most standard gas and electric trimmers
- 4-tip steel blade is suitable for thicker branches, brush, and weeds
- Shoulder strap integrated to limit strain on your back and arms
- J-bar integrated into the design; easy to maneuver and carry
- Some users have reported that the brush cutter blades on this model are not very sharp
Get the TrimmerPlus brush cutter at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Troy-Bilt.
Oregon Platinum Gatorline trimmer line features a twisted line profile for maximum cutting-edge exposure, minimum wind resistance, and excellent durability. Its hard exterior holds up well to high temperatures and impacts with hard objects. A braided line also makes less noise than other line profiles. This thick, heavy-duty trimmer line is best paired with a powerful brush cutter, greater than 35cc, for the best results.
Be careful not to add twists to the line while loading it onto the spool as that stresses the filament and can lead to early breakage. To prevent bogging down the trimmer, use this line only with strong trimmers that are 35cc and larger.
- Type: Weed-eater string
- Cutting width: Adjustable
- Materials: Gatorline
- Twisted string can take on thicker weeds and brush
- Wind- and abrasion-resistant construction is suitable for heavy-duty use
- Noise-reducing construction will not cause any noise pollution
- Should be used with 35cc trimmers or larger
Get the Oregon brush cutter trimmer line at Amazon or The Home Depot.
The Husqvarna gas-powered brush cutter draws its considerable power from a two-stroke gas engine. It’s not the lightest power tool at 16 pounds, but it makes up for the weight with an ergonomic grip and an impressive motor that helps to cut through dense overgrowth. The broad 17-inch trimming radius on this gas brush cutter allows you to trim the yard in a hurry, and it has a simple bump-feed system to extend the trimming line when necessary.
The curved-shaft design of this gas-powered brush cutter helps the construction to be more maneuverable and balanced so users have an easier time handling the power tool while they work. This gas-powered brush cutter also has an automatic emergency-stop feature that halts the movement of the trimmer string when the trigger is released, making this model even more user-friendly.
- Type: Handheld
- Cutting width: 17 inches
- Materials: Plastic and metal
- Larger 17-inch cutting swath for larger projects and yards
- Ergonomic grip prevents strain on the user’s back and arms
- Automatic emergency-stop feature for added safety while in use
- May be heavy and hard to maneuver
- Gas brush cutters aren’t as eco-friendly as electric models
Get the Husqvarna gas brush cutter at Tractor Supply Co. or Husqvarna.
The Greenworks 80-volt cordless string trimmer power head comes with a string trimmer attachment and adapts for lots of other functions with attachments, including a brush cutter. The 2-amp-hour battery provides up to 45 minutes of battery life. This brushless electric motor is efficient and quiet, providing plenty of torque to cut through the same heavy weeds as its gas-powered counterparts, without the noise and smell.
Users should take some care with this power head’s lithium-ion batteries. The batteries on this electric brush cutter should be stored at about 50 percent of charge. This electric brush cutter is best for smaller properties due to limited runtime and the need for recharging, or you can purchase a second battery for extended use.
- Type: Handheld
- Cutting width: 16 inches
- Materials: Metal
- Efficient brushless electric motor provides up to 45 minutes of battery life
- String-trimmer attachment included depending on the project
- Variable-speed trigger for saving power on the battery
- Lightweight construction will not cause any strain on the user
- Battery and charger included; rapid charging
- Additional attachments not included with purchase
Get the Greenworks brush cutter at Amazon, Target (tool only), or Greenworks Tools.
Taking down trees, bushes, and branches requires a tool with torque. For these tasks, we recommend the Echo X Series string trimmer. This gas-powered brush cutter comes with a simple start function that only requires three pulls to work, and the 30.5cc two-stroke engine has a maximum cutting width of 20 inches. Or, the cutting head can convert into a 25-millimeter blade for tackling even denser weed varieties.
The flex cable drive on this gas brush cutter also provides minimal vibration for ease of use, while the Speed-Feed 450 trimmer head with black diamond trimmer line does all the dirty work. Finally, the bellow-type intake is easy to use for hot restarting if required.
- Type: String trimmer conversion
- Cutting width: 20 inches
- Materials: Metal and plastic
- Only requires 3 pulls to start; bellow-type intake allows for hot restarting
- Suitable for thick brush, branches, and roots; maximum cutting width of 20 inches
- Speed-Feed 450 trimmer head with black diamond trimmer line for maximum durability and torque
- Converts to a 25-millimeter blade for extremely dense materials
- Should not be used with a blade smaller than 10 inches
- Plastic blade may not be as durable as other comparable options
Get the Echo brush cutter string trimmer at The Home Depot or Acme Tools.
What to Look for When Choosing a Brush Cutter
There are several factors to consider while shopping for a brush cutter. If shopping for handheld models, you can go with a powerful cordless electric or a long-lasting gas-powered model. Repeat use for cutting thick vines and woody brush requires more power than mowing tall grass. Ahead, learn about the factors that should drive buying decisions.
Types of Brush Cutters
Buying a new machine is a long-term investment no one should take lightly. It’s wise to buy quality tools for many years of dependable use. However, it is equally important to choose the right type of brush cutter for a property. An undersized machine wastes time, and an oversize machine wastes money and space. Read on to learn more about the different kinds of brush cutters and how they work.
String Trimmer Conversion
Instead of buying a new machine, you can simply convert a string trimmer into a brush cutter. Most string trimmers have motors between 20cc and 30cc, which is not suitable for daily use as a brush cutter but is adequate for occasional heavy use. For example, use them to cut brush for a few hours once a month.
There are two ways to convert from a string trimmer head to a rigid brush-cutting head. The simplest is to use a power head with changeable attachments. These machines have a short drive shaft and a quick-connection system for easily switching from tool to tool in a matter of seconds. String-trimmer and brush-cutter attachments are just two of many attachments that power heads can operate.
Converting a fixed string trimmer into a brush cutter requires an adapter. The adapter is unique for each brand of trimmer, but nearly all brands offer one. It takes 5 minutes or less with simple hand tools to remove the trimmer line spool and replace it with a brush-cutting head.
There are four basic types of brush-cutter heads.
- Knife blades are the most common. They use a sharpened front edge to slice through weeds. Choose knife blades, either a disc knife or tri knife, for general-purpose brush cutting. They are inexpensive and long lasting.
- Chisel knives are smaller and more aggressive than knife blades. These include the circular saw and chainsaw types. They work very well on heavier brush and small saplings but require larger engines, around 30cc and bigger, to work efficiently.
- Smasher blades, also called flails, use thin edges and high velocity to smash through vegetation. These are not suitable for heavy, woody material, but work quite well on tall weedy grass.
- Mulching blades look like knife blades; however, the blade tips bend at a nearly 90-degree angle. These are not common and are best for grinding up weeds, leaves, and branches.
If you care for a large suburban or rural property, a handheld brush cutter might be right for you. Handheld brush cutters efficiently take down heavy weeds and thick brush areas that are not accessible by a mower. A handheld brush cutter looks like a string trimmer, only it uses a specialized brush-cutting head. In fact, it is possible to retrofit a string trimmer with a brush-cutting head.
Brush-cutting heads use heavy-duty trimmer string, rigid flails, or a circular saw-type blade to cut through woody material cleanly, quickly, and efficiently. Handheld electric brush cutters and gas brush cutters with engines smaller than 40cc work well for smaller jobs, like cleaning up a vegetable garden at the end of the season. For larger areas and more aggressive cutting capability, choose a gas-powered brush cutter with an engine larger than 40cc. These heavy-duty models can cut through saplings up to 2 inches thick.
Hobby farmers and other small acreage owners choose walk-behind brush cutters for occasional maintenance of fields and pastures up to 1 acre. Walk-behind brush cutters have heavy-duty rotary mowers, sometimes called rough-cut mowers. These machines can cut down tall, coarse, thick grass; weeds; and weedy shrubs. Some can cut down saplings up to 2 inches in diameter or larger.
Walk-behind brush cutters are single-purpose machines, but brush-cutter attachments are available for walk-behind tractors. Some lightweight models are string trimmers on wheels, but most walk-behind models are much more robust, with heavy-gauge metal parts that help them grind through thick, weedy areas. They are self-propelled with rear-mounted engines and large rear pneumatic tires. This design allows the forward mower deck to easily glide up over tall vegetation.
Farmers and managers of large-acreage properties choose tow-behind brush cutters for regular maintenance of trails, large fields, wildlife food plots, roadside areas, and utility rights-of-way. Tow-behind brush cutters, also known as brush hogs, are large rotary mowers that owners pull behind tractors or ATVs.
Some tow-behind brush cutters have their own engine that engages the blade while you drive over the area to cut. Other tow-behind models need the tow vehicle to supply the power. They connect to the towing vehicle’s power take off (PTO) by a drive shaft that turns the mower blade.
Gas vs. Electric
Handheld brush cutters come with gas or electric power; there are no electric models in the other types of brush cutters. Gas-powered cutters provide plenty of power and extended cutting time. Electric brush cutters operate quietly; keep the air clean; and eliminate cost, handling, and storage of liquid fuels.
Electric brush cutters work great for mowing down an overgrown vegetable garden at season’s end or maintaining small natural areas that are not regularly mowed. Electric power is an especially good choice if the tool is only used a few times a year because it eliminates the worry over stored fuel going bad. Power and battery life both limit the use of electric brush cutters on larger properties.
Although a few four-cycle models are available, most handheld models feature two-cycle engines that require mixed fuel (two-cycle oil mixed into the gasoline). That adds a layer of preparation time and expense. The four-cycle alternatives are heavier, which increases user fatigue, but adds power and pollutes less than two-cycle models.
Power translates directly to working ability. A more powerful brush cutter cuts faster and more smoothly than its less powerful competitor. Increased power helps where the conditions become more adverse, such as thicker weeds and brush or uneven terrain. When all else is equal, the more powerful machine is more capable.
Cordless electric brush cutters measure power in volts and are rated between 18 and 84 volts. Gas-powered engines measure in cubic centimeters of displacement. Handheld brush cutters range from 24cc to 50cc. Handheld brush cutters with power over 56 volts or 35cc are considered heavy duty.
Walk-behind brush cutters and tow-behind cutters with their own engines normally list the engine size in horsepower (hp), although some manufacturers may show it in cc. There are approximately 14cc per 1 hp. You can easily convert cc to hp for an equal comparison (cc/14 = hp.) Most walk-behinds produce between 11 and 20 hp.
Tow-behind brush cutters that run via PTO need enough horsepower to run efficiently. Consult the tractor or ATV manufacturer’s information to learn how much horsepower a PTO supplies. The rule of thumb is that for every foot of cutter width, the PTO must supply 5 hp. A 5-foot brush cutter needs about 25 hp from the PTO.
The cutting width is the width of a single pass with the brush cutter. It determines both how quickly a cutter can complete the work and how much space the machine requires for access to the site. Handhelds range from 9 to 18 inches, walk-behinds are 24 to 26 inches, and tow-behind cutters range from 4 to 15 feet.
Wider cutters use more power and can more easily bog down in dense vegetation. Narrow models are slower. Tow-behind brush cutters should cut wider than the width of the tractor; otherwise, the tractor will drive over some vegetation twice before the mower passes over it. Also consider the width of narrow access points the machine must pass, such as gates or closely growing trees.
Walk-behind and tow-behind brush cutters come with heavy-gauge steel housing, rugged pneumatic tires, and powerful engines that hold up in rough working conditions. Handheld brush cutters are more of a gradient from light-duty string trimmers to powerful brush cutting machines. For optimal durability, use these machines to do the tasks for which they are best suited.
When converted with brush cutting heads, string trimmers with engines between 24 and 35cc are adequate for limited use on thick grass and tall weeds. Heavy-duty string trimmers with larger engines can be converted for cutting thick weeds, woody vines, and small saplings. True handheld brush cutters, with powerful 40cc to 50cc engines, can extend to cutting thick, dense, woody vegetation.
Tools that perform multiple tasks offer great value. Both handheld and walk-behind brush cutters are made as dedicated pieces of equipment, but most owners only use them a few times each year. Consider buying brush-cutter attachments for devices that perform other lawn-care tasks.
The benefit of converting a string trimmer to a brush cutter by changing the head is that the extra head takes up virtually no storage space and extends the usefulness of existing equipment. It only takes a few minutes and simple hand tools to remove the string trimmer head from the end of the shaft and replace it with a brush-cutter head.
Handheld power heads run lots of different tools, including string trimmers, lawn edgers, pole saws, hedge trimmers, brush cutters, and more. Power heads feature quick-change shafts that only take a few seconds to switch between devices. Power heads are more powerful than basic string trimmers and save the owner hundreds of dollars or more by using one engine for all needs.
Similarly, walk-behind tractors are power heads that can do far more work than dedicated brush cutters. A walk-behind tractor lets the owner switch from brush cutter to rototiller, snow blower, firewood splitter, pressure washer, and many other useful implements.
Anyone going the multiuse route will want to look closely at how the power head attaches to the cutter. Some large brands use proprietary attachment systems, which might work well but tie the owner to that specific manufacturer. All future purchases also must feature the same attachment system. You can find good value in nonproprietary, or universal, attachment systems that interface with virtually all similar devices.
Q. How do you use a brush cutter?
Always operate the blade parallel to the ground. Because the blade spins counterclockwise, cut with the left side to avoid kickback. Use a brush cutter with a blade with fewer than eight teeth and a long sweeping motion to cut grass. For tall, woody shrubs, use a tri blade. Begin with the blade at waist height and lower the blade onto the material. Using a circular saw blade, only cut saplings 2 inches in diameter and smaller. Use a chainsaw for larger trees.
Always be aware of others in the area who might be harmed by flying debris. Wear hearing protection, safety glasses, work gloves, long pants, and work boots to protect yourself.
Q. How do you sharpen a brush cutter blade?
Sharpen the steel brush cutter blades with either an angle grinder or a bench grinder. If using a bench grinder, hold the blade edge at a 45-degree angle to the grinder. Press the blade steadily against the grinder as you slowly work the blade across the grinder from its center to the edge. Flip the blade and sharpen the other edge. If using an angle grinder, the process is similar, except the blade is clamped in a vice and the grinder moves across the blade.
Q. What type of engines do brush cutters use?
Handheld brush cutters use electric motors, two-cycle gas engines, or four-cycle gas engines. Walk-behind and tow-behind brush cutters use gas engines.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.