The Best String Trimmers of 2021

A string trimmer tackles edges and areas not accessible by a mower, elevating the crisp look of a yard.

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The Best String Trimmer Option

Photo: amazon.com

String trimmers are designed to help maintain plant growth along edges and in those out-of-the-way areas of a yard. While there are different types of string trimmers out there to suit different users and applications, all use a weed eater string that is released through the feed system to trim around flower beds, lawn ornaments, pathways, and other obstacles to maintain clean edges and boundaries around a yard.

This guide offers tips on choosing the best string trimmer, also referred to as weed eaters or weed whackers, for your landscaping needs. Keep reading to find recommendations for some of the best high-quality options on the market that deliver performance, reliability, and ease of use.

  1. BEST OVERALL: WORX WG170 GT Revolution 20V 12 Inch Grass Trimmer
  2. RUNNER-UP: Remington 25cc 2-Cycle 16-Inch Straight Shaft Trimmer
  3. BEST BUDGET: BLACK+DECKER 5-Amp Electric String Trimmer/Edger
  4. UPGRADE PICK: Makita XRU15Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Trimmer
  5. BEST LIGHTWEIGHT: BLACK+DECKER 20V Max String Trimmer/Edger
  6. BEST HEAVY-DUTY: HUSQVARNA 17″ 2 Cycle Gas Powered String Trimmer
  7. BEST FOR SMALL YARDS: WORX GT 3.0 20V PowerShare 12″ Cordless Trimmer
  8. BEST WITH AUTO FEED: BLACK+DECKER 40V MAX String Trimmer/Edger
  9. ALSO CONSIDER: EGO Power+ 15-Inch 56-Volt Cordless String Trimmer
The Best String Trimmer Option

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best String Trimmer

To help make the best decision before deciding on a product, consider a few important factors, including the size and weight, fuel source, battery life, run time, shaft design, safety features, and more. With an understanding of these features, it’s easier to interpret product specifications and decide on the best string trimmer for maintaining your yard.

Size and Weight

Using a string trimmer for a long period can be tiring, so it’s important to consider the size and weight of the trimmer before deciding on a product. Electric string trimmers tend to only weigh between 5 to 12 pounds, while gas trimmers are considered lightweight at 10 pounds and can be as heavy as 20 pounds. If you don’t need the power output of a heavy-duty gas weed eater, then an electric trimmer is a better choice for a lightweight and maneuverable power tool.

The size of the trimmer is generally determined by the length and shape of the shaft. The longer the trimmer shaft, the better the range, but this extra length also increases the weight and can make the trimmer more difficult to store. Consider a product with an adjustable shaft length for easy storage and efficient trimming.

Fuel Source

String trimmers are powered by gasoline, electricity, or a rechargeable battery; the right type for you depends on the size of your yard and the extent of your maintenance needs.

  • Gas-powered models are powerful and, of course, do not need to be plugged in. That gives users of a gas-powered string trimmer the ability to move freely when using the tool. Gas-powered trimmers typically handle long weeds and heavy brush better than their electric-powered counterparts. String trimmers are noisy tools in general, but gas models are the loudest of the group. Gas trimmers are typically heavier and more expensive than electric models as well.
  • Electric-powered models tend to be more lightweight and user-friendly than gas options. Corded electric string trimmers occasionally pose maneuverability problems, as the cord can get tangled or limit the tool user’s movement. That said, corded electric string trimmers are among the most budget-friendly options out there.
  • Cordless string trimmers tend to cost a bit more than corded models but are often very easy to maneuver. The downside is that the batteries must be recharged between each use, and they don’t always perform as well as corded models.

Battery Life and Runtime

The best string trimmers can run on gas, a direct electrical connection, or a battery. The string trimmers that operate on a battery have the same freedom of movement as a gas trimmer, but the user doesn’t need to worry about the heavy weight. However, they do need to be concerned about the battery life and the run time of the tool.

The specific battery life can be a difficult feature to gauge, as several different factors can influence the efficiency of a battery, including temperature, operating speed, and even the type of grass or weeds the trimmer is cutting. The run time provided by manufacturers is based on tests performed in a controlled environment for ideal conditions. With this in mind, choose a cordless trimmer with a backup battery, so that one is always charging while the other is in use.

Shaft Design

The two most common designs for string trimmer shafts are curved and straight. These shaft types vary in length and functionality, and one may be better suited for your needs.

  • Curved-shaft string trimmers feature a bend at the end of the shaft, near the blades, which makes them shorter in length. That shorter length (and sometimes lighter weight) makes these types of trimmers comfortable to use.
  • Straight-shaft string trimmers boast greater reach for tall users and for those who need to trim far beneath shrubbery or unique landscape features. Straight-shaft models generally tend to be the heavier of the two types.

Feeding and Loading

Feeding and loading are some of the more challenging parts of using a string trimmer. Cutting the actual grass and weeds requires strength, control, and caution, but loading the cutting string takes patience, especially when dealing with a dual-line head that has two weed eater strings. To help make this task easier, consider products that have a detachable head so you don’t have to deal with the entire trimmer while changing the line.

Feeding the line refers to pulling more line out of the trimmer head and there are several different feeding methods, including manual feeders, bump feeders, and auto feeders.

  • Manual feeders require the user to stop trimming, loosen the head of the trimmer, manually pull the line out, and tighten the trimmer head again before continuing to work. This time-consuming process can quickly become irritating.
  • Bump feeders are much easier to use and don’t require the user to stop working. Just bump the head of the trimmer on the ground or another hard object and the head will push out more trimmer string.
  • Auto feeders are the easiest to use. They have a pre-wound head that automatically feeds the trimmer string using centrifugal force. This auto-feed feature means that the length of the string is constantly self-correcting to the ideal length.

Safety

Before picking up a string trimmer, keep in mind that this device is made for cutting through layers of tough cellulose plant fiber while hitting walls, rocks, and other objects at high speeds. Always handle the string trimmer with proper precautions and consider products that have built-in safety features like debris guards, trigger switches, and padded grips to help reduce vibration.

  • Debris guards are typically a half-circle shell made from protective plastic that sits around the string trimmer head to keep the user safe from flying grass, dirt, rocks, and other debris. Even with a guard, some flying grass can escape, which is why users need to wear safety glasses, long pants, and closed-toe shoes while working.
  • Trigger switches are intended to prevent the trimmer from being turned on accidentally. It’s a simple feature that locks the trigger unless the switch is being held. With the switch held down, the trigger can be used normally.
  • Padded grips on the shaft and handle of the power tool help reduce vibrations through the trimmer. Strong and continuous vibrations can cause muscle fatigue and strain, but this padding keeps the user’s hands protected and makes it easier to grip the trimmer.

Additional Features

With any tool or device, there will be manufacturers and innovators interested in adding new features to improve on the old design and make the tool better for users. For string trimmers, these additional features can include ergonomic handles, edging tools, and trimmer head attachments.

  • Ergonomic handles make it easier to hold and maneuver the string trimmer, as oddly placed handles can mean a fight with the extended weight of the trimmer. The more suited the position of the handles to the natural movement of a human body, the easier the tool is to use with less muscle fatigue and the chance of injury.
  • Edging tools are sometimes included as separate devices in a bundle with a string trimmer. However, there are string trimmers that have a built-in edging tool, allowing them to be used for both trimming and edging the lawn and garden. These combined edging and trimming tools are useful for small to medium yards, but it may be better to invest in a separate edging tool for homes with larger yards.
  • Trimmer head attachments can include both saw and brush attachments. The saw is excellent for cutting through sticks and thick brush that have fallen, though it should not be used for logs or planks of wood. A brush attachment quickly cleans up the sidewalk or driveway after trimming by brushing stray grass and dirt back onto the lawn or into a lawn bag.

Our Top Picks

The string trimmers below were chosen based on the size, weight, fuel type, safety features, and overall performance, with a further emphasis on the other important factors mentioned above. These are among the best string trimmer tools for keeping the yard and garden maintained and manicured.

Best Overall

The Best String Trimmer Option: WORX WG170 GT Revolution 20V 12 Inch Grass Trimmer
Photo: amazon.com

The 5.5-pound cordless string trimmer comes with two batteries and a charger so that the trimmer can be used with one battery while the other is charging. A push-button string feed and spool holder allow the string to be fed on demand simply by pushing a button on the handle of the trimmer. This 20-volt string trimmer can operate for up to 1 hour on a single battery. And it has a long 4.5-foot shaft with an adjustable handle to adapt to users of almost any size.

Trim, edge, or cut the grass with this cordless string trimmer designed for use as a precision string trimmer, a wheeled edging tool, and a mini-mower. Just turn the head of the trimmer to suit the function and use the built-in guide wheel to support the edging and mowing function. Available through Amazon and The Home Depot.

Pros

  • Light and easy to carry
  • Customizable to the size of the user
  • Three tools in one

Cons

  • Limited run time


Runner-Up

The Best String Trimmer Option: Remington 25cc 2-Cycle 16-Inch Straight Shaft Trimmer
Photo: amazon.com

This gas string trimmer weighs 14 pounds and comes with an adjustable handle that can be moved up or down the 3-foot shaft of the trimmer for better control and to reduce user fatigue. The handle can be positioned so that both right- and left-handed individuals can use the trimmer without a problem, making it a great choice for homes where more than one person is responsible for lawn care.

The trimmer’s narrow 16-inch cutting width and dual-line head enable users to maneuver the cutting head between lawn ornaments, trees, and other obstacles for more precise trimming. This Remington gas string trimmer uses a bump-feed system and has a straight shaft, making it a good option for trimming underneath bushes and fences as well as cutting grass and weeds in hard-to-reach places, like under a deck or behind a shed. Available through Amazon and Lowe’s.

Pros

  • Larger, 16-inch cutting swath
  • Thicker string for tougher cuts
  • Ergonomic design
  • Gas power but with quick-start technology

Cons

  • Louder operation


Best Budget

Best String Trimmer

With a trimming radius of 13 inches and a wheel to support the edging tool function, this straight-shaft string trimmer offers more than satisfying performance for its budget-friendly price. It weighs just 5.4 pounds and has a 3-foot shaft with an adjustable handle so users of various heights can work with the trimmer.

Besides the ability to convert into an edger for extra precision when necessary or desired, this model from Black & Decker also includes an automatic feed spool for the trimmer string to allow users to continue working without having to bump the head of the trimmer or stop for manual feeding. Available through Amazon and The Home Depot.

Pros

  • Light and easy to carry
  • Customizable to the size of the user
  • Doubles as a wheeled edger

Cons

  • Limited by the length of the cord(s)


Upgrade Pick

The Best String Trimmer Option: Makita XRU15Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Trimmer
Photo: amazon.com

This Makita string trimmer is a premium option to keep the lawn and garden under control, and it can handle small to large yards with enough power to tackle dense weed growth. The cordless string trimmer is a step above the rest with dual-battery capabilities that extend the run time to about 1.5 hours so the user doesn’t need to worry about running out of power before the job is done.

The trimmer has a 15-inch trimming radius and a dual-string cutting head with a bump-feed system for quick trimmer string feeding that doesn’t interrupt the work. It operates at three speed settings, ranging from low to high, and weighs 11 pounds. This string trimmer is offered as a stand-alone tool, bundled with a battery, in a kit with two batteries and two chargers, or fully equipped with two chargers, four batteries, and the trimmer. Available through Amazon and The Home Depot.

Pros

  • Larger, 15-inch cutting swath
  • Extendable run time
  • Three speed settings

Cons

  • Heavier for an electric model (11 pounds)


Best Lightweight

The Best String Trimmer Option: BLACK+DECKER 20V Max String Trimmer Edger
Photo: amazon.com

Weighing just 6.3 pounds, this lightweight string trimmer is easy to carry, maneuver, and control with an adjustable handle and a safety trigger switch to prevent the trimmer from accidentally starting up. The 12-inch trimming radius is small but suitable for keeping the lawn properly maintained without damaging fencing, decks, trees, or other common yard obstacles.

This cordless string trimmer operates with a 20-volt battery that can last for up to 45 minutes before it needs to be recharged. It also comes with a spare battery, so one can always be on the charger in case it’s needed for longer jobs. If edging needs to be done, just turn the head of the trimmer and use the built-in wheel to balance as the trimmer string handles the edging. Available through Amazon and The Home Depot.

Pros

  • Light and easy to carry
  • Customizable to the size of user
  • Doubles as an edger

Cons

  • Limited run time


Best Heavy-Duty

The Best String Trimmer Option: HUSQVARNA 17 2 Cycle Gas Powered String Trimmer
Photo: tractorsupply.com

The Husqvarna 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 allows users 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 helps the Husqvarna to be more maneuverable and balanced so users have an easier time handling the power tool while they work. It 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. Available at Tractor Supply and Lowe’s.

Pros

  • Larger, 17-inch cutting swath
  • Ergonomic grip
  • Designed for large yards

Cons

  • Heavier weight and harder to maneuver


Best for Small Yards

The Best String Trimmer Option: WORX WG163 PowerShare 12 Cordless Trimmer & Edger
Photo: amazon.com

Those who only need to worry about maintaining a small yard may find this lightweight string trimmer an excellent option. It weighs just 6 pounds and can convert from a trimmer to an edging tool. The trimmer also has a built-in wheel to help balance the tool while edging. It comes with two 20-volt batteries and a battery charger, enabling users to keep one battery on the charger while the other is in use.

A push-button feed system gives the user the ability to extend the trimmer string without having to resort to bumping the 12-inch trimmer head or manually pulling additional string from the trimmer. The battery lasts for up to 30 minutes on a full charge, giving the user lots of time to tackle edging and trimming for a small yard. Available through Amazon and The Home Depot.

Pros

  • Light and easy to carry
  • Compatible with WORX 20V and 40V batteries
  • Doubles as a wheeled edger

Cons

  • Limited run time


Best with Auto Feed

The Best String Trimmer Option: BLACK+DECKER 40V MAX String Trimmer Edger
Photo: amazon.com

Those who have dealt with manual string trimmers know that it’s better to invest in a product with an auto-feed feature that automatically extends the trimming line instead of having to regularly stop to pull more string out of the trimmer head by hand. The 40-volt battery drives the 13-inch trimming head for up to 1 hour before needing to be replaced.

This cordless string trimmer has a trigger switch for safety as well as a metal loop that can fold down and give the trimmer balanced support, allowing it to be used as an edging tool. It weighs just 6.4 pounds and has a 3.5-foot-long shaft with an adjustable handle to accommodate users of varying heights. Available through Amazon and The Home Depot.

Pros

  • Light and easy to carry
  • Customizable to the size of user
  • Doubles as an edger

Cons

  • Limited run time


Also Consider

The Best String Trimmer Option: EGO Power+ 15-Inch 56-Volt Cordless String Trimmer
Photo: amazon.com

Powered by a highly efficient 56-volt battery, the EGO Power+ string trimmer operates with a quiet-running electric motor. As this is a cordless model, it can be used anywhere, with the only limitation being battery life which maxes out at about 1 hour. With a lightweight and extendable aluminum shaft, the EGO Power+ trims growth quickly and efficiently across a generous 15-inch cutting swath.

It has a straight shaft that’s ideal for trimming grass and weeds around the garden, rocks, lawn ornaments, and other common yard obstacles. However, the dual-string line needs to be manually pulled from the head of the trimmer when the string gets too short, which is a hassle for some users. Available through Amazon and Lowe’s.

Pros

  • Generous 15-inch cutting swath
  • Thicker, .095-inch string
  • Quiet motor with gas power performance

Cons

  • Heavy for an electric model (9 pounds)


Our Verdict

Unencumbered by cords, the battery-powered WORX 20V GT Revolution grass trimmer is our top recommendation for users with small to medium yards because of its light weight (less than 6 pounds!) and easy maneuverability. Plus, it’s great for small garages, too: It does the job of a precision string trimmer, an in-line wheeled edger, and a mini-mower. Those attending to larger properties or stronger weeds should invest in something a bit more heavy-duty like the Remington trimmer boasts a 25cc gas engine and a 16-inch, dual-string cutting swath.

How We Chose the Best String Trimmers

String trimmers range in type and features, some of the most important considerations being your specific yard but also the cutting coverage, power, and ergonomic design of the model. These recommendations for the best string trimmers all have cutting width between 12 to 16 inches and variable power settings to allow users the option to tackle long runs and target increased power on difficult terrain. Many even have customizable height options so that users don’t overextend themselves and most weigh less than 7 pounds (excluding those with gas engines and heavy-duty batteries).

The power source is not to be overlooked, either. In this roundup, you’ll notice only two gas-powered recommendations for more heavy-duty landscaping needs. While they may be better suited for large yards with dense weed growth, more neighborhoods and cities are adopting regulations around the noise and air pollution associated with gas engines. For these reasons, the rest of our top picks are electric. Corded trimmers are a good choice for small- to medium yards if you don’t mind the extension cord, and cordless trimmers allow users to cover slightly larger properties without worrying about where the nearest electrical outlet is located. When recommending battery-powered options, we focused on ones that have at least one extra battery to always have a spare on the charger.

FAQs

If you’re still unsure about how to use a string trimmer or how an automatic feed system works, the following answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about these tools may help.

Q: Can a string trimmer cut weeds?

A string trimmer is used to cut and control weed growth around the home and garden. However, light-duty trimmers may have issues with very dense weed growth.

Q: Can you use a string trimmer to cut grass?

A string trimmer can be used to cut grass, though you need to be careful not to cut the grass too short while trying to keep the trimmer balanced. It isn’t the easiest way to cut the grass, but it is possible.

Q: Can you edge with a string trimmer?

Yes, a string trimmer can be used for edging the garden, driveway, walkway, or sidewalk. If you have a large yard, it may be better to invest in a separate edging tool.

Q: How do you edge a lawn with a string trimmer?

Hold the string trimmer perpendicular to the lawn to keep the cut even. Position the head about 4 inches off the soil so the string has space to rotate. The string should rotate and cut through the grass and dirt. As you move along the desired borders, keep the head balanced and even. Clean up the cut grass and dirt to finish the job.

Q: How does an automatic feed string trimmer work?

The automatic feed system has a pre-wound head that uses centrifugal force to release and pull the string from the trimmer head. The system detects the length of the trimmer string and regularly self-corrects to the ideal length.