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.
- BEST OVERALL: BLACK+DECKER 40V MAX String Trimmer/Edger
- RUNNER-UP: Remington 25cc 2-Cycle 16-Inch Straight Shaft Trimmer
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: BLACK+DECKER 5-Amp Electric String Trimmer/Edger
- BEST LIGHTWEIGHT: BLACK+DECKER 20V Max String Trimmer/Edger
- BEST HEAVY-DUTY: HUSQVARNA 17″ 2 Cycle Gas Powered String Trimmer
- BEST FOR SMALL YARDS: WORX GT 3.0 20V PowerShare 12″ Cordless Trimmer
- ALSO CONSIDER: EGO Power+ 15-Inch 56-Volt Cordless String Trimmer
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, runtime, 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 of time 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.
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 runtime of the tool.
The specific battery life can be a difficult feature to gauge, as there are a number of different factors that can influence the efficiency of a battery, including temperature, operating speed, and even the type of grass or weeds the trimmer is cutting. The runtime 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.
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 on 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.
Before picking up a string trimmer, keep in mind that this device is literally 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.
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.
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.
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 the lawn care.
The trimmer’s narrow 16-inch cutting width and dual-line head enables 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
FAQs About String Trimmers
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.
String trimmers, also called weed eaters or weed whackers, come in several different types and can range in size, weight, and features, so it’s important to look for a tool that suits your specific needs. Keep in mind that gas trimmers are better for large yards with dense weed growth, electric trimmers are a good choice if you don’t mind the extension cord, and cordless trimmers are suited for small- to medium-size yards, though users should invest in at least one extra battery to always have a spare on the charger.