What is a String Trimmer?
String trimmers are lightweight, versatile outdoor power tools used to rid weeds and grass from your garden. Trimmers come in various models; you can get gasoline-powered trimmers or electric weed eaters with battery-operated engines. These have a spinning head at the bottom of a long shaft. The head features a rapidly spinning monofilament string that uses centrifugal force to help the trimmer cut through weeds easily and efficiently. (Click here for our comprehensive review).
The major benefit of the string trimmer is that it can reach spots that lawn mowers can’t. These lightweight power tools can trim weeds and grass along driveways, sidewalks, fences, trees, and flower beds, creating neat and manicured yards. Some models even feature a rotating head, allowing it to serve as an edger as well as a trimmer. It comes as no surprise that these tools are an essential part of any homeowner’s landscaping arsenal.
String Trimmer Pros and Cons
If you’re wondering whether purchasing a string trimmer is right for you, consider the advantages and disadvantages these tools offer. Thousands of homeowners and landscaping professionals count on string trimmers to maintain lawns, but they’re not the perfect tool for everyone. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons involved with this power tool.
The main benefit of string trimmers is that they’re the perfect complement to lawn mowers. Due to the design, your mower won’t be able to hit certain tight spaces such as narrow walkways, sidewalks, driveways, fences, obstacles, trees, and flower beds. But the compact head of a string trimmer is perfect for getting into those areas and dealing with overgrown grass. String trimmers are also versatile and can even eliminate weedy patches that creep through cracks in the sidewalk.
Other perks of string trimmers include their price (they’re relatively affordable), weight, and how easy they are to store and use. There aren’t many cons of a string trimmer, but depending on what you need one for, it might not be the best tool for the job. Due to the small cutting width of these tools (most models can make a swath between 12” to 16”), they’re certainly not ideal for cutting large areas of grass. There are also some cons inherent to each style of trimmer.
While offering the most power, portability, and cutting performance, gas trimmers can be rather loud and emit fumes. Cordless models offer impressive power and portability, but you’re restricted to the life of the rechargeable battery. And corded models are the most affordable options on the market but limit you since you’re bound to an extension cord.
Grass Trimmers vs. Lawn Mowers
When it comes to lawn maintenance, it’s tough to compare a string trimmer with a mower since they both do different tasks remarkably well. A mower is the workhorse that tackles the bulk of the cutting, while a trimmer is the finisher, used to clean up spots that the mower might have missed. When these two tools work in tandem, yard work can be done quickly and with impressive results. Lawn mowers are designed to mow your lawn to a specific height.
Depending on the size of the lawn, homeowners can choose between various gas, electric, or battery-operated models as well as conventional walk-behind and riding mowers. These tools feature wide cutting decks with blades on their underside. They make a wide cutting path across the lawn, tackling large jobs fairly quickly and easily. String trimmers are the perfect finishing tool used to give your yard that professional, manicured look.
The tool features a rotating head that spins the string at an incredibly high velocity, allowing it to slice through patches of weeds and grass. These tools come in gas, electric, and battery-operated models. While trimmers don’t have the wide cutting path that can tackle a large area, their compact size is perfect for trimming around shrubs, fences, and garden beds while also removing weeds.
This makes the string trimmer the ideal tool to tidy up those spots the mower might have missed. While string trimmers and lawn mowers are both great tools that deliver clean, efficient results to lawns, the main thing to keep in mind is that they’re each best-suited for certain tasks. For example, mowers are more powerful and effective at mowing large grassy areas compared to struggling for hours with a trimmer.
Meanwhile, the mower won’t be able to neatly shear every grass blade along the fence or around a tree like a string trimmer can. But by combining the power and cutting width of a mower with the edging capability and maneuverability of a trimmer, you have all the tools needed to make your yard look its best.
How to Use a Line Trimmer for Edging
Besides being able to neatly trim grass along in hard-to-reach spaces, you can also use string trimmers to edge your property. Edging is used to clean up the parts of your yard that run parallel to each other, such as your sidewalk or driveway. To edge with a line trimmer, turn your tool so that the string is vertical. Now, simply walk your tool along the cut path to remove debris from the cut line.
Your trimmer will eject dirt, rocks, and grass as it proceeds, cleaning up the divide between your concrete and lawn. If you haven’t edged your lawn before, a good tip is not to try for a perfectly clean edge on the first attempt. Instead, just trim a bit more grass each week until you work up to the edging line you want. This will allow you to get a more uniform appearance and, once you have that perfect edge line, it will be easier to maintain.