Often referred to as a weed wacker, string trimmer, weed eater, or line trimmer, this tool is essential for complete yard care and maintenance. String trimmers are invaluable in helping to knock down those blades of grass your mower can’t reach such as around shrubs or fence posts. When we talk about using them as a form of weed control, they are referred to as weed whackers or weed eaters. Either way, it is the same tool serving a different purpose. These tools work by using a flexible line or string instead of a blade to cut through grass and weeds. It is important to note that while string trimmers can be used for edging lawns, we are not referring to edgers, which are a completely separate outdoor power tool. There are a range of string trimmers on the market with a variety of different features. They can be narrowed down into three main groups: gas-powered, battery-powered, or corded.
Gas-Powered String Trimmers
As the name suggests, gas-powered string trimmers require gasoline to run. They typically run on 2-cycle gasoline, which requires mixing gas and oil for the engine. Gas-powered models offer a longer running time than battery-powered models and are usually lighter in weight. Gas-powered trimmers are better for larger jobs and tend to be the most powerful option.
Electric String Trimmers
For smaller jobs or ones that are closer to the home (and therefore an outlet), electric string trimmers are a good option. They offer a reasonable amount of power and can handle most basic jobs around the home. As long as you are plugged into an outlet, electric string trimmers can run as long as you need them to. The downside is that the length of your extension cord limits the range of use.
Battery Powered String Trimmers
Battery operated string trimmers offer the best of both gas and electric string trimmers. You have the mobility of a gas-powered machine with the benefit of not having to mix gasoline for the engine. Battery-powered string trimmers tend to have less power than gas-powered trimmers.
String trimmers have two different shaft types–straight or curved. The shaft type is generally a matter of preference and comfort for the user. A curved shaft can be slightly more comfortable to hold for the user over long periods. Straight shaft trimmers offer users a bit more length to reach underneath shrubs or around fence posts. Both have their benefits and are ultimately a feature that simply comes down to preference.
There are three main types of head-feeding systems for string trimmers–bump-feed, automatic feed, and fixed-line systems. With a bump feed trimmer, you simply bump the trimmer head on the ground to activate a spring-loaded mechanism. This feeds out a new length of the line from the coil inside the head as necessary throughout the job. Automatic feeds use the same type of mechanism that bump-feed heads use to replace the line automatically. Fixed-line systems use individual lengths of line that are loaded into the trimmer one at a time. Each of these feeding systems have their own pros and cons as well.
Best String Trimmer Resources
Trying to discern legitimate reviews from paid or sponsored reviews can be difficult. It is hard to determine what content online is from somebody who knows what they’re talking about or somebody who got paid to say something good about a specific product. We have compiled a few of the best resources when it comes to purchasing a string trimmer to take the guesswork out of them.
For decades, Consumer Reports has been a go-to resource for buying anything from cribs to cars. And yes, they reviewed string trimmers, too. Experts tested 68 different models of string trimmers to bring the best to buyers. They performed unbiased tests for things like trimming, edging, handling, and ease of use.
Popular Mechanics is another reliable source for consumer buying information. They spent several days comparing six heavy-duty string trimmers. Pushing these six different models to their limits, they cut through hundreds of yards of edges of trails, barns, outbuildings and stone walls to weed out the clunkers and to announce a victor.
Lowe’s offers a comprehensive buying guide as well. Their short 40-second video helps narrow down the selection process by asking a few questions about how you intend to use your trimmer. How mobile do you need to be? Where will you be working? How long will you be working? They also offer a small chart to help identify the type of string trimmer you will need to get the job done.
The Sweet Home reviewed seven different models of string trimmers. Testers cleared over 12,500 square feet of an overgrown field and over 6000 linear feet along walls and fences to provide us with results that can be applied to our own homes. Not only did a clear winner emerge from testing these trimmers to their fullest potential, but they also give some good picks for runners up in a variety of price ranges.
ConsumerSearch reviewed string trimmers a bit differently. They break down the best models by category — cordless, gasoline-powered, and corded trimmers. They also offer suggestions for where to purchase the models they tested and give a cheaper option for string trimmers for those working with a budget.
This last review from Weed Eater Guides combines user reviews from around the web to help consumers select the best weed eater they can purchase. They also offer a buying guide as well as comprehensive lists of pros and cons for the top models. For a truly one-stop shop, they also provide links directly to products on Amazon, so you don’t have to try to track down the exact model you decide to purchase.
String Trimmer Manufacturers
Just as there are hundreds of different string trimmers available on the market with hundreds of different options and features, there are many different manufacturers. Not all manufacturers are created equally, either. Some have been around for centuries while others have been producing string trimmers for only a few years. Here are some of the most well-known string trimmer manufacturers.
Black & Decker – Founded in Baltimore in 1910, Black + Decker has been an acknowledged name in consumer goods for over 100 years. They offer a large variety of tools, kitchen gadgets, and fasteners all for reasonable prices. With over 20 different models of string trimmers to choose from starting at around $40, their electric and battery-powered string trimmers offer a suitable tool for just about any of your trimming needs.
Craftsman – The Craftsman name was trademarked by Sears in 1927 with their line of power tools gracing their famous catalog just two years later in 1927. Craftsman tools have been known for generations as a good quality tool at a reasonable price. They offer around 20 different models of string trimmers. With electric, battery-powered and gasoline-powered trimmers, Craftsman has a string trimmer for almost any landscaping need.
Cub Cadet – When most people think of the brand Cub Cadet, they think about the iconic yellow and white riding lawnmower. The company began in Kentucky in 1960. While they still manufacture high-quality mowers, they also produce a full line of outdoor power tools including string trimmers.
Dewalt – Started in Pennsylvania in 1924, Dewalt was founded by the man who invented the radial arm saw. As of 2015, Dewalt has seven manufacturing facilities in the United States. Their array of power tools includes four types of string trimmers. All of their trimmers run on lithium-ion batteries.
Echo – In 1972, in a suburban Chicago town, the Kioritz Corporation of America was founded. It later was established under the name Echo in 1978. Since then, Echo has been a leading manufacturer of professional-grade handheld tools around the world. Along with chainsaws and blowers, Echo also manufactures professional-grade string trimmers.
Greenworks – Greenworks tools has its worldwide headquarters stationed out of North Carolina. The company was founded to help eliminate emissions citing 800 million gallons worth of gas used each year for lawn maintenance and more than 17 million of those gallons of gas accidentally spilled while refueling. Their electric outdoor power tools are designed to produce no emissions, ever.
Metabo HPT – This Japanese company, formerly known as Hitachi Power Tools, manufactures over 1000 different types of power tools. The company was founded in 1948 to manufacture coal mining machinery. In 1980, Hitachi Power Tools USA was founded. Today, along with over 1000 types of power tools, Metabo HPT manufactures several kinds of string trimmers.
Homelite – Homelite got its start in the United States in 1921. Having been in business for nearly a century now, they are well known for bringing a lighter weight gas generator to the market. Their chainsaws are perhaps the most well-known of their power tools, however, they offer a line of string trimmers which includes 4-different models.
Honda – More than just cars and motorcycles, Honda also manufactures professional quality power tools. Since 1953, Honda has been producing fuel-efficient tools. Headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia, Honda Power Equipment produces over 70 different power tools for different needs. Among them are five different types of string trimmers and brush cutters.
Husqvarna – The oldest of all the companies here, Husqvarna is an ancient Swedish company that got its start as a weapons foundry. For centuries, Husqvarna produced guns along with a range of other products including sewing machines and bicycles. Today they are best known for their high-quality power tools.
Kobalt (Lowe’s Brand) – The Kobalt brand was launched in 1998 as the house brand of tools for Lowe’s. The home improvement store partnered with Kobalt to provide quality tools at a reasonable price, and the Kobalt brand often goes head-to-head with larger name-brand companies. They sell five different battery-powered string trimmers in Lowe’s stores across the country.
Makita – Makita Corporation was founded in Japan in 1915. In 1958, they became the first company in Japan to manufacture and sell portable electric planers. Most people recognize the blue drill manufactured by Makita, but they also produce a vast assortment of outdoor power tools. Their string trimmers come in six different models.
Milwaukee – This company was founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1924. The company really took off in the 1960s when home construction was booming in the United States. The sales of their power tools made them a recognized name when it came to hand tools and power tools. Milwaukee has only one string trimmer in its arsenal of tools, but it is sold as a standalone unit or as a kit. The trimmer alone retails for $199.
Poulan – The Poulan line of power tools is geared towards mid-grade price and usage. They are most well-known for their outdoor power tools including chainsaws and leaf blowers, but also have a decent group of string trimmers to offer consumers.
Remington – Headquartered out of Ohio, Remington was founded in 1932. Many people know Remington from their bicycles, but they are also more recently known for producing outdoor power tools.
Ryobi – This is Home Depot’s house brand of tools. Ryobi was originally founded in 1943 and is currently only sold in Home Depot in the United States. They have over 20 different types of string trimmers to choose from as well as several other kits which include edger attachments and batteries.
Stihl – Founded in Germany, Stihl has been producing chainsaws since 1926. They are the only company who manufactures its own guide bars and chains for its chainsaws. Stihl is also well-known for providing other outdoor landscaping equipment and power tools. They sell many different models of professional and home use string trimmers through authorized dealers in the United States.
Toro – The Toro Tool Company was founded in Minnesota in 1914. They originally manufactured engine parts for tractors and later evolved to selling lawnmowers and other outdoor power tools.
Worx – Worx is a Chinese company that was founded in 1994. When the company began, it sold power tools to other companies like Black + Decker. In 2004, the company launched its own tools in China. Today, their United States headquarters are located in North Carolina, and they are noted for their durable and rugged tools.
String trimmers are one of the most important outdoor power tools to have in order to keep your lawn looking fresh, clean, and well-manicured. It gets those hard-to-reach areas around walkways, fence posts, and underneath brush that a lawnmower can’t reach. For tougher jobs, they can be used to clear large areas of high, thick grass, weeds, and other vegetation. Whatever your individual needs, there is a string trimmer to fit any need and any budget.