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Finding The Best Weed Eaters: Buyers Guide

Weed eaters, also referred to as string trimmers, have been around for years, making garden maintenance easy for the average homeowner. Today, electric grass trimmers are becoming popular due to their environment friendliness and compact nature. Even the gas-powered varieties are far less polluting thanks to stricter environmental regulations around the world.

Echo PE-260 Gas Powered Lawn EdgerThere are lots of gas-powered models which have engines certified to meet federal regulations for 300 hours instead of the standard 50. The greater the number of hours, the lesser pollution they cause – plus, the engines are far more durable. However, these efficient gas powered machines are more expensive too, usually $200 and upwards.
Some of the best string trimmers can be the lightest, electric corded ones.On the other hand, corded electric weed eaters can edge, trim and even handle tall grass almost as well as their gas powered counterparts – light and inexpensive, this makes for a great economic choice.
The best weed trimmer from Black And Decker in a horizontal positionThen there are cordless trimmers that run on DC batteries which are great for smaller lawns and for people that don’t want to have to lug around an extension cord. No pull starting, no extension cord, just a battery. Pick it up and go!

Top 5 Weed Eater Comparisons

ModelPower SourceCutting Length WeightWarrantyOur Rating
Grass Snipper
Black + Decker LST136W
40V Battery137.8 lbs2 year4.5
Read Our Review
Greenworks-Corded-String-Trimmer
GreenWorks 21272
Corded157.05 lbs4 year3.8
Read Our Review
Grass trimmer that has an attachment to turn into a lawnmower with 4 wheels
Black + Decker MTC220
20V DC1214.4 lbs2 year4.1
BLACK+DECKER-GH900
Black + Decker GH900
Corded147.04 lbs2 year4.0
Read Our Review
husqvarna orange straight style trimmer
Husqvarna 967055801
4 Stroke1717 lbs2 year5.0
Read Our Review

String Trimmer Buying Guide

Finding the best trimmer can be difficult. Luckily Back Yard Boss has laid it out for you here in our buyers guide. Read on to find what you should be looking for or if you aren’t interested in the research, move onto our top 5 string trimmer reviews or view our comparison tables for a quick snapshot.

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Does It Handle Comfortably?

It is advisable to have an idea beforehand as to how the weed eater handles. In general, the weight of the trimmer must be evenly distributed, or it can be a bit heavier on the top. Make sure that the controls are smooth and easily accessible.

Safety

Weed trimmers can stir up debris. To avoid hurting yourself, think safety, put on safety goggles, boots and long pants. With the exception of cordless electric trimmers, most weed eaters operate at a minimum of 85 decibels, a noise level at which it is sensible to put on some ear protection.

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Does It Have A Gap?

Disassembled grass trimmer head with a man placing a new spool into the head.Weeds and tall grass can wrap themselves around the string trimmers cutting head, slowing it down or even stalling it as a result. This is especially true of weed wackers that have a considerable gap between the head and the mounting for the grass debris guard. Line trimmers with smaller gaps or a protective sleeve around their shaft will generally evade this issue.

Types of String Trimmers

Gas Powered

Echo PE-260 Gas Powered Lawn EdgerSome of the best string trimmers are gasoline powered. They are the ideal choice for dealing with weeds and tall grass. Most weigh between 9 and 13 pounds, but they’re still heavier than corded or battery powered weed wackers. The latest in gas powered trimmers are eco-friendly too, but they’re still loud enough to require hearing protection. Propane powered weed eaters are the most environment friendly, but are also more expensive to operate.

Electric

Green corded whipper snipper against a white backgroundCorded weed eaters cost the least, and also weighs under ten pounds. There’s no need of regular tune-ups, and starting them is as simple as pushing a button. Plus, they’re quieter than the gas models and totally eco-friendly, however, they are limited by the power cord, and some still merit the need of hearing protection.

 Battery Powered

Red and grey weed wacker in a horizontal positionCordless or battery powered string trimmers run on lithium Ion or NiCd batteries, and they come with advantage of being completely portable without any fumes, fueling or pull starting. The latest versions have commendable performance, but they still can’t beat the gas and corded models when it comes to tall weeds and grass. They also tend to be heavier than corded models, and will run between 20 to 50 minutes before requiring a recharge – that can take anywhere from half an hour to several hours. Perfect for your average urban yard.

Commercial

husqvarna orange straight style trimmerThe best commercial weed eaters can deal with brush just as well as weeds and grass, and are also able to power other attachments to handle different tasks. They work great in both small and large garden settings, and are highly durable, versatile and robust in operation. They’ll work continuously for a large period of time, but they’ll normally be powered by gasoline.

Wheeled or Walk Behind

wheeled string lawn mowerThese look to be a cross between a string trimmer and a lawn mower, and that’s probably because they’re a little bit of both. Wheeled weed eaters are powerful gardening tools which can deal with unyielding weeds and tall, thick grass within a matter of minutes. Also known as walk-behind string trimmers, they are ideal for rugged terrain that a regular mower can’t handle, or for vegetation that is too thick to be dealt with using conventional weed eaters.

Wheeled weed trimmers have large wheels, so they are more maneuverable on rough surfaces, and their wheels comprise of hard plastic or a Never Flat material which will never get a flat tire while working on rough ground. Their cutting width is also considerably larger than standard trimmers so they’ll cover more ground in one go too.

Grass trimmer that has an attachment to turn into a lawnmower with 4 wheels Some are designed to replace the lawnmower completely, as a stand alone whipper snipper, or an attachment to turn it into a lawnmower. This is great for smaller yards.

Weed Eater Heads

You’ll come across a number of models with hi-tech, intimidating names, but they can be divided into three basic categories based on their line feed design:

1) Bump Feed

Bump feed systems involve winding variable lengths of line around the trimmer’s spool, with two equal lengths being fed via openings present in the trimmer head. This system requires light tapping or ‘bumping’ of the trimmer’s bottom on the ground as you’re trimming. The line will advance when the spring system releases it through the outlets. This type of feed system is reliable and easy to use, and is also the most popular today.

Pros

The user controls how much line is being used. The bump feed is a simplified technique derived from string advancement. If it break downs, it can easily be repaired on the spot.

Cons

If your bump is excessively forceful, you may end up damaging the spring or the spool. Continuous use will eventually wear the head, which will then need to be replaced.

2) Automatic Feed

Lots of trimmer models today pack automatic feed systems. These are similar to the bump feed mechanism discussed above, but utilize a line spinning motor rather than requiring manual effort on your part.

Pros

You can focus your attention on the actual trimming instead of having to check on the line every few moments. Since you don’t have to tap the trimmer head, you can get the job done quicker too.

Cons

Just like with all other machines that have lots of moving parts, the motor might break down eventually. Replacing the automatic feed motor can become more of a bother than replacing the whole trimmer altogether!

3) Fixed Head

These systems utilize individual lengths of line which are threaded or loaded into the trimmer, as needed, one at a time. This saves the user from the trouble of winding line onto the head, and makes the entire exercise of handling trimmer line easier.

Pros

Fixed head systems are present more frequently in larger, commercial trimmers which come with thick, tougher string. The thicker string doesn’t break / wear as much, which means you don’t have to pause between trimming sessions to replace it.

Cons

You’ll still have to stop the trimmer to replace the trimming line, regardless of how infrequently this happens.

Curved vs Straight Shaft

The shaft is the part of the weed eater that transfers power from the motor or engine to the lines which cut the grass. Weed eater models that come with straight shafts have a greater reach, and they are better suited to tall users, and for reaching underneath shrubs and bushes. Models that have curved shafts are generally lighter and easier to maneuver. Click on the images to get a better look.

Top 5 Weed Eater Reviews

 Black & Decker LST136W 40V Max Lithium String Trimmer

Quick Info

  • Warranty: 3 Year Limited
  • Weight: 7.8 lbs
  • Type: Battery
  • Power: 36V or 40V (MAX) Li Ion
  • Battery life: 30~50 Depending on power setting
  • Cutting Path: 13in
  • Line Size: .065in (diameter)
  • Our String Trimmer Rating:4.5 Stars

One of the best weed trimmers on the market, this cordless electric weed eater from Black and Decker comes with a Power Drive Transmission which yields excellent power output for a battery powered motor, resulting in improved grass cutting performance as compared to other similar offerings. There’s also a Power Command dial which lets you choose between maximum power to handle unruly weed growth, and maximum runtime, to conserve battery life.

The Automatic Feed Spool ensures uninterrupted work minus the bumping and spool adjustment. The LST136W can also convert from a trimmer to an edger, through a simple shaft twist. It has a 13’’ cutting diameter, which is great for trimming overgrowth along borders, flower beds and sidewalks. Needless to say, the model has zero carbon emissions. It also works with a 36V Lithium Ion battery, or with a 40V Max* Lithium ion battery.

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Best Suited For

People with small to medium sized yards that want something easily portable and sports a few more features.

 GreenWorks 21272 4Amp 13-Inch Corded String Trimmer

Quick Info

  • Warranty: 4 Years
  • Weight: 7 lbs
  • Type: Corded
  • Power: 120V, 5.5A
  • Cutting Path: 15in
  • Line Size: Dual .065in (diameter)
  • Our Grass Trimmer Rating: 3.8 Stars

There are plenty of things that make the GreenWorks 21272 5.5Amp Corded String Trimmer a great choice. For starters, the 5.5 Amp, 120V motor ensures effective cutting through tough weeds and long grass. It comes with an automatic line feed system, that even indicates when a replenishment is required.

The handle of this weed eater can be rotated by 180 degrees which means you can easily use it to trim sidewalks and driveways too. The shaft is adjustable so a tall user won’t feel a lot of stress while operating it – all you need to do is change its height to suit you and you won’t have to hunch again! Since it is powered by electricity, you don’t have to concern yourself over a carbon footprint either.

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Best Suited For

People looking for an inexpensive option and don’t mind messing with a cord.

 Husqvarna 324L 4-Stroke Straight Shaft Gas Trimmer, 17-Inch

Quick Info

  • Warranty: 2 Years Limited
  • Weight: 11.25 lbs
  • Type: Gas
  • Power: 25cc, 4 stroke
  • Cutting Path: 17in
  • Line Size: .095in diameter
  • Our Line Trimmer Rating: 4.7 Stars

This is a powerful gas powered weed trimmer running on 25cc, 4 stroke engine, meant to accommodate commercial attachments like hedge trimmer, edger and pruner. It also comes with a blade kit. This weed eater perfectly fits Husqvarna’s profile of quality, reliability and proven performance. It works great for small and medium sized lawns, yards and gardens, and is versatile enough to handle all of your trimming needs. This model has a ‘smart start’ feature designed to ease the starting of the gas engine – something that gas powered trimmers are notorious for. It works on a twin line cutting mechanism fed by a tap and go feed system.

The shaft is detachable without any additional tools required, so you can easily take it apart and store it whenever you want. The air purge feature rids the fuel system and carb of air, and improves the starting capability of the trimmer. To round it all, there’s a comfortable handle and a safe throttle handle with a top switch present just under the user’s thumb.

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Best Suited For

One of the best line trimmers on the market. This is for power users or for commercial use.

 Black & Decker GH900 14-Inch String Trimmer and Edger, 6.5 Amp

Quick Info

  • Warranty: 2 Years Limited
  • Weight: 7.04 lbs
  • Type: Corded
  • Power: 120V, 6.5A
  • Cutting Path: 14in
  • Line Size: 0.065in (diameter)
  • Our String Trimmer Rating: 4.1 Stars

This offering from B & D is a 6.5 Amp, corded electric weed eater whose highlights include an ergonomic, lightweight design with changeable height and pivoting handle positions to provide the most in terms of control and comfort. Its powerful 6.5 amp motor and high torque transmission yield optimum performance when you need to cut away the toughest of grass, weed and undergrowth. The Power Drive Transmission ensures that the weed eater isn’t bogged down by weeds and heavy grass.

This model operates on an automatic feed system which means it operates continuously without forcing you to tap it or replace the spool. The 2-in-1 design lets it easily convert to an edger, and its Smart Edge mode gives a greater degree of accuracy and control to the user to create cleaner, straighter edges. It is great for use in places where mowers can’t reach and for maintaining edges alongside hard surfaces.

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Best Suited For

Consumers looking for an inexpensive, light option with more power than the Greenworks.

 Black & Decker MTC220 12-Inch Cordless 3-in-1 Trimmer/Edger/Mower Combo

Quick Info

  • Warranty: 2 Years Limited
  • Weight: 14.4 lbs
  • Type: Battery
  • Battery life: 25-35 minutes
  • Comes with 2 batteries
  • Power: 20V
  • Cutting Path: 12in
  • Line Size: 0.065in (diameter)
  • Our Grass Trimmer Rating: 4.2 Stars

Geared towards small yards and gardens, this innovative 3 in 1 trimmer, edger, and mower from Black & Decker packs three separate functions into a unified, compact gardening tool. It has a low footprint design which makes it an excellent string trimmer, edger and mower for homes that have small yards / small slopes or difficult to reach places in their gardens. Because of its multi-tasking capabilities, this makes it  the best string trimmer for the money. If there isn’t a lot of room in your garden shed / garage to store a bulky weed eater, this could be the perfect choice for you. As is the staple of Black & Decker weed eaters, it comes with an automatic feed system and a Power Drive Transmission. The adjustable height and pivoting handle ensure that it is easy to manage. Plus, it comes with 2 batteries to ensure a long run time!

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Best Suited For

People with small yards that want to mow the lawn, trim and edge all with one purchase.

Conclusion

Buying a string trimmer may seem quite intimidating to a non-technical person – to begin with, there’s three different power sources and all the bells and whistles modern weed eaters pack – but what’s really important is to remember your requirements and to rely on our weed wacker reviews to make an informed decision.

Make sure you buy a weed eater that can handle the area of your lawn, as well as the grass you would expect to grow in it. Skimp on the money and get a cheaper model – you’ll quickly find your new purchase getting stuck in thick patches and long yards. Conversely, get something too pricey, and you may rue the expenditure when you realize that your grass wasn’t that tough after all!

About The Author

Timothy Moore

Timothy Moore is the lead editor of Back Yard Boss and is a lifelong backyard enthusiast. He grew up immersed in the outdoors, camping every weekend and tending to the backyard with his family. He spends most of his days (and even nights) lounging on the patio while firing up the grill and admiring his handiwork around the property. He spent most of his life watching his father do wood working and is a self-taught landscaper, doing it mostly as a hobby. Now he uses his vast experience in the field to write fun, but informative, articles for you good people!

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