Cut grass and weeds in areas lawn mowers can’t reach with a string trimmer or edger
String trimmers are great for giving your lawn that finishing touch. The best string trimmers can tackle hard-to-reach areas where lawn mowers can’t go, such as around trees, fence posts, mailboxes, shrubs, walkways and more.
This guide highlights the different types of trimmers, along with information on shaft styles, trimmer lines and safety considerations.
String Trimmer Types
There are two main types of string trimmers: gas-powered or electric.
Gas trimmers are cordless, tend to be more powerful and require a two-cycle mix of gas and oil to operate. These are often considered the best grass trimmers for large lawns. Some models feature a four-cycle engine that runs more smoothly, starts easier and doesn’t require an oil and gas mix.
Electric trimmers can either be corded or cordless. These are generally the best weed trimmers for smaller yards.
Cordless Trimmers (Battery) are as powerful as gas models, easy to start and very low maintenance.
Some trimmer models can convert into edgers by rotating the head, putting it in a vertical position to cut precise lines for a uniform appearance.
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Straight Shaft vs Curved Shaft Trimmer Styles
Trimmer shafts, sometimes called shanks, can be straight or curved, each providing its own set of benefits when you’re using a trimmer.
- Straight shafts tend to provide better weight balance, and longer drive shaft life. They provide safer operation by keeping the head farther away.
Curved shafts use a flexible-cable drive shaft to provide power to the head and generally require a lower initial investment. They are great for trimming around flower beds and other squared-off areas. Curved shafts are also easier to maneuver and often weigh less for more comfortable use.
Tip: Longer shafts are ideal for trimming under fences, hedges and bushes.
Using the right trimmer line will go a long way toward making sure your trimmer works efficiently.
Standard-grade line is economical, and best for low-intensity trimming in smaller yards. Commercial-grade line is ideal for use on a heavy duty trimmer and in larger yards where there are heavier patches of grass and troublesome weeds.
Tips: When pruning hedges, let the tip of the line do the cutting to avoid premature wear. Always keep an extra spool of line handy so you never run out.
Always use the trimmer manufacturer's recommended line size as a heavier line will put extra stress on the motor.
Models with tap lines feature a button on the bottom of the head that lets out extra line when you tap it on the ground.
- More advanced trimmer models have automatic line-advanced systems that sense when the line is worn and automatically release more.
- Be careful when trimming around trees as flying tree bark can be dangerous and trimmers can damage young saplings.
- Wear sturdy shoes or boots to protect your feet.
If vibrations bother you or if you tend to blister, wear heavy-duty gloves.
Consider wearing goggles to protect your eyes and ear plugs to protect your hearing.