Best String Trimmers 2021:
Reviews & Buying Guide
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Matt's Top Picks for String Trimmers in 2021
Top Pick: Best Cordless String Trimmer
Makita Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless String Trimmer
Runner Up: Best Gas Weed Eater
Echo 21.2 cc Gas String Trimmer
Best Curved String Trimmer
Echo GT-225 2 Cycle 21.2cc Curved Shaft Gas Trimmer
Best Corded Weed Eater
Greenworks 18-Inch 10 Amp Corded String Trimmer
Best Lightweight String Trimmer
Ryobi ONE+ 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Electric Cordless String Trimmer and Edger
Best Budget Pick Under $50
BLACK+DECKER String Trimmer with Auto Feed, Electric, 6.5-Amp, 14-Inch
Best Trimmer Mower
Cub Cadet 22 in. 159cc Gas Walk Behind String Trimmer Mower
String trimmers are a useful tool for anyone looking to take their lawn care and design to the next level. They’re also critical for landscaping companies, so if you want your lawn to have a professional look without a professional price tag these are the tools for you.
We’ll cover some string trimmer basics, different design features you can compare between, and provide a review of 10 of the best string trimmer designs for you to consider the next time you’re looking for a lawn care upgrade.
Let’s dig in.
What are String Trimmers Used For?
String trimmers are used to control weeds in and around garden beds, as well as doing some moderate clearing of land. They can be incredibly useful in tight spots your lawnmower can’t reach, and for trimming back unwanted plants in your landscaping and garden features.
Many of the best string trimmers can also be used as an edging tool, providing clean lines and clear marking between your lawn and the driveway, as well as between different garden beds and sections of landscaping.
Other Names for String Trimmers
String trimmers have a wide variety of different names. A few years back they were commonly referred to as weed whackers, and weed eaters is another alternative that’s still fairly possible. Stick trimmer is another common name, though it seems to be a little more regional than the others.
All those names refer to the same tool, but most manufacturers still prefer string trimmer.
Difference Between String Trimmer, Brush Cutter, and Lawn Edger
Lawn edgers are specialized tools that are designed only to edge your lawn. In terms of function and appearance, they work similarly to string trimmer but turned 90 degrees to trim vertically.
String trimmers are a little more versatile, and also work as an edger. They cut horizontally unless you switch to a vertical mode for edging. They’re good for mild weeds, trimming grass, and more low-demand tasks.
Brush cutters are essentially a much more powerful version of a string trimmer. They are capable of cutting through brush, much heavier weed cover, and even small trees.
Top String Trimmer Brands
If you’re looking for the best possible string trimmers, starting with a reliable and consistent brand is a great place to start. Greenworks is known for their environmentally friendly and highly efficient designs. Black and Decker is another good and readily available manufacturer. Worx creates good tools that tend to be a little more affordable, and Ryobi offers a wide variety of different string trimmer designs.
Any of these brands is likely to produce a high-quality string trimmer that will work well for you and your lawn.
String Trimmer Features to consider when purchasing:
Firstly, lets look at the different power options:
There are several different varieties of string trimmers, each with its own specialized use.
Gas String Trimmers:
Gas-powered trimmers are losing popularity, but they are still probably the best option for large yards, especially when you get up to an acre or larger. They are also some of the most powerful, which means they can be a little harder to control if you’re new to string trimmers.
There’s a wide range of power in gas trimmer. Pay attention to the engine size. Two-stroke engines are significantly less powerful than 4 stroke engines, and so on.
Corded Electric String Trimmers:
Corded options are probably the most environmentally friendly, but they’re only suitable for smaller properties. Corded trimmers tend to be relatively powerful, with multiple speed settings or pressure-sensitive triggers to give you better control.
Cordless Battery Powered String Trimmers:
The last option are cordless battery-powered trimmers. These are typically good for a range in yard sizes, though if you’re looking at more than an acre of land to take care of, you may need multiple batteries or to tackle landscape maintenance in sections rather than all at once.
These are relatively environmentally friendly systems, and many use universal batteries that will also run other power tools from the same manufacturer.
How much do string trimmers weigh?
Trimmers range in weight from only a few pounds to as many as 20. In general, the lower the total weight of the trimmer the easier it will be to use. Anything under 10 lbs can be considered very lightweight. Anything over 12-13 lbs is somewhat heavy and can be difficult to work with.
Single or Dual Trim Lines
Single trimmer lines are the default option for most string trimmers. A single line design is easier to use, easier to wind, and slightly less likely to jam.
Dual-line trimmers are a little more limited in the kind of load options you have. They’re also a good bit harder to wind when it comes time to switch out the string reels. On the other hand, dual-line trimmers have a lot more cutting power. That means that you’ll be able to cut faster.
However, that faster cutting speed also means that you might have a harder time with precise cutting.
String Trimmer Cutting Widths
String trimmers tend to vary between about 12-18” cutting widths. However, mower style version are available, and usually have cutting widths about 20 inches or slightly larger.
Wider cutting widths mean faster coverage of large areas but can limit your ability to make precise cuts or to trim in close quarters with landscaping elements.
Straight or Bent Shafts
Many people prefer the maneuverability and increased visibility that comes with a bent or curved string trimmer shaft. Curved shafts are common on the best weed eaters because they also help reduce the total weight of the trimmer.
However, that lightweight design also means that you’ll have more vibration, which will tire your arms, hands, and shoulders out much sooner.
String Trimmer Line Systems
Manual load systems require you to pause and load the string as it wears out. They’re usually very consistent and rarely jam, but a little more work-intensive if you’re doing a lot of trimming
Auto Load trimmers load string at a pre-determined rate to make sure you always have what you need. However, they can be slightly more prone to jamming, and more difficult to reset when there is a problem.
Bump and Feed
These line systems are somewhere between the other two we’ve already discussed. They don’t autoload the string, but all you have to do is bump the trimmer head on the ground to get them to load. Unfortunately, they can be prone to jamming, and many need a hard hit to load the string properly.
These are for people who want to trim more continuously but don’t want to deal with the more frequent jamming and trickier winding of an autoload system.
String Trimmers for Short/Tall People
Yes! The height of your string trimmer can make a huge difference in how comfortable you are using it. Try to match the height of the design to your height, longer trimmers for taller people, shorter trimmers for shorter people.
There are extenders available for taller people. However, it can be hard to find a good tall system if you’re much over 6 feet tall.
Makita Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless String Trimmer
This Makita string trimmer is a fantastic cordless option because you have the choice of buying it with 2 batteries or 4. If you already have a compatible battery set, you can also save a little and purchase the string trimmer without a battery.
It offers a large 15” cutting range, letting you power through weeks faster. It also has three different power settings so you can adjust your speed and power to the demands of the area you’re clearing.
This trimmer has a bump and feed head for more consistent trimming results without all the hassle.
Combine that with an efficient brushless motor, and this trimmer is a good, long-lasting, battery-powered workhorse.
This trimmer offers another bump and feed head design to keep you trimming longer and more consistently.
The real stand out feature on this gas trimmer is that it features easy start technology that lets the motor kick on much quicker and more smoothly than other designs. It’s still relatively fuel-efficient, cutting down on how often you’ll have to re-fill the tank, and how often you’ll have to go get more gas.
The trimmer weighs about 11.5 lbs, which is on the low end of average for an entry-level string trimmer.
It’s also designed to have lower vibration, which can greatly reduce your arm and shoulder fatigue while trimming.
This curved gas-powered trimmer is designed to give you a good level of control and high degree of accuracy as you’re trimming your plants.
It’s worth noting that this trimmer is still listed in a few places as having a bump and feed head, but that isn’t the case any longer. This model is only sold with a manual feed string trimmer head.
That doesn’t mean that this isn’t one of the best string trimmers though, it’s still right up there with the best.
The gas-powered system is reasonably powerful, without being so beefy that it becomes hard to control. It uses a standard 50:1 gas to oil mix and needs a minimum of 89 octane fuel to function properly.
Greenworks is known for producing high-quality power tools that emphasize their environmental friendliness as well as using sustainably sourced parts. It shouldn’t be a surprise then that they have come out with a user-friendly corded trimmer.
Unlike battery-powered models, you don’t have to worry about charging the battery. It will run whenever you have a battery and a plug to use it.
However, you are limited to the length of the power cord or any extension cords you have.
It offers a huge 18-inch cutting path, which is wide considering that this is an electric trimmer. You also get a variable speed trigger to make it easier to control how much power you’re using.
If you’re looking for a lightweight model, this Ryobi might look like too much plastic but offers a durable design that won’t weigh you down. It also works as one of the best lawn edgers, with a simple conversion process that lets you go from trimming to edging incredibly quickly.
The Lithium-Ion battery is powerful enough to give you the trimming strength you need as well as reasonably long running times.
Overall, despite a very different design than many of the best string trimmers, this is definitely one of the better options.
If you’re looking for a slightly more affordable option, or are looking to avoid manual feed trimmers, this is a good alternative. This more affordable model still includes a good auto-feed trimmer system, so you never run out of string until you need a new spool.
It’s a 14-inch trimmer range and works as both a trimmer and an edger. At 3.19 lbs. this is also one of the most lightweight options you can work with.
Sometimes a traditionally designed string trimmer isn’t a good option, but you still want a string trimmer to help tackle weeds and other common yard problems. This mower design offers a wider cutting swath, but moves and acts significantly more like a lawnmower than a traditional stick trimmer.
It also offers a wide 22-inch trimming path, making it a fantastic tool if you’re looking to tame larger sections of your lawn.
The tall 14-inch wheels also make it easier to maneuver, though getting the balance right can be a little more of a trick.
How to Use a String Trimmer?
For cutting weeds:
For cutting weeds, keep the string trimmer in a horizontal mode and approach the weeds at the height you want to trim them. You can cut them down nearly to the soil if you like, or to whatever height you prefer.
Use faster settings for thicker patches of weeds and slow settings where you need precision.
Move closer to the patch of weeds slowly, you want to cut with the edge of the string as much as possible, not the middle.
To edge lawns:
To edge your lawn, switch your string trimmer over into edging mode. That will turn the string trimmer head 90 degrees so it’s vertical.
Just like cutting weeds, approach the area you want to edge slowly, from the hard-surface side. (So, from the driveway, sideways, or another firm area, not the lawn.) Once you’re directly over the area you want to trim, raise the tool just enough that the string won’t start cutting right away and turn it on.
Then, lower the tool until the string is cutting, and a little lower until you’ve reached the depth you want to edge. Move slowly along your lawn until you’ve edged everything that needs it.
Maintenance & Storing Your String Trimmer
String trimmers need semi-regular maintenance to make sure their motor is still working properly. Usually, that’s best performed by a professional. Look for places that handle lawn mower maintenance, and many of them will also be able to perform a regular tune-up on your string trimmers as well.
You’ll also occasionally need to wind a new reel of string and address any jams in the string loading mechanism.
String trimmers are usually fairly compact and can be easily stored leaning up against a wall, or, better yet, hanging on a tool hook. However, many trimmers come with additional accessories and items that you’ll also need to store, so having some shelving or additional storage space nearby is probably a good idea.
Final Words on buying the best String Trimmer for you:
There it is, that’s just about everything you need to know to pick the right string trimmer for you and your lawn, and a shortlist of some of the best models and options you can get. Hopefully, you not only know what kind of a string trimmer you want, but also feel more confident using one. Wishing you easy and fruitful lawn maintenance!