Lawn trimmers are also called weed eaters, string trimmers, weed-whackers, or—a favorite—whipper-snipper. If you can’t tell, it's the tool used to trim the spots your lawn mower misses.These many names describe a single machine that is quite simple to understand. A lawn trimmer uses a motor to drive a rotating string or blade at the end of the shaft. It provides a much precise cut to ground cover and grass that larger machines cannot get to.
You will find a variety of lawn trimmers for sale. These products have gone through a lot of variations and advances in the fifty years since their invention. Understanding exactly what to look for when buying a lawn trimmer is essential. Here's one great place to find the perfect weed eater for your lawn. With the right features in mind you can find a great trimmer to meet your needs.
10 Features You Need in a Lawn Trimmer
When you begin researching lawn trimmers, you should keep the following factors in mind. The best product will be one that has all ten of these features. Some of the features come with multiple options. You will need to decide which option you want for each one. Making these decisions now will help you find the product that best fits your preferences.
With that explanation out of the way, let’s discuss the top ten features to look for when buying a lawn trimmer.
Weight is an important feature in any appliance, but especially a lawn trimmer. You do not push or roll a lawn trimmer along the ground. Instead, you have to carry the lawn trimmer with you as you work. Many products do come with a carrying strap. It will still need to be light enough for you to hold for an extended period, though.
The weight you can handle is a personal thing. Small people with less muscle mass will want a string trimmer that is on the lighter side. Five to ten pounds may be the most you want your string trimmer to weight. On the other hand. Larger and stronger people can use a heavy product that is twelve to twenty pounds.
Lawn trimmers will make noise. But some are much louder than others. There are two main types of motors on a string trimmer. The first runs on gas, the other runs on electricity. Electric weed-wackers make less noise than gas products.
You should be able to find some information about the noise level of each lawn trimmer. The noise will be measured in decibels (dB). As the decibel number goes up, the louder the noise is. You can use this handy chart to tell you whether the noise level of your chosen lawn trimmer is safe or not.
If the product is too loud, you may want to consider using hearing protection when it is running. Otherwise, you may end up with hearing loss.
Easy to Load
String trimmers use a heavy-duty string instead of a blade to trim your grass. The string whirls at a rapid pace, which provides the cutting action. As you use your lawn trimmer, the string will wear down. It is important to keep enough string in the trimmer so that the product works correctly.
The string comes in different thickness levels. The thicker the string, the better it will cut thick weeds. Use the user’s manual to determine the gauges that can work in your lawn trimmer. Loading the wrong gauge can be nearly impossible to load correctly. Even if you get it loaded, it could burn out your motor.
Your user’s manual will also tell you how to load the string into your lawn trimmer. You want to purchase a product that is easy to load. If you are new to these products, look for one that will take a pre-wound refill. Winding the string in the loader may be difficult for first-timers.
Lawn trimmers are outdoor equipment. They have the potential to be very dangerous. If you get hit with the whirling string, you can get cut very badly. This is why you want the lawn trimmer to have as many safety features as possible.
Some of the standard safety features to look for include
- A shield on top of the string.
- A cutting guard that is longer than the shield. It will protect plants and other objects from being hurt by the string.
- No need to touch or lean towards the head when the trimmer is running. If there are attachments included, they should connect to the lawn trimmer above the head.
Curved or Straight Shaft
You will need to decide between a curved or straight shaft on your lawn trimmer. Neither one is a better option. They both have pros and cons. The type of shaft you choose will depend on your size and experience level.
Curved shafts have a curve about halfway to the head. This type of shaft is more ergonomic and easier to use for beginners. You will not struggle to keep cut perpendicular to the ground. Curved shafts are often found in home models. They will not trim under bushes very well, however.
Straight shafts do not have the curve in them. These are ideal for tall users who do not want to bend down to trim their grass. Straight shaft lawn trimmers can also cut under bushes, trees, etc. They can be harder to hold in the correct position. Beginners often struggle with this type of shaft, which is most often found on powerful commercial products.
Converts to an Edger
This is my favorite feature.
Lawn trimmers can be expensive. You want to make sure that you get the most you can for your money. That is why you may want a lawn trimmer that also converts into an edger.
An edger allows you to trim around objects and obstacles where you need a straight, clean cut. You can do this with your lawn trimmer, but it can be harder to make the line straight. An edger makes the process automatic.
The edger conversion will likely be accomplished by attaching a new cutting head. Thus, you will be purchasing a product with two cutting heads. One will be the string trimmer, the other the edger.
Size of Cutting Swath
How much string you allow to turn in the cutting head is called the cutting swath. This line length is very important. It tells you how much grass can be trimmed at one time. 17-inches is very different than 22-inches for a lawn trimmer.
The specifications for each lawn trimmer should provide the cutting swath length. You don’t want to overextend the length if your trimmer is not set up for that. Doing that could mean you have to remove safety features like the cutting head guard. It will also overwork your motor, which could kill the lawn trimmer.
If you need a long cutting swath, look for a larger lawn trimmer. Don’t purchase a small product and expect to overextend the string. Most yards will not need an extremely long cutting swath, a small to medium length should be just fine.
Includes Other Yard Tools
Just as many modern lawn trimmers have an edger conversion, they also may come with other yard tools. Models designed for the home user want to provide you the most for your money. So, the manufacturer may include blowers, a pole saw hedge trimmer, mower, or even a tiller.
The problem with products that include all of these yard tools is that they typically do not excel at any one job. You will likely end up with a product that does a lot of things reasonably well. For homeowners that need all of these yard tools anyway and don’t want to purchase each one individually, that may be a good trade-off. If you want the highest quality yard tools you can find, then these extras with your lawn trimmer may not be worth it.
One note about trimmers that have attachments, none of them work as well as having the individual tools. In addition the wear from so many tools in one leaves much more wear and tear, reducing life expectancy.
Lawn trimmers can have both electric and gas motors. The electric models can be either corded or cordless. You will need to decide on the power source you prefer before you begin looking for your next lawn trimmer.
Gas trimmers are the most traditional type. They have the most power and are often the largest machines. They will have a large cutting swath that allows you to cut a large yard quickly. Gas string trimmers use a mixture of gasoline and oil, and because of that are less healthy for the environment. You can find both 2-stroke and 4-stroke gas engines for lawn trimmers.
Electric lawn trimmers are much better for the environment. They are also smaller and lighter. Beginners often prefer electric trimmers because they make less power. The smaller size of an electric trimmer means that they are best to use in smaller yards.
Corded electric trimmers are less convenient than cordless trimmers. You have to keep corded trimmers plugged in. This means that you can only use them in a small yard or near your home or garage.
Cordless electric trimmers are much more convenient. The battery will run out of power, however. The battery also adds weight to the machine.
A final feature you need in a lawn trimmer is good balance. Lawn trimmers have all of their weight at the bottom in the cutting head. If the shaft is not balanced correctly, it can be hard to keep perpendicular to the ground. Look for a product that has good balance. You will not have to fit it as it runs.
Manufacturers will not say that their product is unbalanced. Instead, you will need to glean that information from the reviews. Read as many of those as you can find. They will guide you to the best products.
Lawn trimmers are an important yard tool for any homeowner. Whether you have a large or small yard, you can use this tool. You just need to find the right one to get the most out of it.
Use the list of ten features presented in this article as a guide for finding the top lawn trimmers available. Deciding on the features you want, and need will help guide your search. Not all lawn trimmers work for all people. There is too much variation in the market. Keeping these ten features to look for when buying a lawn trimmer will ensure you get a product that will last you a long time. Next up: top trimmers to choose from