Best String Trimmer
String trimmers were invented in the early ‘70s by a man named George Ballas from Houston, Texas. The original design by Ballas consisted of a popcorn can bolted to an edger with heavy-duty fishing line protruding from the sides. As the popcorn can spun rapidly, the fishing line sliced through grass and weeds and viola, the string trimmer was born. This technology virtually revolutionized the way we cut and trim weeds.
Powered string trimmers are some of the most useful and versatile lawn and garden appliances made. No matter where you live, a string trimmer is nearly an essential tool for your landscaping chores. Be sure to check out our string trimmer buyers guide below which can help you determine which type is best for you.
Best Gas String Trimmer:
Gas powered string trimmers have been the consistent go-to for trimming grass and weeds for decades. Invented in the early 1970s, they were initially called “weed eaters” but are also known as weed whackers, line trimmers and weed whippers, among other nicknames.
All gas powered string trimmers are built around a top mounted motor powering a drive shaft which turns a rotating head at the bottom. The most common heads are fitted with string loaded spools, but specialty heads can also be fitted that feature a variety of cutting implements like plastic or metal blades, chains or individually attached thick pieces of cutting string. These attachments make string trimmers particularly versatile when compared to other trimming methods.
These best gas string trimmers were chosen based on their ease of use, affordability and user friendly features. Although each one is powered by gasoline, there are 2 and 4-cycle engines; 2-cycle engines are traditionally lighter and more powerful than their 4-cycle engine cousins, and require having a gas and oil mixture as the correct fuel. 4-cycle engines, generally a bit heavier, can be filled with regular lawn mower gas and are usually less maintenance intensive than their 2-cycle brethren. Because ease of use is the main criteria, that means 4-cycle motors will figure more prominently on this list.
The Honda 25cc 4-Cycle Straight Shaft String Trimmer is ergonomically designed to keep you trimming longer with less fatigue. It weighs 13 pounds and the legendary Honda performance makes this 4 cycle engine very reliable. It comes with a shoulder strap and a two year warranty. Read Full Review
The Craftsman 32cc 4-Cycle Straight Shaft Weedwacker Gas Trimmer has the largest 4 cycle engine as well as being the lowest priced 4 cycle trimmer on our list. It's heavy at 13 1/2 pounds, but comes with a two year warranty and a 10 year shaft warranty. Read Full Review
The Husqvarna 224L 25cc 4-Cycle Straight Shaft Trimmer weighs in at just over 11 pounds, making it the lightest 4 cycle here. The easy start feature uses 40 percent less force to turn the engine over, and it’s one of the quietest trimmers available. It comes with a two year warranty and is very fuel efficient. Read Full Review
The Murray 17 inch 25cc 2-Cycle Curved Shaft Gas String Trimmer is the least expensive trimmer here. It features pull start assisted technology for easy starting every time, comes with a two year warranty, and is perfect for virtually any budget. Read Full Review
The Tanaka Professional TCG22EA 21cc 2-Cycle Straight Shaft Trimmer has a 5 foot long shaft, an easy start assisted starter and a seven year warranty. The engine is commercial grade yet the whole unit weighs less than 10 pounds. It's the best bang for the buck trimmer on this list. Read Full Review
Best Electric String Trimmer:
The original string trimmers were built around gas powered motors, but eventually the gas motors were replaced with electric ones. The electric motors needed no fuel, were virtually maintenance free and started with a push of a button. This was a revolution in string trimmers, but there was one problem; you needed an extension cord to make them go.
Modern gas powered trimmers and battery operated trimmers are taking over the market because they don't need a cord to operate. The cord is the problem here and it will always keep you tethered to a wall outlet and potentially be in your way every time you trim. Add to the fact you will only be able to trim as far as the cord will take you, and although you have a machine fully capable of doing the job, it’s almost more hassle than it’s worth.
No one is going to have a corded string trimmer to trim acres of land, mainly because the cost of the extension cord would be prohibitive, not to mention hauling all that cord around would be a real hassle. Therefore, ease of use and weight were the priorities when choosing these best corded string trimmers. Power would be one of the last considerations because the average homeowner is mainly using a corded string trimmer for managing errant grass blades around porches and sidewalks.
The Remington RM115ST 14-Inch 5.5 Amp Electric 2-in-1 Straight Shaft Trimmer/Edger is the best overall trimmer and the best bang for the buck trimmer here. The handle telescopes for comfort and the head rotates so you can use it as an edger. It weighs 11 pounds, comes with a two year warranty and the 5.5 amp motor has plenty of power for virtually any suburban trimming chore. Read Full Review
The GreenWorks 21142 10 Amp 18-Inch Corded Top Mount String Trimmer may be the most powerful string trimmer on the market. It accepts different trimming heads for maximum versatility, and it comes with a four year warranty. It weighs about 10 pounds. Read Full Review
Then Toro 51480 Corded 14-Inch Electric Trimmer/Edger comes with a two year warranty and is the most ergonomically designed trimmer on this list. It has a simple push button that converts it to an edger within seconds, and the powerful five amp motor will cut through some of the thickest weeds. Read Full Review
The Earthwise Model ST00011 Corded 11 inch String Trimmer is the second lightest trimmer here at about six pounds. It features a three position cutting head and a telescopic handle for comfort. Comes with a two year warranty, and is perfect for most trimming jobs. Read Full Review
The Weed Eater WEEL11 11-Inch 3.6 Amp Electric String Trimmer is a basic trimmer that comes with a two year warranty. At less than five pounds it is very light, and you can swing this trimmer around effortlessly. The ergonomic design assures comfort with every job done, and the handle telescopes for extra comfort. Read Full Review
Best Cordless String Trimmer:
Cordless string trimmers have been around for decades, but they were always lacking power, slow to charge and run times were never long enough for even the smallest of yards. However, modern cordless string trimmers run on advanced Lithium Ion battery systems, use transmissions to transfer the battery power to the trimmer head and are as powerful as gas trimmers, and have run times allowing comfortably trimming of larger yards without running out of juice.
Newer cordless string trimmers allow anyone to go green with no smoky pollution from burning gas and oil fuel mixes. They feature trigger start buttons, require virtually no maintenance, and there is never any hassle changing spark plugs, adding oil or using a pull-start rope. Yet, they offer the same powerful performance as their gas powered cousins (and some double as edgers too).
Although there are now many makes and models of string trimmers on the market, these best cordless string trimmers made our list primarily because of innovation, user friendliness and run time. In fact, these trimmers have some of the highest customer satisfaction ratings, bar none. Of course, other factors like voltage and weight are also considered, but, if a trimmer wasn’t easy to use, then it didn't make this list. These models are comparably priced to their gas drinking brethren, with enough power and run times to trim virtually any sized suburban lawn.
The Black & Decker LST136W 40V Max Lithium String Trimmer allows you to select the power you need for any job. It gives about 15 minutes run time in max power mode and about 30 mins run time in minimum power mode. It weighs about seven pounds and comes with a three year warranty. Read Full Review
The WORX WG168 40-volt Lithium Cordless Grass Trimmer and Edger has an adjustable handle for trimming comfort and a 3 speed power control switch. You'll get about 30 minutes run time on low power, and about 15 minutes run time on high power. It weighs about eight pounds and comes with a three year warranty. Read Full Review
The Earthwise CST00012 18-Volt 12-Inch Cordless String Trimmer is the best bang for the buck trimmer here. It comes with a two year warranty and weighs a bit over eight pounds. You'll get about 20 minutes of run time and the handle telescopes to comfortably adjust to any height needed. Read Full Review
The Core CGT400 CGTSD Gasless Powered Trimmer has an amazing five year warranty and offers a superior run time of about 70 minutes. It's heavy at 11 pounds, but the cutting swath is 33 percent larger than anything else here. If you need absolute killer performance, or bragging rights, this is the trimmer for you. Read Full Review
The Black & Decker CST1200 12-Volt 10-Inch Cordless Electric Trimmer/Edger comes with a two year warranty, and a rotating head converts the unit into an edger. The telescopic handle allows comfortable trimming at any height and for lightweight trimming jobs, this B&D unit can't be beat. Read Full Review
String Trimmer Buyers Guide
String trimmers are one of the more basic lawn tools for keeping-up a lawn well manicured or cutting back weeds and light brush from around poles, fences, buildings and what have you. Before the advent of the string trimmer, which came about in the early 1970's, the most effective way to trim grass and weeds were by using glorified hand-operated scissor trimmers. String trimmers literally revolutionized grass trimming overnight, and it is hard to believe there actually was a time when string trimmers didn’t exist.
Modern string trimmers are either gasoline powered by using a 2-cycle or 4-cycle power plant, or electrically powered through either a corded or battery pack. For a detailed description of what power plant is right for you, please see our lawn equipment power source buyer's guide.
String Trimmer Types
Curved shaft trimmers are the most ergonomically correct, and therefore the most comfortable to use. The shaft near the head curves downward so you can literally stand straight and upright while trimming tall grass and weeds. This orientation allows for longer trimming without fatigue, and these trimmers are specifically targeted towards the weekend warrior homeowner.
With these models, manufacturers must use a flexible drive shaft from the motor down to the trimmer head. Although this makes it easier to trim, only light duty accessories (or none at all) are recommended. Accessories may put more strain on the drive shaft and cause premature failure than what the original equipment intended. Many accessories will void the original warranty entirely, so curved shaft trimmers are best used as is from the factory for the purpose of trimming weeds or high grass.
Straight shaft trimmers are heavy-duty types, and accessories like larger trimming heads, blade attachments, and various other accessories can be used. Straight shaft trimmers come equipped with more powerful engines, because the shaft can handle more torque and horsepower without becoming damaged.
Some are literally equipped with bicycle-style handles and shoulder straps to distribute the weight evenly while allowing maximum control when cutting. These types of string trimmers are the heaviest and most powerful of them all, intended for heavy-duty jobs.
Although not as ergonomically friendly as curved shaft trimmers (and therefore not as suitable for extended trimming chores) they make up for this through their versatility. These trimmers allow greater reach under patio decks, bushes, and overhanging trees or shrubs; trimming weeds in these instances will be easier than using a curved shaft trimmer.
Straight shaft trimmers are also able to utilize accessories such as cutting blades which gives you the flexibility to slice through tougher weeds, like thistle or goldenrod, and you can even trim small branches on trees.
Split Shaft Trimmers
The “split shaft” is a term that means the shaft splits in two via a locking mechanism. These trimmers are made to be outfitted with special manufacturer made accessories. The lower shaft can be replaced with such things as cutting heads, blowers, tree trimming heads, edger blades and a host of other accessories. This makes them the most versatile trimmers available, but each add-on accessory may cost as much as the trimmer itself in some cases.
Trimmer Head Features
Manual or Automatic Feed
As you trim, the trimming line will slowly degrade and shorten as you hit solid objects like tree trunks, buildings, and fences. To keep you trimming and on the move, manufacturers have designed two types of trimmer heads; manual line advance or automatic line advance.
Generally, lower priced trimmers come with a manual advance feature, and higher priced models offer an automatic line advance. The most common type (and the least expensive) is a manually activated bump button on the bottom of the head.
The bump button allows you to firmly bump the bottom of the trimmer head onto a hard surface which will let out a few inches of trimmer line from the head. The safety head guard (which virtually every trimmer comes equipped with) has a small blade attached on the underside that will automatically trim the line to the optimum cutting length, each time you “bump”.
Although effective and efficient since you control how much line to let out each time you bump, you may have to shut down the trimmer and re-thread the trimmer head spool if you forget to advance the line or it gets cut too short by whipping into a solid object.
Automatic Line Advance
Automatic line feeding attempts to do away with human error by advancing the line automatically when it gets too short. As the line degrades, the head spins faster and that triggers the line to automatically advance. In essence, this should keep the line at roughly the same length at all times making it easier for you to keep on trimming continuously. However, because it is almost constantly advancing the line, you will go through more trimmer line than using a manual advance.
Single or Multiple Trimmer Lines
Single trimmer lines are generally supplied on the least powerful trimmers, and many electric trimmers are outfitted with single trimmer line heads.
Single lines offer the most efficient use, because only one line will degrade at a time. You'll lose less trimmer line, and therefore less downtime, re-spooling a single trimmer line. In virtually all cases, single trimmer line heads are made for light duty trimming. Basic weed trimming on city lots would be an ideal place for single line trimmers. Nothing heavy duty here, just effective weed trimming around your house or home.
Multiple line trimmers consist of two or more trimmer lines coming from one head. This allows one rotation of the trimming head to cut and slice two to four more times in one pass. These heads work better on heavier weeds and when used as basic edgers around sidewalks and porches. However, more lines means more line degradation, and that comes with a price. Although this is certainly a better set-up for larger and heavier tasks, you'll also be changing the line more often as well.
What's Best for You
Generally, where you live and the type of trimming you need to be done will determine what kind of trimmer is best for you.
Most city lots only need weeds trimmed from around sidewalks, porches and trees. Any basic smaller type of weed trimmer will work, particularly curved shaft models. Electric trimmers, either corded or battery operated, would be an ideal choice, because space is limited and cord length would not be an issue. The least powerful single line trimmers would be adequate for virtually any city trimming task, and the least expensive of all weed trimmers are the corded electrical models.
Most single line trimmers would make a good account for themselves in this setting, but if you need a bit more mojo for tougher weeds, a multiple line trimmer would be your best bet. If you only plan on doing trimming chores, a curved shaft trimmer would be ideal. But if you have a little space out back that gets overgrown from time to time, the flexibility and the added power of a straight shaft trimmer would be a better bet.
For even more versatility, opt for a split shaft trimmer. You'll be able to convert this unit into many other yard tools, from blower to edger and everything in between, and instead of cluttering up your garage or shed with a host of different types of powered lawn tools, you can standardize your lawn appliances by using a split shaft trimmer for maximum versatility.
Depending upon the type of country living you do, be it a home on several acres, a gentleman's farm, full-fledged cattle farm, or a commercial vegetable growing operation, you may opt for several different types of trimmers.
A big straight shaft high-horsepower unit would be perfect for cutting tough weeds in the back 40, while an electric single line trimmer (either corded or battery powered) might be perfect for around the house or the homestead. A lighter weight straight shaft trimmer would allow you versatility around the barn or other out buildings, with the ability to change out to different heads as needed for the type of work you may encounter.