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Outdoor

Best 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.

Honda 25cc 4-Cycle Straight Shaft String Trimmer - HHT25SLTAT

For ease of use and performance the Honda 25cc 4-Cycle Straight Shaft String Trimmer is the best there is. While this isn’t an inexpensive string trimmer, the reliable Honda engine is nearly bullet proof. 4 cycle means no oil and gas mix, and at 13 pounds, it is fairly light for a 4 cycle unit. The trimmer is ergonomically designed to ward off fatigue after extensive use, and it comes with a comfortable single strap harness.

It’s one of the most quiet and fuel efficient trimmers available and comes with a two year warranty. There may be bigger and badder string trimmers available, but none can top this Honda for it overall competence and reliability.

Craftsman 29cc 4-Cycle WeedWacker Straight Shaft Gas Trimmer

This is the least expensive 4 cycle trimmer on the list, but the Craftsman 32cc 4-Cycle Straight Shaft Weedwacker Gas Trimmer holds its own. It offers an automatic speed starter, which means no pulling a cord and comes with a yard tool attachment system so that other lawn tools can run off the same engine. It weighs 13 1/2 pounds, so it is the heaviest trimmer here. The 4 cycle engine means no oil and gas mixing, and it comes with a two year warranty and a 10 year shaft warranty. The affordable price, coupled with Sears known reliability, makes this a very good choice if you want a 4 cycle trimmer.

Husqvarna 224L 17-Inch 25cc 4-Stroke Professional Straight Shaft String Trimmer

If you flipped a coin as to which string trimmer was the best on this list, the Husqvarna 224L 25cc 4-Cycle Straight Shaft Trimmer might take top honors. It is a bit pricey, as far as string trimmers go, but the easy starting 4 cycle engine requires no gas and oil mixing. It comes with a 2 year warranty, and is a very lightweight 4 cycle engine at just over 11 pounds. This trimmer runs quietly, gets good gas mileage per tank, and is considered a semi-professional string trimmer.

Murray 25cc 2-Cycle Curved Shaft Gas String Trimmer

If you need a basic and inexpensive string trimmer, than the Murray 17 inch 25cc 2-Cycle Curved Shaft Gas String Trimmer is the one for you. Nothing fancy here, just a gas and oil mix 2 cycle engine that will eat up weeds. It weighs about 12 pounds, comes with a two year warranty, and features pull start assisted technology, which makes it easier to start every time. This no nonsense string trimmer will give a good account of itself, and will probably be adequate for most suburban lawns. If you are on a budget or want to see what a 2 cycle trimmer is all about, the Murray is the least expensive trimmer on this list.

Tanaka TCG22EASSLP 21.1cc 2-Stroke Gas Powered Straight Shaft Grass Trimmer Brush Cutter

If you are looking for the best bang for the buck weed trimmer, the Tanaka Professional TCG22EA 21cc 2-Cycle Straight Shaft Trimmer is the one for you. It's the lightest trimmer here at a little less than 10 pounds, yet it comes with a starter assisted pull cord that reduces effort by 50 percent. It’s equipped with a commercial grade engine and offers an impressive seven year warranty; that's the best in the industry, yet it is one of the more inexpensive trimmers on the list.

This trimmer also features an anti vibration system, it's ergonomically balanced, and it comes with a five foot long shaft that allows you to trim even those hard to reach areas. A Tanaka may not have all of the features that the big boys do, but if you can find one,, you won't go wrong with performance or price.

Black & Decker 40V Max Lithium String Trimmer, LST136W

Power and control, if you want the best of both worlds, choose the Black & Decker LST136W 40V Max Lithium String Trimmer. This trimmer has a five position dial you can turn to get max run time or max power. At the lowest power setting, you'll get about 30 minutes continuous run time and still be able to chop down weeds. The highest power setting gives you about 15 minutes of run time, but you'll be able to cut down weeds that others can't touch.

This trimmer is well balanced and weighs about seven pounds with the battery. The shaft rotates to make this an edger when you need one and it comes with a three year warranty. This isn’t an inexpensive trimmer, but the power dial, decent run time and versatility puts it on the top of this list.

WORX WG168 40-volt Lithium Cordless Grass Trimmer and Edger

If you want to go head-to-head with the top rated Black and Decker, then you’ve got to go with this WORX WG168 40-volt Lithium Cordless Grass Trimmer and Edger. Weighing nearly eight pounds, it features about the same run times, 30 minutes in low power and about 15 minutes in high power. The main difference is that you only have three speeds to choose from instead of five; a bit less versatility overall. The trimmer head pivots to make it an edger, and the handle adjusts to fit your trimming needs. While it also comes with a three year warranty, its slight lack of versatility and heavier weight keeps it from being the top dog.

EarthWise CST00012 18-Volt 12” Cordless String Trimmer

If you want the best bang for the buck string trimmer on this list, look no further than the Earthwise CST00012 18-Volt 12-Inch Cordless String Trimmer. It’s one of the least expensive units here yet still gives decent power for what you get. The 18 volt battery is a NiCad design, which keeps the cost down over the prevalent Li-Ion batteries on this list. At more than eight pounds it's a bit on the heavy side, but it will give you an approximate 20 minute continuous run time, good for most suburban home trimming jobs.

The handle telescopes to accommodate anyone’s height and the head has a three position adjustment for edging and trimming. About 80 percent of homeowners don't need a cordless bigger than this, and if you want more run time, get another battery. In most cases, doing that would be more cost effective than laying out the big bucks for a top of the line cordless.

Core CGT400 CGTSD Gasless Powered Trimmer

The Core CGT400 CGTSD Gasless Powered Trimmer looks like a gas powered string trimmer, but don't let looks fool you. This cordless has more torque than a 25cc gas powered model and features the longest run time on this list at about 70 minutes of time. It comes with a dual mode power switch; one setting for the longest run time and one setting for the most power delivery.

At maximum power, this trimmer will slice through weeds like a hot knife through butter. You'll get up to 70 minutes of run time on one charge, and a cutting swath that is 33 percent larger than any others on this list. While weighing in at a heavy 11 pounds, it does come with a whopping 5 year warranty. If you have a large property with a lot of tall weeds (or if you want bragging rights about your cordless string trimmer), then this is the cordless trimmer you want.

Black & Decker CST1200 12-Volt 10-Inch Cordless Electric Trimmer/Edger

If you want to see what all the fuss is all about cordless trimmers, and you don't want to go bankrupt in the process, than get the Black & Decker CST1200 12-Volt 10-Inch Cordless Electric Trimmer/Edger. Reliable and easy to use, this trimmer is perfect for those light-weight trimming jobs. There’s only about 12 minutes of run time, but for many trimming jobs around the property that's all you'll really need. Although there’s nothing fancy about this unit, it will still convert to an edger just by rotating the head. It weighs 7 pounds and the shaft telescopes to fit any of your trimming needs. The soft hands grips stifle vibration, and it also comes with a two year warranty.

Remington 14-Inch 5.5 Amp Electric 2-in-1 Straight Shaft Trimmer & Edger - RM115ST

If you want the best corded, bang-for-the-buck trimmer, this Remington RM115ST 14-Inch 5.5 Amp Electric 2-in-1 Straight Shaft Trimmer/Edger can’t be beat. Made by MTD, this reasonably priced string trimmer features a big 5.5 amp motor which is larger than nearly every other motor on this list. That kind of power will cut through the toughest weeds with ease, giving you the kind of mojo found in gas powered models. The truth is, you just won't need more power than this in a corded trimmer and with the price so competitive, you can't go wrong. It has a telescopic handle for comfort when trimming, the head rotates to turn it into an edger, and it has a two year warranty. If you’re in the market for a corded trimmer, this is the one to get.

GreenWorks 21142 10 Amp Corded 18" Top Mount Trimmer

This might be the most powerful corded trimmer available, so if you need power, the GreenWorks 21142 10 Amp 18-Inch Corded Top Mount String Trimmer won't let you down. Virtually every other corded string trimmer won’t allow you to add attachments, but with this trimmer you can add blades, different heads and other attachments, just like gas powered types. The 10 amps of power, and the right attachment head, will let you mow down even the toughest weeds, and it comes with a four year warranty.

The head rotates into an edger configuration, a cushioned hand grip absorbs vibration, and it cuts an 18 inch swath, which is five inches more than the best on this list. You'll pay for this power as this isn’t an inexpensive corded trimmer, but where you might need this type of power in a corded trimmer is anyone’s guess. If you can deal with lugging a cord around while cutting down thick and heavy weeds, then this is the trimmer for you.

Toro 51480 Corded 14-Inch Electric Trimmer & Edger -

If you want the best designed and ergonomically comfortable trimmer here, choose the Toro 51480 Corded 14-Inch Electric Trimmer/Edger. The telescopic handle allows anyone to adjust it to fit their size. It has a quick release button that turns the trimmer into an edger, and it weighs a bit over 7 pounds, making it one of the lighter trimmers here. The big 5 amp motor has plenty of power to cut through larger weeds with ease, and the shaft is lightweight aluminum. It features a two year warranty while the handle is covered in rubber to reduce vibration and improve grip. Although this trimmer is middle of the road price wise, it has features usually only found in more expensive units. All in all, it's a good trimmer at a good price.

Earthwise 11 In. 3.75 Amp Corded Electric String Trimmer St00011

For basic trimming tasks, the Earthwise Model ST00011 Corded 11 inch String Trimmer is going to fit the bill. The 3.7 amp motor is plenty powerful for most suburban trimming jobs, like trim jobs around homes, garages and fences. It is the second lightest trimmer on this list at about six pounds, so it’s easy to handle and use. It comes with a two year warranty, a three position cutting head allowing you to edge, and a telescopic handle for comfort. It's a middle of the road in price, but this thing is lightweight enough that you can use it all day and not become fatigued.

Weed Eater Weedeater 3.6 Amp 11" Electric Line Trimmer

If you want lightness over everything else, with enough power to get the job done, the Weed Eater WEEL11 11-Inch 3.6 Amp Electric String Trimmer is what you'll want. For most suburban jobs, this trimmer will handle your trimming chores. It weighs less than five pounds, which means you can flip this thing around like a sword, cutting down weeds almost effortlessly.

 The 3.6 amp motor is going to take care of smaller to medium sized weeds, exactly the type that grow next to walkways, around garages and decks. It has an extension handle for comfort cutting, a two year warranty, and an ergonomic design. This is a basic lightweight trimmer that won't cost an arm and a leg, perfect for the majority of trimming jobs around the house or home.

Buyer's Guide

 

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
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
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.

Manual 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
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 Lines
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.

City Living
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.

Suburban Living
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.

Country Living
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.

Dale Y
Dale Y has been writing about home improvement and Do-It-Yourself projects for more than a decade, using his own hands-on maintenance, construction and facilities management experience as a guide. He has covered the gamut by writing about news and views, home and garden ideas, home and business maintenance, and property management. As an offshoot, he had his own sewing machine and small appliance repair business, and can tell an embroidery stitch from a stretch stitch, all the while cooking the best salmon fillet ever on a countertop grill, while making a smoothie in the latest bullet blender. In this capacity, he has used a wide variety of tools and equipment for every need, worked with products ranging from adhesives to solvents, sewed shirt sleeves with a #14 needle and finished leather appliqué with a #18 needle.
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