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Choosing A String Trimmer


String Trimmer Buying Guide

Whether you’re a professional landscaper or someone who enjoys gardening, a string trimmer is an essential tool. Once you finish mowing the lawn, use a top-rated string trimmer to groom trim areas that are difficult to mow, such as around trees and shrubs, or add a pronounced, professional-looking edge to fresh-cut grass. Furthermore, a string trimmer perform a bevy of other tasks that a mower can’t handle, like clearing tall weeds along a fence, cutting back vines and reclaiming an overgrown lawn.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a String Trimmer

If you’re wondering how to choose a string trimmer, begin by answering the following questions while searching for your new weed whacker:

  • How big is the area and where are the power outlets located?
  • How often do you plan to use the trimmer?
  • Are you looking for a gas or electric?
  • Would you prefer a straight or curved shaft?
  • Do you need regular or commercial strength trimmer line?

Obviously, you’ll have to make decisions and weigh tradeoffs when you’re learning how to buy a string trimmer. The most important factors are lawn size, the main purpose of the trimmer and your personal preferences.

Trimmer Type

When you’re looking at a selection of top rated string trimmers, you’ll notice a few types. The first thing to address when deciding how to choose a string trimmer will be whether you want an electric or gas model.

  • Gas trimmers tend to be more powerful and often run on a 2-cycle motor that burns mixture of gas and oil, although there are some 4-cycle models available.
  • Electric trimmers are available in both corded and cordless models and are an ideal choice for smaller yards.

When deciding which string trimmer to choose, consider the size of your lawn, the availability of power outlets, and how often you plan to trim. For a large yard, a day on the job landscaping, or you need to operate it where there is no electricity, go with gas. If you prefer a quieter, cleaner piece of equipment and plan to use it around the house occasionally, then electric is a good choice.

Trimmer Type


Points to Consider


  • Can be corded or cordless
  • Doesn’t require a mixture of gas and oil
  • Easy to start
  • Quiet operation
  • Economical
  • Light weight
  • Low maintenance
  • Produces no exhaust
  • Cordless models have a greater range
  • Cordless models require recharging
  • Corded models usually weigh less


  • Cordless
  • Can cover larger areas
  • Perfect for extended use and brush removal
  • Allows for a wider range of trimmer accessories and attachments
  • Allows for use of lines with wider diameters
  • Models with dual trimmer heads cut even more efficiently
  • 2-cycle engines require mixing gas and oil
  • Requires regular maintenance
  • Some models have pull starters; other have push button starters

Other Types of String Trimmers

While gas or electric is a key consideration when deciding how to buy a string trimmer, there are a few other trimmer types to think about.

  • 311_F5F88901-86B7-4368-9204-302F8FD148562 in 1: Has a head that rotates to a vertical position, making it easy to cut precise lines when edging your lawn.
  • Brush Cutter: A larger model string trimmer that typically has a much bigger engine, thicker line and may even have metal blades to cut through tough brush and weeds. Brush cutters are available in handheld models, walk behind and tow behind versions that are ideal for larger areas.
  • Walk behind: Some top rated string trimmers are walk-behind or wheeled trimmers. These are perfect for rugged areas where you can’t take a traditional mower or where the vegetation is too thick for a regular string trimmer.

Choose Your Shaft

One of the most important choices you’ll make when performing a string trimmer comparison is the style of shaft you want — there are two basic styles.

Straight Shaft

Trimmers with straight shafts typically provide much better weight balance and in most cases, the drive shaft lasts longer. These long, straight shafts make it easy to trim underneath fences, around bushes and hedges and to carve a crisp edge around a lawn.

Curved Shaft

Top rated string trimmers with curved shafts typically use a flexible cable style drive shaft to provide power to the trimmer head and are often less expensive than those with straight shafts. They are an ideal choice for trimming around flower beds and other open areas.

Regardless of the type of shaft you choose, consider an adjustable shaft so that you can change the working height of the machine in relation to your height. Adjustability helps make a trimmer more comfortable, efficient and safe to use.

Trimmer Line

Another factor is the line. When you always use the right type of line, your trimmer is dependable and efficient. For a small yard, standard grade line is the best choice. It’s economical and works well on light grass and weeds. For larger gardens, or for patches of heavier grass or weeds, commercial grade trimmer line is a better choice. Whichever you decide, make sure you keep a replacement spool on hand to avoid poorly timed interruptions to your project.

Type of Line Feed

When deciding how to choose a string trimmer consider the type of line feed. With this sort of trimmer, it’s inevitable that the line will eventually break and need replacing, and there are a few different ways to do this:

While gas or electric is a key consideration when deciding how to buy a string trimmer, there are a few other trimmer types to think about.

  • 308_CD1B798E-7BF5-49D7-BAFA-D01FBE84B108Tool-less: With this type of top rated string trimmer, the line head just snaps off so that you can install a new line without using another tool.
  • Bump feed: You simply tap the trimmer head on the ground to release more line.
  • Auto advance: Some have a button or lever that you push; others automatically advance the line with no action from you.
  • Fixed line vs. spool: Fixed line trimmers use a head with short lengths of line. To change the line simply thread in a new piece as needed. This type eliminates the tangles and jams associated with loading new line from the spool.

Options and Features

When determining how to buy a string trimmer you should also look at the options available. We have already talked about swivel heads for edging, 4-cycle and 2-cycle engines and wheel mounted trimmers, but there are many other options available such as:

  • Translucent Fuel Tank: Allows you to see at a glance how much fuel you have.
  • Vegetation Guard: Allows you to trim grass while protecting your flower beds from damage.
  • Centrifugal Clutch: A feature that allows a gas powered trimmer to idle without spinning the line.
  • Shoulder harness: Many heavy-duty trimmers have an optional shoulder harness for easier carrying and handling.
  • Multi-use tool: This type of trimmer accepts multiple attachments for different tasks. You can purchase accessories that convert the unit into a brush cutter, edger, pole saw, hedge trimmer and more.

Proper Usage/Safety

When deciding how to buy a string trimmer it’s important to keep safety in mind, and only use the trimmer how it is intended to be used. There are also many things you can do to ensure safe and smooth operation.

  • Use the recommended line size. While it may be tempting to use a heavier line, it wears down the motor.
  • Be diligent when trimming around the base of trees, as chipped bark can become a projectile, and trimmers can damage young saplings.
  • Always wear appropriate footwear; if the vibration is uncomfortable wear a quality pair of work gloves.
  • Make sure that you have fresh line — old line can crack or break prematurely.
  • Clean the trimmer head often — dirt and debris will cause extra stress on the motor.
  • Use safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying debris and earplugs to protect your hearing.
  • Don’t cut materials that aren’t at ground level — use a quality pair of trimmer shears or a hedge trimmer instead.

When considering how to buy a string trimmer, there are many things to think about. Once you know whether gas or electric is better, and what type of shaft you need, the other factors are largely preferential. You’ll find the options and accessories you need to get the perfect string trimmer at ACME Tools.


  • Justin

    March 8, 2017 at 11:16 am

    Having a nice looking yard does not end with mowing alone. You need to trim the lawn and edges to give it a professional look that everyone who walks into your home will envy.

    • Acme Tools

      March 8, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      Hi Justin, Thank you for your comment. We agree with you 100%. The health of your lawn is controlled by so many more factors than just the lawn mower. The watering schedule and fertilizer use will make and maintain a healthy green lawn. Stay tuned to our blog for a post that will be released shortly that will expand on other outdoor power equipment tools that will help in maintaining your yard. We also have published a highlight on the new Milwaukee M18 cordless string trimmer, hedge trimmer, and blower. Take a look and let us know what you think of those tools.

      Thank you,
      Acme Tools


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