78% of American adults live in a home with a lawn, meaning that the landscaping industry is massive business. There are so many innovative tools on the market to keep your lawn looking pristine; but the most effective of all of them is the ‘weed eater’. A weed eater is similar to a lawn mower, however, it uses a different mechanism focused on annihilating weeds.
Ever since its invention in the 1970s, the weed eater has been an integral part of the lawn care toolkit. But what weed eater works best for your needs? There’s so many options available from so many manufacturers that it can be hard to tell which models are worth the price.
That’s where this guide comes in. We’ve devoted days of painstaking research into the market to find what weed eater is best for you. With our handy guide, you can choose from our curated list of weed eaters to get one that will serve your needs.
- Best Weed Eater – Comparison Chart
- Ten Best Weed Eater Reviews
- BLACK+DECKER LSTE523 Li-On String Trimmer
- Greenworks 13-Inch 40V Cordless String Trimmer/Edger
- WORX WG170 GT Revolution 20V 12″ Grass Trimmer/Edger/Mini-Mower
- BLACK+DECKER 40V MAX String Trimmer / Edger LST140C
- Husqvarna 128LD 17″ Cutting Path Detachable Gas String Trimmer
- Makita XRU15PT Lithium-Ion String Trimmer Kit
- CRAFTSMAN V20 Pole Saw
- Ryobi One ONE+ 18-Volt Lithium-Ion String Trimmer/Edger and Blower Combo Kit
- BLACK+DECKER 40V MAX String Trimmer LST136B
- WORX WG928 GT 3.0 Grass Turbine String Trimmer Blower Combo Kit
- Your Buyer’s Guide To Weed Eaters
- Weed Eater Duty Classes
- A Quick Guide To Using Your Weed Eater
- Some Care And Maintenance Tips
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Weed Eater – Comparison Chart
|Name & Brand||Notable Features||Power||Weight||Price
|BLACK+DECKER LSTE523||2 Speed Control||20V ||6.3 Pounds|
|Greenworks String Trimmer||30 Min Run Time||40V ||9.3 Pounds|
|WORX WG170 GT Revolution||Motor Running at 7600 Revolutions/Min||20V ||5.48 Pounds|
|BLACK+DECKER 40V MAX||Automatic feed Spool||40V ||6.4 Pounds|
|Husqvarna 128LD 17"||Translucent Fuel Tank||N/a||11 Pounds|
|Makita XRU15PT Lithium-Ion||Automatic Torque Drive Technology||36V ||19 Pounds|
|CRAFTSMAN V20 Pole Saw||3 Year Limited Warranty||20V ||5.97 Pounds|
|Ryobi One ONE+ || Features a 10 in. Cut Swath||18-Volt||11.48 Pounds|
|BLACK+DECKER String Trimmer||Lithium Ion Battery||40V ||6.39 Pounds|
|WORX WG928 GT 3.0||Push Button Line Feed||20V ||14.52 Pounds|
Ten Best Weed Eater Reviews
Out of all the manufacturers and products available, we’ve narrowed the list down to these ten. Any of these ten will be an invaluable tool for keeping your lawn weed-free, but each one caters to different needs. So read on to find out which one is best for you.
Our very first weed eater is intended for the average homeowner who also would like some extra power to deal with more stubborn weeds. Black and Decker meets that need ably with the LSTE523.
It’s a cordless, battery-powered weed eater. Its trimmer head is single-line, driving a nylon line of 0.065” gauge. Its cutting path is 12” wide. Black and Decker’s EasyFeed button feed system lets you feed more line without having to bump the trimmer on anything. In addition to this setup, it’s also got two speed settings. Low speed runs the motor at 5500 RPM and is for general duty. You can switch to the high speed of 7200 RPM when you hit a tough spot. To switch speeds, just move the switch on the grip.
It’s powered by a 20V, 2.0Ah lithium-ion battery. This supplies around 20 minutes of working time at high speed, 40 minutes at low. Charge time is about 4 hours, though Black and Decker does have other chargers available that can top it up faster. Typical of most power tool manufacturers these days, the battery is also common to other battery-powered tools in Black and Decker’s 20V MAX system. If you’ve got more tools from the same system, you can use the same battery to power all of them.
Unit weight is 6.3 pounds, which is middling for battery-powered trimmers. The shaft telescopes so that you can adjust it to your height and the auxiliary grip is padded for your comfort. Like most weed eaters, you can use it as an edger. The integrated wheel on the top of the head is specifically made to help with that. Turn the head around so that the wheel touches the ground, and you’ve got yourself an edger.
The LSTE523’s main issue is that it doesn’t go far enough. It’s an average consumer-level weed eater with a speed setting, with all the issues thereby. It could do much better with a double-line trimmer head or a heavier-gauge line, both of which would improve cutting power in addition to the speed settings. The shaft also doesn’t quite go far enough for taller users, so if you’re tall, you might find it slightly awkward to use.
Still, none of this takes away from the excellent performance of the LSTE523. If you’ve ever thought you wanted some extra power for those tough spots while you’re weeding, this is the weed eater for you, and our top choice for best weed eater.
When it comes to environmentally-friendly products, Greenworks is the brand you want. They’ve got a wide range of outdoor power tools that deliver all of the performance of a gas-powered equivalent with none of the fumes. Their 40V 13-inch weed eater is our top pick from them.
It’s a battery-powered weed eater. The business end is a single-line trimmer head that takes 0.065” line. Its cutting path is 13” wide. To ensure a seamless cutting experience, the trimmer head has an automatic feed system, ensuring that you’ll always have line out and cutting. If necessary, you can also shorten the cutting path down to 11” by rotating the cutting blade on the guard using a screwdriver.
The 40V, 2.0 Ah battery provides about 30 minutes of working time and needs two hours to recharge. You can always buy a second battery and switch it in when the first one runs flat. It’s got an indicator built in so you can check how much life is still in it, and since it’s a lithium-ion battery, it won’t suffer from memory issues. Even better, Greenworks organizes its tools by battery voltage, so you can use the same batteries for other tools in their 40V product line.
The Greenworks also isn’t limited to just weed eating. The head pivots into four positions so that you can always come at a problem from a different angle. It can also rotate 90 degrees onto its side so that you can put the wheels on the ground and thus use it for edging your garden.
Weight-wise, it’s pretty average for a battery-powered trimmer at 9.3 pounds. Of course, that’s still lighter than any gas trimmer on the market. Since it runs off a battery, you’re not tethered to any sockets, and you can thus go as far as you need in your yard to trim. The shaft also telescopes, so you can adjust it to the necessary length.
Its main downside is battery life. 30 minutes of cutting time can run a bit short, especially if you have a lot of ground to cover. The combination of line size and line type means that it tends to fall short when faced with heavier tasks. We’re not saying it’s a bad weed eater, but we are saying it’s a light-duty one, so you should temper your expectations.
If you want an emission-free and maintenance-free weed eater that can handle trimming jobs around your yard or garden, the Greenworks 13-Inch 40V is the trimmer for you.
Sometimes it can be a pain to deal with so many gardening jobs. That pain is exactly why WORX developed its GT Revolution. It’s intended to be a combination of trimmer, edger, and mower, all in the same device.
The WORX GT Revolution is a battery-powered electric weed eater. The trimmer head is single-line, spinning a cutting line of 0.065” gauge. It’s got a cutting path 12” wide. The spool has a button feed, so you just push the button on the handle to dispense new line. In case you run out of line mid-cut, there’s a spool holder on the shaft right next to the battery, so you can just swap in a new spool instead of going back to your house.
The battery is a 20V, 2.0AH model, and the GT Revolution comes included with two. One will last about 20 to 30 minutes of working time from a full charge, while the charge time is about 5 hours. Unless you’ve got a particularly large garden, that total hour should be enough to finish the job. They’re also the same batteries that WORX uses for their 20V line of tools, so if you already have other WORX tools of the right voltage, you can easily switch batteries between them.
The head is adjustable into 6 different positions to better fulfill its three listed roles of trimming, mowing, and edging. It comes with a set of wheels that attach onto the guard, though honestly, these are best used for edging, since they tend to get in the way of the other two jobs.
Ergonomically, it’s excellent in just about every area. The telescoping shaft can extend to a maximum length of 55 1/2”, and collapse down to a minimum length of 35 3/4”. Thus, no matter your height, you can always find a length that works for you. The auxiliary handle also adjusts to 7 different positions, letting you adapt it to your preference. It’s quite lightweight at only 5.5 pounds with the battery loaded.
While it may fill three different roles, the GT Revolution is still a light-duty trimmer. It will perform competently in its niche, but it’ll start to struggle against serious gardening jobs. The button feed also interrupts your flow, since every time you press it to dispense new line, it stops the motor.
If you want a tool that you can adjust to nearly any garden trimming need, the WORX GT Revolution is the weed eater for you.
Black and Decker has been making power tools of various types for over a hundred years, and their quality products are still a good buy today. This weed eater from them is one more product in their excellent line.
The Black and Decker LST140C is a battery-powered weed eater. Its trimmer head is a single-line model using 0.065” cutting line. That head cuts a swathe of 13” wide. The spool is on an automatic feed, so there’s no need to interrupt your weed killing to worry about the state of your line. All these factors make the LST140C a light-duty weed eater.
The battery is Black and Decker’s lithium-ion 40V MAX 1.5AH model, supplying about 40 minutes of cutting time and needing 3 hours to recharge. You can also buy another battery or two to put in if it runs flat. Black and Decker produces a wide range of tools that use the same battery system, so you can easily grab a battery from another 40V MAX tool you’re not using if you’re already a Black and Decker customer.
You can turn the head around to function as an edger, but we honestly don’t recommend using the LST140C for that purpose. The only support it has in this configuration is the edge guide, which is more of a guide than a support, as the name indicates. Thus, you’ll be supporting the entire weight of the trimmer on your arms as you go along. This falls short next to the wheels that other models give you while edging.
It weighs about 6.4 pounds with the battery loaded, which is fairly light as battery-powered weed eaters go. The shaft is adjustable in length to better match your height. Pretty much the standard line of ergonomic arrangements for a weed eater, so no surprises here.
The LST140C’s main problem is that it’s not that good at edging work. You can still edge with the LST140C, but it doesn’t help you out the way other weed eaters do. This puts it a step behind those weed eaters that give a little more thought to edging. The rest of its problems are mainly related to its being a light-duty model. It’s perfectly good for most homeowners and their needs, but it may fall short if you have stubborn challenges or tough vegetation to deal with.
There’s a reason we’ve picked a lot of Black and Decker for this list, and the LST140C provides excellent performance in its class.
When you need sheer power, a gas-powered weed eater is your best option. Husqvarna’s 128LD is our top choice for gas weed eaters, and it’s a good one.
It’s a 2-stroke gas weed eater. The trimmer head is Husqvarna’s T25 model, which is double-line and comes pre-loaded with a 0.095” cutting line. It cuts a swathe of 17”, which is quite substantial. The T25 is a bump feed, typical of most weed eaters, so you’ll need to regularly tap the head against the ground to feed new line.
The engine driving the trimmer head is a 28cc, 2-cycle model providing 1 horsepower. It runs on a mixture of unleaded gas and 2-cycle oil on a 50:1 ratio. Husqvarna offers a pre-mixed 2-stroke fuel of their own, so you can buy from them if you don’t want to mix your own fuel and oil. The fuel tank has a capacity of 13.53 fluid ounces, and it’s translucent, letting you see how much fuel you have left.
Gas trimmers normally need some effort to start, but Husqvarna’s Smart Start design answers that problem. The air purge feature lets you remove all air from the carburetor and fuel system to make starting easier, but the Smart Start also ensures that the engine comes to life on the first or second pull.
Overall weight with an empty fuel tank is 11.1 pounds. That’s heavier than cordless weed eaters, but it’s on the lighter end for gas ones. It also serves as a powered base for other yard tools. You can dismount the trimmer head and replace it with an edger, cultivator, pole saw, leafblower, or straight trimmer. This means that you can go to the same store to buy all these tools and just switch them out as needed. However, these extra tools don’t come included. You’ll have to purchase them yourself if you want the extra capability.
The main downside is all the headaches of a gas weed eater, especially maintenance. It’s not that difficult, but you’ll have to stay on top of maintenance to ensure it’s in working condition, and also ensure that you’ve got enough fuel to keep it running. Since it’s a 2-stroke engine, you’ll either have to mix your fuel and oil or buy the pre-mix from Husqvarna. Another downside is the noise level, it’s comparable to your average chainsaw or rock concert.
But there will be times when you need a weed eater that can handle any job you may need to do, and for that purpose, nothing beats the Husqvarna 128LD. It’s our choice of best weed wacker when we’re looking at gas.
Battery-powered weed eaters tend to lack power. While largely true, some models don’t fit that rule of thumb. The Makita XRU15PT is one of those and is just the thing for a homeowner who needs something more than the usual line of cordless weed eaters.
It’s a battery-powered weed eater. The trimmer head is double line, and comes pre-loaded with 0.080” twisted quiet line. The cutting swathe is a respectable 15”. It’s got a bump feed system, so you’ll be tapping it against the ground fairly frequently. It also has three preset speed options, from low speed of 3,500 RPM, medium speed of 5,300 RPM, or high speed of 6,500 RPM, in case you need to conserve the battery or if you have stubborn weeds to kill.
Power comes from two Makita 18V, 5.0Ah batteries. These provide 40 minutes of working time, and a single battery needs 45 minutes to charge. The included charger can take two at a time, so you’re never going to be stuck waiting for a second battery to charge so you can go weed-eating.
It weighs 10.4 pounds with the batteries in. This is on the heavier end for cordless weed eaters, though still lighter than gas ones. It’s rather back-heavy for a trimmer, so mind your balance. However, the weight is far less of a concern thanks to the included shoulder strap. The strap takes a lot of the weight off your hands, making the XRU15PT a lot easier to use and move around with, even though it’s technically heavier than the others.
The strap also makes edging a lot easier. The small guard means there’s no room to put on a set of wheels to help in edging, but you don’t need wheels for it. The eyelet that the strap hooks into is free-swiveling on the shaft, so it won’t get in the way, and all you need to do to edge is just turn the whole trimmer onto its side.
The XRU15PT’s main issue is that it doesn’t go far enough. It’s got a lot of functions that almost take it beyond the light-duty bracket, but it doesn’t do enough effort to actually push it outside the bracket. It’s almost something that a professional gardening company would use, but it’s not quite there yet. The 0.080” line is pretty good for casual applications, but it won’t last as long as a line of a heavier gauge.
But if you’re a homeowner who needs a solid tool for weeding jobs that may get troublesome, the Makita XRU15PT offers you a lot of capability.
Yes, nominally it’s a pole saw, but you can also dismount the saw for a weed eater, which is why the Craftsman V20 has made the list. This is an example of a powered base, where you can switch out what tool is on the mount while keeping the same engine. This saves on money and storage space while still maintaining as much capability as having separate tools.
With the weed eater mounted, the Craftsman is a battery-powered weed eater. Its trimmer head is single-line, using 0.065” gauge string. It cuts a path 13” wide. And to make things simple, it’s an automatic feed, so you can just keep on trimming and not have to worry about keeping up your line. This is your classic setup for a light-duty trimmer marketed to homeowners.
It’s powered by a 20V, 2.0Ah battery. With it, you get a working life of approximately 30 minutes, and it needs 3 hours to recharge. Fairly average as far as batteries go, and typical for manufacturers, Craftsman also has a wide line of tools that use the same battery. A second battery, or more, may be advisable to ensure that you’ll always have enough charge to garden with.
You could turn it onto its side for use as an edger, but the lack of any support except for the guide makes it difficult to use it effectively in that role. If you’re only doing a small area or if the need is pressing, you can use the Craftsman to edge, but for typical edging needs we’d much rather have some form of support beyond just the guide.
Ergonomically speaking, the Craftsman weighs 6.3 pounds without the battery. That’s average for battery-powered weed eaters. The pole also telescopes, so if the standard length isn’t quite fit for you, you can adjust the working height to better match yours.
If you’re a typical homeowner who just needs a good set of tools for routine yard work, then the Craftsman’s light-duty nature won’t be much of a downside. A more significant problem of the Craftsman is battery life. 30 minutes is normal, but multiple reviews have complained that it barely lasts that long in practice.
When you need a good set of tools in one purchase, the Craftsman V20 is an excellent buy. You get both a pole saw and a weed eater, both of them quite good at their jobs.
Bundle deals like what Ryobi offers here are common, usually aimed at homeowners with small yards looking to get good performance at a low price. This package offers you a leafblower, a weed eater, a battery for both, and a charger.
The included weed eater is the Ryobi P2030, which is battery-powered. Its trimmer head is a single-line model that accepts 0.065” trimmer line. The cutting swathe is a rather narrow 10”. The head also has an automatic feed. In all, the P2030 is a light-duty device.
The battery is an 18V 2.0Ah model, and it’ll give the trimmer about 30 minutes of working time for about 1 hour of charging. They’re also part of Ryobi’s ONE+ line of battery-powered products, with a standard port to accept them. If you have other Ryobi ONE+ products, you can freely use their batteries, or buy more to extend the working life. Since they all fit in the same port, you can buy a higher-capacity battery to extend your working time.
It’s the lightest of all our listed trimmers, at only 4 pounds with the battery unloaded. Unlike other weed eaters, the secondary grip is fixed into place and there’s no way to adjust the shaft length, so when it’s assembled, it’ll stay like that the whole time. The only change you can make is to turn the lower half onto its side so that it functions as an edger.
Even more than the other models on this list, the P2030 is hit rather hard by its light-duty nature. The combination of line gauge, single line, and the narrowest cut path on this list all mean that you’ll take a lot more time in trimming, and you won’t be able to deal with as many plants.
The ideal way to treat the P2030 is as one part of a larger system. This shouldn’t be a trimmer that you get on its own. It’s the trimmer you get when it’s just too much of a hassle to break out the bigger models you can buy from Ryobi. This is a trimmer that takes no thought or adjustment. Just snap in a battery, make sure the spool is topped up, and you’re good to go.
Sometimes you need a nice, light trimmer that needs no maintenance and gives you no headaches. The Ryobi P2030 is exactly that trimmer, and this combo kit gets you a good leafblower to go with it.
Our third product is from Black and Decker’s excellent line of battery-powered gardening equipment. There will be times when you need power, and times when you just need to kill weeds. The LST136B is intended to meet both needs.
It’s a cordless weed eater. The business end is typical, being a single-line trimmer head accepting 0.065” cutting line. It cuts a 13” swathe through weeds. And it’s kept topped up by an automatic feed, letting you continue working without stopping to reload. In short, it’s your standard light-duty weed eater intended for the average homeowner.
What isn’t typical on most light-duty weed eaters is the POWERCOMMAND dial. This lets you choose between maximum power for stubborn weeds, or maximum working time if you’re just doing general work. Setting 6 is maximum power, setting 1 is maximum runtime, and there are settings 2 to 5 in between, just in case you need a bit more power, but not to the extent of Setting 6.
It’s part of Black and Decker’s 40V MAX battery system, and thus accepts any batteries from that range. Assuming you put on their LBXR36 1.5Ah battery, you can expect an average working time of 40 minutes. Assuming you’re using their fast charger, it should take approximately 2 hours to recharge a flat battery. We note all these caveats because the LST136B does not come with a battery or charger.
Ergonomically, it’s right down the middle in every way as weed eaters go. Weight is 7.8 pounds, average for battery-powered weed eaters. The shaft telescopes to adjust to your height. The auxiliary grip is fixed-angle, but you can adjust its position on the shaft as needed.
Typical of most weed eaters, you can also rotate the whole head so that it’s cutting vertically instead of horizontally, and thus can be used for edging. However, the LST136B doesn’t have anything to support its weight except the edge guide, which is just a little frame of metal. Certainly a guide, but you’ll support the weight of the trimmer with your arms.
The greatest weakness of the LST136B is not in its capabilities, but what it doesn’t come with. This specific model does not include a battery. This is fine if you’re already a Black and Decker customer with some tools and batteries from their 40V MAX line, but if you’re looking for your first trimmer to get used to weed eating with, you may be better served by something else.
But, if you are already a customer of Black and Decker and need a good weed eater for your garden, the LST136B is an excellent choice for light work.
Sometimes, gardening manufacturers sell their products in bundles, especially if they use a common battery system. That’s the case with WORX’s WG928, which is a combination of their GT 3.0 weed eater and their Turbine leaf blower.
The GT 3.0 is a battery-powered cordless weed eater. The trimmer head is single-line, taking a gauge of 0.065”. That combination has a cutting path 12” wide. The line is replenished with a button feed. All these qualities make it a typical light-duty device.
The GT 3.0 runs on a 20V 2.0Ah battery, and the bundle includes two. One of them will last you 20 minutes of work, and it’ll need about 3 hours to charge. A total of 40 minutes is reasonable for the average suburban yard. Should you need more, the GT 3.0 is part of WORX’s Power Share system, so if you have any other WORX tools from the same line, their batteries will fit as well.
The head is easily adjustable into multiple positions, so it can get into areas other weed eaters would have difficulty with. It can also turn onto its side to function as an edger. The wheels mounted on the head help with this. Once you adjust the head into the vertical position for edging, the wheels are in just the right position to help you along.
On that note, it’s quite excellent in terms of ergonomics. It’s on the lighter end as weed eaters go, being 5.3 pounds with the battery loaded. The shaft’s telescoping function lets you adjust its height, and the auxiliary handle is also fully adjustable. No matter your height, you can always find a comfortable configuration to set the GT 3.0 into.
One notable downside is that WORX loads its line spools with only 10 feet of line, instead of the industry standard of 30 feet. This rather undercuts the otherwise excellent “Free Spools For Life” program, because you’ll be reloading a lot more often than with spools from other manufacturers. You may wish to use a different 0.065” line, with enough of it on the spool to last longer. Also, the button feed stops the motor when you trigger it, so you’ll have to get it spinning again before you continue trimming.
On the whole, the WORX GT 3.0 is a competent weed eater that can fit into any space while remaining lightweight. If you’ve ever despaired about getting just the right angle to cut some weeds, it’s the one for you.
Your Buyer’s Guide To Weed Eaters
You’ve seen our weed wacker reviews, now it’s time to look at what goes into a weed eater. This section will show the factors you should take into account when you’re choosing a weed eater, and why they’re important so that you can make an informed decision when you buy your own.
What does your weed eater run on, a battery or gasoline?
Battery-powered weed eaters are quiet and emissionless, and also don’t have a cord to limit their range. Their downsides are battery life and power. You need a large battery to get power equivalent to a gas-powered weed eater, and a battery only lasts so long before needing a recharge. A battery’s capacity is indicated by a figure in amperage-hours (Ah), and higher is always better.
Gas-powered weed eaters have the best power you can get in a weed eater without also being tied down to an outlet. However, they are loud, noisy, smelly, and need a bit of maintenance to stay in working order. They also consume gas and oil to keep running.
How much power is the engine putting out? That will determine what kind of jobs the weed eater can handle, and a few other factors besides. This is based on a measurement appropriate to the power source. Battery-powered weed eaters measure volts, while gas weed eaters look at horsepower. Higher numbers on this measurement indicate greater power. You’ll have to consider just what kind of weeds you’re taking on to get the right weed eater for the job. It certainly doesn’t do to get a light-duty trimmer when you’ve got tough weeds to deal with.
An unavoidable fact of weed eaters is that their cutting line will wear out as you work, and you’ll have to feed new line to maintain cutting performance. There are several ways this can be done.
Bump feeds are the most common type of feed. You’ll need to bump the bottom of the trimmer against the ground to have the spool dispense more line. The problem is the bump itself because it’s too easy to misjudge the necessary force and end up potentially breaking the trimmer head, and getting used to it can be difficult.
Button feeds are essentially the same as bump feeds, reloading line on command. The difference is that it’s activated by a button on the grip, instead of bumping the trimmer on the ground. Much simpler, much less effort, and a lot less interruption.
Automatic feeds dispense with the need to bump. They feed more line when the trimmer itself detects it’s running short, letting you focus on trimming. The problem is that they’re more complicated and more difficult to repair if a fault crops up. You also have less control over the feed, and you may end up using line faster than you need to.
Cutting Line Gauge
How thick a trimmer line does the weed eater accept? Line gauge is fairly simple. Heavier applications need a thicker line. However, a weed eater will only accept a given range of line diameters. This is down to engine capability. Thicker line also needs a more powerful engine to drive it properly, or it won’t move fast enough to cut. Check the manual to see what line size is optimal for your weed eater.
You should also consider what sort of plants you’re facing. If you’re only trimming grass or light weeds, the light-duty range of 0.065” to 0.085” will do fine. Thicker grass and weeds are better suited to the medium-duty range of 0.085” to 0.110”. Thicker than 0.110” is the heavy-duty range, which is best for heavy underbrush and stubborn plantlife.
Trimmer Head Configuration
How many lines is the trimmer head cutting with? This is relevant for cutting power.
Single-line weed eaters only have one line on the trimmer head. This is simpler, and thus a lot easier to reload and maintain. However, since it’s only getting one cutting stroke every time the head revolves, it doesn’t cut as well.
Double-line weed eaters have two lines coming from the trimmer head. They cut twice with each rotation of the head and thus have more cutting power. They are a bit more complicated than single-line models and are harder to refill.
Weight And Size
Just how much weed eater do you need? You don’t want to buy a trimmer that’s too small or weak for your garden, or it won’t do any good and take too long to cut through anything. But you also don’t want to buy a trimmer that’s too large, because then you’re facing wasted effort and the problems of lugging around a heavy machine. Consider the weight and match it to the power you need to find the right balance.
How wide an area does it cut? This can range from anywhere between 12” on the smaller examples to 17” on larger weed eaters. A larger cutting diameter means that you can cover more area in a given sweep, and thus you get done quicker. On the other hand, a large cutting diameter also needs an engine of sufficient power and all the consequences thereof.
Weed Eater Duty Classes
Now that you’ve seen our guide, you can put together most of its factors. There are generally three types of weed eater that you can get, depending on how much and what kind of work it’s intended to do. This will help you decide which model is the best weed eater for the money.
Light-Duty Weed Eaters
Generally speaking, these tend to be single-line weed eaters with automatic feeds and line of 0.065” to 0.085” gauge. Since you don’t need power to drive line that light, these will be battery-powered. They’re intended for the average homeowner for general garden care, since they’ll take care of most such needs without breaking the bank or being too maintenance-intensive. Light-duty trimmers will do just fine for cutting grass, edging flower beds and sidewalks, and are much easier to use than the other two types, though they may fall short.
Medium-Duty Weed Eaters
If your weed eater has a double-line head with a bump or button feed and a line gauge of 0.085” to 0.110”, you’re in medium-duty territory. Sometimes these are battery-powered, sometimes they’re gas-powered. These are good tools for anyone, whether it’s the homeowner who needs a powerful tool for tough weeds and troublesome spots, or the professional who needs a solid gardening tool. If you’re considering a medium-duty device, consider power source. Do you need the additional cutting power of a gas motor or the convenience and ease of maintenance of a battery-powered one?
Heavy-Duty Weed Eaters
If your head is double-line or greater, fed by a bump feed or fixed-line, and a line gauge larger than 0.110”, you’ve got a heavy-duty weed eater. The vast majority of these use gas engines, because they need that sheer power to do their work. Their main role is taking on thick weeds and tangled grasses that the other two brackets just can’t handle. They’re heavy, and most will come with a harness to make carrying them easier, but they will cut through plantlife like nobody’s business.
A Quick Guide To Using Your Weed Eater
You know what the best models are on the market, you know what to look for in a weed eater, now let’s get into how to use it. We’ve prepared a handy guide to weed eating for you.
Prepare Your Weed Eater
Ensure that your weed eater is ready to go. If it’s battery-powered, make sure that you’ve got enough batteries to cover your entire yard and that they’re fully charged. If it’s gas-powered, see that the tank is filled up. In both cases, check that you have enough cutting line to take on the job. You don’t want to be caught short while in the middle of trimming, it’s a painful hassle.
Put On Protective Equipment
The guard on the trimmer is helpful, but it’s not going to be enough, and debris might fly off at an unexpected angle. Better to have protective equipment and not need it than the other way around. The usual suite of gardening PPE should suffice. That’s safety glasses, closed shoes, long pants, long sleeves, and work gloves. If you’ve got a gas trimmer, ear protection is also a good idea to save yourself from the noise.
Never trim without PPE. Once you’ve got your PPE on, it’s time to get trimming.
Mind The Spin Direction
Before you start cutting, give your trimmer a spin to see which way it rotates. This direction affects how you should use your trimmer. If it spins counter-clockwise, then it’ll cut best from the right and eject debris to the left. If it spins clockwise, it’s the other way around. Use the correct side as you advance so that debris ejects away from the direction you’re working instead of into it.
Cut With The Ends
Cutting is simple since all you have to do is pull the trigger and get the string moving into the plants you want to cut. But you also have to think about where your string is. The cutting power on the string lies where it moves fastest, and that’s the end of the string. Think of a ring or a donut. The best area to cut with is the outside of the ring, and thus the end of the line, and not the middle. Ease your weed eater slowly into the vegetation you’re cutting so that the end does the work. You can afford to go a little faster if you have a gas trimmer or if you have a heavier line, but even in those cases, it’s still better to use the tip.
Replenish Your Line
If you’ve got an automatic feed, you can skip this step. For any other type of feed, you’ll need to play out more line as you go along, since the tip gets worn out and broken from cutting. If you’ve got a bump feed, tap the trimmer head against a nearby surface to advance the line. We recommend tapping against the grass instead of a hard surface like wood or concrete to avoid damaging your trimmer head. If it’s a button feed, even easier. Just press the button on the handle and keep going. You should feed when you hear the engine working faster than normal, or when you notice that cutting performance has decreased. If in doubt, better to feed more often than less. There’s a blade on the guard that will cut off any excess line, while too short line can lead to various mechanical failures.
Edge Your Garden
When turned onto its side, a weed eater also functions as an edger. There are dedicated edgers for this purpose, but a weed eater can fill the role with reasonable competence. Edging will give your flower beds and lawn a nice, clean, manicured appearance.
Turn your weed eater so that the line is now cutting vertically. Some weed eaters let you rotate just the head for this exact purpose. Align the cutting line with the edge you want to define, then bring the trimmer head up to cutting speed. Once it’s at that speed, bring it down to the ground to get edging.
Warning: Debris will fly out from where your weed eater is working. When in edging position, the guard won’t catch as much as it does when horizontal. Be very careful that nothing and no one important is on the far end of your weed eater to avoid injury.
Clean Your Weed Eater
Don’t put your weed eater away still soiled from the garden! Dirt and vegetation can build up and gum up the trimmer head, which will degrade performance and make a more difficult mess later. Gas weed eaters are especially vulnerable to dirt and other foreign objects, so don’t skimp on the cleaning.
Take a stiff brush to your trimmer and give it a good working over. If you notice any stubborn spots, a good bit of warm, soapy water will help shift the stains. Focus especially on the trimmer head and spool, and dismount them as needed so that you can get to the tight spaces. When done, dry off your weed eater to avoid any damage.
Some Care And Maintenance Tips
This largely depends if you have an electric trimmer or a gas-powered one, because that determines how much maintenance care they need. No matter what type you have, always consult your manual. It’ll provide you with a basic maintenance guide, and it’ll also tell you if there are any concerns unique to that model of weed eater.
One maintenance need that’s common to both types is cutting line. You’ll need to regularly feed new line while you’re working, and your spool will run out of line eventually. You’ll need to keep some spare spools of line handy. Check your weed eater’s manual to see what gauge of line your weed eater accepts.
Electric weed eaters are very light on maintenance needs. All you need to do is keep it clean of debris and plant cuttings, and inspect it from time to time for wear or damage. You’ll also need to check on the battery from time to time, keep them charged and clean. As long as you keep the battery and the trimmer in order and always have a stock of line handy, your electric trimmer will keep trucking along.
Everything else relates to gas weed eaters and their engines. Maintenance is the bugbear that goes with gas weed eaters, the downside to the sheer power they bring. We could spend a whole article just on the maintenance of gas weed eaters.
As a general overview, here are a few tips to keep in mind so that your gas engine stays in good condition:
- Visually inspect the entire weed eater and look for any loose screws or broken parts.
- Check and replace the air filter. How often this needs to happen depends on your environment. Every 5 hours is a good rule of thumb.
- Change the spark plug every 100 hours of use.
- Keep the gearbox well oiled.
- Check the fuel filter to see that it’s clean and clear of debris.
- If you’re not weeding over the winter,, make sure the tank is empty. If you do leave fuel in it, make sure you add fuel stabilizer before you leave it alone.
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve noticed that some questions regarding weed eaters tend to come up rather commonly, so we’re addressing them here.
What’s the difference between a lawn mower and a weed eater?
It’s a question of different roles. Both of them cut plants, but do so with different mechanisms and fill different needs. If you’ve got a large area to cover, that’s a job for your mower, because your weed eater will have a hard time covering that much space. On the other hand, a lawn mower can’t fit into small areas, so you can’t use it to cut around a tree or along a fence. That’s where a weed eater comes in. Ideally, you should have both. Use the lawn mower for power and large areas, and use the weed eater for flexibility and small spaces.
Should I get a gas weed eater or an electric one?
This depends on your needs and the kind of plants you’re weeding out. If you’re only dealing with grass and light weeds and you don’t have the time to do a lot of maintenance, then battery-powered is the way to go. All you have to do is clean it up afterward and make sure the batteries are topped up. However, if you want to go professional, or you have stubborn weeds to deal with, then gas works much better for your purposes.
Weed eaters are an excellent companion tool for lawn mowers. Weed eaters can handle the small jobs that lawn mowers are overkill for, and they can fit into the spaces that lawn mowers can’t. Whatever need you have can be easily met by any of our chosen weed eaters from the list above.
Do you need an inexpensive, light-duty trimmer? There’s the Ryobi ONE+ P2030. If you need something on the other side of the spectrum, the Husqvarna 128LD provides gas-driven power. When in doubt, go with our top choice. You can’t go wrong with the Black and Decker LSTE523, whether you need something for general duty or if you need some extra power.
Weed eaters are helpful and versatile gardening tools. Get yours today!