How to Choose a Weed Eater

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String trimmers are excellent yard tools for keeping your lawn looking great. They are great for taking care of those annoying weeds and hard to reach areas in your lawn, but how do you know which one to choose?

If you’re in the market for a new string trimmer, you will already know that there are a lot of options out there so I’ve put this guide together to help you make a choice that’s best for you and your yard.

In general, you want your string trimmer to be versatile and well-powered so that you can use for a variety of different tasks in your yard. You also need it to be easy to use and comfortable enough so you can hold it for good amount of time.

Before you buy any trimmer, I’d recommend going to a dealer to look at it first. Hold it in your hands and make sure you’re comfortable with how it all works. Most string trimmers will cost in the $100-$400. These aren’t cheap so make sure you’re getting what you need.

Things to consider before buying a string trimmer

The first thing you need to do is to decide on a few things:

  • What are you using it to cut?
  • How large is the area?
  • Do you need to take any noise issues into consideration?
  • What is your budget?
  • How durable do you need the string trimmer to be?

String trimmers fall into two categories

These are:

  • Straight shaft trimmers
  • Curved shaft trimmers

People who are a little shorter are going to do much better with a curved shaft trimmer. As the name sounds, the shaft has a slight curve. The shaft is shorter then straight shaft trimmers which makes them easier to control.

Curved shaft string trimmers are not blade capable but they are very light a manoeuvrable so they are great for getting to hard to reach areas.

They are usually cheaper too so if you’re someone who’s just starting out and you’re looking for something light, then a curved shaft is probably your best option.

There are downsides to a curved shaft trimmer though….

The curve limits the amount of power you can get which is fine if you’re only trying to cut a little bit of grass around a few edges but it may be a problem if you want to tackle overgrown grass or weeds.

You also won’t get a case with a curved shaft trimmer which is increases the likelihood of damage which can be costly.

Ione a curved shaft trimmer the shaft is short, so you might find yourself reaching down more than you would like if you are tall.

Straight shaft trimmers are great for you taller people (over 6 foot)

Straight shaft trimmers are longer so they give you better reach with a nice and wide sweep.

If you’re are tall, you will be more comfortable with a straight shaft trimmer, especially if you’re going to be using it for extended periods of time.

They also have more power and torque than curved shaft trimmers.

If you have a larger yard with denser weeds or you going to be doing some heavy-duty trimmer, I would recommend going with a straight shaft string trimmer.

Different string trimmer heads

You can also choose between various different string trimmer heads – Single or double line, automatic or bump head line release.

Multi tool attachments

You may want to consider a string trimmer with a multitool attachment capability.

Essentially you buy one power unit and then you can attach on a variety of different heads that can be used for different tasks – not just string trimming.

The advantage of this system is that you only have the one engine to maintain but you still have a very wide range of applications.

  • Blower attachments
  • Hedge trimmers
  • Tillers
  • Edgers

I would highly recommend these multi task tools, especially if you’re on a budget.

You will also need to consider the power type of your string trimmer

There are benefits to each type of string trimmer:

  • Gas-powered
  • Battery powered
  • Corded electric

Let’s look at the pros and cons of each…

Gas powered

Gas powered string trimmers are definitely the most common. These tend to be the most powerful which makes them great for handling taller grass and tough weeds. They typically come in 2 or 4 cycle engines that will last for many years given the proper maintenance. The two stroke engines are most commonly used.

2-cycle engine require a mix of gas and oil. You can either mix these up yourself or purchase a ready-made product.

Most of the gas-powered mowers have a pull start but can get push start options too. They aren’t restricted by a power cord.

Gas powered trimmers are great for large yards with overgrown areas.

The downside of gas-powered string trimmers is that they are very noisy! They also produce emissions which can make some people feel nauseous.

Battery powered trimmers

With a battery powered, you get the benefit of no emissions and not having to worry about a cord. They are easy to start, easy to maintain and you get the benefit of quiet running.

These do come at a larger price than corded electric models. Also, the battery can run out quite fast before it has to be recharged which might be fine if you have a smaller yard. If you’re going to choose a cordless trimmer, definitely consider the battery run time and the recharging time.

The life of a battery is a lot less than the gas engine and replacing is definitely not cheap. You’re almost better off fully replacing the whole trimmer.

They are usually not as powerful as the 2 or 4 stroke gas-powered trimmers either.

The battery size for a battery powered strimmer can vary a lot. A few have batteries that can compete with gas-powered string trimmers, but most do have less power.

For smaller yards – I’d recommend an 18V battery.

For medium sized yards – a 24V should work well.

For a larger property – a 40V will work best.

Corded electric

Corded electric models can be a good option for some people, especially those with smaller yards who have access to an electrical outlet.

The main benefit of a corded electric trimmer is that you get unlimited run time.

These are even more lightweight than battery powered string trimmers. These are also light, easy to maintain and you won’t get any nasty emissions.

The downside of corded electric models is that you’re limited by the cord.

While you can get an extension cord, it can be annoying to manoeuvre the cord around obstacles in your yard.

Be aware that the extension cords are not included with the string trimmer.

Does the brand matter?

Sticking to the well-known brands isn’t 100% necessary, but there are certainly advantages to buying from reputable companies You’re more likely to more serviceable fittings so if one of the parts gets damaged, you can easily find a replacement for that part rather than having to replace the whole trimmer.

Although you might pay a little more initially, buying a quality product could save you money in the long run.

Some of the best companies to buy from are:

  • Stihl
  • Shindaiwa
  • Honda
  • Echo

Other things to consider

Here are some extra things to look out for when choosing a weed wacker.

Consider the recoiler or starter system

You can get a variety of options. They vary in how much energy is needed to pull the recoil and start the engine.

Look at the handles

Some models have moulded plastic while others have rubber designed for a little extra comfort.

I’d definitely recommend getting rubber handles over plastic. I’ve found them to be much more comfortable.

Get a well-positioned front handle too.  Getting the right pitch on the handle can save you from a lot of wrist pain. Believe me!

Look out for anti-vibration handles too!

This can help to cut out some of the tingling you may get after using a string trimmer.

How difficult is it to change the line?

Look at the trimmer head and see if it’s a fixed line head that you can remove and replace the trimmer line.

A lot of straight shaft trimmers have a bump feed head while some have any easy loading speed feed head.

On some string trimmers it’s quite difficult to do. I’d recommend making sure changing the line isn’t so hard that it becomes a nuisance.

Adjustable throttle

These a great to have! You can turn down the engine if the trimmer is too powerful which works great if you need to trim around more delicate areas like flower beds.

Final Thoughts

Professional landscapers like to go with gas powered engine for their long-lasting lifetime and I’d recommend the same.

I like to get something with a decent amount of power. It makes the trimmer much more versatile when you know you’re good tackling long wet grass and pesky weeds without your equipment bogging down.

Proper maintenance is very important if you’re looking to get the most out of your mower, especially with gas powered modelled. I would recommend using ethanol free fuel if you can.

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