The 2017 Best Weed Eaters and String Trimmers Buying Guide

A weed eater, also known as a weed-wacker or string trimmer, is an essential gardening tool. These tools will save you both time and money, and makes it much easier to maintain a weed free garden or backyard.

String trimmers are available from all of the large gardening equipment companies, and from a distance they all look more or less the same. This might make you think that it doesn't matter which one you buy -- but when it comes to usability, effectiveness and durability, some of them really shines through as better.

It's not necessarily dependent on the price. I've had good cheap weed eaters, and expensive clunky ones.

In the table below, I've included some top rated string trimmers. There are individual differences (click on the 'read full review' button to get the details) -- but basically, you can't go wrong with either of these.

Top rated string trimmers

Name/Image Learn MoreBrandRatingPower source
Tanaka TCG22EASSLP/TCG24EBSP 2-Stroke Gas Powered Straight Shaft Grass Trimmer

Tanaka TCG22EASSLP/TCG24EBSP 2-Stroke Gas Powered Straight Shaft Grass Trimmer

view pricefull review Tanaka (Hitachi)5 Star Average Rating Gasoline
GreenWorks 21142 10Amp 18-Inch Corded String Trimmer

GreenWorks 21142 10Amp 18-Inch Corded String Trimmer

view pricefull review Greenworks4.5 Star Average Rating Corded
Black & Decker LST136W 40V Max Lithium String Trimmer

Black & Decker LST136W 40V Max Lithium String Trimmer

view pricefull review Black&Decker4.5 Star Average Rating Battery
Husqvarna 128ldx

Husqvarna 128ldx

view pricefull review Husqvarna5 Star Average Rating Gasoline

How does a string trimmer work?

All string trimmers have a small engine, which rotates a nylon string (some brands use two strings, but the principle is the same). The rotation is fast, around 10,000 rpm (revolutions per minute), which makes the nylon string cut through the weeds and grass.

On some trimmers the RPM can be changed to suit the job, which for battery driven devices means that you can save battery.

Usually, the nylon string is spooled onto the trimmer and it will gradually be fed out once it’s worn down. Additional spools can be bought cheaply (most trimmers come with one).

The nylon string is a safe approach, as it won’t be sharp, and if you were regular shoes the nylon string won’t hurt you badly if you for some reason should get your foot in it (I can’t see how it’s possible, but hey … at least it’s nice to know!). Anyways, it’s recommended to use shoes that cover your toes and long sleeves (see our section on safety below).

The small engine is either powered by gasoline or electricity (either via a cord or battery).

Which brand makes the best trimmers?

Like with all other tools and gardening equipment, and other stuff for that matter, there are quality differences between the various brands and models. Even the best brands have decently prices entry level models, so a good weed eater doesn’t have to break the bank.

What you should ask yourself, is how often you are going to use it. The size of the the area (your garden, backyard or park area) is also important. Our section below covers each group of models (battery, corded or gas-driven). They all have their benefits and drawbacks.

We’ve recommended some models above. You can click on the individual products and read more, and you can also check out the products on Amazon or other online retailers. They offer reviews from verified buyers.

The top rated trimmer brands include:

  • EGO
  • Black and Decker – They are my favorite choice for outdoor power equipment.
  • ECHO
  • Ryobi
  • Husqvarna
  • Tanaka

Let’s break the different models into three groups

The general principle of how the trimmers work is more or less the same. The electric weed eaters have the engine mounted by the handle on the top and the nylon string on the bottom. Inside the shaft, there is a drive cable that transfers the power of the engine to the string.

Battery driven (cordless) weed eaters

These models are light weight, mobile and eco-friendly. They don’t consume a lot of energy, and they’re not dependent on gas. They are quiet and can cut moderate grass/weeds with ease. They are good for a small yard, but the limited length of use (due to the battery being discharged) and the weaker engine makes them bad candidates for larger areas or commercial use.

Cordless weed eaters comes with a re-chargeable lithium battery. The battery will work for 1-2 hours at a time typically (however, you can by extra batteries). It also doesn’t cut tough weeds very well. These are the things you need to keep in mind.

What you really need to consider here is the battery. On the highest RPM setting, a fresh battery may only last 20 minutes (even on the best models). You can obviously buy two batteries and keep them in rotation, or run the trimmer at a lower RPM setting.

Electric string trimmers (corded)

These have a lot of the same qualities as the cordless ones, but now you’re not limited by the battery life. These are typically the ones I’d recommend for most people with small gardens. If you have a large garden, the cord can be a bit clunky to drag along — and I’d recommend a gasoline driven device instead.

These are still light trimmers, and you can basically think of it as a cordless cutter with a cord. They are not suitable for thick weeds, but work very well if you don’t need a tough cutter. See our 2017 guide on how to find the best electric weed eater.

Gas driven cutters

A gasoline driven trimmer is heavier, makes more noise and are less eco-friendly than the two others. However, they’re the best solution when it comes to tough weeds and high grass. The best choice for commercial use or large gardens!

The main disadvantage of gas driven cutters is the price. If you feel it’s worth it, and you know you are going to use it a lot, I’d say this is the best choice.

Reviews and Buyers Guide

With all the brands out there, it can be tough to pick the right one. We make this easy with our guide on finding the best gas trimmer, it will teach you everything you need to know plus we give reviews of our top picks.

Should I pick a straight or curved shaft?

This boils down to your preference. A curved shaft is more comfortable, as it’s more ergonomic since you can hold it facing straight down. They’re also easier to maneuver, and it’s easier to keep the lines straight since the string will be parallel to the weeds.

A straight shaft trimmer is better for thick weeds and bushes, since you can reach longer with it. It’s therefore the choice of most professionals in the gardening industry. Often they last longer, as there will be less friction between the drive cord inside the hollow shaft (on curved models, the cord will also have to be curved, leading to more friction and quicker breakage).

Straight shaft models tend to be slightly more expensive than the curved shaft ones, and they have a larger variety of attachments like blowers ad hedge trimmers.

Safety

When you’re using a weed eater it’s important to keep safety in mind. Wear work boots or good shoes that cover your feet, hearing protection, long pants, long sleeves and protective eye wear. When you’re cutting the weeds at 10,000 rpm debris will usually fly around, and even though it may not be directly dangerous it can scratch your skin, and you run the possibility of getting debris in your eyes. Make sure you read the owners manual before you put your new weed eater to use. I’ve also included a video on ho to safely operate a weed eater (courtesy of Farm Bureau Insurance Virginia):

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