Weed Trimmer

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Weed Trimmer

Spring’s on the horizon, and with it, lawn maintenance. To that end, any serious lawn keeper would be remiss not to include a weed trimmer in the equipment arsenal. The wide range of product choices, however, can present a baffling experience, if not informed before setting out to buy one.

The seemingly simple, weed trimmer is anything but! It clearly possesses a knack for securing a lawn’s finished look, manifesting an “inner hunter” at the sight of weeds or unruly grasses in places lawnmowers miss. Whether manicuring grassy fence strips, or keeping driveways neatly edged, its versatility is enviable. Maybe that explains its many monikers, from “weed eater” (a brand name turned generic), to string trimmer, line trimmer, and grass trimmer, to name a few.

Regardless of title, these indispensable devices have rendered grass shears obsolete, and the best can handle tough weeds and tall grass with aplomb. The three main types use electricity, battery power, or gasoline engines, with designs varying by weight, shaft (handle) length and curvature, method of string feed, cutting path width, and starting ease. With such variety, what’s most important in weed trimmer selection?

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Best for time consuming, large properties are the gas-powered engine models. Along with supplying longer usage, they conveniently lack cords. Best for small spaces, with minimal weeds, however, are the corded electric styles, light weight, with neither motor nor battery.

Cordless electric models, though heavier, are suited to mid-size lawns. They share the “no cord hassle” of gas powered, though weigh less, but usually require recharging. With varied running times per charge, 10-45 minutes typically, it’s important to consider job time. Less powerful, with only a 7-12″ cutting path, they’re also less weed-eating.

Handle curvature varies, too, with longer, straight handles more useful under bushes and around obstacles. A curved shaft works reasonably well for straight line trimming, along a fence or wall. There is also the matter, sometimes a source of complaint, in all three major types, of how the nylon string or “line”, which does the actual cutting, is fed to the trimmer head.

Typically, the more expensive models have better string-feed systems. The simplest, most reliable system, involves a pre-cut line, a fixed string length, attached to the cutting head. Without a spool, tangling is eliminated, but when string is worn down, it must be manually replaced. Alternatively, there’s an automatic feed spool system, available on many newer models. Although convenient, it can occasionally over or under advance the string, using an entire spool for a small area, for example.

Most gas and electric models have the “bump-feed line advance,” whereby the head of the trimmer is tapped on the ground, releasing line from the spool, as needed. While jamming, or feeding too much line and tangling, can occur, the major advantage is the easy replenishment of worn string.

When selecting a weed trimmer, by any name, the overall price range will vary, with the more powerful, gas-fed engines leading. However, some gasoline, and most electric, varieties provide less costly alternatives. Always consider power requirements according to property size, and who will operate and maintain the equipment. There is no doubt that a well thought out choice will result in gaining landscape precision, with a “finished” look, that the whirling steel blades of a mower can’t possibly deliver.


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