How To Choose a String Trimmer [Buying Guide]

Are you thinking of getting a string trimmer? Are you tired of using a lawn mower, and want to get the job done in a fun and quick way? String trimmers are excellent tools to clean up your lawn, but choosing the right one out of thousands can be difficult. So, how do you choose a string trimmer that suits your needs?

Choosing a string trimmer depends entirely on your needs and what you value. Here are a few things to consider: 

  • Amount of power required.
  • The trimmer line you’ll use. 
  • Weight and shape.
  • Balance and vibrations.
  • Convenient feeding and loading.
  • Safety features, and connectivity. 
  • The size of the area you need to cover.

You can also base your choice on requirements like a 2 vs. 4 stroke engine, bump vs. auto feed system, and straight vs. curved shafts. Unless you work professionally, you should opt for the simplest model that gets the job done because high-end string trimmers can be an expensive investment.

In this article, you’ll find a rundown of the different features and types of trimmers you’ll find on the market. Weighing the benefits and drawbacks of each model simply requires a little time and thought. After reading this article, you’ll be able to make a perfect choice.

10 Features to Consider Before You Choose a String Trimmer

A string trimmer is a powerful tool used for trimming lawns and landscaping. It is a lightweight and portable solution for yard work compared to the traditional lawnmower. 

In a string trimmer, a power source is either fuel or electricity. The engine or motor generates power for the trimmer head at the end. 

You often use a string trimmer for those spots that a mower can’t access. However, the most recent models come with innovative capabilities that make them more than simple, practical tools.

Bottom line: A decent string trimmer makes keeping a yard much more straightforward by doing away with tedious tasks like hand trimming and manual edging.

“Okay, but how do I know which model I need?”, you might ask. To get you started, look into the crucial factors discussed below.

1. Source Of Power

Battery Powered Trimmers: With the most recent advancements in lithium-ion battery technology, a cordless electric string trimmer often has enough duration and power to tackle the typical home yard.

A battery-powered trimmer has one drawback: you’ll likely need a backup battery so that you can continue the job by inserting the backup if one runs out of juice while trimming. 

Spare batteries can cost anywhere between $40 and $125, ranging from around $75 to even more than $200.

Tip: Opt for equipment that utilizes the same batteries and charger to get the most out of your outdoor toolbox.

The battery-powered tools from the same manufacturer generally use the same kind of battery. So for example, if you already have a battery-powered chainsaw from Greenworks, you will be able to use that in your Greenworks trimmer and vice versa (granted that they are of the same voltage). 

Battery-powered trimmers are a good choice if you already have a number of battery-powered tools for the reasons I mentioned above. They excel in situations where the job won’t take longer than 30-40 minutes (a typical runtime for a fully charged battery), but having a power cord would be too much of a drawback. 

Gas-Powered Trimmers: Weed eaters powered by gas have often been the preferred option for big yards where a longer runtime is required. 

Additionally, they are a wise investment for clearing dense, weighty undergrowth. Gas engines require greater maintenance than electric trimmers, and 2-cycle engines also require a pre-mixed combination of fuel and oil of the right ratio, which adds another layer of complexity that many homeowners don’t want to deal with. 

With that said, gas-powered trimmers are generally the most powerful of the bunch, so they are a natural choice for those who have to deal with thick vegetation or handle a large area. Needless to say, most professional landscapers prefer this type too. 

Prices start at $125 and go up to $200.

Electric Trimmers: The power of corded electric trimmers is often enough for regular yards, but the cable’s length may restrict their usage. 

These are a good choice if you only have to cover a small area, and therefore spending over a hundred dollars on a trimmer could not be justified, or if you are only planning to use your trimmer occasionally. 

They are the least expensive choice, with costs that peak out at roughly $50.

2. Power of The Motor

Stronger trimmers would be able to chop through more problematic weeds and more grass quickly. 

Amp ratings for electric trimmers commonly range from 2 A to 10 A. Voltage ratings for cordless trimmers range between 18 V to 84 V. 

Gas trimmers range in size from 20 cc to 50 cc according to engine displacement. Both two-cycle and four-cycle engines for gas trimmers are manufactured. Four-cycle engines have a more potent engine but are generally heavier. 

Duty ratings may be a sensible method for picking a string trimmer with these considerations in mind. 

Light-duty trimmers with motors up to 3 A, 24 V, or 20 cc are excellent for simple tasks like trimming tufts of grass and small weed. 

Thick grass, twiggy weeds, and even bushes and saplings are no match for heavy-duty trimmers above 56 V or 35 cc. For dense brush or grass that is at least waist-deep, a walk-behind string trimmer could be the ideal heavy-duty string trimmer, but at that point using a lawnmower might be a better idea depending on the terrain. 

3. The Trimmer Line You’ll Require

With regard to the task at hand, the trimmer line can be adjusted. While curved trimmer lines, like square, X-shaped, or six-sided lines, last longer, they do not cut dense weeds as effectively.

Thick lines on trimmers provide higher cutting power, another crucial factor. For grassy and thin weeds, use the light-duty line, which measures .065 to .08 inches.

The .085 – .105 inch medium-duty line is used for borders and clingy weeds. The heavy-duty line above .110 inches is excellent for tiny saplings and thin brushes. Think about a blade extension if you want to cut anything harder than that. 

4. Weight of Your Trimmer

Pick a grass trimmer that is light enough for you to handle and transport efficiently. When selecting optional accessories, take weight into account. 

If you are unable to lift the attachment comfortably for a pole pruner, you shouldn’t get it.

With that said, heavier trimmers almost always come with a shoulder strap, but this isn’t always the case so pay attention!

5. Good Balance

Adaptive versions make it simple to maintain the trimmer’s correct angle without requiring frequent changes. 

Top-mount motors often provide the optimum balance. Search for trimmers with customizable shafts or handles to modify the size to your position.

6. Noise Production

Gas-powered trimmers always produce the most noise; battery and corded trimmers are quieter. 

I know that we usually don’t have the luxury to choose a trimmer based on noise level alone, but it’s still something to keep in mind if you live in a neighborhood where houses are tightly packed together, and therefore the noise could bother your neighbors. 

By the way, it is recommended to wear ear protection while operating a string trimmer. The kind of ear cover you’ll need is specified in the user’s manual.

7. Low Vibration

The gas-powered trimmer’s strong vibrations might leave your hands sore. An anti-vibration trimmer gear is something to look for. In the majority of the latest models, it is pretty standard.

8. Convenient Feeding and Loading

Weed trimmers cut using a quickly rotating string, which makes feeding and loading simple. Evaluate the ease of loading and feeding replacement strings.

Every trimmer has different accessibility for strings. Some trimmers can accept most kinds of strings, while some trimmers operate on limited strings. Just make sure you adhere to the product’s string length and thickness guidelines. 

Note: If you use anything too heavy, you risk damaging the trimmer’s engine.

You should also consider whether you want a trimmer with a bump-feed or auto-feed mechanism. I’ll talk about these later in greater detail. 

9. Safety Measures

A guard above the string should be a standard safety precaution to stop debris (stones, thorns, mulch fragments, etc.) from hitting and hurting you. 

Several versions come with a cutting screen that expands to restrict the trim range and safeguard plants.

It’s best to look out for a string trimmer that has added safety features (most of the models commonly sold nowadays are like this).

10. Connectivity

Some corded trimmers come with a universal adapter that enables you to use connectors/extension cords from different manufacturers without affecting the warranty.

If you’re working with multiple trimmers or extension cords, this could be a convenient added feature. 

2 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Trimmer

For someone investing in a string trimmer, the first thing to do before you hit the shops is to ask yourself the following questions:

How Often Will You Use Your String Trimmer?

Are you buying a trimmer for personal use, or will you use it as a professional tool too?

In most cases, you won’t need a fancy model when buying one for your own use. You can look for simpler models that’ll get the job done and be easy to maintain. Purchasing an expensive or hardcore version will be a waste of money because you don’t need all the extra features.

If you plan on using your trimmer more often by working in different areas, you may need a versatile trimmer. You might need higher power, a different shape, or a longer running time. This could justify splurging on a higher-end model since you’ll be getting full use of it.

Where Will You Use Your String Trimmer?

The next thing you need to do is define the space you’re going to work on. 

A simple electric trimmer will work fine if you have an average-sized or smaller yard. 

If your yard is on the larger side and has a lot of vegetation, you’ll need to buy one with more power and a longer run time. The same goes if you use it professionally because every place you’ll work with will have different terrain and greens. In this case, a powerful gas-powered model might be your best choice. 

The Basic Types of String Trimmers And When to Choose Them

I have already mentioned how trimmers are different based on their power source. Now let’s talk about that in greater detail.

The trimmers generally are available in two main types: 

  • The more expensive and potent gas versions (2- or 4-cycle engines).
  • The cost-effective electric (cordless or corded) may be under $50 (battery-powered models can also be quite cheap if you already have a battery and are only buying the bare tool).

There are further subdivisions in the two categories, but they might not be as important for everyone. 

Whether you go for a gas or electric trimmer influences the price, the power, and the run time you’ll get. 

Generally, the gas trimmers are more powerful and stay on for a more extended period, and even if they run out of fuel they are easy to refill. On the other hand, they require more maintenance, fuel costs, and careful measures to store them. 

Electric trimmers are simple and efficient but only come in handy for you if you have a small surface area to work with.

You can’t precisely label either of them as good or bad because it all comes down to the personal preference and requirements you have. 

Here’s a deeper insight into both types of trimmers:

Gas-Powered Trimmers

Gas trimmers are the oldest form of trimmers. There are newer models with the latest features, but they’re the vets in the field. 

Gas-powered string trimmers

As I mentioned before, they’re some of the most powerful trimmers you can find. They have the seal of approval from professionals for both big and small jobs. If you aren’t familiar with using and maintaining any string trimmer, it’s normal to feel intimidated by a gas-powered one. But if you have already operated a lawnmower or a chainsaw, you will probably do just fine. 

To give you the basics on them, gas trimmers come in two types: 2-cycle and 4-cycle. The number of cycles or strokes means the rate at which the piston moves inside the engine.


In a 2-cycle gas trimmer, the piston moves through cycles twice to produce power. They require a gas and oil mix to work; traditionally, the ratios are (gasoline to oil) 50-to-1 and 40-to-1. To be safe, ask what proportion your model would require. If all else fails, the user’s manual will always have this information. 

Mixing fuel and oil is something many people don’t like. If you are such a person, you can always buy it pre-mixed, but in that case, it will cost slightly more. 

Since a 2-cycle trimmer is smaller, it gives you more power in a lighter tool. Thanks to its size and lower number of parts, it’s a cheaper option for gas trimmers. However, it’s noisier and less efficient in fuel consumption. 


A 4-cycle trimmer’s piston goes through 4-cycles in the engine. You don’t need to mix fuel and oil in it. You put both substances in their respective compartments. 

A 4-cycle trimmer is heavier and has a higher number of parts. Because it is a heavy-duty tool, you’ll naturally pay a higher price. 

The best part is gas trimmers are repairable, so a one-time investment will go a long way. The weight may be a dealbreaker for some, but these trimmers have lower noise and higher fuel efficiency than 2-cycle engines.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Gas Trimmer

Gas trimmers sound like a no-brainer, but you should be realistic about your yard’s needs. Don’t get a tool with wasted potential. Here’s a table for you to compare the utility of a gas trimmer:

Pros Cons
Commercial Quality Performance Noise requires safety headgear
Easily portable and cordless More expensive
Work on overgrowth High maintenance 
Time efficient  Not environmentally friendly 
Quick refueling Gas and oil are messy

Some models on the market may specialize in minimizing a few of the disadvantages mentioned. So check the options available to you before you decide on a model. If you’re ordering online, you can use online reviews on youtube to help you.

Electric Trimmers

The comparatively newer version, electric trimmers, are an attractive purchase. They add ease, convenience, and environmental friendliness to your yard work.

An electric string trimmer

Generally, electric trimmers are light and user-friendly. Like all other electronic gadgets, they appear safer and easier to maneuver around. You’ll find that people who have smaller yards or don’t require heavy-duty work often choose electric trimmers. They require less maintenance and still get the job done.

Electric trimmers come in two types: cordless (or battery-powered) and corded. The main difference is that a corded trimmer has a distance limitation while a cordless trimmer doesn’t. 

Corded Trimmer

Trimmers with cord lines run for an unlimited time as long as they’re plugged in, and you don’t run out of power. So if you have enough length on the cord to do your yard, this should be a good pick for you. Added bonuses are lower noise and uninterrupted run time.

Because they have a direct power connection, you can get away with being a bit intense in the weeds. However, electric trimmers don’t pack a solid punch like gas trimmers. So a corded trimmer won’t give you the results a 4-cycle trimmer can. It also isn’t recommended, so don’t go overboard.

Cordless Trimmer

With a cordless trimmer, you have the same benefits as a corded trimmer, except for two things. You have limited run time since your battery will run out, and charging time will add to the time it takes to get the job done. On the plus side, you have more access to hard-to-reach places now that a power connection isn’t holding you back.

Battery powered string trimmer by Makita
A battery-powered string trimmer from Makita

You can control battery usage with the amount of force you apply. So if you’re lightly working on a small patch, your battery will last 30-40 minutes. But if you go in hard, that’ll be reduced to 15-20 minutes.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Using an Electric Trimmer

Electric trimmers can look like the handier option, but you should consider whether they meet your yard’s requirements. Here’s a table to help you:

Pros Cons
Environment Friendly Corded trimmers limit mobility
Cheaper, with no additional fuel costs Cordless trimmers require charging
Less noise  Only for small areas
Lightweight and compact Not suitable for tall and dense weeds 
Low maintenance  Not repairable in most cases

You can find many high-tech models online and in stores. Guarantees and warranties should be discussed with the shopkeeper while you make your purchase because, typically, electric trimmers can’t be repaired like gas trimmers.

3 Types of Trimmer String Feed Systems

Moving on from the string trimmer itself, another distinction comes in the string line feeds. As beginners, these won’t make much of a difference. You’ll be learning how to work with a new feed system one way or another.

Bump Feed

The most common type of line feed is the bump feed. It works as the name suggests; you just bump the top of the head on the ground. This automatically releases more lines. 

You don’t have to pull anything out yourself, so you won’t have to worry about messing up. Wrapping the line on the spool is a different story.

If you feel like the head isn’t giving enough line or too much of it, there could be an issue with the system. Since the bump feed is so common, you can easily find replacements or get yours repaired. This feed gives you the most control because it works when you demand it. 

With bump feed, it’s your responsibility to check on the line. That could become a nuisance for some people. 

You also have to be careful while bumping the head since doing it too hard could potentially damage the spool. Keep in mind that eventually, you’ll need to replace the head because wear and tear are inevitable with all the bumping you’ll do.

Auto Feed

Another straightforward mechanism, the auto feed, has an internal system that takes out the line through its own calculations. You don’t have to prompt it in any way. Once it senses that line is running low, more will come out by making use of the spinning motion. 

You can get done with trimming quicker since you won’t be interrupted by tapping or stopping. 

If the line gets stuck or is released in one go, it’s a clear sign that something’s wrong. You might get tired of constantly looping the wire, but that’s something you’ll have to get used to when working with any string trimmer.

You’re bound to run through the line faster because of the auto system. Since the system works by itself, it’ll let out string even when you think it isn’t needed. Additionally, repairs and replacements will be costly.  

Fixed Line Trimmers

For beginners, these may be the hardest to work with. Fixed line trimmers require you to manually set the trimmer length each time. There’s a steep learning curve you’ll need to work through. On top of that, it’s much easier to mess up and get the line jammed.

Since you’ll have to open the head every time, fixing the line becomes a hassle. It’ll break your work rhythm and test your patience. Compared to this, the auto and bump feed feels like a luxury.

Some professional users tend to prefer the fixed line feed since their trimmers are heavy-duty. The string lines are much thicker than the average user’s, so manually releasing it is necessary. They also don’t have to do it as often, since the string is tougher.

Straight Shaft vs. Curved Shaft Trimmer – What’s Better?

Here’s a brief comparison between straight and curved shaft trimmers. 

Straight Shaft Trimmers

Straight shaft trimmers contain elements made for improved sturdiness, more adaptability, and greater output power. While anyone may use them, many straight-shaft string trimmers are best for the arduous jobs that commercial users and people with vast properties to maintain frequently confront due to their long hours and hard work. 

Straight shafts offer:

  • Improved reach.
  • Higher torque.
  • Less deterioration.

Curved Shaft Trimmers

String trimmers with curved shafts are simple to operate in yards with lots of fixtures and confined places. 

They are less expensive due to their lightweight, which also makes them more pleasant to carry. A curved shaft string trimmer might make sense for landowners and users who don’t need to use their string trimmers daily.

Curved shafts offer

  • Better command.
  • Simplicity while carrying.
  • Less expense.

Do All Trimmers Have String?

Not all trimmers use string. It may be one of the primary features in many, but some models either only use the blade or can switch between the two. 

Blade trimmers are more robust than the average string trimmer. Not only do they have more power, but they can also give a faster cut too. 

Unless you’re working professionally or with a really rough patch of land, you won’t necessarily need the blade.

The majority of blade trimmers are gas-powered. However, some electric trimmers also have blades nowadays. 

From an average user’s perspective, the string trimmer should be your preference. It’s cheaper, lighter, and safer. A blade trimmer is more expensive because of its ticket price and future maintenance. 

You can get the best of both worlds if your trimmer is compatible with both features. Lighter work can be done by the string trimmer. And when you feel you need more force or power, you can switch to the blade attachment. You must be more careful when using the blade though. 


When To Choose a Bump Feed System Over Auto Feed System?

The bump-feed method will provide the most benefits if you require a large amount of line to clean up your property. Choose the automatic-feeding system if you don’t need much line and don’t want the hassle of changing the line all the time the trimmer is being used. 

What Size of Trimmer Do I Need?

The trimmer size you choose depends primarily on what you want to use it for. You can choose standard sizes for regular lawn maintenance. Heavier and larger trimmers are best for professional use and cutting through thicker materials. Additionally, ensure you’re comfortable holding the trimmer. 

What Does Brushless String Trimmer Mean?

Brushless refers to the motor used in an electric string trimmer. Brushless motors are faster than brushed alternatives because there is no friction caused by carbon brushes. This also saves them from overheating and makes them last longer.

Generally speaking, brushless motors have a longer lifespan but tend to be more expensive too. But they are worth the investment in my opinion. 

Final Thoughts

Any yard tool is a significant investment and a commitment. When choosing a string trimmer, you should be realistic about your requirements and how much work you can put into its maintenance. Having a heavy-duty tool is useless if you don’t need the power, so save your money and go for the simpler model instead. 

Make a choice that best fits your needs and offers comfort so that maintaining your garden becomes fun and therapeutic rather than just another task. 

Peter Toth

Hi! I'm Peter, the owner of BackyardGadget. Working around the house has always been a big part of my life. I've created this site to share my experience, and to help people choose the right tools for the job. Thank you for stopping by!

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