Best Weed Eater Buying Guide
The best weed eater works to cut grass, weeds, and other vegetation and places that are difficult to access with other tools like lawn mowers. All weed wackers utilize a centrifugal force to spin a line made of monofilament, nylon, or in some cases chain. The speed of the spinning action creates enough force to slice the tops off of grasses and weeds and even slender woody stems.
Very powerful weed eaters are able to cut even surprisingly heavy shrubbery with ease. Weed eaters are versatile tools that can be used to cut grass and weeds in uneven areas, trim shrubbery and ground cover, and even edge along walks.
Weed eaters come in a variety of designs to meet different needs, from lightweight and light-duty wackers that are great for tending to the needs of a small garden to powerful weed eaters that can take care of even dense underbrush.
Types of Weed Eaters
There are a variety of weed eaters to meet your needs, so you are certain to find the perfect weed eater for you if you carefully consider your needs and the options available. If your garden is well-maintained, and you want a weed eater to help you with light maintenance tasks regularly, choose a battery or corded weed eater that can help you with your tasks while remaining relatively quiet and clean.
The choice between battery and corded comes down to whether you want unlimited operating time within a restricted area or limited operating time in an unrestricted area. Think about your yard and the areas you would like to use your weed eater to decide.
If your weed eating needs are substantial, and you want the most powerful weed eater to help you plow through serious undergrowth, choose a high-quality gas model and devote the time and energy needed to maintain it so that you will have a powerful tool that will get the job done for years to come.
Battery-powered weed eaters offer excellent convenience and guilt-free operation with zero emissions. There is no need to maintain a gas engine and these weed eaters can be started with the push of a button. Because they are cordless, you can easily carry these weed eaters everywhere on your property to edge paths, trim hard to get to sections of grass and weeds, and trim shrubbery and ground cover with ease.
Battery-powered weed eaters are less likely to be high-powered enough to cut through thicker shrubbery and small trees. While battery technology has come a long way, it is still not comparable to the strength of gas when dealing with heavy growth.
If you have relatively light uses for your weed eater, especially if you are the type to maintain your garden very regularly and you don’t want to have to deal with being connected by a cord, a battery-powered weed eater may be the right choice for you.
Keep in mind that you will pay more for longer running times and shorter charging times, so be realistic about how much you need to use your weed eater in a stretch. Since your weed eater is very easy to turn on and off, you can easily turn it off between uses as you go about maintaining your small yard. If the weight of your weed eater is a serious concern, keep in mind that a battery adds weight that a corded weed wacker will not have.
Electric powered weed eaters allow you light-weight control and unlimited runtime in an easy to use and easy to maintain tool. The primary disadvantage of electric weed eaters is the most obvious one, that they are restricted by a cord. If you are maintaining a small suburban yard, especially if you do not have fences, a corded weed eater may not negatively affect your experience.
There is some inherent danger in having a device that powerfully chops and is powered by a cord that can easily be lost to sight in long grass. You may have a tendency to trace your steps back as you work and find the cord in the way of the blades of the weed eater, so think carefully about how you will likely use the weed eater before deciding on a corded model.
If you are a careful and thoughtful gardener, especially if you have a straightforward square space to maintain, you may not find the trailing cord to be problematic for you. Electric weed eaters are generally lighter than either their battery or gas counterparts, so you can comfortably hold and use your electric weed eater for as long as you like without worrying about getting tired or running out of battery.
Electric weed eaters are easy to start and maintain, and their sleek profiles make them easy to store as well. Generally they can be connected to an extension cord so you can get a lot of distance from your electric weed eater. You will also not have to worry about charging, so you can use your weed eater whenever you like without worrying about returning it to a charging center or removing the battery.
If you have serious shrubbery to get through, and the weed patch in your yard looks like a jungle, a gas weed eater may be what you need to get the job done. Gas weed eaters are powerful enough to eat through not just weeds and grass but also surprisingly significant shrubbery and sapling trees.
Gas weed eaters tend to be loud and stink of fumes as well as powerful, and they require you to maintain the engine and its components. Gas weed eaters are generally quite heavy, as they carry the weight of a powerful engine as well as the gas tank.
While there are some gas weed eaters that are started with a push button, most require a crank pull. If you have serious weed whacking to get done and have the strength needed to start and handle a gas weed eater, and you don’t mind the smell of fumes and noise of this powerful machine, a gas powered weed eater may be right for you.
Gas powered weed eaters come in either 2-cycle or 4 cycle design. Two-cycle engines complete the combustion and exhaust cycle in two Strokes, while the four cycle requires four strokes. The four stroke engine requires a more complicated mechanism. The initial combustion the fuel mixture must be strong enough to power through the piston going up and down twice, so there’s a higher rate of failure as well.
Four stroke engines tend to be more efficient because fuel is not wasted, while in a 2-stroke system fuel can escape while being drawn into the cylinder. Two stroke engines require the oil to mix with the fuel while 4 cycle engines use gasoline like your car and allow the oil to be injected from a separate reservoir, saving you the chore of mixing it yourself.
As a general rule 4-stroke engines will be both more powerful and more efficient, but they may offer more problems than the less efficient and simpler 2-stroke engine designs.
Walk behind/ Weed Eater Lawn Mower
Walk behind string trimmers offer powerful weed eating in an easy to handle design. If you have thick weeds and shrubbery to get through, but don’t want to carry a heavy gas-powered weed eater to get the job done, a walk behind weed eater is perfect for you.
These machines are lighter and more maneuverable than lawn mowers, and therefore can operate on much more diverse terrain. They can be adjusted to allow for a high-cut that is perfect for maintaining ground cover.
Depending on your needs, a walk behind weed eater may eliminate the need for a traditional lawn mower. The spinning motion of the blades sends trimmings in a wide arc across your yard to self-mulch, but a guard keeps debris from hitting your legs.
If you have serious weed whacking needs, but want an easy to use device, a walk behind weed eater may be perfect for you.
Weed Eater Shaft Types
To some degree whether you choose a straight or a curved shaft is a matter of preference. While each is better for certain uses, either can accomplish most jobs. As a general rule, straight shaft weed eaters are better for trimming underneath and around fences, shrubs and trees, while the curved shaft weed eaters are better for trimming open ground.
Straight Shaft weed eaters offer excellent weight balance so that you will feel like you are simply holding the weed eater while it churns away, not pushing it into position as it goes. The long straight shaft separates you from the blades so that you are less likely to be hit by debris, and makes it easier to trim underneath fences and around bushes and hedges.
Curved shaft weed eaters are better for trimming open ground since they hold their heads even with the ground and make it easy for you to adjust the height. Curved shaft weed eaters generally take a little more effort to maneuver than straight shafts, and the shorter length makes you more vulnerable to flying debris, however if most of your weed eating is over open ground, the curved shaft will make it much easier for you to choose the right height and easily cut swathes of grass and weeds.
Features to look for when buying a weed eater
Weight / Balance
Weight is a fairly obvious thing to consider in a handheld tool like a weed eater, but a heavier, well-balanced weed eater may actually be easier to handle than a lighter but poorly balanced weed eater.
Most weed eaters use the engine, as well as the battery or the gas tank, depending on the type, to counter the weight of the head. The result is a tool that puts most of the weight in the handle, with the head being an easily adjustable counterweight that should be able to be held at a variety of eights consistently without difficulty.
Gas weed eaters will inevitably alter slightly in weight as the gas is used. Make sure you choose a high-quality gas weed eater that is counterbalanced to account for the gas that is used.
Electric weed eaters weigh much less generally, and if not carefully balanced may end up being head heavy, so you find yourself stressing your arms to hold the head up as you work. Make sure that the electric weed eater you choose is well-balanced.
As a rule, gas powered weed eaters are the loudest, with battery powered and electric powered weed eaters varying in noise level depending on power. As a rule, the more powerful the engine, the more noise it will make. Weed eaters also make more noise depending on what kind of work they are doing.
Trimming the grass on a low speed will be quieter than plowing through thick underbrush at high speed. If a quiet weed eater is very important to you, and you do not have very heavy duty weed eating to do, choose a model with a small but efficient motor that advertises quiet operation.
Weed eaters work by spinning a head extremely quickly with exposed blades, so there is inherent danger in using any weed eater. Injury can be caused if the string hits your skin, or even cuts through your clothing. Weed eaters also tend to shoot up not only the trimmings of what they’re cutting, but also any gravel or other debris that they encounter, so the user may be struck by high speed shrapnel.
To protect yourself from some of these dangers, carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and use common sense and be thoughtful when using your weed eater. Choose a model that comes with a guard to protect you from debris that is picked up, and always use eye protection and long pants and sleeves, as well as gloves.
Your weed wacker also should stop if the strings become entangled in vines or anything else, saving you from danger as the weed eater gets more wrapped up and saving the machine from damage.
Weed eaters tend to be relatively durable machines, as they utilize a simple spinning motion and have exposed lines that can easily be maintained. Gas powered weed eaters have a reputation for being more durable than their electric or battery-powered counterparts, but if you are not dedicated to maintaining the engine, it can rapidly deteriorate.
It is very important to use the right string for your weed eater, as strings that are too thick or thin can damage the function of the machine. Weed eaters that utilize a bump feeding design can be more durable because the function of this design is straightforward and does not require automation like other string feeding techniques.
String Trimmer Feeding Options
All weed eaters operate by spinning a line in a rapid circle. The action of cutting through dense shrubbery and weeds tends to be hard on a line, so weed eaters must incorporate a way for the user to feed more line when needed in order to maintain a consistent cut.
Weed eaters that utilize bump feed allow the user to put out more line whenever necessary. Weed eaters that utilize auto feed automatically put out more line when necessary to keep the line at a consistent length. Fixed-line weed eaters use a heavier-duty line that can be used for one or more uses before needing to be changed.
Bump feed weed eaters allow a straightforward way for you to feed out more line and customize the length of your trimming line to your needs. You can easily advance more line whenever you want to by bumping against a flat surface. This means that you can choose to bump repetitively for a wide line when you are trimming a wide area of grass, or choose a shorter line to edge.
Because it is your responsibility to produce line, bump feed weed eaters give you another thing to think and worry about while you are working, but it also is very obvious when you need more line, as the swathe you are cutting will get smaller and smaller.
If you are cutting an extended area without flat surfaces, a bump feed can be frustrating because you may not have somewhere convenient to bump it. Any flat surface will do however, so a few flat rocks or concrete blocks scattered around your area will provide somewhere for you to bump, even if you don’t have a concrete area.
While bump feed trimmers can be relatively easy to fix when they have problems, they do have a tendency to become jammed by the dust and debris of operating a weed eater.
Fixed line weed eaters eliminate the problem of feeding out more line by allowing for a fixed-line to be set and then used until it needs to be replaced. This allows for super easy maintenance of your line feed system, so all you will have to worry about in the maintenance of your weed eater is maintaining the motor.
Most fixed-line weed eaters make it easy for you to replace the line, so you can do so even if you are in the midst of working on your yard. Fixed-line tends to be heavier duty than lines fed out by bump feed or auto, as they should be able to power through a fair amount of greenery before needing to be replaced.
Some weed eaters use chain fixed line, but these can be extremely dangerous and are banned in the UK. If you don’t mind a little regular maintenance between uses to save yourself from the frustration of winding spools of line or dealing with tangles, a fixed-line weed eater may be right for you.
Auto feed weed eaters work by automatically sending out more line whenever your line gets too short. This means that you can keep working without checking and worrying to see if your line needs to be extended. Just keep on whacking away and the weed wacker will automatically keep the line at the perfect length.
This is nice not only because you don’t have to worry about adjusting the line feed, but also because the line will be consistently kept at the right length, so you don’t have the experience of starting out with a wide swath and ending up at a shorter one before you think to feed more line.
Like any automatic feature, auto feed offers not only a convenient feature but also another thing to break on your weed eater. Because the feed of the line is hidden by the head, it will be harder to fix and work on any problems, and will cost more to maintain then a non-automatic feeding option.
Weed Eater Brands
This is an ancient Swedish company that started in weapons. They produce extremely high-quality power tools that aren’t cheap but will get the job done for you in an easy-to-use and intuitive design for years to come. Prices range from around 200 to up to 500 dollars, so this is not a negligible investment in a weed eater, but you can feel confident that a weed eater from Husqvarna will last you for a long time.
Black and Decker
Black & Decker is a trusted name in a wide range of products for the home, workshop, and garden. For over a hundred years this trusted company has been stocking the homes and gardens of America. They offer a wide range of weed eaters to choose from, with electric and battery powered options being their featured choices.
If you are looking for a high quality but not overly powerful weed eater that utilizes battery or electric power and want to buy from a trusted name like Black & Decker, they may be the destination for you for your perfect weed eater.
Poulan Pro makes affordably-priced power tools and lawn equipment that is designed after Honda but will cost you much less. They are not best known for their weed eaters, but you have a range to choose from from around $100 to a little over $200. While products by Poulan Pro may not be as dependable as more reliable makers, they will offer you many of the same features of much more expensive products for a more affordable price.
Weed Eater carries the generic name of the weed eater for a good reason. This company was founded by the man who invented the first weed eater as an alternative to trimming the edges of a mown lawn with shears when one of his employees was bitten by a poisonous snake at this activity. The company took off as weed eaters became popular with Americans, and the company still exist to sell weed eaters and other lawn supplies today.
Toro has been making lawn care products since the beginning, having begun with tractor parts almost a hundred years ago. They offer a range of lawn mowers and other outdoor tools, and their trimmers are available in gas, cordless, or electric. With weed eaters starting at around $100, these are not cheap weed eaters but neither are they at the highest end of the price range.
Greenworks was founded with the goal of decreasing the use of gas in lawn care so as to save the environment not only on the emissions from the gas used but also from the spills in transporting this gas. Power tools designed by Greenworks are designed to produce no emissions. Needless to say there are no gas powered weed eaters available by Greenworks, but they do offer a range of battery powered and electric weed eaters that start extremely affordably at under $100.
Craftsman is known for making high quality tools for all sorts of lawn care and workshop needs. They are a Sears brand that has been around for over 80 years. They offer a wide range of battery-powered, electric, and gas powered trimmers. If you are looking for an affordable and high-quality weed eater with low to medium power, Craftsman may be the right brand for you.
Worx is a relatively new Chinese company that began by selling its power tools to other companies. They now sell direct to the public in America out of their office here, offering a range of weed eaters for a much more affordable price than competitors, starting at around $40. If you want some of the same products sold by American brand names at a percentage of the price, a weed eater made by Worx may be right for you.
Troy-Bilt offers a range of weed eaters with innovative features. You can choose between a range of line feed options, between gas or electric, and between curved and straight shaft, so that you can choose the perfect weed eater for your needs. Troy-Bilt is a huge company that is nearly 60 years old and produces a huge range of outdoor products from lawn mowers to snow blowers.
This brand is only sold by Home Depot, and has a wide range of affordable weed eaters to choose from. Many of these trimmers come with a range of attachments and extra batteries to customize your weed eater to your needs. You can feel confident of receiving the warranties and other guarantees of return offered by Home Depot with this affordable weed eater, starting at around $50.
For over 80 years DeWalt has been making an a wide array of power tools. Tools by DeWalt are high quality but not cheap, and their weed eaters are no exception. DeWalt offers only weed eaters that run on lithium ion batteries, and a weed eater by DeWalt will cost you at least in the $200 range. If you are looking for a very high-quality battery-powered weed eater and don’t mind paying a high price for the right product, a weed eater by DeWalt may be right for you.
How to choose the best weed eater
To choose the best weed eater for your needs, carefully consider what you intend to use your weed eater for and your gardening habits. If you are a methodical gardener who frequently maintains a relatively small space, a battery powered or electric weed eater may be the best choice for you.
If you are tending a significant space or have a yard that has serious work to be done, you may be better off choosing a gas-powered or walk behind model. It isn’t a bad idea to handle a few different types of weed eaters to decide among the many features that go into the way a weed eater will feel in your hands, including the weight, the balance, and the shaft.
Carefully considered both your needs in lawn care and in handling ease to decide the weed eater that is perfect for you.
Conclusion and Final Thoughts
The weed eater is an incredibly versatile and functional tool that can make your lawn maintenance tasks easier for years to come. There are lots of choices to be made in determining the best weed eater for your needs, but when you carefully consider everything you will be able to choose what compromises you can afford to make and what features you absolutely need.
Weed eaters come in a wide range of both quality and price, so you can choose what features you are willing to pay for. If you feel a loyalty to a particular brand of garden and power tool manufacturer, there is a great chance that your preferred brand offers this common and versatile tool.