Best Picks / Reviewed
Best-in-class: EGO Power+ ST1502 Cordless String Trimmer Review
If you need a high-quality, high-power, reliable machine with a high level of versatility, the EGO Power+ ST1502 may fit the bill. Fifty-six volts of juice in the battery will get you through just about any weeds with ease, and the high-quality aluminum construction means that it can truly take a beating.
The shaft is adjustable up to 49 inches, which is perfect for those who need to trim a variety of areas. It’s not necessarily intended to work as an edger; however, the 15-inch swath means that it’s large enough to cut across your lawn but not so large as to make precision work difficult.
The handles are well-padded and extremely comfortable for extended use—which this trimmer is definitely capable of. It’s easy to get about an hour of battery life out of the machine if you’re not running it too hard. It also charges supremely quickly, in 25-35 minutes.
Another huge plus is the variable-speed trigger, which takes things a step further than just “high” and “low” settings for easy customization to the job at hand. It seems to be able to handle just about every task, from little edge trims to major weed thickets, without batting an eye.
And, finally, it’s got a dual-line design, which means faster, more effective cutting no matter how big your task is. Overall, this trimmer is high-quality and—most importantly—a pro at evenly and effectively cutting down lawns and weeds, making it a sure-in as the best high-end string trimmer for professional and casual users alike.
- The power options make it extremely versatile for just about every use.
- It’s one of the most comfortable options around.
- It’s extremely low-vibration.
- The 15-inch cutting swath is a great middle ground for both pros and novices.
- It is a bump-feed design, which some users don’t care for.
Best value: Black+Decker LST136W String Trimmer Review
There is something irresistible about a product that combines a mid-range price with a wide range of features—that also does what it says it will. The BLACK+DECKER LST136 is a powerful, versatile string trimmer that’s great for edging.
It is more precise than many other trimmers with this amount of power, and is also lightweight enough for those with strength and mobility issues. The battery will likely last for a reliable 40-60 minutes, and it charges up again fairly quickly. However, if you have a larger yard, it may be worth it to buy a second battery.
One of the BLACK+DECKER’s best features is its convertible handle, which lets you turn your trimmer into a detail-oriented edger with just a twist. It’s also adjustable to fit your height or the length you need for your project, so there’s no need to strain to find a comfortable angle with this weed wacker.
It’s even got an adjustable power feature, so you can amp it up for particularly thick weeds or turn it down to keep the battery running longer. Overall, it’s a powerful weed wacker with excellent versatility that’s also easy to handle, and these factors make it a great value buy.
- The automatic feed design is a huge, time-saving, hassle-free boon.
- It’s got a 40V battery, which is all you need for moderate use.
- The adjustable handle is great for personalization and convenience.
- With the adjustable power dial, you don’t have to choose between power and longevity.
- The material and build aren’t the highest quality available, so it’s tough to speak to the product’s long-term reliability.
Also great: Greenworks PRO ST80L210 16-Inch Cordless String Trimmer Review
It was a tough choice between the best-value pick and this well-designed GreenWorks Pro ST80L210 string trimmer. GreenWorks has been forging a strong path for themselves in the realm of machinery, and this weed wacker is no exception.
The GreenWorks trimmer has many convenient features that others lack, including an easy push-button start, a supremely quick charge, and a comfortable-to-hold design. Like the best-value pick, it’s also got an adjustable shaft, and it’s light enough for most people to handle without hassle.
Of course, the high battery power (80V) quite literally can’t be beat, and it shows in the GreenWorks’ ability to cut through stubborn weeds. Unlike many trimmers, it’s also attachment-compatible, so adding a different edger or a blower can save you money on separate tools.
That said, while it does have two power settings, there doesn’t seem to be a significant difference between the two. Its run time is also unreliable—it might get the 45 minutes of on-time that the company claims, but the batteries can regularly putter out at 20 too.
Despite these downsides, it’s an undeniably well-made machine that’s a great, efficient, and reliable buy for the money.
- The 80V battery gives you top-notch power capabilities.
- It’s easy to work through larger lawns efficiently with a 16-inch (41 cm) cutting swath.
- The quick charge is great for those who don’t have backup batteries on-hand.
- Having the option to adjust the power is convenient.
- It’s not nearly as precise as the best-value pick is for edge work.
Budget choice: Black+Decker LSTE523 String Trimmer / Edger Review
You still need your lawn to stay neat and tidy when you’re on a budget, but a lot of the options out there make that difficult. If you don’t need to cut through a forest of a yard on a regular basis, the BLACK+DECKER LSTE523 is exactly what you need.
With a 20V battery, it’s got the “oomph” you need for light to medium use. It also functions as both a trimmer and a wheeled edger, so there’s no need to buy separate tools. Plus, all it takes to advance the line is the push of a button on the handle.
The grips are comfortable and the machine as a whole is remarkably lightweight, so it’s ideal for users of all strengths.
Of course, a 20V battery isn’t going to do the trick for totally overgrown areas, and it does take quite a while to recharge (2-3 hours on average); however, for the money, this BLACK+DECKER model still gives you everything you need with quite a bit of what you want, making it an excellent budget trimmer.
- The “easy-feed” feature is extremely convenient.
- It’s easy to convert to an edger.
- It’s lightweight and relatively quiet.
- The adjustable shaft length lets you adjust the machine to the project.
- The 12-inch cutting swath may feel limiting to heavy-duty users.
2. Weed wacker benefits
Weed wackers—also called string trimmers and weed eaters—are for smaller spaces and edges that a lawnmower can’t reach properly. They’re especially useful for:
- Brush or weeds that are too thick for a lawnmower to handle
- Trimming weeds and grass around gardens
- Getting those hard-to-reach spots around the edge of your home
- “Polishing” uneven lawnmower work
However, there are a few different types of trimmers, and the right one for you will depend largely on how you intend to use it.
3. String trimmer types
There are three primary types of weed eaters, and each is equipped with its own benefits and drawbacks.
Cordless weed eaters
Cordless models are, predictably, battery-operated. They equip users with a variety of benefits, including:
- The ability to move freely, without the hindrance of a cord
- The option to do away with the added cost of gas
- Easy detail work, like edging around gardens
However, they’re not without their drawbacks. Namely:
- They’re heavier than corded models—the battery adds weight.
- They run out of juice much faster—sometimes in less than 30 minutes.
- Cordless trimmers tend to be the most expensive option.
Cordless trimmers are great for small detail work, like garden maintenance or trimming around your home, but may not be the right choice for those who need to complete large-scale jobs (a whole lawn) regularly.
While our recommendations will focus on cordless weed eaters, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the other options out there too.
Corded weed eaters
In a similar class to the cordless trimmer is the corded, or electric, weed eater. This alternative may be ideal for some because it’s cheaper, lighter, and (potentially) quieter. That means they’re good for in-town operation (no unhappy neighbors).
However—and this is a big drawback for some—the power cord can severely limit your range and may prove to be a hazard. It may be all too easy for some to cut through it by accident or even trip over it while they work. For these reasons, corded weed eaters are best for those with smaller yards, who live in big towns, and who can stick close to home for their trimming.
Gas string trimmers are another option for those who need greater range, extended use, or a high-powered machine. They’re ideal for heavier-duty tasks like cutting thick or large patches of weeds.
Of course, nothing good is without its drawbacks. Gas trimmers are also heavier, they create pollution, and they require regular gas purchases. They’re also heavier on the maintenance front than corded and cordless models, but are a great option for the heaviest of heavy-duty users (think professional-level use).
4. Weed eater shaft type
By now, you know which type of string trimmer is going to keep your weeds in line. So let’s get down to the features that can help you tailor your yard maintenance to your needs. First and foremost, there are a couple different shaft designs available for weed eaters.
This type of handle, predictably, has an arc to it. This makes the machine easier to control in tight spaces or for detailed edge work.
Oftentimes, models with a curved shaft are also lighter and easier to use in general.
Of course, the classic straight-shaft models come with their own set of benefits. In particular, they:
- Offer a longer reach—great for thick or hard-to-reach areas, such as under steps or benches.
- Are generally preferred by taller users.
Keep an eye out for versatility-enhancing options.
Some newer models also come with an adjustable shaft that can be either pivoted or extended and contracted. This allows users with a variety of needs to adjust the shaft to either the user’s height or the task at hand.
Consider string trimmer voltage
Battery-powered weed wackers—the ones we review here—will show you power measured in volts. While volts aren’t synonymous with power, the battery voltage you see listed generally correlates to a string trimmer’s power.
Available voltage is typically either 20, 40, or 80 volts on a weed wacker—and higher numbers denote a machine with the potential to tackle heavier-duty jobs more effectively.
5. Cutting swath
Beyond power, it’s also helpful to consider a string trimmer’s cutting swath. Like mowers and other cutting devices, string trimmers have a cutting swath, which is the width of their cut. Frankly, this won’t matter much to most light (home) users with basic needs, but the basic breakdown is as follows:
- 10-13 inches (25-33 cm): Ideal for small-sized yards, light use, and edging.
- 14-16 inches (35-41 cm): Great for medium-sized yards and moderate use.
- 17 inches (43 cm) and higher: Best for heavy and professional use or large yards.
While this likely won’t be the deciding factor in your decision, if you’re looking at two models that are identical feature-wise but one has a larger cutting width than the other, it doesn’t hurt to bump up to the larger size for the sake of convenience and speed.
6. How many lines does it have?
Most weed wackers have one of two line types: single-line or double-line. Two lines of string will cut more efficiently and effectively (cutting twice with each turn), so this trimmer type is better for thicker grass and larger jobs. Predictably, however, two-line weed wackers are typically also more expensive, so keep in mind that light work requires only one line.
Single line models are also (usually) easier to thread.
7. Weed wacker feed (or head) type
It wasn’t so long ago that you had to manually feed line into your trimmer (or direct it when to do so manually). However, there are now several different options available for feeding fresh string into your string trimmer as you cut.
- Auto-feed: This is the most “modern”, automated option. The string comes already loaded, and is designed to release on its own when the trimmer senses more string is necessary. This is great for those who prefer a more hands-off approach to maintenance.
- Fixed feed: This option lets users quickly load line without winding first, and is known for reducing tangles and jams. The downside is that you have to keep loading new, relatively small pieces of line manually.
- Bump feed or bump heads: These are the string trimmers that many people know. You “bump” the head of the machine on the ground when you want it to release more line. This model gives you greater control over how much line you use, but too hard of a bumping motion can damage your device.
8. What kind of attachments does it offer?
Some weed eater models come with, or are compatible with, a variety of bonus attachments. The function of these attachments is to save you from buying separate tools for every project. A few popular examples include:
- Hedger attachment: This add-on item is designed for—you guessed it—trimming hedges. They’re most useful when they can be locked in at different angles, and often look like a long rod covered in smaller blades.
- Edging attachment: Many trimmers are already capable of edging, but these are precision-oriented attachments that look like thin wheels. They help users cut in straight, precise lines, and are great for straight-shaft trimmers that are lacking in the precision department.
- Blower attachment: This clever addition lets you clear away recently-cut debris as you work for much cleaner, more attractive results.
9. Other string trimmer features to consider
String trimmers are pretty straightforward devices. But there are a few bonus features offered by some manufacturers that can take your string trimmer from “good” to the best around.
- Shoulder straps: These are primarily found on gas trimmers, but help users carry heavier weed wacker models with less strain.
- Anti-vibration feature: This handy bonus reduces vibration in the handle and shaft of the weed wacker, which makes the machine easier to hold.
- Adjustable power: While not necessary for functionality, this feature allows you to adjust the cutting power to the thickness of the weeds at hand. This is most often a trigger-style feature.
- Ergonomic handles: Sometimes called “comfort grip” handles, these are designed to be easier and more comfortable to grip.
- Head guard: Some newer weed eaters come with a guard to protect flowers or other areas that you don’t want to trim; this is particularly useful for edging and other close-quarters projects.
- Fast chargers for batteries: Many batteries can take three hours or more to charge fully. Some trimmers now offer fast-charging features that give you full power in an hour or less.
- Trimmer-to-edger conversion: String trimmers often accomplish this “multi-tool” conversion with a shaft-turning mechanism that makes it easy to switch from one task to another.
- Weather resistance: This is great for professionals and for those who still want to work when it’s wet out.
10. Buying tips
Of course, everyone has different budgets and needs when it comes to their ideal cordless weed eater. Use these tips to identify a great budget string trimmer, as well as the best mid-range and professional-level weed wackers on the market.
Must-haves for a good budget weed wacker
- A battery that packs at least 20 volts will tackle most light- to medium-duty projects.
- A single-line head will get the job done on most standard jobs.
- Look for a bump head or fixed-feed head if you don’t mind the cost-work tradeoff.
Good-to-have features for a stepped-up string trimmer
- Move up to a 40V battery to make sure you can tackle some thicker weeds.
- Prioritize getting an attachment-compatible model for greater versatility.
- Consider a curved or adjustable shaft if you anticipate edging work.
Great-to-have features for a professional string trimmer
- 80V batteries will often provide the most power and weed-wacking versatility.
- Go for the double-line head for the cleanest (and quickest) cut.
- An auto-feed trimmer takes the work out of loading your line.
- Features like adjustable speed and ergonomic handles allow for a personalized, comfortable experience.