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Find a garden strimmer to trim your garden with this buyer's guide

Published 6th January 2023
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A strimmer is an essential garden power tool for trimming lawn edges and keeping your garden looking neat and tidy. Whether you’re a professional landscaper, or just a keen home gardener, having the right strimmer can make all the difference.

With so many different types of strimmers available on the market, it can be difficult to know which one is best for your needs. This buyer’s guide will help you to understand the different types of strimmers and the features they offer, so that you can make an informed decision when buying one for your garden.

What is a garden strimmer?

Garden strimmers, also known as weed whackers or weed eaters, are tools used for trimming grass and weeds around the edges of a lawn or garden. They are typically powered by a petrol engine or an electric motor, and have a long, flexible shaft with a rotating line or blade at the end that is used to cut grass and weeds.

Strimmers are useful for getting into tight or hard-to-reach areas where a lawn mower cannot access, and for cutting grass and weeds along fences, walls, and other structures. Some strimmers also come equipped with additional attachments for performing tasks such as edging and pruning.

Types of garden strimmer

There are several types of strimmers to choose from, each offering its own advantages and disadvantages. The most common types are electric strimmers, petrol strimmers and cordless strimmers:

Electric strimmers

Electric strimmers are powered by mains electricity and offer convenience as they don’t require any fuel or charging time - they'll run for as long as you need them to. They are generally lighter than petrol models and quieter too (although you should still wear hearing protection).

Electric strimmers are ideal for small gardens but their range is limited by the length of the cable. This can be very limiting for professionals, and people with larger gardens will struggle to trim every edge of their garden. You can extend the reach of a corded electric strimmer with an outdoor extension lead.

Cordless strimmers

Cordless strimmers are just like electric strimmers, only they run off power tool batteries. They neatly solve the cable problem of regular electric strimmers, and you can use them anyway there are weeds to cut.

Cordless models tend to be just as quiet, lightweight and easy to use as ordinary strimmers but they also tend to be less powerful than other strimmer types. They still offer plenty of power for most domestic applications but they may not be powerful enough for professionals.

The other big issues are charge time and battery life. Both will depend on the brand and model you've chosen. Light cordless strimmers designed for home gardens usually have a battery life of 40 minutes or less and take 30 minutes to charge. Bigger batteries will last longer but take more time to charge - they also add weight to the machine.

Petrol strimmers

Petrol strimmers are powered by two-stroke engines which require a mixture of petrol and oil in order to run. They are more powerful than electric models and like cordless strimmers can be used anywhere. This blend of power and flexibility makes them popular with professionals.

However, they tend to be heavier than electric models, noisier and more expensive to run due to fuel costs. They also produce fumes and require more maintenance in order to keep them running efficiently.

Garden strimmer brands

Garden strimmers are a popular type of garden power tool, so many famous brands make their own. It's often a good idea to buy from a reputable brand, since you can have confidence in the strimmer's performance and reliability. Some of the most popular brands for garden strimmers include:

Features of garden strimmers

Once you have decided on the type of garden strimmer that best meets your needs and looked at brands, there are several features that you should consider before making your final decision:

Cutting width

This is the size of the cutting area that the strimmer can cover in one pass and is usually measured in centimetres(cm). The wider the cutting width, the faster you will be able to complete your job.

Bear in mind that a wider cutting width often requires more power, so if you opt for a wider width then this will reduce battery life or increase fuel consumption depending on which type you choose.

Line capacity

The line capacity of a garden strimmer refers to the amount of line, or cord, that the strimmer can hold, normally measured in metres (m). The line is the part of the strimmer that does the cutting, and it is housed in a spool inside the strimmer's head.

When the line wears down or breaks, it needs to be replaced. The line capacity of a strimmer determines how much line can be stored on the spool at one time, which affects how often the line needs to be replaced.

A strimmer with a larger line capacity will be able to hold more line, meaning that you will have to replace the line less often. This can be especially helpful if you have a large area to trim or if you need to do a lot of continuous cutting.

Weight

The weight of your chosen model will decide how easily it can be handled, so bear this in mind when selecting one. Heavier models may become tiring if used over extended periods of time.

That said, the lightest model isn't always the best choice: Light strimmers are only light because they have small motors and shorter cutting widths, so they might not be powerful enough for bigger gardens and tougher weeds.

Handle design

Most modern models come with adjustable handles which allow users to adjust them according to their height and arm length in order to create a comfortable working position while using them.

Some handles have vibration reduction systems built into them. These reduce the strain your arms feel from the motor as you use the strimmer - a brilliant feature if you'll be using yours for long periods.

Handle design

A strimmer can cause you serious harm if there's an accident, so quality safety features are vital. Many modern strimmers come fitted with dead-man switches which automatically stop operation if you lose your grip on the handle. Some also come with protective guards which can protect you from flying debris, although you should still wear personal protective equipment.

Garden strimmer accessories

A garden strimmer will work fine on its own, but you'll have a safety, easier experience if you invest in a few accessories to go along with it, including:

Lastly, while a garden strimmer can destroy tough weeds and tidy up your verges, it can't keep your garden looking tidy on its own. For that you'll need a lawn mower along with other garden power tools like hedge trimmers, leaf blowers, garden chainsaws and more! To make the most of your new strimmer it's a good idea to avoid common mistakes - read our blog to find out how!

Garden strimmer FAQs

What's the difference between a garden strimmer and a trimmer?

There is no difference between a garden strimmer and a garden trimmer - they're different names for the same garden tool.

What's the best way to store a garden strimmer?

Choose a dry, well-ventilated place to store the strimmer. A shed or garage is usually a good choice. Avoid storing the strimmer in a damp basement or crawl space, as this can cause rust and other damage. If you've bought a petrol strimmer, it's a good idea to empty the fuel tank before you store it, since petrol sitting in the tank can gum up the fuel system.

If you have the space, consider hanging the strimmer on a wall or ceiling hook. This can help to keep it off the ground and out of the way, and it can also help to prevent damage to the strimmer's handle and other parts.

How often should I replace the line on my garden strimmer?

This will depend on several factors, including the type of line you are using, the size of the line, the thickness of the grass and weeds you are cutting, and the overall condition of the strimmer.

In general, you should expect to replace the line on your strimmer at least a few times per season, although this can vary widely depending on your specific needs. If you are cutting very thick or tough grass and weeds, you may need to replace the line more often. On the other hand, if you are only using the strimmer to trim around the edges of a well-manicured lawn, you may be able to go longer between line changes.

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