Weed whackers go by many names: Weedeater, string trimmer, whippersnapper, weed whip, or strimmer. They rapidly became a staple of residential and commercial yard work following their popularization in the 1970s and 1980s, and they show no hints of declining in value.
For the unfamiliar, a weed whacker is a handheld device that uses a motor to rapidly spin lengths of stiff string. These strings are made of hard material and are used to catch and cut weeds and long grass that grows up around walkways, gardens, and fences. They are an excellent way to finish up basic lawn maintenance without trying to wheel a mower unpleasantly close to permanent fixtures.
However, you might be confused about which weed whacker to invest your time and money in. This helpful buying guide offers a brief overview of what you should look for in one of these devices, and also lists the best ones of 2020 to make your selection simple.
What to Know When Picking a Weed Whacker
Weed whackers and string trimmers come in many shapes and sizes, so it can be difficult to tell just what makes a model good or bad. When shopping for one of these devices, some basic information will come up that you need to know to get the one that is right for you. Overall, individuals seeking a weed whacker for regular yard maintenance will want a model that is easy to use, lightweight, has a medium cutting swathe, and uses a reliable automatic or bump feed.
Gas vs. Electric
A major debate about string trimmers is whether a product fueled by gasoline or electricity is better. Gas-powered weed whackers tend to be more powerful, but are large and unwieldy. Electric options that use batteries are weaker but are also small and lightweight.
For the average homeowner, an electric weed whacker is the better choice because the trimmer will be more mobile and easy to use around edges. The device can also be fueled by charging the battery, meaning there is no additional purchase of gasoline.
Automatic vs. Bump
Automatic vs. bump refers to the system used to feed monofilament string out of the spool so it can be used to trim weeds. An automatic system will sense when the line has been cut and will automatically send out more string, creating seamless use.
A bump feeder, on the other hand, requires the user to pay attention to how much monofilament is remaining. Once it gets low, the individual needs to tap the weed whacker on the ground so more string is released. Bump feeders tend to be more practical because they get caught less. However, an automatic string feeder is ideal when it works properly because it means users don’t need to stop their yard work.
When picking the right weed whacker, there are a few more things to look for. First and foremost is the quality of the trimmer itself. In general, you want a weed whacker that has a sturdy handle, durable guard, and that is easy to transition between using as a general trimmer and as an edger. You should, therefore, look at whether the handle is stagnant if the guard is made out of plastic, and if it’s possible to rotate the head.
Besides quality, you also need to check whether a model is lightweight and easy to maneuver or not. Most weed whackers are considered lightweight once they weigh under 10 lbs. These models are light enough that the average individual who does little to no exercise will be able to use without struggling. A shaft that measures under 48 in. is also ideal, because then the user won’t struggle with a machine that is almost as tall as they are.
Finally, you need to have a look at the cutting swathe. The cutting swathe refers to the area that the monofilament lines will cut, and it is measured by checking the length of each line that is used. So, a weed whacker that uses two strings measuring 6 in. each will produce a swathe of around 12 in.
The ideal cutting swathe for the average yard is between 10 and 14 in. At 10 in., users will need to be closer to weeds but have control over the cutting path and can avoid obstacles with each. At 14 in., users will be able to eliminate more weeds over a shorter period of time, but the strings are prone to breakage and can get out of hand. The perfect length is around 12 in. since it is the middle ground of both numbers.
Check Out These Stylish Models
Black and Decker is one of the most well-known names in power tools and devices, and the LST300 Weed Whacker makes it easy to see why. This powerful trimmer uses a 20V lithium-ion battery combined with PowerDrive Transmission to create a device that is strong, flexible, and reliable. The automatic feed spool means users don’t have to worry about bumping to produce more string, and the cutting swathe measures 12 in.
This is one of the most lightweight products on the market, weighing only 5.7 lbs. and having full product dimensions of 36.4 x 8.5 x 4.9 in. A 2-year warranty from the manufacturer is included with each purchase, and the trimmer easily converts to an edger when needed. Overall, this is a highly versatile tool that doesn’t experience the design flaws common in other models, including struggling feeding spools.
- Includes a 2-year warranty
- Extremely lightweight and compact
- Automatic feeding spool
- Reasonable cutting swathe
- Somewhat short
The WORX WG154 is a cordless trimmer that uses a 20V battery to operate. Unlike some models, this one includes the battery with the purchase and can be recharged as needed. This orange weed whacker takes about 5 hours to get a full charge and utilizes an automatic single line feed so there is quick replacement of the strings. The head rotates so the strings can make greater contact with weeds while in use.
The WG154 can convert from a trimmer to an edger with ease and has a durable guard to catch flying debris. The handle is fixed for better control, and the whole device weighs around 6 lbs. for easy use and better maneuverability. The cutting swathe measures between 10 and 12 in., and the strings are remarkably easy to replace.
- Light and compact
- Has a long charge
- The strings are easy to replace
- Small cutting swathe
This Greenworks model is a battery-powered option for individuals who are tired of the weight and strain of using a traditional gas weed whacker. The Greenworks 12-Inch Trimmer comes with a 12″ 065 dual line with an auto-feed head that produces a reasonably sized cutting swathe ideal for smaller yards. The string is durable and can handle most basic weeds and growths, including lawn grass and some of the thornier weeds of the season.
Besides these basics, this Greenworks is lightweight and compact. It weighs around 9.2 lbs. and has full product dimensions of 65 x 7.9 x 15 in., making it exceptional for shorter or weaker individuals. A variable speed trigger also means users can control just how fast or slow the weed whacking goes, and a battery and charger are included with each purchase.
- Lightweight and easy to use
- Battery-powered and rechargeable
- The line is easy to feed
- Sometimes the auto feed jams
This weed whacker is the only brushless model to top this list, and it therefore maximizes motor efficiency and durability by eliminating unnecessary elements. The DEWALT DCST920P1 is a battery-operated black and yellow model that uses a 20V MAX 5.0Ah lithium ion battery. The battery is included with the model and provides the right amount of power to cut through tall grass, weeds, clover, and even mild brush without damage.
The bump feed on this model accepts a 0.80” line and has dual feeding, generating a 13 in. cutting swathe that is ideal for managing growth around walkways and gardens. There is a variable trigger with speed control so users can manage how strong the cutting power is, making this model excellent for individuals who like to switch speeds for different areas of the yard. It is possible to buy this brushless trimmer with an extra bump feed, head, and line so buyers don’t have to order more for repairs.
- Lightweight and compact at 8.5 lbs.
- Long battery life
- Easy to switch speeds
- Small cutting swathe
Out of all of these models, the best choice for the average person working in a residential area is the Black and Decker LST300 Weed Whacker. The Black and Decker LST300 is lightweight and compact, meaning people of all shapes and sizes can use it without difficulty. The feeding spool is also one of the most well optimized, and the battery has a long life between charges. If you need a weed whacker that can help you anyone you go, the LST300 is for you.