An essential part of any serious gardener’s tool kit, a good quality weed eater can help you keep your lawn and other outdoor spaces looking trim, tidy and pristine right year round. Ready to buy one but not sure which one is really worth your money? This comprehensive buyers guide reveals all.
You take a great deal of pride in your lawn, and who could blame you?
You’ve invested a lot of time and money in ensuring it stands out as the pièce de résistance of your garden space, so it’s no surprise that you want to keep that beautiful green grass in pristine condition right the year-round.
Still, maintaining an immaculate lawn isn’t easy. Even if you have the best lawn mower around, keeping all those edges and hard-to-reach spots trim and tidy can be challenging.
In situations like this, most seasoned gardeners pick up their best weed eater and use it to neaten up those otherwise inaccessible spots.
Yet let’s face it, when it comes to buying a weed eater for yourself, the sheer number of options and features is enough to leave you with a serious case of analysis paralysis.
So let’s make that all-important purchasing decision a little easier, shall we?
Below, we’ve put together the most comprehensive weed eater buying guide on the web, sharing not only our top pick of the best models currently on the market, but also explaining everything you need to know to ensure that you pick a wacker that’s well suited for you and your garden.
Why Buy a Weed Eater?
Even after you’ve done mowing your lawn, you’re still left with the problem of how to keep those edges, borders, and hard-to-reach spots looking neat and tidy. A weed eater helps you finish the job and do what even the best lawn mower out there can’t do.
If you’re truly serious about keeping your lawn looking its best, then keeping a good quality weed eater in your garden shed is going to be a smart move.
Also known as string trimmers, these handy devices use a monofilament line rather than the traditional cutting blade to help you cut your grass in those difficult areas that your lawnmower can’t quite get to, such as against a fence or around a tree.
Sure, you could always dig out your shears and tackle that kind of task by hand, but that’s the kind of tedious, time-consuming work that even the most enthusiastic gardeners would rather skip, especially when there are more enjoyable tasks to be taken care of.
The Three Main Types of Weed Eaters
If there’s one reason why so many gardeners have such a tough time deciding which weed eater is the best one to buy, it’s the number of different types available.
One minute you’re looking at large, powerful gas trimmer, the next you’re presented with a rather svelte-looking electric model.
So how do you know which one is right for you?
On the surface, any type of weed eater will do the job perfectly well. That said, there are some notable differences between each of the three main models that do impact the way they can be used.
So, before buying, it pays to consider which one of these extremely useful gardening tools is best suited to your exact needs.
Gas-Powered Weed Eater
Gas-powered models like our highly ranked Craftsman CMXGTAMDA25C 25cc 17-Inch Weedwacker make the best weed eaters for cutting through particularly dense areas.
If you’re renovating a garden that hasn’t been touched for a long time, or if you have some particularly stubborn shrubbery that you need to neaten up, this may be the best option for you.
They typically come in either two or four-cycle options.
A two-cycle model tends to be noisier than its four-cycle counterpart but generally provides better performance. The only real draw-back is that you’ll need to create your own mix of oil and fuel based on a ratio recommended by the manufacturer and add it to a single tank.
If that sounds like far too much hassle, then you might prefer a four-stroke option. These are much simpler to fuel with separate tanks for oil and gasoline.
However, they also tend to be heavier and more expensive, both of which can be deciding factors when picking a string trimmer that not only fits your budget but which doesn’t leave you sore and exhausted.
The Pros of Gas Weed Eaters
Gas-powered weed eaters deliver exceptional power and performance, so if you’ve got a lot of particularly tough weeds and shrubbery to take care of.
That’s not all. Fans of this particular type say that one of its biggest selling points is that you’re free to roam around your outdoor space, no matter how big it is.
With an electric model, for example, you only go as far as your cord will let you, so if you’ve got plenty of ground to cover, then gas may be the way to go.
The Cons of Gas Weed Eaters
Still, they’re far from perfect.
While gas weed eaters may do a great job of helping you clear away that unmanageable jungle, be prepared for a noisy, smelly time of it.
The odor of burning fuels is enough to put some people off from using these models while the loud roar of a motor could well give you a headache, not to mention upsetting your family and neighbors.
It’s also worth mentioning that even gas models which tout themselves as being eco-friendly as still far more damaging to the environment than other options.
There are also costs to consider. If you use your string trimmer regularly, then you should be prepared for the costs of fuel to add up as well as setting aside a budget for the kind of on-going maintenance that even the best gas trimmers seem to need.
Electric-Powered Weed Eater
Electric weed eaters allow you to trim your lawn for as long as you need to without losing power. However, they do need to be constantly plugged in so you can only trim as far as your cord will let you go.
As you’ll see in our review of the Greenworks 21272 13”, 4-Amp Corded String Trimmer, electric string trimmers are a great option if you only have a small space and don’t want to be burdened with all the excess weight of a gas version.
They work only when plugged into a mains power supply which has as many pros as it does cons.
The Pros of Electric Weed Eaters
For one thing, they’re relatively lightweight, so if you struggle to operate large, heavy garden tools, or if you simply don’t feel like having aching muscles after a spot of gardening, an electric string trimmer may be a good fit for you.
Perhaps the biggest benefit, however, is that there’s no limit to how long you can use them for.
Gas and batteries are both finite power supplies. Eventually, they run out. Batteries need to be recharged and gasoline tanks need to be refilled.
With an electric weed eater, you can keep going for as long as you want.
They also tend to be much quieter and more environmentally friendly than gas versions, though even all of these benefits don’t make electric-powered weed eaters a perfect option.
The Cons of Electric Weed Eaters
Of course, the main drawback is that you’re constantly tethered to the mains supply, so your range of movement is fairly limited.
While it’s true that you can always extend your reach with an extension cord, that still doesn’t give you the kind of freedom you get with alternative models.
It’s also worth considering your safety. That cord can prove to be a trip hazard and result in injury.
The only other criticism of electric models may not be an issue for you depending on what you need to do. While they still pack a sizable punch, they’re not as good at doing intensive work in the same way that gas trimmers are.
Cordless / Battery-Powered Weed Eater
There’s a lot to like about cordless, battery-powered weed eaters, which is why we’ve given our preferred model -the Black & Decker LST136 40V MAX String Trimmer– such high marks.
In a sense, they offer the best of both worlds, combining all the advantages of gas and electric weed wackers into one affordable package.
The Pros of Cordless Weed Eaters
As with gas trimmers, the best thing about a battery weed eater is that they allow you to move around your garden completely untethered. So, if you have a large space that you need to keep tidy, you may find that cordless options serve you much better than an electric version.
Yet there’s one area that battery triumphs over gas:
Cordless models are usually much lighter than those powered by gas. This makes it much easier for you to carry around and makes longer stints in the garden far less exhausting.
Battery weed eaters are also quiet and have minimal impact on the environment, though even with all of these benefits, they’re far from flawless.
The Cons of Cordless Weed Eaters
Naturally, the biggest downside to string trimmers that use batteries is that those batteries eventually run out.
Even if the best rechargeable batteries can require as much as three hours of charging to give you just thirty-sixty minutes of charging.
Let’s be honest, that can be a hassle if you have a lot of work to do.
Lithium-ion batteries can also be pretty expensive. On the upside, however, you may be able to save money on other power tools as you can buy them from the same manufacturer without a battery or charger, and simply use the ones that came with your weed eater.
Best Weed Eaters: Our Top Picks
We tested scores of popular weed eaters to determine the very best models based on price, performance, with those that made trimming our lawn the easiest ranking the highest.
We’ve spent countless hours trying and testing a variety of different weed eaters from some of the biggest gardening tool manufacturers in the world.
Below, we’ve offered our pick of what we consider to be the very best of the best for all different types of gardener.
So, whether you’re just starting to create your first garden space and need a tool to keep it looking pristine, or whether you’re planning to replace your existing trimmer, you’ll find that at least one of the models below suits you, your garden, and your budget.
Before we dive into our in-depth reviews, here’s a quick overview of our favorite machines.
|1.||Black & Decker LST136||Battery||7.8 lbs|
|2.||Greenworks 21212||Electric||7 lbs|
|3.||Craftsman WC205||Gas||12.5 lbs|
|4.||DeWalt DCST920B||Battery||12.13 lbs|
|5.||Weed Eater WE14T||Electric||7 lbs|
1: Black & Decker LST136 40V MAX String Trimmer
A firm favorite among countless gardeners across the country, the Black & Decker LST136 cordless weed eater boasts a Power Drive Transmission, enabling it to deliver a considerable amount of power which belies its lithe, lightweight design.
The result is a model which offers a level of performance unmatched by any other cordless model we’ve tried.
For cutting through thick grass, weeds, and shrubbery, the Black & Decker LST136 40V is the way to go.
A highlight is the unique Power Command dial which gives you the freedom to choose between two main modes:
Maximum power mode – perfect for hacking through thick weeds
Maximum run time – less power but ideal for making the battery last longer.
We also like the Automatic Feed Spool which eliminates bumping and the need for spool adjustment, allowing you to work faster and more efficiently, though that’s not all there is to like.
If you need to create a neat, precise cut around the edge of your garden borders or flower beds, you can easily convert your Black and Decker string trimmer into an edger with a 13″ cutting diameter.
The Black & Decker LST136 can be converted into an edger. In this helpful video will teach you the correct way to edge your lawn.
If you already own Black & Decker battery-powered products, you can save money on the Black & Decker LST136 by picking up a battery-less package relatively cheaply. That said, even if you buy it with a battery included, you’ll only be paying a bit more, making this one of the best value-for-money weed eaters around right now.
Black & Decker LST136 specifications:
Type: Battery operated
Weight: 7.8 lbs
2. Greenworks 21212 13″, 4-Amp Corded String Trimmer
It’s light, it’s compact, and it’s ergonomically designed to make it very easy to use. All told, the Greenworks 21212 13″, 4-Amp Corded String Trimmer is undoubtedly the best electric weed eater for small lawns and gardens available today.
Yet don’t just take our word for it, check out these features:
At its core, the Greenworks 21212 is powered by a 5.5 Amp, 120V motor with a 13-inch cutting path, making it highly effective for cutting through tough grass.
Since they need to be plugged into the mains, an electric string trimmer like the Greenworks 21212 is best suited for smaller lawns like this one.
Elsewhere, there’s an automatic line feed system which handily lets you know when the 0.65″ line runs out and needs replacing. This is very useful as it helps you avoids that familiar chore of starting your trimming work only to have to stop before you’ve even got started in order to replace the spool.
Instead, you plug this one in, and it will let you know if you need to change the spool before you get started.
The very fact that you have to plug the Greenworks 21272 into the mains means that it isn’t a great option if you’ve got a large garden to take care of as it severely limits the distance you can move but, for smaller spaces, there are few better.
In fact, this weed eater is priced so competitively, you’re going to struggle to find a better budget weed eater than this one.
Greenworks 21212 specifications:
3. Craftsman WS205 25cc 17″ Weedwacker
There’s no escaping the fact that the Craftsman WS205 Weedwacker is a beast, but that’s precisely why we like it.
Driven by a two-cycle gas engine for optimum power, this isn’t the kind of string trimmer you’d get if you simply wanted to tidy up a few rose beds or keep your patio lawn in order.
No Sir, this 12 lbs machine is designed for major, heavy-duty work and is best suited for rural work.
Not that you’ll need to over-exert yourself while using it.
If you have a larger lawn like this one, then an electric weed eater will be no good for you as the distance you can move is determined by the length of your electrical cord. Instead, a free-roaming option such as a battery-powered model or a gas weed eater like the Craftsman WS205 is much better suited.
The 17″ cutting width enables you to cut away more grass at faster speeds than you would with smaller cutting widths, and while it may be the heaviest model in our guide, the fully adjustable handle helps you prevent fatigue while using it.
What we like best, however, is just how easy it is to get going.
Some gas weed eaters can be a chore to operate, but not this one.
Prime, choke, pull, and you’re well on your way to a much tidier outdoor space.
All in all, this is a very solid yet simple gas-powered string trimmer that triumphs over even its nearest rivals in just about every way.
Craftsman WS205 specifications:
Weight: 12.5 lbs
4: DeWalt DCST920B 20V MAX 13″ Cordless String Trimmer
As one of the most successful power and hand tool brands in the world, it’s no surprise to see Dewalt make a big impact on the string trimmer market with such a powerful, well-designed product.
If, like millions of people across the country, you already have a couple of Dewalt pieces in your tool shed, then this one might be a good option for you as you can use the batteries from those tools in the DeWalt DCST920B.
What’s more, if you’re a Dewalt owner, then there’s little we can tell you about the brand’s impeccable quality that you don’t already know.
Make no mistake about it, this is a very high-performance model that provides maximum cutting for a minimum charge. Even the standard battery that comes with it lasts longer than some of Dewalt’s competitors, meaning you should have no problem taking care of most lawns (even larger ones) without having to recharge.
Part of this efficiency is down to the brushless motor, though the 13″ cutting width certainly plays a part.
So, if the DeWalt DCST920B is as good as we say it is, then why haven’t we ranked it any higher?
The simple answer is that although there’s a lot to like about it, it also has some pretty major flaws.
Ignoring the fact that it’s one of the most expensive weed eaters we’ve looked at today, the biggest bugbear we -and many other people- have with it is the poor ergonomics and weight balance that make this an uncomfortable chore to use.
If you have a larger garden then you might want to give this one a miss to save yourself some major aches and pains.
The other major drawbacks are that spooling a new line isn’t exactly as easy as it should be and that the guard seems pretty ineffective, meaning you should expect to get covered in grass if you use it.
Not perfect, but for performance alone, it’s certainly worth a look.
DeWalt DCST920B specifications:
Type: Battery operated
Weight: 12.13 lbs
5. Weed Eater WE14T, 14 in. 4.2-Amp Electric Corded String Trimmer
Finally, we couldn’t have a guide to the best weed eaters without mentioning the original.
While other brands may do Weed Eater’s namesake product even better than they do, that doesn’t mean they should be counted out.
At only 7 lbs and priced competitively, the Weed Eater WE14T String Trimmer is a very good option for a lightweight, budget string trimmer.
Since it’s corded and only runs on a 4.2 amp motor, this one might not be a good choice for larger spaces or heavy-duty trimming.
A good quality string trimmer like the Weed Eater WE14T can help you turn an unkempt garden into a pristine space with minimal effort.
However, the Weed Eater WE14T’s effortless handling and excellent flexibility make it ideal for smaller spaces.
A key feature is the Twist N’ Edge function which turns the weed eater into an edger for keeping the edges of your lawn trim and tidy.
Elsewhere, the adjustable handle and trimmer head combined with the telescoping shaft to help you get into tight, difficult-to-access spaces with ease.
We also like that it has a nice 14″ cutting diameter to help you trim more grass in less time, as well as the automatic trimmer line feeding which eliminates the hassle of adjusting the line yourself.
Weed Eater WE14T specifications:
Weight: 7 lbs
What to Look For When Buying a Weed Eater
We chose our favorite string trimmers based on performance and all-round value for money.
If you’re planning to buy a model that we haven’t featured above, then here are some of the aspects that you might want to take into consideration.
By now, you likely already have a good idea about whether gas, electric, or battery power is going to be the best option for you.
If you haven’t, then it’s worth giving it some thought before you break out your wallet.
If you have a small lawn and only need to do a little light work here and there, then an electric weed eater may be just the thing.
If you have a larger space, an untethered option such as a gas or cordless trimmer will be better suited.
How do you choose between the two?
It might be as simple as considering the type of work you need to do.
For labor-intensive work hacking through stubborn shrubbery or thick grass, opt for gas. For everything else, a battery option should suffice.
Weight and Handling
For many of you, this is going to be even more important than the type of weed eater you buy.
Keep in mind that if you’re carrying a heavy machine around a large lawn for a long time, you’re going to get tired and possibly sore. The more you use that heavy trimmer, the more difficult it’s going to be to handle correctly.
Overall, think sensibly about how much you’ll be using your weed eater and what kind of weight you’re going to be comfortable carrying around with you.
Gas weed eaters can be very noisy, meaning you may have to wear noise-protection headphones if you’re going to use one.
Though gas-powered weed eaters are great at slashing through thick grass and shrubbery, they tend to make an awful racket while doing so.
While this can be enough to give you a headache, or at least make tending to your lawn a pretty miserable experience, protecting yourself may be as simple as wearing a pair of protective safety headphones built for outdoor use.
The bigger issue might be keeping peace with your neighbors. If you live near other families, then you might want to keep noise pollution at a minimum and opting for quieter garden machinery.
Protecting your hearing isn’t the only safety concern you’ll need to deal with.
Though weed eaters aren’t the most dangerous tools in the world, they can cause injuries.
The string whips around at incredible speeds, and if it comes into contact with your body it can cause some nasty damage, even slicing through your clothes before cutting into your skin.
You also want to keep in mind that a trimmer can pick up debris and gravel, meaning there’s always a risk that you’ll be struck by flying shrapnel.
With that in mind, you’ll want to look for weed eaters that come with a protective guard to prevent high-speed debris.
You should also look for an option that automatically stops if it becomes too entangled in the weeds as otherwise, it could damage your equipment and potentially cause an injury.
Weed Eater Frequently Asked Questions
By now, we like to think we’ve given you all the information you could need to make an informed decision about the best weed eater for you, but if you still have questions, you may find the answers you’re looking for below.
What’s the difference between a weed eater and a weed whacker?
Truthfully, there isn’t one.
In a common case of genericization, the term ‘Weed Eater’ actually began as a brand name that was given to the original string trimmer invented by George Ballas in the 1970s.
Over time, the name came to be synonymous with all string trimmers in much the same way that Google has become synonymous with an Internet search or that Velcro has become the default name used by all of use to refer to hook-and-loop tape.
While we call them weed eaters, other people call them weed whackers, weed snippers, weed whips, line trimmers or strimmers, all of which are different names for the same thing.
What’s the Difference Between Weed Eater Shaft Types?
If you do your own research into weed eaters, you may keep coming across the terms ‘straight shaft’ and ‘curved shaft.’
Straight shaft weed eaters are renowned for offering the best weight balance, meaning you don’t have to put much effort into maneuvering them. This makes them a great option for getting into tight spaces such as against fences or underneath trees and shrubbery.
Meanwhile, curved shaft eaters typically require you to put a bit more effort in but are much easier to adjust, making them a top choice if you’ve got a large, open lawn to keep in pristine condition.