String Trimmers to Brush Cutters: The Wide World of Trimming Tools

String trimmers, brush cutters, edgers, and even the humble ax all have a place on your place, saving you time and effort.

| 2013 Guide to Field and Lawn Care

Now that winter’s dormancy is past, our lawns and landscaping will once again begin to flourish with spring growth — often faster than we expect! Before you know it, you’ll need to be thinking about trimming so your backyard paradise doesn’t turn into the lost jungle. Keeping grass trimmed around walkways, decks, planters, under shrubs and around trees is just part of it; trimming the shrubs and smaller trees is also often part of the program. With a little planning and a few helpful trimming tools, keeping your property neat won’t be a hassle.

Power tools

String trimmer 
A string trimmer is an essential tool for anyone with a lot of ground to maintain. It gets into places where even a small walk-behind mower can’t: under bushes and fences, and around poles and landscaping. It’s also handy for mowing grass on steep slopes and in ditches.

A string trimmer is a hand-held power tool — generally using a small two-stroke gasoline engine or battery-powered electric motor — sporting a whirling head, which spins one, two or three strands of plastic “string” with enough force to cut grass and weeds. The plastic “string” wears as it is used, so the machines dispense more from a reel either automatically or manually, using a bump feed, to pay out more string as it wears or breaks off.

Weed Eater is a brand of string trimmer, but the term has been adopted as generic for string trimmers and is often used to refer to a trimmer head that uses pivoting plastic blades rather than string to do the cutting.

When choosing the right string trimmer, one of the first things to consider is whether your trimmer ought to have a straight shaft or curved shaft.

A straight-shaft trimmer is more durable, it transmits more of the engine’s power to the cutting head, and it offers a better reach for getting under ever-present obstacles like bushes and rail fences. It also runs with less vibration than a curved shaft when all other factors are equal. Some straight-shaft machines offer a split shaft that allows the user to change out the end attachment, using one engine to power string trimmer, edger, brush saw, hedge trimmer and a small pole chainsaw. This versatility makes straight-shaft trimmers very popular with professional landscapers and rural home owners with acreages.

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