The lawn-mowing season is upon us, which means it’s also time to dust off and crank up your string trimmer. That’s because no matter how carefully you mow, there are always grassy areas where the lawnmower can’t quite reach, including along fence lines, against foundation walls, and around trees, decks and flowerbeds.
Modern string trimmers are reliable, efficient and easy to operate. However, if they’re not used properly and safely you can easily injure yourself or someone else, and cause damage to your house, trees and garden plants. Here are 24 dos and don’ts of string trimming, followed by a list of features to look for when shopping for a cordless string trimmer.
String Trimmer Dos
DO protect your eyes from flying debris with tight-fitting goggles or safety glasses.
DO wear work boots with non-slip soles.
DO protect your hands with work gloves.
DO wear long pants, not shorts.
DO unplug the power cord or remove the battery before changing the cutting line or making any adjustments to the trimmer.
DO keep children and pets well away—or better yet, indoors—when string trimming.
DO wear earmuff-style hearing protectors when using gas-powered trimmers.
DO use the trimmer’s guard to prevent the cutting line from damaging house siding, fence posts and other wooden surfaces.
DO hold the trimmer’s cutting head level for straight, even cuts.
DO inspect and clean the spark plug on gas trimmers each spring.
DO keep an extra spool of cutting line on hand for when the trimmer runs out of line.
DO brush the trimmer clean of all grass clippings after each use.
String Trimmer Don’ts
DON’T use a string trimmer when bare foot or when wearing sandals or open-toe shoes.
DON’T operate a string trimmer at dusk or after darkness falls.
DON’T force the trimmer through a thick patch of grass; cut into it slowly a little at a time starting at the top and working down.
DON’T use a string trimmer to cut thick stalks, twigs or vines.
DON’T wildly swing the trimmer back and forth; instead, make slow, deliberate passes for greater control and cutting efficiency.
DON’T use old stale gasoline in gas-powered string trimmers.
DON’T forget to check the oil level each time before using a gas trimmer.
DON’T use a string trimmer when the grass is wet.
DON’T allow the string to cut into tree bark, or you run the risk of permanently scarring and possibly mortally injuring the tree.
DON’T cut too close to the ground or you may scalp the lawn, creating a bald spot.
DON’T forget to clean or replace the air filter on gas trimmers at least once a year.
DON’T store cordless string trimmers with the battery pack installed.
Cordless String Trimming: Freedom to Roam
Professional landscapers prefer gas trimmers because they’re fast and powerful, but they’re also very loud and emit noxious fumes. Plus, most have two-cycle engines that require you to precisely mix gas and oil. Corded electric string trimmers are quiet and reliable, but because they’re tethered to an extension cord, they’re only practical for very small yards.
The latest generation of cordless string trimmers represent the fastest-growing, most popular type of trimmer amongst DIY homeowners, and it’s easy to understand why: Cordless trimmers strike a perfect balance between the power and freedom of gas trimmers and the quick-start reliability of an electric model. Plus, cordless trimmers are lightweight, compact, and affordable. Here are some key features to look for when shopping for a cordless string trimmer:
- The trimmer should be driven by high-performance rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which possess impressive power and extended run time.
- Be sure the trimmer comes with two battery packs and a charger, so you’ve always got a fresh battery to keep on trimming. And the battery size should be 20 volts or larger.
- Pivoting head, like the one on the WORX GT 3.0, allows you to adjust the cutting angle from zero to 90 degrees to match the terrain (as shown above).
- Telescoping shaft that can be adjusted to accommodate all users regardless of how short or tall they are.
- 2-for-1 design that features a rotating head and guide wheels for transforming the string trimmer into a precision-cutting edger (as shown above with the WORX GT 3.0).
- Multi-positional front handle that can be quickly adjusted without using tools.
- An automatic line-feed mechanism that doesn’t require you to bang the tool on the ground. The WORX GT 3.0 features a unique Command Feed button that allows the user to spool out ¼ in. of line at a time whenever it’s needed.
- Quick-change, snap-in spools that greatly simplify changing the cutting line. (The WORX GT 3.0 includes free spools for the life of the trimmer!)
- A 12-in.- or larger cutting swath and no-load cutting speed of at least 8,500 rpm.