There are lots of names that are used interchangeably when it comes to string trimmers, especially when it comes to the terms weed eater and weed whacker.
So, is there a difference between weed eater and weed whacker? The answer is no, they’re terms used to refer to the same piece of equipment that is used to trim grass and weeds that grow in locations that you can’t easily access with your lawn mower. This equipment is a string trimmer.
It’s very useful in trimming weeds or brush that are too thick for your mower to handle, polish uneven trimming by a zero-turn, trim around gardens and reach difficult places around the edges of your home.
There are 3 types of string trimmers that include corded, cordless, and gas.
Corded or electric weed wacker
The corded weed eater is in the same class as the cordless trimmer. The corded trimmer is simpler to start and maintain and it’s cheaper, lighter, and quieter which makes it better for in-town operation. However, the power cord limits your movement, your work area, and can be a hazard as you may trip over it when working. This makes the corded seed eater ideal for smaller lawns.
- Very easy to start
- Very light and easy to move around
- Requires little maintenance
- Provides you with unlimited runtime
- Operates quietly
- The cord can be a hazard
- Limits your movement
Cordless or battery-powered weed eater
The cordless trimmer allows you to move without restrictions and uses lithium-ion batteries with 40-80 volts that will provide you with more power and runtime and this will allow you to handle larger jobs. The standard charging time for the batteries is 3 hours, but for a fast charge you only need 30 minutes and you can continue with your job of trimming.
- Operates quietly
- Highly portable
- Takes time to charge the batteries
- Batteries provide you with limited runtime
Gas-powered weed eater
This is the oldest type among the 3 models and it uses gas or a mixture of gas and oil. They’re available in the two-stroke engine and four-stroke engine models. The two-stroke uses a mixture of gas and oil, but the four-stroke uses only gas and it’s the more powerful one. Gas trimmers are more powerful than most electric trimmers and are a better choice for handling heavier growth and larger areas. You can either use the walk-behind or the handheld models if you need a high-powered machine with extended use or greater range and can handle heavy-duty tasks like cutting large or thick patches of weeds. However, gas trimmers require the use of a lot of fuel which will pollute the environment and are heavier in weight and maintenance.
- It’s very powerful
- Gives you a longer runtime
- Doesn’t restrict your movement
- Requires a lot of maintenance
- It’s noisy
- Uses gas so it emits a lot of fumes
Choosing the best string trimmer
Whether you’re used to string trimming or it’s your first time buying one, using a string trimmer isn’t hard. There are a few questions you should ask yourself to get you on the right track.
What obstacles do you have in your yard? Look at all the obstacles you’ll be trimming around. If you’re going to trim around large obstacles like a swing set, you can’t use a corded trimmer because the cord can get entangled, a cordless or gas-powered trimmer is better.
How big is your yard? If you have a small yard a corded or cordless trimmer will do a quick trimming job, but if you have a large yard, you’ll need a trimmer with enough runtime to allow you time to work on your yard at once. A cordless weed eater can handle large jobs, but you’ll need an extra battery so you don’t have to wait when charging the battery.
How many areas need to be edged? You can use any trimmer to trim sharp lawn edges by just tilting the trimmer. You will also get new trimmers with heads that flip to create a rolling lawn edge which will make your work easier even if you’re new to this. A trimmer with a built-in edger is a better option if you have many areas to edge.
Features to consider when choosing a string trimmer
Curved or straight shaft
A string trimmer can either have a curved shaft or a straight shaft. The curved shaft is lighter and easier to use and has an arch which makes it easier to control it in tight spots or when you’re doing a detailed edge job. The straight shaft provides you with a longer reach and is better preferred by taller people so you don’t have to bend or kneel to keep the trimming head close to the ground. There are also weed eater models that have an adjustable shaft that you can either pivot, extend, and contract that will suit a variety of the user’s needs wither according to the task or your height.
You should also consider the trimmer’s cutting swath and just like mowers, string trimmers have different cutting widths of their cut. For small yards with light use, you can use 10-13 inch, medium-sizes lawns with moderate use have 14-16 inches and heavy-duty work or large yards the 17 inches will work better.
Single line or double line
A weed wacker with two lines will cut more effectively and efficiently which makes it ideal for large jobs and cutting thicker grass, but it’s more expensive, while the single line is usually easier to thread.
The corded weed eater comes with a variety of compatible attachments that will save you from buying each attachment separately.
- The hedger is designed to trim hedges and come in handy because you can lock them at different angles to make it look like a long rod with smaller blades.
- The edger looks like thin wheels and helps you to cut precise straight lines that you can use instead of the straight shaft trimmer.
- The blower helps you to clear the grass and clipping debris leaving your work cleaner and more attractive.
You should choose a weed trimmer that is easy to carry and handle. Also if the weed eater comes with attachments consider the weight it adds and if you’re able to lift it and use without straining.
While the gas-powered trimmers are the loudest, the corded and cordless trimmers are quieter. As a safety precaution, it’s always good to use ear protection when handling a string trimmer.
Ease of feeding and loading
Weed eaters trim using a fast swirling string so the weed eater you get should be easy to feed and load a replacement string. Some trimmers come with free pre-wound string replacements for life, while others you have to load yourself which gives you control of how heavy the string will be. However, follow the instructions concerning the string gauge because if it’s too heavy, you could out the trimmer’s motor.
Whether you call it a weed wacker, weed eater, string trimmer or weed cutter, they all mean the same. Just make sure you get the right product that will help you carry out the intended job.
Do you edge before or after mowing?
If you edge and trim after mowing, you’ll make a mess with the shavings that your mower would have easily cleaned up.
Can I edge with a string trimmer?
Yes, you can. Although it won’t be as precise as a dedicated edger tool, it will get the job done. You just need to practice using it.