The 5 best string trimmers and weed wackers in 2021

  • A string trimmer can cut crisp lines near fences, trees, and edge beds and obliterate weeds.
  • We’ve included battery- and gas-powered string trimmers, so you can select your preference.
  • Our top pick from DeWalt is lightweight and electric but as powerful as many gas-powered trimmers.

Over the years, I’ve used more than a half dozen different brands of string trimmers, and I’m known as a pretty good edger in some parts. The primary value of a trimmer is the precision it offers. With a reliable weed- and lawn-trimming tool in your hands, you can make short work of all sorts of weeds and can even eradicate brambles, thorns, ivy, and other tougher types of flora.

You can also use your trimmer to mow swaths of lawn with ease, cutting near fences, around tree trunks and bushes, and even near flowers and edible plants, removing only the grass you want without damaging any other plant life or property around your yard.

We’ve included different string trimmers that run on batteries or gasoline, so you can choose which is best for your needs. One final bit of advice before you buy one of our picks: always wear safety glasses or some kind of protective eyewear when you use your string trimmer.

The best string trimmers and weed wackers in 2021

The best string trimmer overall

DeWalt string trimmer

The DeWalt 20V Max Lithium Ion XR String Trimmer powers through thick, tough weeds and overgrown grass with as much force as many gasoline-fueled trimmers, but it has a battery and weighs less than nine pounds.

Pros: Light but powerful, dual speed operation, long battery life, lasts for years, batteries are interchangeable with other 20V DeWalt tools

Cons: Small guard can cause clippings to fly

The sheer power of the DeWalt 20V Max Lithium Ion XR String Trimmer is reason enough to buy this tool, but the fact that you can count on it to last for years sure helps justify the rather high price. I’ve owned many DeWalt tools and they are still kicking to this day.

This trimmer is powered by a 20-volt, five-amp lithium-ion battery that packs plenty of punch, whirling the dual cutting lines around in a 13-inch swath that will easily clear grass, weeds, thorns, and more. And if you own other tools in the DeWalt 20V line, you can use the same rechargeable batteries.

The tool can be operated at a high-speed, full-power setting for cutting tougher materials or it can be run at a lower speed for lighter work and for better battery life. As we recommended above, you’ll want to wear eye protection while using any string trimmer, but the DeWalt has a tendency to throw even more grass around due to its small guard above the strings — not a dealbreaker if you wear proper protection. 

The best budget string trimmer

black & decker best budget string trimmer

The Black+Decker Corded Electric String Trimmer is all you’ll need for most residential trimming needs, so for light work, there’s no need to spend big.

Pros: Great low price, lightweight and nimble, easily converts from trimmer to edger

Cons: Not suitable for tougher jobs, limited by the length of your extension cord

I’ve used a Black+Decker trimmer for years, and every time I have light to moderate trimming or edging needs that are within the reach of an extension cord, it’s the tool I choose.

While this trimmer isn’t the best choice for seriously overgrown yards or for clearing dense underbrush, for edging lawns, clearing common weeds, and cutting grass near flowers, trees, fences, or in those patches the mower can’t reach, it’s a fine choice. It’s also a trimmer that’s amazingly affordable.

A plug-in trimmer has one distinct disadvantage, which is, of course, the simple fact that you need to be connected via an extension cord to a power outlet. That means less freedom of motion and less convenience of use, as you can’t use the tool where you can’t plug it in.

However, the fact that you don’t need to lug around a battery or a gasoline motor significantly reduces the weight of the tool, making the 5-pound Black+Decker String Trimmer a great choice for anyone who just doesn’t want to lug around a heavy trimmer. 

The best gas-powered string trimmer

ryobi best gas powered string trimmer

The Ryobi 2-Cycle Gas Straight Shaft String Trimmer is quite powerful and relatively affordable, which are both things most DIYers will appreciate in a tool.

Pros: Good price for good tool, plenty of power for most jobs, wide cutting swath, accommodates string up to 0.095-inch line thickness

Cons: Heavy at more than 12 pounds, has added fuel costs, not eco-friendly

The Ryobi 2-Cycle Gas Straight Shaft String Trimmer probably isn’t the ideal trimming tool for a professional gardener or landscaper, but for casual DIY property care, it’s an ideal choice. With a two-stroke, 25 cubic centimeter engine, this capable trimmer delivers more than enough power to slash through thick grass, pernicious weeds, and to cut edges down into turf, mulch, or packed soil.

A proprietary “zip start” carburetor makes firing up this tool quick and easy without a lot of repeated yanking on a starter line, and an easy-to-load head makes replacing broken trimmer line fast and simple, too. As for the line, it can accommodate a thick and durable 0.095-inch line thickness, whereas many similar tools max out at 0.08. This trimmer is pretty loud when operating, but it’s also a reliable tool that’s more than worth its price.

Of course, there are downsides to a gas-powered trimmer. While it is powerful, you will have to purchase fuel and it makes a lot of noise. And because of emissions, it’s not a choice for the environmentally-conscious or people sensitive to pollution.

The best lightweight string trimmer

earthwise best lightweight string trimmer

Weighing just four pounds, the Earthwise Cordless String Trimmer has an ergonomic handle for comfortable use.

Pros: Lightweight, adjustable handle and telescopic pole, cordless, ergonomic handle, auto-feed line is also easy to load

Cons: Limited battery life

I purchased the Earthwise Cordless String Trimmer for my three-acre property, and have been pleasantly surprised by its performance over the past two years. I was drawn to the unit because of its light weight; I have some injuries to my hands and wrists that make supporting a heavier unit difficult. Not only does this string trimmer weigh just four pounds (plus the weight of the battery), but its adjustable support-handle and ergonomic grip on the main handle further maximize my comfort.

This trimmer’s telescopic pole is easy to adjust and requires no tools. The auto-feed feature works well, and it’s relatively easy to load the spool. The cut-head can adjust to three different positions, and a flip-down steel-edge guard is ideal for edging work.

This trimmer comes with a 20-volt lithium battery and charger, and I found I was able to use the trimmer for about a half-hour on a single charge. The battery charges quickly, so I often did other yard work while the battery was recharging. The Earthwise battery is compatible with other Earthwise equipment. — Paige Cerulli

The best upgrade string trimmer

ego best upgrade string trimmer

When it comes to durability and power, the EGO Power+ Cordless Electric 15-Inch Powerload String Trimmer offers an ideal combination of both.

Pros: Cordless, brushless motor for longer run-time, durable carbon-fiber shaft, easy line loading, variable speed control

Cons: Battery and charger not included

The EGO Power+ Cordless Electric 15 in. Powerload String Trimmer may cost more than the other string trimmers on this list, but its features and design justify the higher price. This trimmer is equipped with a high-efficiency brushless motor, allowing for longer run-time on battery power. The trimmer is also equipped with variable speed control, so you can choose the appropriate setting for each job.

Replacing and loading the line is quick and easy; just load, push a button, and you’re ready to go. There’s no threading and maneuvering line like other trimmers require. 

This string trimmer is more durable than other models, and while it doesn’t quite have the power of a gas trimmer, its 56-volt motor is plenty powerful for most jobs. The carbon-fiber shaft is designed for years of use, and while it doesn’t come with a battery or charger, EGO batteries are interchangeable between devices, so this trimmer may be an ideal purchase if you already have other EGO products, like its lawn mower we also love. Batteries are available in various capacities, so you can balance cost against run-time to find the option that’s right for you. — Paige Cerulli

Check out our other gardening gear guides

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