Best Weed Eaters
A cheap weed eater, string trimmer, or weed whacker can keep your yard looking tidy by trimming around walkways, flower beds, and trees. We researched reviews and features and picked the best weed eaters under $200, including gas, corded electric, and cordless weed eaters. There's also a walk-behind model for a bit more.
What We Considered
To make our picks, we turned to a variety of sources. We looked at string trimmer reviews on sites where consumer product experts conduct testing, including TopTenReviews, Consumer Reports, and Wirecutter, as well as professional tool review sites and yard maintenance blogs. Feedback from consumers was gathered from retail sites such as Amazon, Home Depot, Lowe's, and Walmart. Users sometimes proved to be tougher critics than the experts, and no cheap string trimmer receives unanimously glowing reviews. Some of these outdoor power tools clearly perform better than others, and those that do merit a spot on our list.
We Looked At
A string trimmer cuts whatever crosses its path with a fast-moving plastic string that rotates along the tip; hence the name "string" trimmer. Trimmers with automatic line feed continuously release string as the line wears down during operation, sending out more as soon as it gets down to a certain length. This design tends to eat string faster but is more convenient, because the trimmer is always ready for action and doesn't have to stop for reloading. With a bump feed, you have to knock the head against the ground to activate a spring that lets out more cord from the coil as needed. This type of feed gives you more control over how much string is used, but it obviously requires a bit more effort and a constant eye on the length of the line. Problems often arise with bump-feed weed eaters, because the constant thwacking causes the string to jam. It can take some time to get the hang of it.
Trimmers cut with either one or two lines of string. Dual-line models get the job done faster and put less wear on the string. With single-line trimmers, the string is easier to replace. Regardless, trimmer string diminishes with use, requiring owners to wind new line or replace trimmer spools as needed.
Trimmer string comes in different thicknesses. The thicker the line, the cleaner and faster the cut. Thicker line also is more durable. The most common thicknesses are 0.065 inches and 0.095 inches. The type of trimmer line — round, square, multi-sided, twisted, serrated — also affects performance.
The cutting path refers to the width that can be cut with one pass of the machine. Gas-powered weed eaters usually cut a swath ranging from 15 to 18 inches while electric weed eaters cut a smaller 10 to 15 inches.
Most inexpensive weed whackers come with a two-year warranty, but several on our list are backed by the manufacturer for longer periods. Regardless, users expect even cheap weed eaters to last a while. Except for a few reports detailing outright product failure or operational snafus of one sort or another (the string feed didn't work or the machine wouldn't start), our picks meet this standard. We looked for string trimmers with reviews indicating they were still going strong after two years or more.
Our Top Pick
The Echo SRM-225 is our choice for best string trimmer under $200. Its features and, more important, its power and reliability make it a consumer favorite and a standout among the competition in this price range. The top-selling and highest-rated weed eater from a brand trusted by the pros, it slices through tough weeds with ease and even includes vibration-reduction technology, which is uncommon in string trimmers this inexpensive. Step up to the SRM-225i (est. price: $259; buy it at Home Depot) for even easier starting and the option to add tiller and cultivator attachments.
Starts easily and is sturdy, fuel efficient, and user-friendly, reviewers say.
Wide 17-inch cutting swath.
Lightweight for a gas trimmer, at 12 pounds.
Dual-line cutter with bump feed uses high-grade, 0.095-inch cord and is outfitted for quick reloading.
Vibration-reduction technology to reduce discomfort during use and guard against injuries.
5-year warranty for residential use; 2 years for commercial use.
Protective plate is a little small, some reviewers say.
Doesn't accept attachments.
The Black & Decker LST136W is our first choice for electric string trimmers under $200. Although probably not the best choice for large yards, it's a powerful trimmer with good battery life and thousands of positive reviews. Even accounting for the slightly narrow cutting swath and occasional string-feed glitches, this is an excellent cordless trimmer at an attractive price.
Adjustable power helps conserve the battery.
40-volt lithium ion battery powers through tough, stubborn weeds, reviewers say. It's also compatible with other Black & Decker tools and recharges in two hours or less.
Very lightweight, at less than 8 pounds.
Automatic line feed.
13-inch cutting path.
Can be used as an edger.
Uses only a single 0.065-inch string (many competing models feature two thicker strings).
A few users say the automatic string feed doesn't work especially well.
The Greenworks 21212 first catches many shoppers' attention with its shockingly low price; it's far cheaper than any other string trimmer we recommend. The incredibly light weight also impresses reviewers. A corded model with maximum cord length of 100 feet (cord not included), it's impractical for large yards but proves quite satisfactory for small properties. It's a top seller on Amazon.
Easy to handle and just the right size for small yards, with enough power for light jobs.
Works as an edger by rotating the shaft; shaft height is adjustable.
Especially light, at just 5.2 pounds.
13-inch cutting swath is good for an electric trimmer.
Automatic dual-line feed.
Power cord limits mobility.
Even fully extended, the shaft is relatively short.
4-amp motor is less powerful than those on other budget models.
Spool cap can pop off, some users say.
Some report that the string feed feature doesn't work well and the relatively thin 0.065-inch line breaks easily.
Some users have an affinity for corded string trimmers over the cordless variety, most notably for small yards that need this type of equipment only sporadically. Fans of Toro weed eaters who are looking to tackle less sizeable jobs might find that the Toro 51480A nicely fills the bill. It's affordable, user-friendly, effective at cleaning up grass and weeds, and doubles as an edger. It may balk at overgrown vegetation but has enough power for routine yard tasks.
5-amp motor provides good power and does a solid job cutting through thick grass and weeds, many users say.
Automatic-feed dual-line trimmer.
14-inch cutting path.
Lightweight, at 6.3 pounds.
Adjustable handle; telescoping shaft.
Serves as a trimmer and edger.
Struggles with some challenging jobs, according to reviewers.
Some complaints about the automatic string feed and the durability the thin, 0.065-inch line.
Scattered grousing that the placement of the motor at end of the shaft makes it bottom-heavy and awkward to use.
Short 2-year warranty.
One of the best aspects of many Ryobi products is their flexibility. That's especially true of the RY253SS, which supports a variety of attachments — more than other budget string trimmers. Beyond that, this versatile lawn tool boasts the widest cutting swath of all the cheap weed eaters we researched. Equally important, users like working with it; a majority say it's easy to handle and operate, and starting up its two-cycle engine is a breeze.
Good power and cuts well, according to reviews.
18-inch cutting swath; thick (0.095-inch) dual line.
Compatible with several attachments, including edger, blower, and tiller.
Adjustable handle for a more comfortable grip.
Easy to set up and use, users say; bump feed head is easy to reload.
Not too heavy for a gas trimmer, at 12 pounds.
Reviews suggest there is a vibration-reduction feature, but the manufacturer confirms there is none.
Some users report product failures — the head can come off, for example, or the machine doesn't start.
Reviewers like the 2-cycle Hitachi CG23ECPSL for its features and effectiveness in the face of tough jobs. That said, some complain that the trimmer's build quality isn't especially tough. A majority of users nonetheless conclude that this weed whacker's strengths outweigh its weaknesses, and experts agree: Based on its testing, TopTenReviews voted it 2018's "Best Weed Whacker Overall."
Stands up to heavier-duty string trimmers designed for commercial use, with the power to rip through tough weeds.
Extra-long, stainless-steel drive shaft (nearly 70 inches) for easy reach, especially for taller users.
Compatible with a variety of attachments, including an edger and hedge trimmer.
Anti-vibration feature for more comfortable operation.
Lightweight, at just over 10 pounds.
Semi-automatic "tap & go" dual-string feeder releases new (0.095-inch) string without using a bump feed.
15-inch cutting path is decent for this type of trimmer.
Comes with a box wrench, a hex bar wrench, and safety glasses.
7-year warranty for residential use; 2 years for commercial use.
Some users say some plastic parts, like the throttle lever, are prone to breakage.
The "tap & go" feature doesn't release new string reliably, according to some reviews.
Louder than many other trimmers in expert testing.
The low-power battery, single cutting line, and narrow cutting path on the Ryobi P2060A are best matched with smaller yards. This weed whacker's performance doesn't flag despite the power specifications, reviewers report, and the light weight is a big plus. In all, this Home Depot exclusive is a steal at less than $90.
Features an adjustable shaft and cutting path (10 or 12 inches).
Pivoting head; doubles as an edger.
Feels sturdy, reviewers say, yet weighs just 6.65 pounds.
Lithium ion battery is compatible with other Ryobi One+ cordless products and takes 90 minutes or less to recharge.
No-bump automatic string feeder works well, users say.
18-volt battery, less powerful than most cordless string trimmers.
Maximum 12-inch cutting swath is narrow even for a budget trimmer.
Single line of 0.065-inch string may not cut as cleanly as a dual-line trimmer with thicker string.
Shoppers looking for a cordless string trimmer with long battery life should choose one with a big battery. The beefy, 56-volt battery on the Ego Power+ 15 outruns other cordless competitors, making this model a good fit for large yards and major undertakings. It's very effective at whacking weeds, buyers say, but it costs more than most other cordless trimmers.
Easily cuts through thick vines and weeds, reviews say.
Hardy 56-volt battery has a longer-than-expected run time, according to users, and is compatible with other Ego Power+ tools.
Bump feed with thick, dual 0.095-inch line.
Wide 15-inch cutting swath.
Runs quietly, especially compared with a gas trimmer.
Telescoping aluminum shaft.
5-year warranty on the trimmer; 3 years on the battery pack and charger.
At over 10 pounds, it's a little too heavy for a cordless trimmer, some users say.
A few complaints about glitches with the string-feed mechanism.
Troy-Bilt TB32 EC Review
Troy-Bilt products have a good reputation for the most part, but user reviews indicate this Troy-Bilt weed eater doesn't live up to expectations. Testers do like some aspects of this gas trimmer, particularly its wide cutting path and compatibility with 10 different TrimmerPlus attachments, but its positive features aren't enough to overcome its durability and quality shortcomings. An electric jumpstart add-on, which may help alleviate problems getting the engine started, costs $14.
Can take multiple attachments (blower, edger, hedge trimmer, and cultivator, for example).
Some owners report above-average performance.
Adjustable handle; easy-to-use controls.
Dual-line, bump-style string feed uses thick 0.095-inch cord.
17-inch cutting path.
Vibrates more than competing models, product testers say.
Heavier than many low-cost gas string trimmers, at 12.8 pounds.
Many complaints about difficulty starting with manual pull, stalling, tangled lines, and product failure after a year or so of light use.
Some users say it needs more power.
Short 2-year warranty.
Black & Decker's LST540 garners quite a few quality-related complaints from users, and praise for this model is mostly limited to the ergonomic design and the 40-volt battery's power — while it lasts. For the price, there are worthier options.
Some users commend the power and well-balanced weight distribution.
Lightweight, at 7.4 pounds.
Automatic string feed (0.080-inch single line).
13-inch cutting swath.
Reviewers grumble about limited battery life.
Many users report operational problems, such as the motor seizing up and the machine rapidly eating through string.
Changing the line can be difficult, users say.
Other Products We Reviewed
A walk-behind weed eater, or push weed eater, may be the best option for big jobs — for example, a large property with chronic, heavy overgrowth and/or multiple obstacles and garden beds. The Remington RM1 159 (model number 25A-26J7783) is a fine example of such a trimmer, offering an extra-wide cutting swath, exceptional power, and wheels that roll easily over all kinds of terrain. This beefy trimmer isn't especially expensive, either, costing only about 50 percent more than top-priced budget models on our list while offering lug-free landscaping.
Loaded with power, it easily devours tough weeds and tall grass in very large yards, reviewers say.
22-inch cutting path; 3 cutting heights between 2.4 inches and 4.4 inches.
Thick 0.155-inch trimmer line.
U-shaped deck design with two 14-inch wheels.
Folding handle for storage; adjustable handle height.
4-cycle, 159cc engine uses regular gas; users say it starts very easily.
Some reports of string breaking easily.
Weighs 79 pounds; can be difficult to use on steep slopes.
Short 2-year warranty.