Best Weed Eaters
A string trimmer or weed whacker — perhaps best known as a "weed eater," after the company that pioneered this yard maintenance tool in the 1970s — cuts grass and weeds where a lawn mower won't do. It reaches under and around obstacles, helping to keep driveways, walkways, fencing, and flower beds looking tidy. High-end trimmers cost well north of $300, but for $200 or less, you can find a cheap gas or electric trimmer that will do your yard proud. Some even boast edging capability and can perform other upkeep chores.
Our Top Pick
Echo SRM-225 Review
- 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.
Takeaway: 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.
Black & Decker LST136 Review
- 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.
- 3-year warranty.
- 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.
Takeaway: 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.
Greenworks 21212 Review
- 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.
- Variable speed.
- 4-year warranty.
- 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.
Takeaway: 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.
Toro 51480A Review
- 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.
Takeaway: 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.
Ryobi RY253SS Review
- 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.
- 3-year warranty.
- 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.
Takeaway: 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.
Hitachi CG23ECPSL Review
- 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.
Takeaway: 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."
Ryobi One+ P2060A Review
- 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.
- 3-year warranty.
- 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.
Takeaway: 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.
Ego Power+ 15 ST1502SF Review
- 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.
Takeaway: 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.
Troy-Bilt TB32 EC Review
- 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.
Takeaway: 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.
Black & Decker LST540 Review
- Some users commend the power and well-balanced weight distribution.
- Lightweight, at 7.4 pounds.
- Variable-speed trigger.
- Automatic string feed (0.080-inch single line).
- 13-inch cutting swath.
- 3-year warranty.
- 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.
Takeaway: 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.