Greenworks 21212 Review

From $32 Best

Best Cheap Corded Electric Weed Eater

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • 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.

Black & Decker LST136 Review

From $149 Best

Best Electric String Trimmer Under $200

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • 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.

Where to buy

Echo SRM-225 Review

From $199 Best

Best Gas Weed Eater Under $200

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • 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.

Toro 51480A Review

From $49 Good

Another Good Cheap Corded Weed Eater

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • 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 One+ P2060A Review

From $89 Good

Good Cordless Weed Eater for Smaller Jobs

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • 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.

Ryobi RY253SS Review

From $119 Good

Good Cheap Gas Weed Eater

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • 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

From $198 Good

Good Lightweight Gas Weed Eater Under $200

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • 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."

Ego Power+ 15 ST1502SF Review

From $199 Good

Good Cordless Weed Eater for Bigger Jobs

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • 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

From $130 Think Twice

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • 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.

Where to buy

Black & Decker LST540 Review

From $157 Think Twice

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • 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.

Where to buy

Buying Guide

Choosing a Weed Eater

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.

Weed Eater Brands

The original Weed Eater brand, which was acquired by the outdoor power tools giant Husqvarna in 1986, is still in the string trimmers game, especially on the budget end of the spectrum, but these days other names also claim a hold on the market. Black & Decker, Troy-Bilt, Ryobi, Hitachi, Toro, Greenworks, Remington, Worx, Echo, Ego, Honda, and, of course, Husqvarna itself offer weed whackers at a range of price points, starting at the entry level and climbing up from there.

High-end and commercial trimmers are more durable than consumer models, outfitted with solid steel drive shafts and engines that can tolerate thicker, taller grass and brush. They tend to vibrate less than cheaper residential models and often are compatible with an assortment of attachments that expand their functionality, such as a tiller, cultivator, and blade (for cutting thick brush and trimming trees). Nevertheless, some of the best budget weed whackers are favorites with the pros as well as everyday users.

Gas Weed Eaters

Experts recommend more powerful and costly gas trimmers for large, rural yards with rough terrain. String trimmers fueled by gasoline use a recoil start, but increasingly feature systems that ensure the engine comes to life quickly and without much effort. They have either two-cycle or four-cycle engines. Two-cycle engines use a gas/oil mix; four-cycle engines keep oil separate and can be filled with standard gas or diesel. The latter are quieter and more fuel efficient, have lower emissions, and run more smoothly but generally cost more than those with two-cycle engines. Many users, including pros, prefer two-cycle trimmers for their lighter weight, greater power to size ratio, and fewer parts to break. Regardless of engine type, gas-fed weed whackers cut a wider path than electric models and are better suited for bigger jobs.

Electric Weed Eaters

For smaller yards and light-duty maintenance, there are several advantages to using an electric trimmer versus a gas trimmer. Aside from the lower cost, they are less hefty and more easily portable, quieter, and emission-free. On the other hand, corded weed trimmers must remain tethered to a power source, and just maneuvering around the cord may be a hassle. Cordless weed eaters may suffer from short run times — don't expect an entry-level model to conquer even a half-acre yard without needing to recharge — and their batteries need to be replenished after each use. Some newer models, including our favorites, take lithium ion batteries that recharge in just one or two hours.

Straight Shaft vs. Curved Shaft Trimmers

All the weed eaters we researched feature a long, straight shaft; a couple have a telescoping design. The alternative, a curved-shaft trimmer, may be the right choice when working in very tight spaces. Frugal consumers will find far more straight-shaft trimmers to choose among.

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Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table

(from $199.00)
Power Gas/2-cycle
Weight 12 lbs.
Cutting Width 17 in.
Feed Type Bump
Warranty 5 years
(from $149.00)
Power Cordless electric/40 volts
Weight 7.8 lbs.
Cutting Width 13 in.
Feed Type Automatic
Warranty 3 years
(from $32.00)
Power Corded electric/4 amps
Weight 5.2 lbs.
Cutting Width 13 in.
Feed Type Automatic
Warranty 4 years
(from $49.00)
Power Corded electric/5 amps
Weight 6.3 lbs.
Cutting Width 14 in.
Feed Type Automatic
Warranty 2 years
(from $119.00)
Power Gas/2-cycle
Weight 12.2 lbs.
Cutting Width 18 in.
Feed Type Bump
Warranty 3 years
(from $198.00)
Power Gas/2-cycle
Weight 10.3 lbs.
Cutting Width 15 in.
Feed Type Bump
Warranty 7 years
(from $89.00)
Power Cordless electric/18 volts
Weight 6.7 lbs.
Cutting Width 10 in./12 in.
Feed Type Automatic
Warranty 3 years
(from $199.00)
Power Cordless electric/56 volts
Weight 11.9 lbs.
Cutting Width 15 in.
Feed Type Bump
Warranty 5 years
(from $130.00)
Power Gas/2-cycle
Weight 12.8 lbs.
Cutting Width 17 in.
Feed Type Bump
Warranty 2 years
(from $157.00)
Power Cordless electric/40 volts
Weight 7.4 lbs.
Cutting Width 13 in.
Feed Type Automatic
Warranty 3 years
(from $299.00)
Power Gas/4-cycle
Weight 79 lbs.
Cutting Width 22 in.
Feed Type Manual
Warranty 2 years

Weed Eater Reviews: 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.

Trimmer Line

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.

Weight

The weight of a weed eater matters because the user must be able to carry and maneuver it with ease. Some pricier string trimmers come with shoulder straps, a helpful aid, but entry-level models tend to be light enough to make this unnecessary. Battery-operated weed trimmers are heavier than corded electric string trimmers, and gas weed eaters tend to be the heaviest.

Cutting Path

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.

Convenience Features

There are several additional features that make some string trimmers easier to use, such as an adjustable handle and a debris guard. On an electric trimmer, look for a cord locking system or a battery charger. On gas models, reviewers appreciate easy-start options and are quick to complain if it takes several tries to start the trimmer. Many newer gas models, including some with budget prices, now boast integrated quick-start technology or offer it as an optional accessory.

Some gas and electric weed whackers also can be used for other yard maintenance chores, either with a twist of the shaft or a push of a button, or by adding accessory attachments. Several models on our list quickly convert to edgers.

A final added feature to look out for is vibration reduction technology. Gas trimmers can shake quite a bit, which can lead to discomfort with prolonged use and, potentially, more serious health issues affecting the fingers and hands. It's somewhat rare to come across a cheap model with an anti-vibration function, but we found a few.

Durability and Warranty

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.

Additional Products We Considered

Remington RM1 159 Review

From $299

Bonus: Walk-Behind Weed Eater

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • Some reports of string breaking easily.
  • Weighs 79 pounds; can be difficult to use on steep slopes.
  • Short 2-year warranty.

Takeaway: 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.