Beat the Brush

Tidying up unruly overgrowth, whether tall grass or tough weeds and underbrush, is a critical part of yard maintenance. String trimmers, sometimes known as weed whackers or weed eaters, can make short work of that task, leaving users with clean, manicured lawns with only minimal effort. Cheapism cut through scores of expert and user reviews to identify the best weed eaters for $200 or less. Our top picks include both gas and electric versions (corded and cordless), and come from outdoor power equipment manufacturers known for quality, value, and performance. Although we looked first for the best cheap weed eaters, we’ve also rounded out the list with a few bonus options, including a pricier walk-behind trimmer and a heavy-duty gas trimmer for bigger jobs, plus a cheap corded model that doubles as an edger for clean lines along pathways and around planters.

Prices and availability are subject to change.

See full Buying Guide

Our Top Pick

Echo SRM-225
Our Picks
Echo SRM-225

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 string trimmer line 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. Although it's a bit pricier than the cheapest cheap weed eaters, 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

Black & Decker LST136 Review

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 40v cordless string trimmer is our first choice for electric electric weed eaters trimmers under $200. Although probably not the best match for large yards, it's a powerful string trimmer/edger 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. For even smaller yards, and smaller budgets, the Black & Decker LST300 (est. $66) is a 20v Max lithium-ion battery-powered cordless string trimmer that also gets solid feedback. 

Greenworks 21212

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 string trimmers.
  • 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), this string trimmer/edger is impractical for large yards but proves quite satisfactory for small properties. It's a top seller on Amazon.

Toro 51480A

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 of 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

Ryobi RY253SS Review

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 more attachments than other budget string trimmers — for example, you can add a hedge trimmer attachment to turn this string trimmer into a gas hedge trimmer. 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

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 gas string trimmer for its features and effectiveness in the face of tough jobs. That said, some say that the trimmer's build quality isn't especially tough, complaining in particular about the use of plastic string trimmer parts. 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

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 string trimmer/edger is a steal at less than $90 and a standout among cheap weed eaters.

Ego Power+ 15 ST1502SF

Ego Power+ 15 ST1502SF Review

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 string trimmers, 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.

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. A weed eater trimmer 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 cheap weed eaters also boast edging capability and can perform other upkeep chores, even acting as grass trimmers for very small sections of lawn.

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 weed eater trimmer 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. These companies are all well-established outdoor power equipment makers with excellent track records of producing quality gas and/or electric hedge trimmers, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and other tools for consumers and gardening professionals.

High-end and commercial trimmers are more durable than consumer models, often lasting considerably longer before trimmer replacement becomes necessary. That’s because these heavy-duty models are outfitted with solid steel drive shafts, more powerful engines and other sturdy string trimmer parts that can tolerate thicker, taller grass and brush. They tend to vibrate less than cheap weed eaters and often are compatible with an assortment of attachments that expand their functionality, letting you turn your tool into an electric or gas hedge trimmer, tiller, cultivator, pole saw (for cutting thick brush and trimming trees), and more. 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. As mentioned, some can accept a variety of attachments, allowing them to double as gas hedge trimmers, pole saws, blowers, and the like.

Electric Weed Eaters

For smaller yards and light-duty maintenance, there are several advantages to using an electric trimmer versus a gas trimmer. They are cheaper, of course. They also weigh less – a plus for extended use, better control when trimming around flower beds and such, or just when toting the tool from the storage shed or garage to your garden. They are also quieter than gas models and, of course, emission-free.

If you want an electric trimmer your choices come down to corded string trimmers or cordless models. Both have some downsides worth noting, however. 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 any really cheap cordless weed eaters to have the capacity to conquer even a half-acre yard without needing to recharge — and their batteries need to be replenished after each use. That said, 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 recommend feature a long, straight shaft, and a couple have a telescoping design. The alternative, a curved-shaft trimmer, might be the right choice when working in very tight spaces where easy maneuverability is needed, such as around flower beds. If those are your needs, you can opt for a curved shaft gas string trimmer or an electric (corded or cordless) model.

Straight shaft trimmers, on the other hand, tend to be more heavy duty than curved shaft trimmers. They are an especially good choice for properties where you will be doing a lot of trimming under shrubs and bushes. Frugal consumers will find far more straight-shaft trimmers to choose among.

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 from any outdoor power equipment manufacturer receives unanimously glowing reviews. Some of these cheap weed eaters 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 from their string trimmer heads 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 string trimmer heads, you have to knock the head against the ground to activate a spring that lets out more string trimmer line 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 string trimmer heads, because the constant thwacking causes the string trimmer line 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. You can get a multi-pack replacement spool (usually three or more spools in a package) from the maker or a variety of third-party manufacturers.

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. One drawback to this is that the lighter weight might be achieved using less durable, plastic string trimmer parts; although we looked to models with solid reliability records in making our selections. 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. Several on our list can double as an edger, for example. Others can accept attachments to convert them to gas or electric hedge trimmers, pole saws and more. If the section of lawn is very small, a string trimmer will work very nicely as a grass trimmer as well.

However, no matter how tempting it might be to use electric weed eaters as cordless hedge trimmers, experts say that’s something you really should not attempt without an appropriate attachment. Weed whackers are designed to be used below waist level, and trying to use one as a gas or electric hedge trimmer will render its safety features ineffective.

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 weed eaters 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 before trimmer replacement is required. Except for a few reports complaining of poor-quality string trimmer parts, or 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.