Cheapism Choice Best Weed EatersString trimmers specialize in cutting grass and weeds where a lawn mower won't do. They're perhaps better known as weed eaters, after the company that pioneered the tool in the 1970s and has become as synonymous with its product as Xerox or Kleenex. Cheapism cut through scores of expert and user reviews to identify the best string trimmers for $250 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 rounded out the list with a few other options, including 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.

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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.

2021-Best-Value_Gas-Weed-EaterTakeaway: The Echo SRM-225 is our choice for best string trimmer under $250. Although it's a bit pricier than other gas-powered weed trimmers, its power and reliability make it a consumer favorite in this price range. Reviewers say it slices through tough weeds with ease and is easy to handle. Some users do note that because this string trimmer is fairly powerful it can be easy to over-trim when edging. Step up to the SRM-225i ($259 from 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.
  • Weighs 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.

Best Value Electric String TrimmerTakeaway: The Black & Decker LST136W 40v cordless string trimmer is our first choice for electric electric weed eaters trimmers under $250. 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 ($78 from Home Depot) is a 20v Max lithium-ion battery-powered cordless string trimmer that also gets solid feedback. 

Black & Decker GH900

Pros:

  • 6.5-amp motor is relatively powerful for an electric trimmer in this price range.
  • Doubles as an edger with a guide wheel to make handling the trimmer easier.
  • Automatic line feeder is smooth and tangle-free, most users say.
  • Shaft height, handle angle are adjustable.
  • Easy to handle at just 5.5 pounds.

Cons:

  • Power cord limits mobility.
  • Uses line too quickly, some owners complain, and replacement spools are pricey.
  • Warranty is only for 2 years.

Takeaway: This Black & Decker string trimmer isn’t the cheapest corded model you can buy, but for the price it offers a good balance of power (6.5 amps) and cutting path size (14 inches) that other similarly priced weed whackers can’t equal. Satisfied owners say this model is best for occasional use on smaller yards — unless you have really long extension cords — and lightweight enough to flip and use as an edger. The guide wheel on the trimmer head makes this task a cinch, users say, although some note that maintaining a perfectly straight line can be a challenge. The most common complaint we found regards the amount of 0.065-inch. trim line the Black & Decker consumes; several owners say they ended up spending as much in replacement line as they did for the trimmer itself. 


Toro 51480A String Trimmer

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.
  • Weighs 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 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

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.
  • Weighs 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.

Ego Power+ ST1521S String Trimmer

Pros:

  • Variable-speed throttle and 15-inch cutting swath make it easy to cut through thick vines and weeds, according to professional tests.
  • Bump feed with thick, dual 0.095-inch line that loads at the touch of a button.
  • Lifetime warranty on carbon-fiber shaft, 5-year warranty on the trimmer, 3 years on the battery pack and charger.
  • Battery is compatible with other Ego Power+ tools.

Cons:

  • Powerload string-feed mechanism can be frustrating to operate, according to reviews.
  • A handful of owners complain that battery life could be better.
  • Additional rechargeable batteries are expensive.

Takeaway: Reviewers say this cordless Ego Power+ string trimmer has the power to cut through tough grass, weeds, and light brush nearly as well as gas-powered modes. Wirecutter described its performance as “on another level,” while Popular Mechanics says it has “more than enough for residential purposes.” With the 2.5 Ah battery attached (the smallest one available), the weed whacker weighs about 11 pounds. It feels balanced and is comfortable to use with the adjustable, padded front handle, users say, although a handful of owners suggest buying a shoulder strap. As some reviewers note, a new battery will cost $150 or more, depending on the model you buy, which is pricey.


Buying Guide

Choosing a Weed Eater

A string trimmer, also known as a weed whacker or weed eater (the Weed Eater company invented the yard maintenance tool in 1971), can make short work of tidying up unruly overgrowth, whether tall grass or tough weeds and light underbrush. A weed eater reaches under and around obstacles, helping to keep driveways, walkways, flower beds, and fencing neat where a lawn mower can't. High-end trimmers cost well north of $400, but for $250 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.