Gas and electric trimmers are becoming popular in domestic gardens. But before buying any trimmer you should ask yourself if you do need it.
For occasional use, prefer good quality hand grass and hedge shears. They are part of the joy of gardening and they cost a lot less and are carbon-free.
For light and common domestic gardening tasks also prefer electric trimmers over gas trimmers. They are cheaper and less polluting. Gas trimmers are mostly intended for professional applications and large yards.
Shears as an alternative to gas and electric trimmers
Grass and hedge shears have fallen out of favor with many homeowners, but they are the best option for small and medium-scale trimming tasks. Short and long-handled hedge or grass shears can be very effective.
Fiskars hi-tech shears, made from modern lightweight materials, are often rated as a Best Buy. They are well balanced and among the least tiring.
But there are other high-rated shears from other manufacturers (Wolf Garten, Felco, Yeoman, etc.). See, for customer reviews (Amazon.com): Hand Shears.
Common hand grass shears work fine for small trimming tasks. There are now long neck grass shears, designed to be operated in an upright position. They are perfect for light garden tasks.
The head of many of these models can rotate 180 degrees, and they are relatively cheap products (around $30 - $35). ARS, Corona and Fiskars have very good grass shears. See for customer reviews (Amazon.com): Grass Shears.
Electric string trimmers and Electric Hedge Trimmers: corded and cordless
Electric trimmers are lightweight, quiet, easy-to-operate and low-maintenance. They are - for typical domestic gardening tasks - a better and more energy-efficiency choice than gas trimmers .
Corded trimmers have more power than cordless units. They are also lighter, cheaper and a common choice for average sized yards; but, of course, you need to have an outdoor outlet nearby.
Cordless trimmers are less powerful, and suitable for small and average trimming jobs. Only consider gas and propane string trimmers for very demanding tasks.
Electric blade lawn trimmers
Blade trimmers (for weed and grass cutting) work with blades instead of a monofilament strings. They are a lot less common than string trimmers.
They are designed to deal with especially tough weeds, but they are unsafe; their rotating blades can hit hidden objects in the ground and be a cause of injuries.
Since string trimmers do not pose such risks, and are very effective at dealing with tough weeds, they are a better option.
Gas Lawn and Gas Hedge Trimmers Are professional Gardening Tools
Gas trimmers are more powerful units, designed for professional uses. If you do need a gas trimmer, prefer a four-cycle engine trimmer.
The more affordable 2-cycle trimmers (with prices under $150 or $200) come now with new important features (separate primer, throttle and choke controls), but are noisy, heavy, polluting, high-maintenance and innefective…
Four-cycle engine trimmers are more expensive (say, $300 and up) but are easier to use and also quieter and more efficient (they allow energy savings up to 80%).
Propane string trimmers vs. gas string trimmers
Typical propane string trimmers use 1-pound propane canisters ($3-$5 each; two hours of runtime). Propane trimmers are a good alternative to gas trimmers, but they only make sense for professional use.
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Louisiana State University String Trimmers Safety Guide