Choosing the right lawn mower will get you off the starting block when it comes to achieving the perfect lawn, but for a super-neat finish you8217;ll need to invest in one of our best grass trimmers (also known as a strimmer). Designed to be more manoeuvrable and flexible than a lawn mower, a strimmer can reach the parts of a garden that a lawn mower can’t.
A decent strimmer can be one of the most versatile garden tools you can buy, offering plenty of options when it comes to tidying up your garden. Use it to trim grass against fences, around furniture and against paths; a strimmer can tackle dense undergrowth and even weed whacking in plant pots.
Battery-powered models are growing in popularity and can provide decent power without the fear of cables getting in the way. The main downside is the run-time, plus you may need extra batteries for large gardens.
Petrol trimmers can be hugely powerful and can be topped up on-the-go for larger jobs, but they’re generally heavier and you have to deal with the smell of petrol. As such, they’re typically best for those with very large gardens and for professionals.
At Trusted Reviews, we only recommend products that we’ve physically tested, and grass trimmers are no different. To pick the best products, we put all of the strimmers through the same tests.
Versatility is important, so we use a variety of cutting tests. Short and long grass tests let us see how each grass trimmer handles the most common usage. We also see how well the strimmers can tackle paths.
We also put the products through their paces in tougher areas, testing on denser undergrowth and weeds to see if the strimmer can handle the more difficult parts of the garden. Finally, we test models with tougher cutting blades on thicker brambles and growth.
Impressively, performance is just as good, with the Stihl FSA 56 managing to run for 20 minutes with the provided AK10 battery. Note that Stihl has a variety of batteries in its product range for those who need a longer run-time, too.
Using the 1.6mm line, the Stihl FSA 56 coped with tall, wet grass with ease and even made a decent attempt of managing tougher scrub. You can buy thicker line for tougher jobs. Impressively, the bump feed was incredibly reliable, feeding out more line with a quick tap, steadfastly refusing to clog.
Corded grass trimmers still deliver the best combination of price and performance, as you can see from the excellent Wolf Garten 500W Twin Line Trimmer GTE 850-KIT. Designed for trimmer grass in smaller areas, it’s a neat and simple-to-use tool.
The most unusual feature are the wheels fitted to the back of the GTE 850-KIT. They let the strimmer stand upright and give you a consistent cutting height; you can remove the wheels if you prefer, which you may want to do on bumpy ground. The head rotates through 90 degress, which makes edging easy.
On the low RPM setting, the GTE 850-KIT handled grass with ease, while the higher setting managed denser, longer grass. It isn8217;t an ideal trimmer for dealing with thick weeds and brambles, though.
Rather than using a blade or trimmer cable, the Gtech ST20 Cordless Grass Trimmer uses unique clip-in plastic blades, which are easy to replace. New sets cost £3.99 for a pack of 50, which is a little more expensive than trimmer cable, but not excessively so.
Using blades rather than cable has its pros and cons. The downside is that the blades tend to snap more easily when they hit a hard surface such as concrete or a fence post accidentally; the upside is that they’re less likely to break when hitting brambles.
We found that the Gtech ST20 Cordless Grass Trimmer was capable of cutting through nettles, brambles and twigs. It made light work of grass, too, with the rotatable head able to trim pathways and the like. What we really liked about this trimmer is its lightweight body, which makes it easy to manoeuvre.
The battery lasts for around 30 minutes, which is enough to cover most gardens, although the slow four-hour recharge time limits the turnaround time before you can use the trimmer again. You can buy additional batteries for £39.99 if you need to up run-time.
With its bump-feed dual line, the ST 1300E can cut quickly and powerfully. We found that it coped well with grass and even managed to work its way though fibrous weeds that often cause problems for other strimmers.
We found that the ST-1300E occasionally clogged when cutting long, mature grass of the type you might find in an orchard. In these cases, the cordless grass trimmer would simply shut down until the grass was pulled out. Impressively, the ST-1300E works fast, letting you deal with large areas quickly.
The EGO ST-1300E Cordless Line Trimmer is often available online body-only, although you can easily add a range of batteries and chargers. We tested with the CH2100 E, and the 2.0Ah 56V Li-ion battery pack, which provides a reasonable 30 minutes of run-time under load and a 45-minute charge time.
The Husqvarna 115iL Cordless Grass Trimmer is designed for grass and light weed trimming duties in larger gardens, with a powerful motor that makes short work of these tasks. It’s quite a chunky beast, but get past the physical size and there’s plenty to like.
With 30 minutes of run-time per charge, the 115iL should cope with most jobs – although you can buy additional batteries of varying sizes and opt for an upgraded fast charger if you need to reduce the turnaround time.
The wide 33cm cutting head made short work of wet and dry grass, with the motor never slowing – even when dealing with thick clumps. The default, relatively thin, 1.5mm cutting cable is a little fragile for tougher scrub, although you can upgrade this for bigger jobs: we recommend trying the 2mm line.
At 4.2kg with a battery, the Husqvarna 115iL Cordless Grass Trimmer is rather large and heavy. If you can get past that, however, its solid cutting performance and long run-time make this a great grass trimmer for medium-sized lawns upwards.
Best grass trimmer – What type should I buy?
The main choice of strimmer comes down to the power type used. Plug-in, electric trimmers are the cheapest and will run for as long as you need them, but the cables can get in the way. Cordless models run on battery power, giving you greater freedom – but make sure you have a sufficient number of batteries to cover the area you want. Petrol models are also cordless and can be refilled to keep going, making them a better choice for large areas or professionals. For most homes, a cordless strimmer will be the best option, offering the right combination of power and flexibility, plus they don8217;t emit fumes in the way of petrol models.
The cutting width indicates how much grass can be cut in one go. The wider the width, the quicker you can tackle jobs. More expensive, professional-level strimmers tend to have a wider cutting width. For small-to-medium gardens opt for between 220 and 280mm; larger gardens will need 330mm upwards.
Line cutters are the traditional type of strimmer, using a line that spins at high speed to do the cutting. Lines can break when hitting something hard (and through use), but come on a spool so you can pull out more. Some models have an automatic feed, while others use a bump feed, where you bump the strimmer to extend more line.
The thickness of the line also plays its part. Lines are generally available between 1.3mm and 2mm, and you can often upgrade the thickness from the type with which you8217;re initially provided. The thicker the line, the thicker the weeds and grass you8217;ll be able to cut through. Typical gardens with long grass and a few weeds will do well with 1.6mm line, but upgrade to 2mm if your garden has thicker undergrowth.
A rotating head is a neat way to turn your strimmer into a path trimming tool, although you can hold most trimmers at an angle to do the same job. If you8217;re not a confident gardener then a strimmer with wheels is a good option, as this will help you keep the cutting height at the same level.