What are the differences between Lawn Edgers and String Trimmers?

When it comes to lawn maintenance, choosing the right tools can save you a lot of time and energy. It’s also important to choose tools that will give you the results you are looking for, without making lawn care harder and less enjoyable. When I started this hobby, I wish somebody had told me everything I now know! So I want to help you select the right tools for maintaining your lawn well, right from the start. I will begin by outlining some of the differences between a lawn edger and a string trimmer, and then explain when to use each tool.

What is a Lawn Edger?

A lawn edger, confusingly enough also called an edge trimmer, is a tool used to define boundary lines in your yard. These boundary lines include the division between your lawn and the sidewalk or driveway, as well as the separation between your lawn and flowerbeds. Grass has the tendency to grow over the edges and give your yard an undesirable messy look. Edgers typically use a vertical spinning blade to cut through turf thus eliminating messy borders.

An edge trimmer can be either manual or motorized. Manual edgers are variations of spade tools while motorized edgers are comprised of a rotating blade powered either by gas, electricity or battery. Motorized edgers often have a guiding wheel so you can roll them along the length of the border you are edging. Either way, the end result is a clean, defined edge that leaves your landscaping looking professional and polished.

Difference between Lawn Edger and a String Trimmer Worx WG190 - EdgeMylawn

While a manual edger is very inexpensive, it might not be the best choice if you have a lot of ground to cover. Gasoline powered edgers are the most powerful, and are best if you have a lot of thick weeds to cut through. The downside is that gas powered edgers are heavier and noisier than their electric counterparts. Once you have decided on the basics, there are a multitude of brands and variations to choose.

While shopping, remember that you don’t need to get the most powerful edger with lots of features if you are just using it to clean up the flowerbeds in your yard once a month.

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What is a String Trimmer?

Also known as a weed whacker or a weed eater, string trimmers are best for trimming grass and removing weeds in places your lawn mower can’t reach – such as around trees, buildings and other obstructions. String trimmers have a flexible mono-filament line to cut the grass. These may use either gasoline or electricity to power a horizontal rotating head.

Difference between Lawn Edger and a String Trimmer - Cutting edge - EdgeMyLawn

You need to consider the how you will use your string trimmer before determining which model to choose. Gas powered trimmers have more power than electric powered trimmers to cut through tougher plants, but are heavier. You may find that a battery-powered or cordless trimmer is convenient and light to handle, but you will probably find that it is not as powerful as an electric trimmer. The electric trimmer is more powerful but obviously needs needs to stay plugged in.

A cordless electric trimmer might better suit your trimming needs if your property isn’t so big that you will run out of charge before finishing. Apart from the power source, you will also need to determine which features will suit your yard care needs. Some have guards and guiding wheels, or even a line that automatically extends as needed (instead of manually changing it or needing to hit the head on the ground to let out more line). You can also choose an angled or straight rod.

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What are the Differences Between Edgers and String Trimmers?

While a lawn edger is designed to create a new boundary, the string trimmer is meant to maintain that boundary. Don’t use one when the other is needed – you will end up spoiling your garden!

The string trimmer is great for trimming long grass near the edges and around obstacles so that the yard doesn’t look shaggy. This is an important step after mowing to give your yard a finished look.
Most string trimmers can be re-positioned vertically so that you can use them to edge your boundaries. But I don’t recommend this. A dedicated lawn edger is the best tool to use when you initially create edges on your lawn’s boundaries. This is because lawn edgers are bigger and more stable, and may therefore be more suitable for creating a clean edge in your yard.

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Which tools can both Edge and Trim?

Ideally you will use a lawn edger to edge, and a string trimmer to trim grass. However, it is possible to do some edging work with a string trimmer. Some string trimmers are even marketed as a trimmer/edger and are designed to help you do both tasks. This is a valid choice if you are edging along a hard surface, like a sidewalk, and there is minimal grass overgrowth. It is also a good choice when you only have small areas to touch up. This can be done by holding the string trimmer at a 90 degree angle and moving it along the border, trimming back the overhanging grass. Be careful while trimming your edges that you don’t cut too close to the ground and make the grass look uneven.

With either tool, be sure to mow the grass first. Once you cut the grass to the desired length it will be easier to see where you need to edge. Also be sure to cut the grass back only as much as is needed so you don’t make an unsightly trench in place of a thin border or unintentionally increase the size of your mulch bed with each edging.

With both a motorized edger and a string trimmer, wear safety gear such as long pants, safety glasses, and hearing protection. The rotating blade or string can fling debris if you aren’t careful. If you are edging along gravel, it will be necessary to use manual tools to avoid injury or damage to property caused by flinging rocks.

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Conclusion

If you are new to lawn care, or planning to do substantial edging in your yard, you will likely be best suited to purchase a dedicated yard edger as well as a string trimmer. However, purchasing the right string trimmer is a good move for you if you trust your skills, only need to do minimal edging, and want to save money. Either way, it is important to know your yard’s needs so that you can select the right tool for the job.

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