How to Buy and Choose Weed Eaters

A weed wacker lies in the grass.

Weed eaters, also known as string trimmers or weed whackers, are typically used as hedge trimmers or edgers to help keep sidewalks and yards trimmed and free of weeds.

Most weed eaters have a long shaft with the handle at one end and a reel of string at the other end. The plastic string revolves at high speed to cut the weeds. Some weed eaters are smaller and some are for more widespread use. But how do you know which weed eater is right for you?

TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Rachel Klein adds, "Weed eaters are great tools for those of us who have back problems or trouble bending over. Eliminate weeds comfortably, without the constant up and down stress of pulling them by hand."

Reasons for Buying a Weed Eater

Each lawn or yard has different needs. The same goes for the gardener or home owner taking care of the yard or lawn. Some weeds are tougher than others, so figuring out which weeds you need to be rid of can help in the decision. Comfort might also be a factor. Look closely at the handle on the weed eater to make sure you have a comfortable grip.

TIP: Rachel suggests, "Consider also buying a weed eater visor. Weeds are cut at high speeds and could fly directly at you. A protective visor will shield your face and eyes from these, along with stones and dirt that could also be projected into the air. Always wear gloves, long pants, and eye protection when using your weed eater."

Types of Weed Eater

There are three main types of weed eaters: Plug-in, battery, and gas weed eaters.

Plug-In - Electric weed eaters don't use gas or oil. They are completely electric. They usually don't have as much power as their gas counterparts, but they are perfect for small yards and lawns. The downside to using an electric weed eater could be maneuverability and motion. You are restricted by the length of the extension cord and where your outlets might be. Electric weed eaters also tend to be a bit smaller than their gas counterparts and have the advantages of being lighter in weight and much quieter.

TIP: Rachel adds, "They are especially easy to start. Just press a button! Electric weed eaters are also very environmentally friendly, producing no emissions at all as compared to their gas counterparts that pollute heavily."

Battery - Battery powered weed eaters are light and noiseless. They can be taken anywhere, and are very helpful in the event of a prolonged power outage. Batteries do need to be replaced, and having extra on hand is a great idea in case the battery burns out during your work.

TIP: Rachel notes, "Some electric weed eaters are rechargeable, so with some minor advance planning your movement is no longer controlled by an extension cord."

Gas - Gas weed eaters are the power horses of the weed eaters. They can usually cut more and hold more string than their electric counterparts. They require gas and sometimes a mixture of gas and oil, depending on the model. Since gas weed eaters aren't restricted by a power cord, they can reach places that perhaps their electric counterparts cannot such as a field near the house or the far edge of the yard. The downside is that they are generally heavier, noisier, and require gas and oil to operate.

TIP: Rachel recommends, "No matter what kind of whacker you want, buying extra plastic or nylon cord is a great idea. The string can break or wear out, and having more on hand can mean the difference between having to stop your lawn work and go to the store or not breaking your stride at all."


Every year, manufacturing companies come out with great new features for weed whackers. Some come with shoulder straps to help you bare the weight of larger gas powered eaters. Some have double "blades" that can get the job done more efficiently or speed controls to help you match your speed to your job. Anti-vibration handles reduce fatigue when held, and ergonomic handles contour perfectly to your grip. Read up about all of the new features and choose a model that combines your favorites.


Prices of the weed eater vary depending on the type and power of the weed eater you are buying. Some stores have sales when the weed eater season comes around in early spring, when the weeds are just starting to poke their stems up through the ground. The typical range for electric weed eaters is anywhere from around $40 to $100. Gas weed eaters typically range a little higher, from around $80 to $200.

Where to Buy a Weed Eater

Any good home and garden store will have weed eaters, and most department chain stores will have them during the gardening season (from early spring to late fall). You may be able to rent weed eaters from a tractor or garden supply store if you wouldn’t want to buy one. Look for bargains at the beginning of the season but don't neglect end-of-the-season sales.

TIP: Rachel advises, "Great deals can be found online, where you can find the perfect model for you without having to decide in the limited availability of a store. On a low budget, garage sales usually contain some great garden tool finds, and you could stumble upon a great deal."

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