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Yard maintenance can seem like a never-ending job, but having the right lawn tools to tackle it can make the process go faster—and the results look better. A weed eater, also known as a string trimmer or weed wacker, is a tool designed to cut grass and weeds that is particularly useful for maintaining areas along fences, bed edges, and other areas that a larger lawn mower cannot reach.
Two main things to consider when finding the right weed eater for your needs are power type and shaft type. Weed eaters come in gas or electric options with a straight or curved shaft. You can also look for different sizes and cutting widths to make the process easier. Many models have edging, hedge trimming, and cultivating attachments to remove weeds. Choosing the best weed eater and using it safely can keep your yard looking tidy and polished.
Here, the best weed eaters to maintain your outdoor space.
Best Overall: Ryobi 40-Volt Lithium-Ion Brushless Electric Cordless String Trimmer
Weight: 11.7 pounds | Voltage: 40 volts | Power Type: Electric | Shaft Type: Straight | Maximum Cutting Width: 15 inches
Compatible with other Ryobi tools
Multiple attachments available
Adjustable cutting width
This electric weed eater delivers plenty of power with the convenience of rechargeable electric batteries that are compatible with over 40 Ryobi tools. If you're shopping for electric lawn care tools, it's helpful to purchase options from the same brand to have interchangeable batteries ready for yard maintenance at any time.
You can also use other attachments with this tool to turn it into a blower or pole saw. Ryobi’s tools are all multi-use and work together: Rather than purchasing several different tools, this weed eater makes it possible to save space in the garage with just one. It has variable speed control and adjustable cutting width. While pricey, it will be the only weed eater tool that you need in your arsenal.
Best Budget: Worx 12 Inch 20 Volt Grass Trimmer/Edger
Weight: 5 pounds | Voltage: 20 volts | Power Type: Electric | Shaft Type: Straight | Maximum Cutting Width: 12 inches
Okay cutting width
One of the best-priced weed eaters available, the Worx 12 Inch 20 Volt Grass Trimmer/Edger is also one of the best-performing models. It is a combination weed eater and edger, giving you extra utility from this well-priced piece of equipment. At five pounds, it is also lightweight and has a rechargeable battery.
The 12-inch cutting width isn’t the largest available, but it can meet the needs of most homeowners without any issues. The great price far outweighs any limitations, especially considering it offers both a trimmer and edger in one tool.
Best Electric: BLACK+DECKER 20V 12 Inch Lithium Ion Cordless 2-in-1 Trimmer/Edger
Weight: 7.06 pounds | Voltage: 20 volts | Power Type: Electric | Shaft Type: Straight | Maximum Cutting Width: 12 inches
Battery compatible with other BLACK+DECKER products
Cutting width is only okay
This combination trimmer and edger tool is a great price for its utility and performance. It has a PowerDrive transmission that can tackle even heavy, overgrown weeds and grass. The 12-inch cutting can tackle most trimming and edging that homeowners need. The 6,200 RPM of the trimmer will keep your tools going even against tough brush.
The battery works with other BLACK+DECKER products, an essential feature that makes it easy to switch between tools during regular lawn maintenance. This particular line has everything from power drills to chainsaws.
Best Gas: Husqvarna 128LD 28-cc 2-Cycle 17-Inch Straight Shaft Gas String Trimmer
Weight: 11.11 pounds | Voltage: Not listed | Power Type: Gas | Shaft Type: Straight | Maximum Cutting Width: 17 inches
Requires gas filling
For a powerful lawn tool that is still easy to start and use, this gas string trimmer from Husqvarna features a SmartStart recoil system and fuel pump that will have you working in just a few minutes. The 17-inch cutting width is one of the widest available at this price and comes with easy-to-use features.
This is a heavy-duty weed eater, which is why the stabilizing handle is so useful. Since it's a gas-powered weed eater, users will need to operate common functions like the choke and purge settings. Husqvarna designed the controls to be intuitive, and the included instructions explain everything very well.
Best With Attachments: Craftsman 30-cc 4-Cycle 17-Inch Straight Shaft Gas Powered String Trimmer with Attachment Capability
Weight: 18.91 pounds | Voltage: Not listed | Power Type: Gas | Shaft Type: Straight | Maximum Cutting Width: 17 inches
Required gas and oil
If you want to make the most of your lawn care equipment by taking advantage of tool systems, the Craftsman TrimmerPlus multi-yard tool system is a great option. Attachments available separately include a hedge trimmer, brushcutter, polesaw, garden cultivator, and more. One of the best parts about using a combination tool system is that once you get the hang of using the controls, the learning curve to master the new attachment is quick and easy.
This weed eater also performs well as a weed wacker, with an impressive 17-inch cutting width, power from a four-cycle engine, and a simple prime and pull start process. It is also quieter than many other gas weed wackers, and it features an adjustable handle for right-handed or left-handed users.
Best Battery: Ryobi ONE+ 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Electric Cordless String Trimmer and Edger
Weight: 4 pounds | Voltage: 18 volts | Power Type: Electric | Shaft Type: Curved | Maximum Cutting Width: 10 inches
Battery compatible with other Ryobi products
Easy to rotate shaft
Small cutting width
Ryobi's easy-to-use products have interchangeable batteries to power a variety of electric lawn tools. The batteries used in this weed eater are compatible with the brand's ONE+ tool system. This isn’t a huge, powerful weed eater, but it is a great option if you want something convenient that can take care of small or mid-sized yards. The ergonomic handle makes it easy to use this weed eater without getting tired quickly. It is also easy to rotate the shaft to edging mode by pressing one button near the handle.
Best Safety Features: Makita XRU15Z Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless
Weight: 11 pounds | Voltage: 18 volts | Power Type: Electric | Shaft Type: Straight | Maximum Cutting Width: 15 inches
Automatic Torque Drive technology
Protects battery life
This pro-quality weed eater from Makita is expensive, but it offers the most control and customization in the industry. It has three different speed options—Low (3,500 RPM), Medium (5,300 RPM), and High (6,500 RPM)—which allows the user to control the output of the weed eater and avoid potential injuries. The Automatic Torque Drive technology can also adjust the RPM based on the power needed for your current job. This helps ensure that the battery will not drain too quickly or overheat.
Best Plug-In: Toro 51480 Corded 14-Inch Electric Trimmer/Edger
Weight: 6.3 pounds | Voltage: Not listed | Power Type: Electric | Shaft Type: Straight | Maximum Cutting Width: 14 inches
Good cutting width
Needs to plug in
Using a weed eater with a plug-in cord means that you can run it indefinitely without ever having to worry about battery life. It also means that you need to be close enough to an electrical outlet to secure a power source. Generally, plug-in electric weed wackers are not the best option for large areas because of their limited range, but they're great for use in small yards to bypass the need to charge batteries. The Toro 51480 Corded 14-Inch Electric Trimmer/Edger is a reliable combination tool at a great price. The telescoping shaft is made from aluminum, and the wide cutting width is perfect for almost any job.
Our top pick is the Ryobi 40-Volt Lithium-Ion Brushless Electric Cordless String Trimmer (available at Home Depot) for its great performance, ease of use, and coordinating line of compatible tools from Ryobi. Another great option is the budget-friendly Worx 12 Inch 20 Volt Grass Trimmer/Edger (available at Amazon). This lightweight weed eater can tackle just about any weed or overgrown area of your yard while still being easy on your muscles and wallet.
What to Look for in a Weed Eater
Like many yard tools, weed eaters come in outlet-powered, battery-powered, and gas-powered varieties. Gas-powered weed eaters are more powerful, but require you to have gas or a mixture of gas and oil on hand and may be more difficult to start up. Electric options are less powerful, but can easily be recharged or plugged in for lighter jobs.
Some weed eaters can also be rotated to serve as edgers, which cut perpendicular to the ground, rather than parallel to it. This feature allows you to clean up areas around your sidewalk or driveway without buying another yard tool.
If you anticipate multiple members of your household might be using the weed eater, look for one with an adjustable shaft that can be made longer or shorter, depending on the height of the user.
What is the best kind of weed eater for long/thick weeds?
Gas-powered weed eaters are usually more powerful than electric varieties, making them great for long or thick weeds. If you choose an electric tool, look for an option with a high voltage rating for maximum power against those tough weeds.
The type of feeder string you use also makes a huge difference in how well the trimmer performs. Your user manual will help guide you, but square, multi-sided, serrated, or round string will slice through thick weeds easier because of the sharp edges.
You may need to use a hedge trimmer or brushcutter for bushes and other overgrown areas with thick or tough stems. Investing in a weed eater that has attachments or is compatible with a larger line of yard tools can help you complete a variety of jobs.
How long do weed eaters last?
With routine maintenance, weed eaters can last for years. You will need to replace the string regularly before replacing the weed eater, and may need to purchase a new battery for your battery-operated weed eater.
How do you care for/maintain weed eaters?
You will need to replace the cutting string periodically, but most models make this easy with a plug-in refillable string spool. If you have a gas-powered weed eater, you will also need to replace the oil to keep the motor operating well and refill it with gas to provide power. Seasonal maintenance, such as a thorough cleaning and proper storage, is important to keep your weed eater working properly. If you tackle a particularly dirty job, make sure to clean off any brush and debris before putting your weed eater away.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was researched and written by Katie Begley, who is a writer specializing in home and garden products. She has been writing for The Spruce since 2019, covering everything from air conditioners to outdoor storage sheds and moisture meters for plants. To choose the best options for this article, she consulted dozens of customer and third-party reviews, considering each product's power source, durability, versatility, and price point.