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How to edge with a weed eater

For those who love gardening, the appearance of their garden is very important, and something which can often require a great deal of maintenance. Investing lots of your time in your garden, only to be faced with the issue of long, overgrown grass can be a little off-putting. However, there is help available in the form of a weed eater.

What is a weed eater?

Weed eaters, also commonly referred to as string trimmers or weed whackers, are particularly effective for use in smaller gardens. They are a tool that’s used for cutting grass and weeds and they work by rapidly spinning microfilament string which is thick enough to cut the grass. They are available in electric, gas, or battery-powered versions. 

Whilst you may not find them to be the most effective when it comes to tackling these issues in larger gardens, for some they get the job done particularly well and are particularly useful in smaller garden areas. 

The best technique to implement when using a weed eater is to turn the trimmer on its side with the string spinning away from you, the shaft should then be placed upon your shoulder. Not only does this allow for more precise movement but you are also able to see the process.

The type of lawn

As mentioned, a simple trimmer will be effective in working with smaller lawns, although larger lawns are likely to require more powerful equipment.

Is there a difference between a weed eater and a trimmer?

There isn’t a noticeable difference between a weed eater and a trimmer and many would suggest that they are essentially names that are given to the same piece of equipment. A weed eater is a brand, with other products that have been created since, serving the same purpose, with different names. A weed eater is commonly referred to with multiple names.

Steps to consider before using your weed eater

If you’ve never attempted to cut your lawn using a weed eater before, you may currently be a little puzzled as to how they work and the steps to take to ensure that you get the best results. 

We have created a step by step guide below, with detailed insight into using a weed eater in its best capacity for generating the best visual outcome for your garden. Before you begin using your weed trimmer, several steps will need to be considered in preparation for using this tool. 

Mow your lawn before using your weed eater

It is recommended that you mow your lawn before tackling your garden with a weed eater as this is going to remove the bulk of the grass, ultimately making your job much easier. Whilst a weed eater is a useful tool, they are primarily intended for edging and are likely to struggle with working their way through thick grass. Not only is this going to be better for your equipment, it’s going to consume a lot less of your time too.

Use your weed eater in the right conditions

It is never a good idea to attempt to tackle your garden following a series of bad weather, even if it has only been raining lightly, you should always wait until your lawn dries before using a lawn mower or weed eater on it. Not only can this pose a safety issue, but cutting wet grass can be a tricky task as the rain tends to make it sticky.

Create a path that you want to follow

This is important, especially if you haven’t used one of these tools before. Marking out your pathway will enable you to see the area that needs tackling, making your edge cuts more effective. If you have already used this tool previously it is likely that there is already a guideline from your previous use.

Safety is important – Wear the correct protective equipment

It is essential to protect yourself when using a weed eater and this can be done by wearing protective equipment. Investing in some safety glasses will be very beneficial as trimmers are known to throw out stones and dirt when the blade is spinning fast. Wearing safety glasses will prevent your eyes from being hurt in the process. Hearing protection is also important when using gasoline-powered tools, especially when holding one close to your ear. Noise-canceling headphones will make the task much easier and comfortable for you while also being beneficial for your hearing too.

Using a weed eater

Now that you have been equipped with all the necessary steps to take in preparing to use your weed eater, you’re probably excited to learn how they are used. 

Below, we have outlined some of the main steps to follow to ensure that you use your equipment effectively.

Direct the debris away from you as you work

Using a weed eater on its side,reduces it’s built in ability to protect you from any flying.. This is because the weed guard is designed to be used horizontally, not vertically. In general, most string trimmers tend to rotate clockwise. It is important to check your piece of equipment beforehand as this will help you to determine the best way to hold it. 

Rotate the Strimmer into an edging position

First of all, you will need to turn the strimmer on and give it lots of power, then maintain a firm grip of the handle as you walk. Then you will need to hold the string trimmers in its normal position before rotating the shaft until the guard is facing upwards. Ideally, you want the trimmer head to 90 degrees with the surface. 

Ensure that you are moving in the right direction with your weed eater

The majority of units tend to spin the string clockwise, meaning that you will need to move from the left to the right side as you edge. This way, your weed eater will release the cut grass back onto the lawn instead, making the process of clearing up quicker and easier. Aim to position yourself so that you are walking along the pathway as this will give you a clear guide of where you are going with your weed eater, ultimately making it much easier for you to follow the edgeway of your lawn.

The correct position for holding your weed eater

When using a weed eater/ trimmer, you are holding the shaft in your hand and resting your arm upwards near your shoulder.

If you are going to be using a weed eater with a gas engine, it is important to ensure that it isn’t positioned too close to your head as this could result in burns, although this may not be an issue for everyone, it is still necessary to be mindful of this as a precaution. 

Holding your weed eater in this position with the string at around a 90-degree angle may appear to be an awkward position, but you will find that the majority find it surprisingly comfortable. 

Line up the weed eater next to a hard surface

You should always try to align your unit near the edge of the grass, adjusting the depth of cut depending on how deep you are intending to edge. Then, move the weed eater back and forth continuously to achieve your desired length. 

The Speed

It is important to work with your weed eater at a slow and steady speed, especially if you are new to using this piece of equipment and are still learning the ropes. You will want to move slowly along the edge line, taking care to remain on the path that you are intending to cut. Going too fast with your strimmer can cause more harm than good, more often than not resulting in a torn-up, messy looking garden edge. Working at a slow and steady pace is definitely the best option for creating the most visually pleasing results.

Ensure that you remove any build-ups of cut grass

From time to time, you will need to take a break to remove the build-up of any stuck or cut up grass as this is likely to affect the quality of your lines. Once you have stopped to do so you then have the opportunity to view your work so far and make amendments if needed. This consumes less time, as you can make these changes as you go.

Useful tips to remember when edging with a weed eater

Be cautious of the flying debris

When using a weed eater you are likely to be faced with a considerable amount of flying debris. If you are likely to be using your tool in an area with cars nearby, it is necessary to be mindful that this debris can fly, and on some occasions, it can actually fly to quite a distance. Some of this debris can be tough too, posing the risk of potential damage. Whilst the guard works effectively to stop the debris from flying up, it doesn’t work very well at stopping the debris from flying out of the sides. 

The string inside the weed eater will sometimes pick up small rocks and stones which will then be released from the sides. An awareness of your surroundings is important to ensure that you aren’t confronted with the occurrence of any accidental damage. 

Also, ensure that you are wearing the correct safety equipment to ensure that you aren’t hurt by the debris in the process of using your weed eater.

Practice makes perfect – Attaining straight lines takes some work

When you first start using your weed eater, you may find that your lines aren’t straight after your first attempt and for some gardeners this may be a frustrating concept. However this is completely normal. It takes a lot of practice to achieve straight lines so it is important to be patient with the process. Implementing the correct technique, and holding the strimmer in the correct position will make this a little easier. It is likely that as your confidence builds with using your weed eater, your technique will too.

Gas or electric: Which weed eater is best for you?

Some people develop different preferences when it comes to the type of weed eater that they use for edging. With the option of gas or electric, there are benefits associated with both. 

Gas weed eaters are said to be more powerful than electric ones but due to their internal combustion engines, this can also make them a lot louder too, which some users may find off putting if they are attempting to tackle a larger area. 

If you prefer to work in a quieter environment then an electric weed eater is the best option for you. As they work using an electric cord you are not faced with the same noise levels as a gas weed eater. They also tend to be cheaper and lighter too. The main drawback to note is that you can sometimes be restricted in the distance that you can reach as you are working with an electric cord that has to be plugged into the mains.

The Ergonomics of a weed eater

As this tool is going to be held for a considerable amount of time, depending on your garden size or shape, of course, it is necessary to consider how comfortable it is going to be. Although using a strimmer as an edger does not put huge amounts of pressure on your back, it is still necessary to ensure that you are comfortable when using one. If you are working using your trimmer for edging for a long period of time, ensure that you are holding your trimmer in a comfortable position. 

Conclusion

Ultimately, you do not need to be an expert to use a weed eater and achieve your desired results. Of course, practice does make perfect, but once you are familiar with the basic concept of using this tool,it is likely that your confidence should build with each use. Taking time to perfect your technique is important, and it is necessary to remember that it takes time to reach a particular standard. You aren’t necessarily going to use it and be confident in it straight away, expect some areas to appear slightly battered after your first use and remember that this will improve over time. 

In general, they tend to be comfortable to use, as long as they are used in the correct position. 

Consider the space that you are working with, as we have mentioned, weed eaters tend to be particularly useful when used to tackle smaller garden areas, however, you are likely to find them less effective if you have a larger garden as you are more than likely to require a larger and more powerful piece of equipment. 

Ensure that you take the time to choose the right weed eater for your needs; gas, electric, or battery-powered, accounting for factors such as noise levels and the weight, etc. 

Remember to wear the correct protective equipment such as goggles and noise-canceling headphones (especially handy if you opt for a gas trimmer), as this ensures that you are protected from any debris flying into your eyes. 

Following the steps that we have outlined throughout this guide, you should be well equipped with all of the necessary steps to edge with your weed eater effectively.