String trimmers are a handy gardening tool, but with prices from $20 to several hundred, how do you trim down your choices? Consumer Reports tested 45 in all.
The first decision you will need to make is should you get an electric, cordless, or gas trimmer?
Gas trimmers are more powerful, making them ideal for tall weeds and grass. They're perfect for larger properties where an electrical outlet isn't easily accessible. Corded electric trimmers tend to be lighter, less expensive, and better for the environment, but you're limited to the length of the cord, which is typically 100 feet. Your third choice is a cordless rechargeable trimmer.
"These cordless electric models only run for 15 to 20 minutes, so they're good for just light-duty work," said Peter Sawchuk from Consumer Reports.
In the tests, the Craftsman 74540 electric trimmer came up short. It features a built-in blower to clean away clippings after you trim, which may sound genius, but Consumer Reports says, unfortunately, it's a lot of hot air.
"The large head makes it difficult to see when you're cutting, and you have a tendency to scalp the lawn," said Sawchuk.
Far better is the Stihl FS 45, and at $140 this gas-powered trimmer is a best buy. The corded electric Black and Decker GH1000 is another Consumer Reports best buy at only $70.
Remember before you buy a string trimmer, safety is key. Goggles are critical to protect against flying pebbles and debris and ear protection is recommended when using gas-powered trimmers.