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One of the best string trimmers.

Best String Trimmers for Yard Cleanup

CR says you don't have to pay a lot to get a capable model

To keep your yard looking neat all season, invest in a good string trimmer. CR's lawn experts tested dozens of models, eliminating those that choked under pressure. Among our top picks are some that can breeze effortlessly through tall grass and weeds. All in all, we found dozens of string trimmers worth recommending.

We have capable models in every configuration across a wide range of prices. But first you need to figure out which style is right for you.

"If you've got a small yard, you can absolutely make do with an electric model," says Dave Trezza, who oversees string-trimmer testing for Consumer Reports. Corded models need outdoor power. "If you'll be working more than 100 feet from the house, battery trimmers are better."

For a larger piece of property, advises Trezza, "go with gas, since it runs indefinitely without pausing to charge."

How CR Tests String Trimmers
We use each trimmer to tackle typical yard weeds and high grass as well as dense brush, noting and timing how long each model takes to clear. We also test each model at edging, or its ability to create a neatly trimmed grass walkway. Finally, we look at how easy each model is to hold, maneuver, and operate, noting how difficult it is to start up or feed extra line through the cutting head. 

Here, six standouts from our tests:

1
Gas Straight-Shaft
Echo SRM-230

Echo SRM-230

Best Overall
The Echo SRM-230 is among the priciest models in our ratings. But it cuts like a champ through tall, thick weeds, and it aced our edging test, which means a lot if you're concerned about controlling growth along walkways. Like all straight-shaft models, it's best suited for taller users. If you're on the shorter side, look for a curved-shaft string trimmer. The slightly lighter-weight Echo SRM-225, $220, performed almost as well and costs less.

    2
    Troy-Bilt TB2044 XP

    Troy-Bilt TB2044 XP

    Best Value
    The Troy-Bilt TB2044 was right behind the top-rated Echo in cutting through tall grass and edging cleanly. In some ways it's even easier to use than the Echo. The swiveling cutting head, for example, makes it a cinch to edge along a sidewalk or driveway.  

      3
      Gas Curved-Shaft
      Stihl FS 38

      Stihl FS 38

      Best Overall
      Curved-shaft gas string trimmers tend to be better for those who are average height or shorter, plus they're generally a little easier to maneuver. Most of the curved models in our ratings are cheaper than their straight-shaft counterparts. The Stihl FS 38 is our top-rated curved-shaft trimmer. It easily powers through tall grass and weeds, and at 10.5 pounds is fairly light. If you need something that can handle slightly heavier-duty jobs, the Stihl FS 40 C-E, $160, has a larger engine and matchs the Stihl FS 38 in cutting.   

        4
        Ryobi RY252CS

        Ryobi RY252CS

        Best Value
        The Ryobi RY252CS is pretty tough to beat. It trims neatly, clobbers tall grass and weeds, and has a pivoting head for easy edging—all for a very reasonable price.

          5
          Battery-Powered
          EGO ST1501-S

          EGO ST1501-S

          Best Overall
          The Ego ST1501-S took the top prize among battery-powered string trimmers. It edges and trims as well as the best gas models (but packed less power when up against clearing tall weeds). At 9 pounds, it's extremely light. And because this Ego is battery-powered, it's easy to start and operate. It will go anywhere a gas model can, but run time is limited. If you splurge on the top-rated Ego LM2101 lawn mower, $400, you can use the batteries interchangeably and always have one charging. 

            6
            Plug-In Electric
            Black+Decker GH3000

            Black+Decker GH3000

            Best Overall
            If you have a small yard, a plug-in electric string trimmer will be fine. The Black+Decker GH3000 trims really well at a much better price than battery-powered models—and without the effort of buying gas. All you need to power the machine is an extension cord and an outlet within 100 feet. This model has a single cutting line, and it lacks the power of larger models, but if you have only a few spots to hit each week, it's a solid choice. 

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              Paul Hope

              As a classically trained chef and an enthusiastic DIYer, I've always valued having the best tool for a job—whether the task at hand is dicing onions for mirepoix or hanging drywall. When I'm not writing about home products, I can be found putting them to the test, often with help from my two young children, in the 1860s townhouse I'm restoring in my free time.