Easiest String Trimmers to Use

Trimming grass around edges and tight spots is less of a chore with these models from Consumer Reports' tests

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string trimmer along sidewalk edge GettyImages-498547506

String trimmers can be a pain. Many an hour on a weekend day has been lost while trying to feed string into a fickle trimmer or fruitlessly yanking a gas-powered trimmer's pull cord while the engine sputters.

Plus, many string trimmers are bulky and heavy, which gets tiring when, for instance, you’re trying to trim a neat line along a walkway. That’s why Consumer Reports tests string trimmers for ease of use and handling as well as performance and other qualities.

More on String Trimmers

Our tests reveal that while there are plenty of models that trim well, there aren’t nearly as many that bundle solid performance in an easy-to-use package.

“We know from studies we've done that things like starting a string trimmer, holding it for an extended period while you work, or loading in more cutting line, are enormous pain points for consumers,” says Misha Kollontai, CR’s test engineer in charge of string trimmer testing. “That’s why our criteria for ease-of-use and handling tests are so demanding.” Kollontai notes that in his experience testing string trimmers, a poorly designed model could double the time it takes to work your way around the yard.

Testing for Ease of Use and Handling

Across all string trimmers, including gas, battery, and corded electric, our ease-of-use test captures how simple it is to load string and use the controls. For gas models, we assess how easy it is to work the pull cord for starting a trimmer's engine and we record how long it takes for the trimmer head to begin spinning once you engage it (by pressing a separate button or other trigger). For battery models, we time how long a model can cut grass on one charge—the longer the better, so you don't have to keep stopping to recharge. We do this test twice, and take the average time.

Our handling tests assess two factors: responsiveness and balance. How quickly does a trimmer start when you pull the trigger? Is the weight of the trimmer evenly balanced so that it's not awkward—and tiring—to use? "By the end of testing a batch of string trimmers, the best models just feel like they're floating in your hands, while the worst feel bulky," says Kollontai.

So which models in our tests are the easiest to use? Here are the details on four that fit the bill—one each of the four different types of string trimmers we test. To learn more about string trimmers, see our string trimmer buying guide. CR members can also jump right to our ratings of more than two dozen trimmers.

Best Easy-to-Use String Trimmers

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.