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Best petrol strimmer 2023: Whip your garden into shape

Big garden jobs demand more powerful tools, and a petrol strimmer is the perfect aid for tackling unruly undergrowth and overgrown borders

Electric and rechargeable strimmers are now so good that you might wonder what the point of a petrol-powered one is. The answer is quite simple – a petrol-fuelled strimmer can go places many others can’t, and keep on going when batteries would fail.

There’s also the question of power. While rechargeable garden tools operating at higher voltages can cut through thick brush while their battery lasts, they don’t last long at full power before you need to reach for a spare battery or return to base for a recharge. With petrol, as long as you have a ready supply of unleaded (or two-stroke) fuel, it’s just a case of refilling the tank.

That’s not to say petrol-powered tools are perfect. There’s the small issue of flammability, and the inconvenience of taking a can down to the local petrol station to fill it up with five litres of fuel at a time. Then there’s storage – you can’t keep your petrol over winter and expect it to start in the spring with the same gusto as it did the summer before, so you’ll need to drain out your equipment and fill it with fresh fuel if it won’t start. All sorts of things can befall petrol-powered garden tools, from rodents eating through your priming bulbs to light-fingered allotment thieves.

However, when the job at hand calls for something petrol-powered, there’s really nothing like it. Strimmers and brushcutters burning the liquified remains of dinosaurs are still the best way to clear large areas quickly and easily. So here are some of the best ones out there.

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Best petrol strimmers 2022: At a glance

How to buy the best petrol-powered strimmer for you

How do petrol strimmers work?

What you get with a petrol-powered strimmer is a small engine on a stick. This stick then engages with the working head of the machine, in this case a whirling weaponised clothes-line that tears its way through soft vegetation such as long grass and the lighter kind of brambles. The head is usually contained within a guard that prevents the worst of the flying debris from hitting you.

Which specs and features are important?

Look out for things such as line weight, which will tell you the kind of flora your strimmer is capable of defeating, and the length of the whole assembly. Lighter machines mean you can go on working for longer. And, like all petrol engines, you can get a significant amount of vibration out of a petrol strimmer, so look for a solid harness to carry it by.

What kind of fuel do I need to use?

Putting the right fuel in your tools is very important. Many use plain old unleaded from the petrol station, but others require two-stroke. This is a mixture of unleaded and oil at a 50:1 ratio (getting to know your tools is important here, as some prefer a richer mix for better performance) and you can buy small bottles of two-stroke oil online or from your local garden centre.

How do I get a petrol strimmer started?

You’ll probably find yourself pumping a primer bulb to get air out of the system, before pulling a starter cord and messing with a manual choke lever to adjust the mixture of fuel and air being ignited. Once they’re warmed up, more air can be introduced to give a more powerful, faster output – along with more noise.

Can I buy a strimmer that does more than just strim?

Yes, you can buy a garden multi-tool or a 2-in-1 strimmer and brushcutter. Some strimmers come as part of kits that can include items such as rotovators, brushcutters, hedge trimmers and even small chainsaws for trimming branches. These multi-tools can save you money by only requiring you to own one engine to power several tools, but there is a major downside – if that engine stops working, all your tools are useless.

What’s the difference between a strimmer and a brushcutter?

While a strimmer uses a spinning wire, which can bend or break off when it hits something it can’t cut through, a brush cutter uses spinning metal blades. For really tough jobs, this is the nuclear option – you’ll need to take extra care when using one of these. The solid metal blades will chop through many things with unnerving ease, including you if you get too close, and will stop with a nasty jolt if you accidentally contact something like a wooden post driven into the ground. When a brushcutter’s blade gets stuck in something, it can be tricky to get it out again.

Do I need to wear protective clothing?

You don’t need anything special, but you’re going to get hit by debris when you use a petrol strimmer or brushcutter, so it’s best to wear long trousers, sturdy boots or wellingtons, and some sort of eye protection. Even a flying gob of grass sap can sting if it hits you in the eye, and bits of stick or stone kicked up by the spinning head are downright dangerous.

Wearing shorts is not a good idea as it exposes your legs to incoming fire from bits of plant or anything else the wire cutting line has managed to dislodge and send flying. You might need ear defenders too, as many of these appliances are capable of putting out an obnoxious amount of noise.

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The best petrol strimmers in 2023

1. McCulloch TRIMMAC Trimmer: The best petrol strimmer under £200

Price: £139 | Buy now from Amazon

Fairly light at only 3.9kg, this 25cc two-stroke engine easily powers the trimmer head to cut through overgrown grass and other green vegetation. It’s notable for the gentle curve of its shaft, which marks it out from so many straight models. This bend makes it easier to hold the cutting head parallel to the ground while keeping the handle and activation trigger at a more comfortable angle.

The loop handle also moves up and down easily, allowing you to adjust it for your exact height and arm length. There’s an anti-vibration system in play on this model that cuts down on the shaking you can expect, and the transparent fuel tank is something people have been requesting for years. There are still models on the market that make it difficult to see how much fuel is left by making the walls of the fuel tank impossible to see through.

A tap-and-go feed head sees a gentle bonk upon the ground enough to feed some more line through should it get cut short by an obstacle. The unit splits in half for storage, too, which is incredibly handy. All in all, the combination of power and convenience here makes the Trimmac easy to recommend.

Key specs – Weight: 3.9kg; Length: 132cm; Fuel: Two-stroke; Engine size: 25cc

2. Hyundai 52cc 2 in 1 Garden Tool: A brushcutter and strimmer in one

Price: £322 | Buy now from Amazon

With both line-trimming and brush-cutting functions catered for, this is a great option. What’s more, the two-stroke engine in this Hyundai model is among the most powerful you’ll find in a simple grass trimmer.

It comes with a choice of cutting line or a three-sided metal blade for attacking brambles or dry brush, and is easy to control thanks to its “cow horn” handles. Having the activation trigger on these handles greatly improves the handling, as you’re not constantly squeezing a trigger that’s in-line with the main shaft. This can be uncomfortable, or even painful, after a period of time.

It comes apart for storage, or for fitting in the boot of a car, and a full double shoulder harness spreads the weight across the user’s shoulders. While not the heaviest of the models on this list, the Hyundai still tips the scales at over 9kg, and should be treated with respect.

This cutter is the smallest in the Hyundai range, which is notable for its enormous wheeled contrivances that are better suited to a groundskeeper than an amateur gardener. The 52cc engine is also available as a multi-tool set, with hedge-cutting and pruning attachments.

Key specs – Weight: 9.1kg; Length: 108cm; Fuel: Two-stroke; Engine size: 52cc

3. Stanley STR-750A: The best petrol strimmer under £120

Price: £115 | Buy now from Amazon

No bells and whistles here: just a 26cc two-stroke engine, a simple loop handle, three metres of cutting line spooled on the end, and a very reasonable 7kg of weight. There are no alternative blades or accessories, and while the handle is adjustable for a more comfortable grip, the most innovative thing on offer is the recoil starting mechanism, which adds a spring to the starting rope to make things easier on those cold mornings when the fuel just won’t quite catch.

While there’s no vibration reduction system at work, the soft-grip handles do a lot of the work of making it a comfortable tool to use, though ear and eye protection are still recommended. The line can be advanced by bumping it against the ground.

It’s also not particularly large, so may suit those of smaller stature better, but as it doesn’t come with a harness, users should check they can control it before letting rip. The shaft has a nice curve that helps with getting the head in the right general area, and splits halfway down to facilitate storage and transport.

Key specs – Weight: 7kg; Length: 98cm; Fuel: Two-stroke; Engine size: 25cc

4. MacAllister 33cc 255mm Petrol Brushcutter: The best brushcutter under £150

Price: £139 | Buy now from B&Q

Thicker weeds are no problem when you’ve got the three-pointed blade of a brushcutter to deal with them. This model does double-duty, coming with both a cutting blade and a more traditional line for lighter work, making it remarkably useful for trimming in all the places your mower can’t reach.

The 33cc displacement makes the MacAllister more powerful than many on this list, and as a result the two-stroke engine is extremely noisy – ear protection is recommended. The 10kg weight means that you’ll need to be pretty determined to use it for long periods, too, though thankfully there’s an anti-vibration system to cut down on fatigue.

The dual-handled nature of the supports mean there’s an element of bicycle riding in its use, as you steer it into position rather than just pointing it as you do with a single loop handle. Combined with the included harness, however, there’s no doubt that this is the superior method for wielding a more powerful machine. You can spool out additional line by tapping the hub on the ground, and the whole unit comes apart for storage.

Key specs – Weight: 10kg; Length: 186cm; Fuel: Two-stroke; Engine size: 33cc

Buy now from B&Q

5. Titan TTK587GDO Petrol Landscaping Multi-Tool: Best petrol multi-tool alternative

Price: £180 | Buy now from Screwfix

How about a brushcutter, line trimmer, pole saw and hedge trimmer, all powered by a single 25.4cc engine for the price of just one of the options above? The Titan is an attractive package, and one that will appeal to anyone just setting out to buy a petrol-powered strimmer.

You get a safety guard and an anti-vibration system, as well as an adjustable double harness to help in holding it up. It can be a bit heavy once you’ve got the engine and tool head put together, so make sure you can support it, especially if you plan on lifting the cutting end above waist level.

The engine is small, but it’s powerful enough to get the job done, especially when it’s warmed up and can be kicked into its higher gear. Being able to take the strimmer, rotavator and pruning saw down to your allotment, or maybe the end of a long garden, is a great way to work, swapping the end for different jobs and only having to wait for it to warm up once.

Key specs – Weight: 6.4kg (engine only); Length: 170cm; Fuel: Two-stroke; Engine size: 25.4cc

Buy now from Screwfix

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