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Best grass trimmer: The best electric, cordless and petrol trimmers

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Keep your garden in tip-top condition with our favourite grass trimmers and strimmers

A good-looking lawn is a national obsession, but it takes more than a mower to do the job right. Grass trimmers are the essential backup tool, giving you a way of hacking away at long grass to get the lawn in shape for mowing and trimming those awkward areas around garden furniture, decking, raised beds and walls. Most can also be used for edging around the borders, while more heavy-duty models can be conscripted for weed-whacking duties on overgrown plots. In other words, a good grass trimmer is one of the most versatile garden tools around.

That said, picking one’s not actually that easy. Can you get by with an inexpensive, lightweight trimmer or do you need something with a bit more beef? Should you go mains-powered, cordless or petrol, line or blade? Well, we’ve picked through the best available models to find the best trimmers for every kind of garden and every kind of gardener. Whether you’re after a monster that can slice through meaty nettles or a more manageable tool to quickly spruce your garden up, there’s a trimmer out there that can keep your lawn in shape.

How to choose the best grass trimmer for you

How much do I need to spend?

Buying the right garden tools is all about matching your budget with your needs. If you only have a small lawn to tidy, trim and edge, then there’s no need to spend more than £50 on a lightweight trimmer, and no point in using something heavy that will be more work to move around. If you’ve got a larger plot or areas of thick, fast-growing grass in hard to mow spots, then it’s really helpful to have a trimmer with a bit more welly – or spend the extra on a cordless trimmer.

What do the power ratings mean?

Electric trimmers will be rated somewhere between 250W and 600W, and while manufacturers will claim they use clever gearing systems or integrated processors to do more with less, the more power at your disposal, the heavier the work the trimmer can do. It’s a similar issue with petrol trimmers – look for the capacity in cubic centimetres of the engine – or cordless trimmers, where you need to look at the voltage. There 24V will get you more cutting power than 18V or 12V, and professional models might reach 60V or more.

How important is a trimmer’s cutting width?

It’s no coincidence that the more powerful the trimmer, the wider the cutting width or swathe tends to be. The bigger the figure, the more grass you trim away with each sweeping move and – theoretically – the less time you’ll spend on the job. Trimmers generally go from 20cm up to 35cm, although the professional petrol models used by landscape gardeners can go up to 42cm and beyond.

Generally speaking, the more power you have and the bigger the swathe, the heavier and more expensive the trimmer is going to be – and the more capable it will be of handling a larger plot for many years to come. Trimming is a tiring business, though, so you don’t want to spend more or lug anything bigger than you have to.

What kind of trimmer should I buy?

This really comes down to the size of your garden and overall convenience. Corded, electric trimmers are the cheapest option, but in a big garden there are huge advantages to going wire-free.

Cordless trimmers are, on balance, the most convenient. Models with fast-charging, long-lasting Lithium-Ion batteries are now the norm, and trimming gets a whole lot easier when you don’t have to think about the cord – provided you remember to charge the battery before use. 

Electric trimmers are still a good investment. They’re often cheap and easy to handle, and usually more powerful than all but the biggest cordless models. The only problem is the cord, which makes a length extension cable a must-have in medium-sized and larger gardens, and adds the risk that you might accidentally cut the cord.

Petrol trimmers are the best option for those with massive gardens and a lot of heavy undergrowth – many will even double as a weed-whacker. However, they’re not exactly environmentally friendly, they’re usually noisy and they’re bigger, heavier and harder to manage – not to mention temperamental when you try to start them up.

All three types have their pros and cons, but if you’re going to go cordless with just one of your garden tools, make it the strimmer. When you’ve got a good-sized garden it’s a real plus not to have to worry about the cable. Charge up the battery, pull out the trimmer, and you can get to work.

    What other features should I know about?

    A trimmer's cutting action relies on a line-and-spool mechanism, where a plastic line emerges from a covered reel and breaks off against the shield (the bit that stops you slicing into your foot) to reach the right length. After that, either a manual feed or auto-feed mechanism keeps the line coming as it’s steadily worn down or snapped off. As a rule of thumb, the thicker the line (usually 1.3mm to 2mm in diameter), the heavier the grass and the bigger the weeds it can cut through. However, some trimmers use plastic blades instead. They’re easier to replace than line, which has to be wound onto the spool, but you’ll generally have to replace them more often. The costs soon mount up.

    Some trimmers can also support a heavy-duty line or cartridge, ideal for tackling weeds, nettles, brambles, annoying saplings and daffodil leaves (though you should really leave them to die down naturally, right?).

    Otherwise, trimmers can come with a range of useful features, including edging wheels to hold the trimmer in the right position for edging, wheeled decks that turn your trimmer into a lightweight mini-mower and plant protectors: usually thick, wire barriers that prevent you slicing into your prized perennials while you’re thinking about something else – surely one of the biggest pleasures of any garden job.

    READ NEXT: The best robot lawn mowers to buy

    Editor's picks

    Best electric strimmer | Black & Decker GL7033

    This Black and Decker strimmer can tackle anything from small lawns to the most weed-infested areas of the garden, thanks to a powerful 700W motor and an optional heavy-duty line. Yet, while heavy, it’s still well-balanced and easy to work with – and you can’t complain about the price. Buy Now

    Best cordless trimmer for most gardens | Bosch Universal Grass Cut 18-26

    Sure, it won’t hack its way through the toughest weeds, but the Universal Grass Cut 18-26 is one of the best cordless trimmers we’ve ever used. The brilliant design won’t tire your arms out, it’s very adjustable and it cuts through grass and normal weeds with little fuss and even less noise. Buy Now

    The best grass trimmers to buy

    1. Flymo Contour XT: The best budget trimmer for small gardens

    Price: £44 | Buy now from Amazon

    If you just need a trimmer for some lightweight trimming and edging on one or two small-ish lawns, the Flymo Contour XT has you covered. With a 300W motor and a 25cm cutting width, it’s cheap and light – in fact, it feels lighter than the 2.8kg weight would suggest. It also has some nice practical features, such as the chunky wheel for edging, the quick swivel mechanism that takes you from trimming to edging in a few seconds, plus the plastic plant guard and the handy hooks built into the handle to wrap the 10m cable around for easy storage. It’s not the most powerful grass trimmer and certainly not built to take on larger gardens or tougher weeds, but it does a fine job of the basics and doesn’t cost the Earth.

    Key specs – 300W motor; 25cm cutting width; 1.5mm line; Weight: 2.8kg

    2. Flymo Contour 500E: The best budget trimmer

    Price: £75 | Buy now from Argos

    Add an adjustable handle and an extra 200W of power to the Flymo Contour XT and you get something like this step-up model. It’s slightly larger and more unwieldy than its smaller sibling, but you get more cutting power to handle rougher grass and weedy areas, making this a better option if you have a larger garden. It doesn’t have the grunt of the Black + Decker GL7033 or the go anywhere convenience of the cordless models, but if you want a great grass trimmer on a £50 budget, this is your best bet.

    Key specs – 500W motor; 25cm cutting width; 1.5mm line; 10m mains cable Weight: 3.1kg

    3. Bosch Universal Grass Cut 18-26: The best cordless trimmer for easy trimming

    Price: £100 (£119 with battery and charger) | Buy now from Amazon

    It’s not hugely powerful and it doesn’t come cheap, but the Bosch Universal is easily the most ergonomic grass trimmer we’ve tested yet. The main pole is telescopic, so you can adjust it to the most comfortable height, while a second handle extends outwards from a pivot to help balance the weight of the cutting head. Meanwhile, the 18V battery slots into a spot at the top where your right elbow naturally rests while the machine’s in use. This design minimises the 2.7kg weight of the strimmer so much that you can keep on trimming for hours – though the battery will run out of puff long before you do. The 2Ah battery lasts for around 40 minutes and takes just under 90 minutes to charge. 

    This trimmer hasn’t got what it takes to take out heavy weeds or brambles, but it’s ideal for tackling lighter stuff and grass. It works quietly and reliably, while a pedal makes it easy to tilt the head for edging or cutting at an angle. Overall, it’s a fantastic little strimmer.

    Key specs – 18V; 2Ah li-ion battery; 26cm cutting width; 1.6mm line; Weight: 2.7kg

    4. Flymo SimpliTrim Li: The easy cordless trimmer for small gardens

    Price: £81 | Buy now from Currys

    This one’s called the SimpliTrim for a good reason. You can put it together in minutes and, with its easy-fit plastic blades, there’s no tricky line or spool to deal with. Even the battery comes built-in. Charge it using the supplied wall-wart charger – it takes just over three hours – and you can then trim away for around 40 minutes. At just 1.7kg, it’s also light for a cordless trimmer, and even easier on the arms than the brilliant Bosch Universal Grass Cut 18-26. We also like the way it stores the spare blades in the handle.

    Admittedly, there are some compromises. With a cutting width of just 23cm, this one’s for small gardens only; anything more than a light trim here and there takes an absolute age. And while the plastic blades are a lot less prone to jamming and easier to replace than traditional line, they break pretty quickly on contact with anything hard and cost around £9 for 20 replacements. This trimmer also works best if you’ve got mains power in your shed or garage, as otherwise you’ll have to bring the whole shebang inside to charge. It’s a brilliant trimmer for quick jobs on smaller plots, but the Bosch Universal is a bit more versatile.

    Key specs – 14.4V; Li-ion battery; 23cm cutting width; RotorCut plastic blades; Weight: 1.7kg

    5. Black & Decker GL7033: The best electric strimmer

    Price: £92 | Buy now from Amazon

    Black & Decker’s 700W strimmer is built to handle heavier workloads, with a 33cm cutting width that’s ideal for tackling medium-sized and larger gardens and 2mm line that can hack through longer grass. B&D’s E-Drive tech is designed to make sure you get extra power if you need it, and when it’s time to break out the big guns, you can take out the main spool, slot in the one with the extra heavy-duty line, and teach thick weeds and nettles some respect. The weight gets tiring on the arms after a while, but the mid-mounted motor and curved shaft improve the strimmer’s balance and keep the business end away from your feet. What’s more, the wheel edging guide helps it do a decent job of edging, too. Overkill for smaller gardens, the GL7033 is brilliant for bigger, more unruly plots.

    It’s built for a heavier workload than others, but that works to its advantage. You’ll find yourself stopping far less often to untangle the line – or to use another tool to cut a thick stem. With the motor at the top of the shaft, you also don’t have a heavy cutting end to wave about, providing precision and control.

    Key specs – 700W motor; 33cm cutting width; 2mm line plus heavy-duty lines; Weight: 3.2kg

    6. Stihl FS40: The best budget petrol trimmer

    Price: £209 | Buy now from Just Lawnmowers

    Some gardens need a petrol trimmer, and the Stihl FS40 is a good, affordable example from one of the biggest names in the business. The two-stroke engine gives you plenty of power for even the toughest, most overgrown gardens, and if the 2mm line can’t get through the weeds, you can fit an optional three-tooth, poly-cut head to get through thicker undergrowth and brush. The FS40 is easy to handle, with a simple bump-feed mechanism where you bump the head on the ground to release more line. It’s easier to start than most petrol trimmers, too. However, at 2.9kg with the motor placed right at the end of the stalk, it’s not going to be manageable for everyone. Still, this is the kind of rock-solid, heavy-duty trimmer that will last for years.

    Key specs – 2 stroke engine; 0.34l tank; 38cm cutting width; 2mm line; Weight: 2.9kg

    7. Bosch AdvancedGrassCut 36: The best cordless trimmer for big gardens

    Price: From £120 (£236 with 2Ah battery and charger) | Buy now from Tooled-Up

    The replacement for the highly regarded Bosch ART 30-36Li is slightly lighter but no less powerful. If you have a larger, rougher garden but don’t want the hassle of a petrol trimmer, this model is a good bet. With a 36V battery, it has more power than your average cordless trimmer, and Bosch’s Syneon Chip technology intelligently delivers that power to suit the job at hand. With a 30cm cutting width, it can tackle a good-sized plot, and you’ll eke 40 minutes of cutting out of a charge. 

    A harness might have been a nice extra, particularly as most of the weight is distributed towards the cutting head, but the movable soft-grip handle and adjustable pole help make use slightly easier on the arms and shoulders. It’s a heavyweight trimmer for heavyweight jobs, and you’ll struggle to find a cordless model with more raw grass-cutting, weed-chopping power.

    Key specs – 36V; 2.6Ah battery; 30cm cutting width; 1.6mm line; Weight: 4kg

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