Lawn maintenance requires a certain set of tools to make sure that your property will look nice and well kept. Lawn edgers and string trimmers are two tools you might need one day, but what’s the difference between them?
We’ll look at the pros and cons of edger vs trimmer tools, which tool is best for you, and whether you really need them.
Edger vs trimmer tools may sound similar to each other, but they have different functions. If you’re on a bigger property like I am, you’ll probably use the trimmer a lot more than the edger!
However much I’d love to make all my lawn edges and garden bed borders perfect with a lawn edger, there just isn’t enough time in a day to get that done. String trimmers though – I kinda can’t live without those!
They’re the perfect accompaniment to the lawn mower – you can get them into any area where the mower can’t go.
So there’s the difference between edger vs trimmer in a nutshell. Edgers are for perfect edges. Trimmers are for whacking weeds or grass that the mower can’t reach.
If you have ever been bombarded by nasty weeds that have overtaken your garden, or you simply have tall grass that is growing out of control, you need to know which of these tools is best to use given the situation.
Edger vs Trimmer – the Difference
- Lawn edgers are made for perfect edges. They define the boundary of your garden beds, paths, and lawn to perfection.
- String trimmers are made for whacking weeds and grass where your mower can’t reach. To a certain extent, they can do edges as well (and for most of us, this is plenty good enough) but you don’t get that perfectly cut border. Trimmers tend to be much more versatile than edgers and unless you want that knife-cut-through-butter look, a string trimmer is your tool of choice. (See the best string trimmers here!)
Also known as an edge trimmer, a lawn edger is designed to smoothly cut and define your yard’s boundary lines.
You use this tool along the edges to establish that distinction between your lawn and the nearby sidewalk, driveway, or flowerbeds.
Grass has a habit of growing over the edges, which makes your yard look messy. Edgers will use a vertical spinning blade to cut through this grass, which will eliminate these unnecessary borders.
You can have either a manual or motorized lawn edger, but it is worth noting that manual edgers cost less than motorized ones.
Manual edgers (check this one out!) are mostly like spade tools while motorized edgers (like this awesome Greenworks battery edger) feature a rotating blade that is powered either by gas, corded electricity, or a battery.
A guiding wheel can be found on most motorized edgers. This wheel allows you to roll the edger along the border you are cutting.
Manual edgers take more effort in comparison, and may not be ideal if you have a larger yard.
Gas-powered edgers are typically the most powerful motorized edgers on the market. Especially 4-cycle ones like this Earthquake 79cc walk-behind one!
Better known as a weed wacker or weed eater, string trimmers are typically used for trimming grass and removing weeds in spots that are impossible for your big lawn mower to reach. These spots include areas around trees and buildings.
A flexible non-filament line can be found inside a string trimmer, which helps it cut the grass in those hard-to-reach spots. String trimmers can either use gas, electricity, or batteries to power a horizontal rotating head.
A string trimmer is a great companion to your lawn mowing session – it finishes all those spots you couldn’t get to, making your yard look perfect.
It is a matter of how you will use your trimmer before you decide on the right model.
Gas-powered trimmers (like this nice 25cc Remington one) are the heaviest options to consider, but they provide more power and cut through the tougher, more stubborn plants.
Battery-powered or cordless trimmers are lighter and more convenient but have less power than gas and corded electric trimmers.
If your property is small, you won’t need to worry about a cordless trimmer running out of charge before finishing the job.
Edger vs Trimmer – the Differences
If you want to create a new boundary in your yard or keep an edge defined, then you will use a lawn edger.
If you want to maintain an already existing boundary in your yard or clear areas of weeds and grass that your lawn mower can’t reach, then you will use a string trimmer.
You bring out a string trimmer after you finish mowing your lawn, and you use it to trim grass along the edges and around obstacles so that your yard continues to look beautiful.
You can reposition a string trimmer vertically so that you can use it to edge your existing boundaries. However, if you already have a lawn edger, then there is no need to do this.
Types of String Trimmers
When it comes to the technical aspects of these tools, there are some things to watch out for.
If you get a string trimmer and prefer to use gas, then there are different types of gas-powered string trimmers you can get.
The first one is a 2-cycle trimmer that requires a mixture of oil and gas, which means you will need to set aside a separate container for this trimmer’s fuel supply.
The other type is a 4-cycle trimmer which only uses gas, much like a lawn mower. Oil is kept separate from the gasoline in another reservoir of the engine.
And these days, you can get backpack trimmers so the bulk of the weight is on your back, not hanging off your shoulders! Check this one out:
No different than gas-powered lawn mowers and lawn edgers (which I will discuss soon enough), gas-powered string trimmers tend to be louder than electric-powered trimmers, but they’re generally more powerful.
Corded electric string trimmers are lightweight and portable, and will produce less noise than their gas-powered counterpart.
They’re also very affordable – look at this one!
Cordless string trimmers are also on the market, but be prepared to recharge the batteries or change out the battery pack altogether a few times before finishing work on your lawn.
How about a cordless trimmer and edger in one?
Types of Lawn Edgers
Just like string trimmers, lawn edgers can also be powered by gas or electricity. If you prefer not to use either of these resources, then you can use a manual lawn edger.
For some people, manual lawn edgers are preferred because they have a simplistic design and are easy to use. Most manual edgers are shaped like a spade and look like an axe.
Some are roller-based edgers that feature a wheel covered in spikes. When it comes to your wallet, manual lawn edgers tend to be less expensive. They also require less maintenance and have better durability.
If your grass is thick or you are being bombarded by weeds at every turn, it’s a better idea to get a gas-powered edger.
Using a manual edger to handle heavy grass would be a stressful, time-consuming ordeal in comparison.
The downside to gas-powered edgers is that, while they can cut right through heavy grass and weeds, they are the heaviest types of edgers to carry around.
Gas-powered edgers also deliver louder noises than electric lawn edgers and can give you a considerable hit in your wallet.
A solid alternative to the gas-powered lawn edger is the electric-powered lawn edger. These edgers can either be corded or cordless (in other words, battery-powered).
Cordless edgers are just as portable as the other types of edgers but don’t expect the same kind of power being produced from these as you would see from gas-powered edgers.
Edger vs Trimmer FAQ and Buyer’s Guide
What Do You Think – Edger or Trimmer?
The long debate about whether a lawn edger or a string trimmer is better suited for your yard shouldn’t be a debate at all. Both tools have their specific purposes for lawn care, and it is a matter of how you handle both tools.
Knowing the difference between an edger and a trimmer will help you to make better decisions as to what your yard really needs. At the end of the day, it comes down to the angle at which these tools cut the grass and how much work you give these tools.
Over the years, I have gotten used to string trimmers because I have needed to give the long grass in my yard a much-needed haircut.
Which tool do you think is more necessary for your yard? Do you own either one of these tools? If so, what are your experiences with these tools? Feel free to leave a comment down below!
Originally published April 2021, revamped January 2022.