A grass strimmer/trimmer /brush cutter is the tool which can turn your beautifully mowed lawn into a patch of sheer and utter perfection. It is designed to cut away long grass, sometimes weeds and other vegetation (depending on the power). It is perfect for trimming the edges of the lawn, along paths, around objects, and in areas a lawnmower traditionally cannot reach
Types of Strimmer
There are three varieties of strimmer power supplies, each with its own advantages and drawbacks.
Runs from the mains power supply.
Tethered by a cable meaning they can only reach a certain distance – not suited for large gardens.
Generally lightweight, increasing manoeuvrability.
Often cheaper than petrol.
Less powerful than petrol.
Best suited for long grass, weeds and nettles but nothing too dense.
Easy maintenance (often none).
User-friendly; suitable for experts and beginners alike.
Powered by a single lithium-ion, rechargeable battery.
Lightweight and manoeuvrable.
Much more portable than electric; complete freedom of movement.
Their power duration can lack; some batteries will only hold power for up to 20 minutes. Consider the size of your garden before purchasing, and whether you may need an additional battery.
Best suited for long grass, weeds, and nettles, but nothing too thick.
In the mid-price range, between electric and petrol.
More powerful than battery-powered and electric-powered.
Usually fuelled by a 25cc-50cc, 2-stroke or 4-stroke engine.
Completely portable; therefore, able to tackle gardens of all sizes (though especially suited for big ones). Generally considered heavy-duty and commercial.
Needs regular maintenance. Heavy and somewhat clumsy. Can tackle almost anything; dense grass and weeds, thickets of vegetation etc.
Strimmer Blades – Nylon vs Plastic vs Steel
There are three main types of blade fitted on a strimmer. Many machines come with both as standard, allowing you to switch depending on the job.
A length of nylon wire which extends from a ‘spool feed’. More information on ‘spool feeds’ will follow soon.
The spinning wire trims the vegetation.
Can come as a single or double wire. The double is capable of cutting at a faster rate.
Best suited for long grass and light vegetation.
Very efficient, requiring less maintenance and preparation.
Will not wrap around an object; will instead break off completely.
The nylon will eventually wear down and break when it becomes too thin.
The thicker the line, the better the cut. Regularly maintained grass will require thinner nylon.
• Plastic Blade:
Similar durability and ability to nylon.
Capable of tackling long grass and thin vegetation.
Plastic blades are the cheapest cutting mechanism.
Not suitable for tough vegetation.
Will shatter if they come into contact with solid objects – a potential danger.
• Steel Blade:
The strongest blade.
Able to rip through the most impenetrable vegetation with ease.
Should be cleaned after use.
Although strong, solid objects should be avoided to reduce the risk of shattering.
3-tooth steel blade is best for weeds, nettles and grass.
4-tooth steel blade is best for grass and light brush.
8-tooth steel blade can handle light vegetation and brambles.
80-tooth steel blade can handle all types of dense undergrowth.
Handle – D-Type vs U-Type
There are two main types of strimmer handle: ‘D’ and ‘U’. When choosing your handle, take into account the levels of comfort and manoeuvrability, as well as how long you plan on using the machine in one session.
• A single handle in the shape of the letter ‘D’.
• The standard handle.
• More comfortable.
• Tends to be more accurate.
• Particularly good for uneven ground because of its ease of movement and precision.
• Dual handles – similar to bicycle ones – forming a ‘U’ shape.
• Best for sweeping cutting on large areas.
• Fitted on machines with increased power.
Some strimmers are fitted with a fixed head. This cheaper one is fixed in one static position.
Others are fitted with a pivot/tilt head, which angles in response to awkward, hard-to-reach places. This is a little more expensive, but particularly suited for under bushes and the edges of garden paths and lawns.
Some strimmer heads are wider than others, and capable of tackling wider areas of bush. The greater the width, the faster the cutting will be completed. However, a small cutting width is best suited for precision jobs (e.g. cutting around a delicate flowerbed).
This is where the nylon cutting line is stored. You can purchase a manual spool feed – a cheaper product where the wire must be pulled out with every cut – or an automatic one – where the nylon wire is fed out after the engine starts. Some strimmers contain a ‘bump feed’ where pressing the strimmer on the ground, hard, will lengthen the nylon wire (and increase the cutting radius).
Most strimmers are fitted with a plant guard. These protect flowers, trees and other plants from accidentally being cut whilst you concentrate on another piece of vegetation. The plant guard also negates a good deal of flying debris.
Here are some articles of safety attire you should consider before using a strimmer:
• Protective boots.
• Protective trousers.
• Ear protection.
• A helmet.
Consider whether the handle is ergonomic: is it going to be comfortable during use? There are telescopic handles on some strimmers so that their height can be adjusted. Not only does this increase comfort but it moves the blade a safer distance from the face.
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