Last Updated on October 2, 2023 by Kyle Whitley
String trimmers or weed eaters are great additions to any homeowner’s set of outdoor power tools. Learning how to use a string trimmer as an edger makes the trimmer that much more versatile tool.
I have been using an RYOBI 40V multi attachment capable string trimmer for several years. It is great to be able to use the trimmer for double duty as a trimmer and edger.
Learning to edge with a string trimmer really isn’t that difficult, and is even easier with a dedicated edger, so let’s take a look at the differences between trimmers and edgers.
Table of Contents
- 1 String Trimmers Vs. Dedicated Edgers
- 2 Edging with a String Trimmer
- 3 Slow and Steady Cuts the Clean Edge
- 4 Shoulder Carry Vs. Rotating Trimmer Head
- 5 Staying Safe: Avoiding Debris
- 6 Should You Use A String Trimmer Or Just Buy An Edger or Edger Attachment?
- 7 Conclusion
String Trimmers Vs. Dedicated Edgers
There is no doubt about it, that a dedicated edger is going to cut the best edge in your lawn. That could be a battery powered or plugin electric powered edger.
They cut clean lines and are relatively easy to maneuver around your lawn and landscaping. Dedicated edgers cut the grass and turf using a steel blade. The edger usually has at least three wheels with two wheels in the back and a third wheel to act as a guide wheel.
The spinning steel blade cuts some clean lines that will make you the envy of the neighborhood, but is there something better out there to do your edging?
String trimmers are like the swiss army knife of lawn tools. Depending on what model you are using you can trim, edge, and even blow leaves.
As their primary function, string trimmers, weed eaters, or weed whackers are great at trimming grass and weeds. They can handle this task by cutting the weeds and grass with spinning trimming line at high speeds.
While this trimming line is great at cutting weeds you can also cut a pretty nice edge on your lawn and landscaped beds. You can do this by simply turning the trimmer at a 90-degree angle and using the trimmer as an edger.
The good thing about many string trimmers is that you can do both trimming and edging with a single piece of equipment. If you have a trimmer that has attachment capability, then you can do a whole lot more as well.
Here are a few of the best string trimmer manufacturers:
Edging with a String Trimmer
First, hold your string trimmer at a 90-degree angle so that trimmer lines spins from top to bottom rather than sideways.
Once the trimmer line has come into contact with the grass, lower the string trimmer so that its bottom trimmer line just touches the ground.
It will remove grass and weeds without digging up anything else, so there won’t be any damage done to your lawn or garden beds.
Slow and Steady Cuts the Clean Edge
If you want to make make a nice clean edge with a string trimmer then you need to take your time.
The key to getting a clean cut is to keep the speed slow enough to allow the trimmer line to move freely through the grass.
If you try to go too fast, and I can personally attest to this, you can mess up your edge. String trimmers don’t have a hard cutting blade like edgers so you need to move slowly and deliberately to cut cleanly.
Edging with a string trimmer also eats up the standard trimmer line quickly, since you might be hitting dirt and concrete while trying to get that nice edge.
Cutting that clean edge takes some special handling of the nonrotating trimmer or being able to adjust the trimmer head so you can get that 90 degree angle needed to edge a lawn
Shoulder Carry Vs. Rotating Trimmer Head
To edge a lawn you need to hold the trimmer at a specific angle or the edge will be ragged and uneven.
There are really only two ways to get a clean edge with a string trimmer.
Basically, the shoulder carry is when you hold the string trimmer up where the motor is up around shoulder height. Having the trimmer in this location puts the head at the 90 degree angle that you need for the proper edge cut.
The shoulder carry method is generally how you will see commercial landscapers edge with a string trimmer since most of the trimmers used by professional landscapers are dedicated straight shaft string trimmers.
Before I had a rotating head trimmer I used the shoulder carry method to cut and edge with my trimmer. The trimmer trigger and motor rest in your hand close to your head, so you are going to want to use some hearing protection.
Rotating Trimmer Head
A lot of modern trimmers from RYOBI, EGO, and Greenworks have trimmer heads that rotate. A rotating head puts the trimmer head in the correct 90-degree angle so that you can get a good clean cut.
When using a rotating head you don’t have to adjust your normal grip or carry when operating the trimmer. I personally believe this is the best method to edge with a string trimmer for the average homeowner.
A rotating head also allows you to conserve energy since you don’t need to adjust your grip while using your trimmer so you can move at a slower pace and get the clean-cut you need.
Staying Safe: Avoiding Debris
While all string trimmers come with debris shields to protect the operator from rocks and debris being thrown up by the user, edging puts the trimmer at an angle that can more easily throw debris.
Since the debris shield is now faced upward the spinning trimmer line could more easily throw the debris away from the trimmer. You should be mindful of what could be in the path of this debris. Make sure any cars, windows, or breakables are in the way of the debris path.
Always when using a string trimmer use eye and ear protection. You should also wear closed-toe shoes, and long pants as well.
Should You Use A String Trimmer Or Just Buy An Edger or Edger Attachment?
The question is should you use a string trimmer to edge or use an edger or edger attachment. Well, I guess that depends on how much edging you do.
For the average homeowner, a string trimmer will work perfectly in cutting a decently clean edge in your lawn and landscaped beds.
If you have a lot of edging to do, say for example a long driveway or extensive landscape beds that need to be edged pretty consistently, it might be best to get a dedicated edger or edger attachment.
Back in my days of using gas powered lawn equipment, I had a dedicated lawn edger. The edger worked well but that is all it could do. For 95% of the life of the edger, it was simply set in my garage waiting to be used.
Eventually, I quit using it altogether and simply used my string trimmer. A string trimmer is more versatile and it was once less piece of equipment to maintain. The dedicated edger found its way to the dump and the string trimmer was used just that much more.
Learning how to use a string trimmer as an edger really isn’t that difficult in the end, but there are things you might want to consider before you use your trimmer or weed eater as an edger.
A string trimmer can do all the edging a homeowner needs to do and also be used for other trimming needs as well. So, what are you waiting for, cut that clean edge and be the envy of the neighborhood.