How to Use a String Trimmer Like a Pro: 5 Powerful Trimming Techniques to Master

Last Updated on December 7, 2021 by the staff of TheAllElectricLawn

how to use a string trimmer like a pro

If you have just started using a string trimmer, or you are a homeowner who has been using one for a long time.  You might want to know how to use a string trimmer like a pro landscaper.  They make using one of these devices seem like a piece of cake, and while they are not overly hard to use, there are some techniques, and nuances with a string trimmer that you might want to look into.

 String Trimmer Rotation

Does it matter which direction the string trimmer head spins?

Depending on whether the debris goes in one direction or another, the answer may vary. When you’re using your weed wacker, you need to consider where the debris will go.

Counterclockwise: Good for right-handed weed whackers Debris ejected from the left side and cutting best from the right spin counterclockwise. Keep your right side close to the work as you walk along fences or curbs.  Cutting this way will eject the debris away from you as you move forward and not back into the cutting path.

Clockwise: This is great for those left handed users. If debris ejects out of the right side and cuts better from the left, then the line rotates clockwise. Keep your left side near the work so you can easily see what you’re doing as debris exits clockwise from the trimmer head.

String Trimmer Cutting Techniques

Trimming your grass with a string trimmer seems like a easy enough task, but just holding the trimmer above your grass hoping it will cut the grass evenly isn’t really the best approach.  You can easily scalp the grass to the dirt if you don’t have the trimmer at the correct angle or height.

If you really want to get serious about cutting techniques then you need to work on your cutting styles.

Trimming

Trimming is your basic technique for using a string trimmer.  Basically, this is holding the trimmer at a slight angle and moving the trimmer side to side to trim your lawn. This is what comes to everyone’s mind when you think of using a string trimmer.

Tapering

In order to create this effect, it’s necessary to “taper” your string as you pass over the grass.

Instead of making a straight line across the grass, you’ll want to make a shallow curve, angling the string slightly downward as you approach the object you are trimming up to. This creates a smooth transition between the object like a wall or curb and the rest of the lawn.

I tend to do a good bit of tapering around by the pool fence in the grass areas that reach up to the fence.

Edging

Edging is a great way to make your yard look neat and tidy. You can edge to clean up your driveway, sidewalk, and patio.

Edging is the process of trimming the lawn around a driveway, sidewalk, or walkway. Edging is used to create a smooth transition from the grassy areas to gravel or concrete.

If you want a sharp edge, as you move along the path, stop and make sure the trimmer is perpendicular to the ground. To edge you will be holding the trimmer head at a 90-degree angle to the grass you are trimming.

Screeding

People often use screeding as a quick fix for problems caused by weeds growing in cracks in driveways and sidewalks. In order to do this effectively, you need to know how to just barely touch the weed with the trimmer line.

If you go too deep you will just destroy your line as you hit the concrete or asphalt.  You really just want the trimmer line to just barely hit the weed or grass growing in the crack or crevice.

Scything

Scythes are used to mow tall grass and when you are trimming near something you can’t easily walk along. This means making a shallow ‘U’ motion with the blade of your trimmer as it enters the area you are cutting.

You should also overlap the cuts made by each successive pass of your trimmer. This helps even out the cut.

 

Safety Precautions When Using Your Trimmer

As part of cutting like a pro, you will need to take the proper precautions to keep yourself and the property you are cutting safe and protected.

Protective Gear

The cutting line of weed eaters spins at speeds of up to 3,000 revolutions per minute. Imagine how much damage could be done if the line snapped?

You should wear eye protection. Wear long pants and a pair of gloves. If you’re working with a noisy trimmer, use hearing protection.

I will be honest I usually don’t wear gloves unless I am cutting brush, but I will admit I have had debris hit and cut my hands, usually rocks.  Wearing long pants is a great idea not just to keep debris from hitting your legs but to keep plants that might irritate your skin from blowing all over your legs.

Watch Out for Bystanders and Trim Away from People

Make sure there’s no one around who might be injured by flying debris, so don’t trim when people are in close proximity of you.

Be Aware of Debris

Debris such as stones, twigs, leaves, pine cones, etc. may fly up into the air when they are hit by the spinning trimmer string.  Debris can damage property and individuals so always be aware of the path debris is exiting from the trimmer.

Take Care of Cables

Make sure not to hit the cable when using a plug-in electric trimmer. While some plugin trimmers aren’t quite as strong as their gas or battery-powered counterparts, you can still easily damage your extension cord.

Avoid Windows and Cars

If you’re using a trimmer for grass cutting, pebbles and other debris from its blades could damage your vehicle’s body panels or shatter windowpanes inside your home.

Look for places where debris might fly off course and redirect them so they don’t hit anything important.

Check the Ground Before Trimming

Before using your string trimmer, check the ground for any obstacles that could trip you up. This includes rocks, sticks, holes, etc.

If there are any, move them out of the way before beginning work. I can personally tell you that I have hit objects in my lawn especially when trimming higher weeds and grass.

Is a Straight Shaft or a Curved Shaft String Trimmer Better?

There are generally two types of string trimmers and they are designated by the shaft of the trimmer:

  • Straight Shaft
  • Curved Shaft

Straight shaft weed whackers are more tend to be a little more expensive since they are designed for the professional and heavy use consumer.

Curved shaft weed whackers are cheaper because they are generally used on entry level weed eaters. You won’t see many professional landscapers using a curved shaft string trimmer.

We’ve also found that using a straight shaft string trimmer is easier when you use it under smaller trees, shrubs, and other areas that might be difficult to reach. Curved shaft trimmers tend to be a little easier to control in my opinion since they are generally smaller in overall length.

I have owned both types over the years and have found that I generally prefer the straight shaft.

String trimmer Manufacturers

 

 

What Type of Line Do I Use With My Trimmer?

Another thing to keep in mind is that using the correct trimmer line will help in getting your trimming up to pro levels.

What is a string trimmer line made out of?

The monofilament nylon line is made up of very thin strands of fiber. It is ideal for trimming and edging because it cuts easily and does not leave any residue behind.

Also, braided lines are a lot more durable than single strandlines.

It is interesting that you don’t find many remnants when trimming.  I go through a good bit of line and seldom find any broken pieces of trimmer line in my yard or landscaping.

Trimmer line sizes

Electric and battery powered trimmers commonly use lighter-weight lines. These are suitable for trimming grasses and weeds around curb areas, garden borders, and flowerbeds.

Gas powered string trimmers usually used heavier lines but also could use the lighter lines on more entry-level models. Below are just a few of the more popular sizes of trimmer line.

  • .065 – a lightweight line used for general trimming and edging. The line isn’t very thick so it is intended for lightweight jobs.
  • .080 – Medium weight line.  This line is on 80% of all string trimmers. It is a good all-around line that can trim and edge easily.  I personally run this size line in my trimmers
  • .095 – Heavy duty line.  This is the preferred size for professionals or those that have to deal with tougher weeds and grass.  This is size line is really about durability, and I used to use this size line on my larger 4 cycle gas weed eater before I moved to battery powered trimmers.

Summing it Up: Trimming Grass Like a Pro

To be able to trim like a pro, you will have to make sure your technique, safety, and equipment are all up to par.  While string trimming like a seasoned professional landscaper might seem like a daunting task, it really is reachable if you perfect your trimming technique, stay safe, and use the correct trimmer and line.

So get out there and practice practice and practice. You will be a pro in no time at all.