Keeping your lawn neat and tidy in the summer can be a chore for some people and a great pleasure for others.
You may have a garden shed full of tools to help you get the work done, but if you only have a small lawn, you may not want to invest too much into it.
If you want that perfectly manicured look without investing in a lawn edger, you may be wondering how to edge a lawn with a string trimmer.
Before we tell you how you can do that, go through the reminders below first to make sure that you and those around you are kept safe from flying debris.
First and foremost, you’ll need to wear safety glasses and dress up well when handling a string trimmer.
String trimmers, also known as weed whackers, have the tendency to shoot debris up from the blades.
This is especially true when you're holding it at a different angle from what it was built for, such as for edging.
When you’re using your trimmer to edge your lawn, the blade guard won’t be situated in the right position to stop the debris that’s kicked up.
Be aware of your surroundings and look out for other people, pets, cars, and windows that could get hurt or damaged by a flying rock from your flowerbed.
It is also a good idea to wear long sleeves and shoes, which will help to protect your limbs and feet from flying debris.
Gloves will protect your hands from blistering, as trimmers vibrate powerfully and can wear on your palms over time.
The engine will be lifted higher than usual, putting the motor closer to your ear. As such, you may also benefit from wearing earplugs or noise-canceling headphones.
How to Edge a Lawn With a String Trimmer
Without a doubt, the best way to edge a lawn is with a lawn edger. Because it is built specifically for the job at hand, the finished job will be straighter and more accurate.
Nevertheless, you can still do an excellent edging job with a trimmer, and many people learn to get by without having to invest in an edger.
Obviously, you just need to manage your expectations, as you won’t have the same results as you would if you used an edger.
Again, before you begin, make sure that you are dressed appropriately. Also, it’s always best to read the manufacturer's instructions first to ensure you’re using the tool properly.
Step 1: Power It Up
To avoid any inconvenience while edging, check that you have enough gas in your trimmer. For electric trimmers, ensure your battery pack is fully charged.
Then, power up the trimmer according to the instruction manual.
Step 2: Adjust the Trimmer’s Angle
Hold your string trimmer as you normally would, with one hand on the handle and the other on the trigger.
Lift the motor off the floor and rotate the entire tool so that the string is facing vertically downwards on the edge you want to trim.
Be aware that the guard that would usually offer protection from flying debris will not be as effective in this new position.
Used at this angle, however, the string trimmer will cut a much narrower section of the lawn, allowing you the accuracy you need for the lawn edge.
Step 3: Line Up
Line up the string on the trimmer with the lawn edge, whether it is on the pathway, driveway, or flower bed.
Press the trigger to start the string spinning, being sure to keep a firm grip on the shaft of the trimmer to hold it in position.
Take note of which way the string is spinning and walk in the direction of the spin.
Step 4: Edge That Lawn
Slowly lower the trimmer to ground level until it cuts through the overgrown grass on the pathway.
Then, carefully walk sideways along the path or the driveway, keeping your trimmer in position to cut the edges.
Don’t try to go too fast while you’re getting the hang of this action, as you can make a real mess of your edges otherwise!
Top Tips from the Experts
Since you’d be using a tool for something it’s not made for, you’d need the advice of experts to succeed.
Here are some of the best tips for edging your garden lawn with your string trimmer:
1. Hold the String Trimmer Right
If you have a large area to cover, or if you suffer from backache, you may find that holding the string trimmer in position is too awkward.
Another way you can try holding the trimmer is to (almost) shoulder-mount the trimmer.
Instead of having one hand on the handle, position this hand close to your shoulder, supporting the back end of the trimmer’s weight above the handle.
The other hand will rest on the trigger and be used to guide the position of the trimmer.
Holding the trimmer in this way also lifts it up to a higher angle, which will give you a more accurate 90-degree angle cut.
2. Practice Makes Perfect
If you are not impressed with the results you have achieved the first time edging your own lawn with your trimmer, then remember that practice makes perfect.
As with any new skill, it is likely that it would take you a little while to master the technique.
If you stick with it, however, you would be surprised at how much easier it gets and how quickly you can master straighter lawn lines.
3. Taper the Edges
It is also possible to taper the edges of your lawn by simply rotating the shaft of the trimmer and holding it at a slightly different angle.
You may even find it easier to hold this way, in which case, you’re probably better off tapering your whole lawn in this manner.
4. Electric- or Gas-Powered?
If you are looking for a string trimmer to buy, then the first decision you’ll have to make is whether to go with a battery- or gas-powered model.
In the past, it has been challenging to find a battery-powered trimmer that matches the power of a gas-powered tool.
However, battery-powered models are getting much better, and we think it’s important to consider the weight and noise of each.
Battery-powered string trimmers are, more often than not, much lighter than their gas-powered counterparts.
We’re not just talking about a couple of pounds here. Many gas-powered models, in fact, can be double the weight of many similar battery-powered string trimmer.
Battery-powered string trimmers also tend to offer a much quieter operation, reducing the need for earplugs when you’re trimming.
Is an Edger Worth Buying?
Overall, there’s little doubt that you’ll get more use out of a string trimmer than an edger.
With that said, is it worth buying an edger (on top of a string trimmer) to achieve perfectly manicured edges more easily?
To help you decide, we take a quick look at the pros and cons of an edger.
To buy or not to buy?
Pros of Owning an Edger
Here are the main advantages of owning a separate edging tool:
- Perfect edges
Unfortunately, no matter how much practice you have, a dedicated edging tool will always outperform a trimmer when it comes to the straightness of your lines.
There is no edge as clear and distinct as one made from an edging tool.
- More comfortable design
Edgers have been ergonomically designed to be held in a certain way to get the job done as comfortably as possible.
For this reason, they will be more comfortable to use for longer periods.
Cons of Owning an Edger
The main disadvantages of buying and owning a separate edging tool are as follows:
- More expensive
No matter which way you look at it, buying and maintaining two tools instead of one is going to cost you more money.
The original purchase price is one thing, but maintaining and servicing the machine is an ongoing cost you’ll incur as long as you have both tools.
- More storage needed
You will also need somewhere to store this tool when it's not in use. This may not be a problem for some people, but if you’re lacking space, then this can be an issue.
Learning how to edge a lawn with a string trimmer can be useful, especially if you own a very small yard that doesn’t justify heaps of power tools in your garden shed.
The most challenging part of edging your lawn with a trimmer is keeping the line straight and smooth, which will get better with practice.
Also, it can be quite awkward to hold a heavy string trimmer in position for long periods.
If you do have space and your budget allows for it, then perhaps you’re better off going for a separate edger tool to make lighter work of your lawn edges.
If you still can’t make your mind up, you can also go ahead and check out a power tool that offers both trimming and edging!
With this tool, you can trust that you can create straight edges without much effort.