Lawn edgers and trimmers add a finishing touch to a lawn, removing grass blades that stick up or out and cannot be reached by a mower. Most homeowners today use some type of edging tool. A few determined souls use hand edgers and trimmers, which work well, but take a lot of effort, stooping and bending. Most people use some type of mechanical edger, but there are many options available.
If you are the do it yourself type gardener, then odds are you mow your own lawn each week and probably trim the edges as well. Many of us grew up edging our lawn with a manual pair of edgers that took forever. These days you can use a string trimmer, but often those are not that convenient for getting the perfect edge so buying a true lawn edger could be the answer.
Edgers work great where your grass meets the sidewalk or even around garden beds where lawns can be tough to cut let alone manicure and trim. There are plenty of products to choose from and you don’t have to spend $100’s. If you already own a string trimmer see if the manufacturer sells an add-on attachment that allows you to edge a lawn or garden area properly.
We have found that a good edger will let you trim bushes and plants as well as lawns that extend onto the pavement or driveway areas of your yard. We read on one lawn care site that the major difference between an edger and a trimmer is that edgers are best for “vertical” cuts and trimmers are designed for “horizontal” cuts. Therefore, an edger is the superior tool when it comes to keeping your lawn looking perfect along the edges.
Lawn Edger Buying Guide
Before you buy any new edger, consider the size of your yard and the lawn area. For anyone with a larger lawn size, a gas powered edger is probably the better buy since the work will go much faster. Gas edgers will require a little more maintenance compared to their electric counterparts and they are more expensive. Also, noise levels are going to be higher with a gas powered edger.
Electric edgers work quite well too and are less expensive than the gas models. Depending on the size of your lawn, you may wish to go with a cordless model that runs on a battery pack. No sense in lugging a cord behind you to the far reaches of your yard if you can do it without. Cordless electric edgers are powerful enough to get your lawn looking sharp. The batteries should last 45 minutes in most models which gives you time to finish off all areas of your grass.
Types of Edgers
When considering gas versus electric edgers, it is important to understand that there are actually two types of each. Electric edgers offer battery-powered models as well as AC-powered edgers that require an extension cord. Gas edgers use one of two types of engines: two-cycle engines that run on a 40 to 1 mixture of gasoline to oil, and four-cycle engines that run on plain unleaded gasoline.
Consider your level of mechanical proficiency and willingness to get dirty. Electric models, whether battery or AC powered, are a good choice for those who desire a simple, reliable piece of equipment that requires no maintenance other than routine blade safety. Gas-powered models require both gas and oil and may need to be serviced periodically to start and run properly.
Consider the size of the area to be tended. Battery-powered models are suitable for small plots and yards that require relatively simple edging along walkways and curbs, while an AC-powered model will be more convenient for larger yards. As the size of the tended area grows, though, an extension cord may become cumbersome.
Gas-powered models have the advantage of being untethered by an extension cord and thus are more convenient for large lawns or gardens. Also consider that a gas-powered model gives the owner the freedom and flexibility to use the edger anywhere at all, regardless of the availability of AC power.
Power and Versatility
As non-commercial gas-powered edgers use engines that range between 22cc and 150cc in size, they are more powerful than their electric counterparts. This, and the availability of blades that can be adjusted to different angles and depths on higher-end gas models, means that they can be used for heavier-duty jobs such as cutting shallow trenches and landscaping angled edges.
Whatever Works Is Best
The best edger for your lawn is the one that best fits the size of the lawn, and the amount and type of edging it will need. Even the type of grass can affect the decision; some fast-growing and spreading grasses will need more edging. A big lawn will require more edging and a different type of edger than a small one. There are a lot of options.
Electric or Gasoline?
The most basic decision in choosing a lawn edger is: electric or gasoline. Electric edgers require long extension cords to reach all edges of a lawn and may not be practical on very large plots unless there are electrical outlets spaced around the perimeter with outdoor lighting. There are some battery-powered types that are more portable but heavier. Gasoline edgers are noisier, require refueling and regular maintenance to keep the engine working.
Metal or String?
A second basic decision is: metal or string. Metal trimmers use some type of blade that rotates on a shaft. They are very effective but noisy when the blade rubs against a concrete sidewalk or driveway. Blades also wear out and must be replaced regularly. String edgers use some type of plastic cord, fed from a spool, which whips around the edger and cuts grass blades as it goes. Cord also must be replenished periodically.
Edgers also vary in weight. Electric models generally are lighter; some versions are battery-powered to eliminate the need to drag a cord around the lawn but weigh more. Gasoline styles can be hand-held or on wheels. Gasoline styles are heavier because they carry fuel. Many gasoline edgers have adjustable blades, so the depth of the cut can be varied. String edgers are less adjustable, but different types will have different cutting sizes.
One Cord or Two?
String edgers come in two main versions, single string or multiple. Single-string types have one plastic cord feeding from a spool; multiple styles have two or more lines from opposite sides of a larger spool. Multiline edgers are more powerful and better suited for heavy grasses and weeds.
Price also is a consideration. Electric string trimmers often cost as little as $25. Walk-behind gasoline models may run several hundred dollars. A 20-by-20-foot urban lot can get by with an inexpensive electric edger, but a two-acre estate lawn will require a bigger and more expensive gasoline model. For many urban homeowners, the best edger may come down to individual preference.