How to Use a Weed Eater

Weed eater, string trimmer, weed whacker; it seems like there might be just as many names for this tool as there are uses. It’s the perfect tool for clearing out the weeds or grass in places that are too difficult to reach with a mower, making weed eaters the go-to tool for finishing a lawncare routine.

Edging around trees, sidewalks, and shrubs can take a toll, and misusing or overworking your trimmer can cause damage. In this article, we’ll look at some tips and tricks from the pros on how to get the most out of your weed eater while reducing wear and tear.

Choosing the right weed eater for the job

The first step to weed eating success is choosing the best weed eater for you.

There are a lot of options to choose from, including electric, gas, and cordless and the choice of which will work best for you will depend on your property. If you have a small yard, for example, then a cordless trimmer would be an excellent option that requires little maintenance. For homeowners with larger yards though, the limited battery of these cordless trimmers could be a limiting factor that makes gas-powered options a better choice.

Another choice that should be carefully considered is between curved and straight shafted trimmers. A curved shaft provides more control in the area you are working in and are easy to maneuver around flowerbeds. A straight shaft provides a longer reach, useful for trimming the area under bushes.

  • Make sure to read the owner’s manual before operating your string trimmer.
  • You should wear the appropriate safety wear when operating any lawn tools.
  • Clear the area of any rocks or other debris before operating a weed eater.

Edging and Tapering Your Lawn

Once you’ve picked out a weed eater it’s time to get cutting.

  • Follow the direction in the included owner’s manual to power on your weed eater.
  • Avoid holding the trimmer directly over your lawn or you may scalp it by mistake and risk lawn scarring and long-term damage.
  • Keep the spool of the trimmer parallel with the ground when edging along flower beds or pathways. Keeping the string vertical to cut the grass to your desired height hold the trimmer steady and walk along the path to trim the area.
  • To taper along curbs, fences, or other obstacles you want to hold the trimmer at a slight angle. Hold the trimmer steady and make your way along the area to be trimmed just as you would while edging, but keep the angle consistent to cut the grass at an even height.

 Trimming Patches of Long Grass or Weeds

When it comes to clearing away a patch of long grass or weeds the same techniques won’t be as effective. You’ll need to learn to employ a method of using your trimmer that’s called scything.

  • Power on your weed eater and take a wide stance holding the trimmer away from your body.
  • Move the trimmer in a U-shaped arc in front of you, working it in and out of the area until the grass or weeds are trimmed down to your target height.
  • Now move over to the next patch to be cleared and continue until finished.

When trimming large patches of grass and weeds a gas-powered weed eater can bring extra power to make the job quicker and less difficult.

Screeding: Eating the weeds out of Cracks

Trimming grass or weeds growing in cracks in the driveway or pavement is simple with a weed eater.

  • Power on your weed eater, giving it a moment to warm up.
  • Hold the trimmer tilted at an angle where the cord is just above the pavement. Finding the right angle is the key here, if your angle is too shallow then it won’t cut well. At too steep an angle the cut will be uneven.
  • Keeping the trimmer level move it across the area to eat the grass or weeds off the pavement.

Maintaining Your Weed Eater

Like any other tool your weed eater needs some maintenance to keep running in tip-top shape. However, it’s worth noting that cordless and electric weed eaters do need much less maintenance than gas-powered trimmers.

Before performing any maintenance on your weed eater make sure it’s powered off. If you have a gas-powered trimmer, then you should remove the spark plug as well.

Replacing the cutting cord in your weed eater when it wears out is easy.

Image of a cutting cord on a weed eater head
  • Remove the spool from the head of your trimmer and remove anything left of your old cutting cord from it. Clean out any other debris that may have collected in the trimmer’s head.
  • Cut two new pieces of cord about 10-inches long. Double those pieces of cord together and insert them into one the holes on the reel. Pull them toward the spool until only a few inches are left.
  • Insert the remaining line into the other hole in the reel, pulling tight to close the loop to hold the line firmly in place.
  • Wrap the cord in the direction indicated by the arrow on the spool. The exact location of the arrow varies on different trimmers, but it should be along the outside edge. Keep an even amount of pressure when wrapping to keep the cord even and not leave any slack.
  • Secure the cord in the holding notches and reinsert the spool into the trimmer head.
  • Feed the ends of the cord through the holes in trimmer head and firmly apply pressure to keep them in place while securing the head.
  • After the head is reattached pull out the lines to remove them from the holding slots.

After replacing your cord you should start up your trimmer for a few test spins to be sure it stays in place.

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