Regardless of the grass type, you can give a makeover to your yard just by edging your beds like a pro. It may sound easy, but for some people, it can be quite a learning curve.
And that's the point of this guide on how to edge a lawn with a string trimmer. It's time to get that crisp and clean look for your garden.
Table of Contents
- What Exactly is a String Trimmer?
- How to Edge a Lawn with a String Trimmer in 5 Steps?
- String trimmer Vs. Edger - Which one is better?
- Pro Tips for Edging the Lawn with a String Trimmer
- The Bottom Line
What Exactly is a String Trimmer?
We all know how powerful a lawn mower can be when it comes to removing grass in wide areas.
However, for more delicate tasks such as refining the sidewalk or edging the yard to make it truly well-groomed, a lawnmower may not be flexible enough to perform. And that's when a string trimmer comes into play and saves the day.
This garden tool has so many names to it depending on where you live. Some of the most common names are weed whacker, weed eater, and whipper snipper.
The first string trimmer was a modified lawn edger, which was attached with a fishing line so that users could cut grass in their concoction.
Its mechanism was simple; because of the centripetal acceleration, the fish line becomes taut when spinning at high speed. This tension makes the line stiff; it also creates inertia that gives enough energy to cut the grass.
Modern versions of string trimmer have an attached metal string to facilitate ergonomic handling and cutting movement. It is now much easier to use than the string trimmer (more like a spinning whip) in the first days.
How to Edge a Lawn with a String Trimmer in 5 Steps?
Step 1 - Make Sure You Are Safe to Go
It's always advisable to wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) before working with a string trimmer. The top priority of PPE is goggles to protect your eyes.
There is debris like pebbles traveling 200 to 300 mph, and will definitely cause severe injury to your eyes. There is also tiny grit that may cut your face, so it's best to wear a visor as well.
Besides visor and goggles, heavy-duty trousers, safety shoes with steel soles and caps, and earmuffs are also recommended in your PPE set.
No one ever wants to suffer from getting hit by debris, feeling the sore feet walking on tricky surfaces (metal, nails, glass, etc.), or losing the sense of sound after having their ears bombarded with the noise from the running engine.
Last but not least, when working with a string trimmer, always choose an angle from which the cut grass is thrown away. You will never know what's underlying the overgrown weeds or what may fly at your face.
Step 2 - Prepare the Surface
It's essential to check the yard before edging it with a string trimmer because any tiny piece of glass or pebble can fly like a missile if it's caught by the line.
When trimming, beware of the cables if you are using a corded electric string trimmer. Even though some electric tools are not as powerful as the gas counterparts, they can still damage the insulation.
Just as important as making sure you and your tools are safe, you'd better watch out for the people around the working area as well. If they are standing near you, they can be even more likely to get hit by the debris, especially when you are working on an elevated ground.
Young children should never be in proximity because the debris can ricochet off the surface and eventually hit people's heads or eyes.
Your tool must also avoid vehicles and windows because the flying pebbles can chip glasses, paintworks, or even break them.
In short, it's crucial to carefully check the ground and surrounding to see if there is anything that can be damaged. Relocate or warn them to relocate before you start edging the lawn.
Step 3 - Choose the Correct Cutting Path and Spinning Direction
If you are edging a lawn for the first time, outlining the trimming path will help the finished look stay in good shape. You can do this by simply marking the path by a rope or a garden hose.
However, if you already have the sidewalk guiding the line, this step may not be necessary.
Just like a saw ejecting sawdust, a string trimmer will give out debris when it works. If it spins counter-clockwise, it will work best on its right side and eject debris from its left side.
If it spins clockwise, it will eject material into the cutting path. You won't want this to happen because the material will soon pile up, making scalping unavoidable. Your trimmer will also be bogged down and cannot stomach the mess.
As it’s necessary to always have a clear view of the string while operating, you should rotate the shaft until the guard is up. The purpose here is to make its head perpendicular to the surface.
For the best results, just rotating the shaft is not enough; you will also need to raise its back end a little bit.
Step 4 - Mount the Trimmer Shaft on Your Shoulder While Edging
It's not like completely resting the trimmer shaft on your shoulder but instead holding it in your hand and resting your arm upward near your shoulder.
Don't hold it too high (near your ear); you don't want the noise. And be careful if you are using a gas-powered string trimmer. Don't hold it too close to your head; otherwise, your skin will soon get burnt by the engine.
Even though this position may look awkward, handling is actually not a challenge at all. You will have the string about perpendicular to the surface without exhausting your hand and arm.
Sometimes you will need to remove some cut turf to make sure the cut line is neat and clean. Step back, give it a look, and decide if you have to make any correction to refine the cutting result.
Step 5 - Edge at a Steady Trimming Speed
As edging a lawn is a delicate task, you can't rush doing it. Always move slowly but steadily along the edge line and make sure the trimming is well aligned with the intended path.
While edging, move the string trimmer back and forth and adjust the cut's depth so that the cut will come out clean and even.
In cases of driveway and walkway, you should also walk on the hard surface instead of stepping on the grass. This helps you better control both your own balance and the cutting path.
String trimmer Vs. Edger - Which one is better?
The obvious rule of thumb to get any gardening task done is to have the right tool for it. As specialized for edging, of course, edgers will be less of a learning curve. However, it does mean that a string trimmer cannot do the work.
Especially if you are a DIY homeowner, having both tools may not be a good idea for your budget. A string trimmer is then versatile enough to act as an edger sometimes.
For this reason, it's not a fair game if we put a string trimmer and an edger in the lawn edging competition. But if versatility is what you'd like to focus more, a string trimmer would be a more recommendable tool.
Pro Tips for Edging the Lawn with a String Trimmer
For a big lawn, you should always mow it first and then move to edge it. A string trimmer will groom the shrubs, fences, walls, trees, sidewalks better after the main part of the job is done by a lawnmower.
The more often you can edge the yard, the better because you won't have to spend too much time on maintenance.
Always hold the string trimmer firmly and move it steadily. And with enough power, you will get a desirable clean cut.
If there is any big tree in the lawn, use the string trimmer to create a ring around its trunk. It will give your lawn a love and neat overall look. Before edging, dig out the grass inside the circle and fill it with mulch or gravel.
Many trimmers vibrate vigorously and put off so much heat after running for a while. Wearing gloves can then help prevent blisters and burnt skin.
The Bottom Line
You may need some practice to know how to edge a lawn with a string trimmer properly.
But you definitely don't need to be an expert to acquire this skill. With proper PPE, meticulous surface preparation, and a correct way of holding and moving the string trimmer, your lawn will have that elegantly clean look at no time.