String Trimmers

September 6, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
String trimmers are a handy gardening tool, but with prices from 20 dollars to several hundred, how do you trim down your choices? Consumer Reports tested 45 in all. Your first decision, should you get an electric, cordless, or gas trimmer?

Gas trimmers are more powerful, making them ideal for tall weeds and grass. They're perfect for larger properties where an electrical outlet isn't easily accessible.

Corded electric trimmers tend to be lighter, less expensive, and better for the environment, but you're limited to the length of the cord, which is typically one-hundred feet. Your third choice, a cordless rechargeable trimmer.

Peter Sawchuk, Consumer Reports, says "These cordless electric models only run for 15 to 20 minutes, so they're good for just light-duty work."

In the tests, this electric trimmer from Craftsman, model 74540, came up short. It features a built-in blower to clean away clippings after you trim, which may sound genius. But Consumer Reports says, unfortunately, it's a lot of hot air.

"The large head makes it difficult to see when you're cutting, and you have a tendency to scalp the lawn."

Far better, the Stihl FS 45. And at 140 dollars, this gas-powered trimmer is a best buy. As is this corded electric Black and Decker GH 1000 - another Consumer Reports best buy at only 70 dollars.

Remember safety is key. Goggles are critical to protect against flying pebbles and debris and ear protection is recommended when using gas-powered trimmers.

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