What Is a Weed Whacker?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2019
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A weed whacker is a gardening tool which is designed to quickly and efficiently cut through weeds, shrubs, and overgrowth. You may also hear a weed whacker referred to as a weedeater or a string trimmer. These tools can be very useful to have around, especially for people with a big and sprawling garden which has varied terrain. Most hardware stores and garden supply stores carry them, offering a number of options from low-cost, low-power models to more expensive, powerful versions.

There are three main parts to a weed whacker: a long handle, an engine, and a piece of flexible monofilament which acts as a blade. The monofilament is rotated at very high speeds when the weed whacker is turned on, causing it to stiffen. Unlike a blade, the line will flex and warp when it encounters something to hard to cut, rather than chipping or breaking, and the line is also cheap and easy to replace when it becomes worn out.

Most weed whackers have very long handles, allowing people to hold them comfortably while distancing themselves from the monofilament line, which can be just as dangerous as a blade. Some are gas powered, with small engines mounted on the handle, while others are electric, designed to be plugged in. Electric weed whackers are more efficient, but the user is tethered by a cord, which can be extremely annoying.


One of the major advantages to a weed whacker is that it is safer than something with a blade. A bladed cutting device could jam up against a hard object like a rock, potentially jumping in the user's hand and creating a risk of injury. However, there are certain safety risks with a weed whacker; the line in the weed whacker is exposed, creating a potential risk, and weed whackers also throw back a great deal of plant material and sap, which can cause problems when they are used around things like poison oak.

Many people like to use a weed whacker to perform a rough cut on an overgrown lawn, and to trim around the edges of a lawn after mowing. These devices can also be handy when cutting down shrubbery and small plants alongside a road or in an empty lot, where a neatly trimmed, uniform lawn is not considered to be very important, but people still want to cut down the risk of fire.


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Post 3

For all of you having problem getting you trimmers to start I have a suggestion. Try my version of the weed whacker which is a bush ax, and if the bush ax can't do the job then I pull out the swing blade. These tools have been around forever and with them you can do anything you can do with an electric or gas trimmer.

The good thing about the bush ax and the swing blade is they don't need gas and they start as soon as you start, no priming and choking needed.

Post 2

@Animandel - I have a new weed trimmer and I get exhausted simply reading the directions on how to start the thing. Seriously, they tell you to prime the machine, then put it on one setting and pull the rope 10 times, switch to setting 2 and pull 5 time and then set on 3 and pull 3 times. Then the best part is when it reads "If the trimmer doesn't start then repeat the previous steps."

I know we all have our little tricks and so called secrets for starting the trimmers, but I think most of them can be a hassle to get going sometimes, and we simply have to put up with them.

Post 1

Okay, now that I know weed trimmers and weed whackers are the same things, I have one question. Why are weed trimmers so complicated to start? We have a gas trimmer. My husband is the one who does most of the lawn work, so until recently I didn't give any thought to how these things started or worked.

I was forced to do some trimming recently, and the toughest part of the job was getting that weed trimmer started. I thought I was going to rip my should off with all the pulling and jerking. I finally had to ask a neighbor to start the machine. Shouldn't there be an easier way?

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