People can’t get enough of portmanteaus: from Brangelina to Brexit, we just love smooshing two words together to create something new. Strimmers started it back in the 1970s by smashing “string” and “trimmer” together, or perhaps taking the end of “grass” and slapping it in front of “trimmer”. Either way we got some fun new words to play with: he strims, she has strimmed, they are strimming.
But which strimmer is best for you? There are two and a half kinds of strimmer: electric (corded or cordless) and petrol.
The latter is best suited to people whose gardens are bigger than some towns, as they’re incredibly noisy: the bloke across the street from us uses one for his tiny lawn and the locals have pooled resources to hire a hitman.
Corded electrics tend to be better than cordless for large gardens, but battery tech is getting better: today’s 36V models are good for surprisingly long periods between charges. And of course, there’s no limit to where you can roam as long as you’ve got power.
We think these are the best options for every kind of garden from tiny urban retreats to gigantic expanses of weed - and for every budget too.
Our pick of the top strimmers to buy today
1. Bosch ART23 SL
Best on a budget
Power: 280W | Type: corded | Cutting area: 23cm | Edging?: No | Weight: 1.7kg | Heavy duty option?: No
If you don’t have a huge garden to trim, this little Bosch is a little wonder: the 23cm cutting area isn’t as big as some rivals, but neither is the price tag. It weighs just 1.7kg and has a 100cm shaft that makes it particularly good for taller users, and while it doesn’t rotate for edging you can always tilt it to get at awkward bits. The spool is a single line job with semi-automatic feeding and it’s fine for grass up to 15cm high, although the lack of a heavy-duty option means that’s about the only growing thing you’ll want to tackle. It’s very cheap, but make sure you factor in the cost of an extension cable: the cord is only 2 metres long.
2. Black & Decker ST5530-GB
Best for most gardens
Power: 550W | Type: Corded | Cutting area: 30cm | Edging?: Yes | Weight: 3.5kg | Heavy duty option?: Heavy line sold separately
We liked this one so much we bought it for ourselves, with our own money. It’s a corded strimmer with a 550W motor, up to 7500rpm cutting speed and an incredibly long cable, and at just 2.5kg it isn’t a pain to use for long cutting sessions. The cutting head rotates for edging (and has a wheel guide for best results) and rather brilliantly transforms into a lawn mower via the separate CM100 Mower Deck, which is currently £29. We’ve used it as a strimmer to tackle really thick grass, weeds, shrubs, ivy and the neighbours’ cats, and it’s coped admirably with the lot: it’s light enough that we’ll often do the whole garden with it rather than go to the hassle of getting the mower out.
3. Black & Decker 36V Lithium Ion Strimmer
Best for battery fans
Power: 36V | Type: cordless | Cutting area: 30cm | Edging?: Yes | Weight: 3.5kg | Heavy duty option?: No
The big advantage of cordless strimmers - there’s no cable to limit your movement or accidentally cut - is often compromised by shockingly bad battery life. Not here: the 36V fade-free Lithium Ion battery in this Black & Decker can cut up to 3750 linear metres before needing recharged. The 30cm cutting swathe is a good balance between size and portability, the telescopic tube means it’s easy to find a comfortable position and the single line feed system works well and isn’t prone to jamming if you keep the cutting area clean. The strimmer has two operating modes: ECO for normal cutting, and TURBO for maximum power of up to 8,500rpm. At 3.5kg it’s reasonably light for a battery-powered strimmer, and if you’re been disappointed by cordless models in the past we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how long this one lasts between charges.
4. VonHaus Cordless 2 in 1 Grass and Hedge Trimmer
Best for Transformers fans
Power: 7.2V | Type: cordless | Cutting area: 10-17cm | Edging?: No | Weight: 2.6kg | Heavy duty option?: No
It’s not quite as epic as a truck turning into Optimus Prime, but VonHaus’s little trimmer is a hand-held trimmer that transforms into a handheld trimmer on a stick with wheels on it. That’s more useful than it may sound, because it means you can trim anything you can shake the stick at: grass on the ground, hedges at chest height, small branches overhead. There’s a 100mm grass blade and a 170mm hedge trimming blade, the telescopic handle extends up to 860mm and swivels round 8 different positions and the transformations are tool-free. The downside - other than the small cutting area, which you wouldn’t want to use in a football stadium - is the battery, which takes five hours to charge and runs out after less than an hour. For small jobs in small spaces, however, it’s a clever little trimmer.
5. Hyundai HYBC5200
Best for petrolheads
Power: 52cc | Type: Petrol | Cutting area: up to 45cm | Edging?: Yes | Weight: 9kg | Heavy duty option?: Metal cutters
Some of us dream of freedom. Freedom from the shackles of corded strimmers. Freedom from the limits of battery technology. Freedom to cut whatever we damn well please, wherever we want to damn well do it, while making a whole bunch of noise. And that means we dream of petrol-powered strimmers like this excellent all-rounder. From the 52cc two-stroke petrol engine to the choice of nylon string or a three or eight-toothed metal cutting blade, Hyundai has built a strimmer for serious work - and it’s thrown in a whole bunch of serious safety equipment so you don’t seriously hurt yourself. It’s pretty heavy at 9.1kg, but think of it as a machine gun in a world of air rifles.