Best strimmer 2018: the cutting tool for every need from weeds to long grass

From giant gardens to urban oases, these are the trimmers you need

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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. As a result, we got some fun new words to play with: he strims; she has strimmed; they are strimming; these are the best strimmers. 

Best strimmer: buying guide

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.  

The best strimmers, in order

Gtech ST20

1. Gtech ST20

Best strimmer you can get without spending hundreds

Specifications
Power: 18v
Type: Cordless
Cutting area: 23cm
Edging?: Yes
Weight: 1.75kg
Heavy duty option?: No
Reasons to buy
+Exceptionally light+Cordless convenience+Great cutting blade system+Free blades for life
Reasons to avoid
-Quite a slow charger

Derek's choice: Gtech, the home-grown brand behind the excellent AirRam 2 carpet vac, the equally fab Falcon lawnmower and the light and agile eBike Sports – anything with a battery, really – has pulled off another feat of cordless engineering with this brilliantly designed grass trimmer.

The first thing you notice here is just how light it is; we’re talking really light, as in ‘my, that’s incredibly light. What’s inside, helium?’. Nearly every cordless or petrol strimmer I’ve used in the past has given me aches and pains after 10 minutes of use. By contrast I could strim the neighbourhood with this model and still have enough energy to lift a Pimms. Actually, that may be a bit farfetched since the battery only lasts about 30 minutes. Nevertheless, from experience, 30 minutes is all it takes to trim the edges of even a moderately large lawn. On the downside, this one’s battery takes about four hours to juice itself up again.

It’s not just the weight that helps here, it’s the clever design of the ST20’s adjustable handle and cutting assembly. The whole thing is so well dialed, ergonomically speaking, that it feels like an extension of your arms. That’s one good reason for consideration before we even touch on arguably the best bit – the cutting method.

Where most other grass trimmers use annoying ‘string’ spools that always, ALWAYS, either jam up or unravel, this one uses a single hover mower-style plastic blade that just clips on. Sure, it wears down and deforms at the tip when you get too close to the bordering brick wall, but it in all essence it cuts just as efficiently as a string-based model, only without the agro. 

Even better, when it’s time to change blades, simply clip on another – Gtech not only provides a large bunch of them with the product but they’re also offering free blades for the life of the product.

Sometimes a product comes along that blows the competition over the garden wall. This is one of them.

2. Black & Decker ST5530-GB

Best budget strimmer (that doubles as a mower!)

Specifications
Power: 550W
Type: Corded
Cutting area: 30cm
Edging?: Yes
Weight: 3.5kg
Heavy duty option?: Heavy line sold separately
Reasons to buy
+Large cutting area+Turns into a mower
Reasons to avoid
-It’s corded-Strimming is boring

Carrie's choice: I liked this one so much I bought it for myself, with my 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. 

I’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. Bosch ART23 SL

Best mini strimmer (mimmer?)

Specifications
Power: 280W
Type: corded
Cutting area: 23cm
Edging?: No
Weight: 1.7kg
Heavy duty option?: No
Reasons to buy
+It’s really cheap+It’s really light
Reasons to avoid
-The cord is quite short

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.

4. Stihl FSA 56

Best higher-powered strimmer

Specifications
Power: 36v
Type: Cordless
Cutting area: 28cm
Edging?: No
Weight: 2.5kg
Heavy duty option?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+High powered sward trimming+Wide cutting area
Reasons to avoid
-Quite a hefty beast

Need to really Kick Ass, in your jungle-like back yard? This Which? Best Buy model features a double-line spool. That's more efficient than a single line. Obviously. 

The jury’s out on how long before something goes awry with the spooling system but it seems robust enough and reliable so far.

Its 28cm cutting diameter is perfect for larger lawns but you’d be better served with the larger and longer-lasting AK 20 battery (40 minutes) rather than the AK 10, which lasts for about 20 minutes. A speaking of which… This model doesn’t come with a battery or charger, so don’t forget to order one at the same time. Unless, of course, you happen to already own a cordless Stihl consumer product that uses the same battery (most of them do), in which case this strimmer is a no brainer.

The FSA 56 features a length adjustable shaft, an adjustable loop handle and a comfy trigger grip that feels secure in the hand. This grass trimmer is heavier than the Gtech and you will likely feel like you’ve done a workout after several minutes of using it, but, hey, it trims superbly well and is reasonably priced for a cordless, especially if you already have a compatible battery for it.

Best for petrolheads

5. Black & Decker 36V Lithium Ion Strimmer

Best Black & Decker for battery boys

Specifications
Power: 36V
Type: cordless
Cutting area: 30cm
Edging?: Yes
Weight: 3.5kg
Heavy duty option?: No
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic battery+Fairly light
Reasons to avoid
-Turbo reduces battery life

5. Black & Decker 36V Lithium Ion Strimmer

Best Black & Decker for battery boys

Specifications
Power: 36V
Type: cordless
Cutting area: 30cm
Edging?: Yes
Weight: 3.5kg
Heavy duty option?: No
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic battery+Fairly light
Reasons to avoid
-Turbo reduces battery life

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.

6. VonHaus Cordless 2 in 1 Grass and Hedge Trimmer

Best for Transformers fans

Specifications
Power: 7.2V
Type: cordless
Cutting area: 10-17cm
Edging?: No
Weight: 2.6kg
Heavy duty option?: No
Reasons to buy
+It’s a transformer+It’s very flexible
Reasons to avoid
-Tiny cutting blades-Small battery

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 option.

7. Hyundai HYBC5200

Best for petrolheads

Specifications
Power: 52cc
Type: Petrol
Cutting area: up to 45cm
Edging?: Yes
Weight: 9kg
Heavy duty option?: Metal cutters
Reasons to buy
+Plenty of power
Reasons to avoid
-Noisy and heavy

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 then it's like a machine gun in a world of air rifles.