Best strimmer 2019: the cutting tool of choice for trimming grass, borders and weeds

From urban oases to broad swards, these are the trimmers you really need

Best strimmer

Zim zimmer, who's got the key to your best strimmer? Why, T3 does, of course. Strimmer is actually a 1970s portmanteau of “string” and “trimmer”, which gave us some fun new words to play with: he strims; she has strimmed; they are strimming; these are the best strimmers. Now that spring bank holidays are here, what better time to purchase a new string trimmer and strim away the unruly growth in your garden? 

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. 

Our top three choices are the ultra lightweight Gtech ST20, the marvellous Black & Decker ST5530-GB – a strimmer so good I actually bought one with my own money – and the unique Ryobi RLT1831H20 Hybrid, which features both mains and cordless power.

The best strimmers, in order

Best strimmer: 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
-Slow to charge

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 superbly 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. And that makes it even better value.

Best strimmer: BLACK & DECKER ST5530-GB

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.  

Best strimmer: Ryobi RLT1831H20 Hybrid

3. Ryobi RLT1831H20 Hybrid

Best strimmer for versatility

Specifications
Power: 18v & mains
Type: Cordless & corded
Cutting area: 25-30cm
Edging?: Yes
Weight: 3.2kg
Heavy duty option?: No
Reasons to buy
+Runs on either battery or mains+Auto line feed+Ergonomic comfort
Reasons to avoid
-Nothing to grumble about

• Buy this Ryobi hybrid trimmer from Amazon fo £150 (a BIG £1.53 off RRP, deals fans!)

Ryobi has one of the best hot-swappable battery systems on the market but the reason this cordless hybrid trots straight to third spot in our list is primarily because it’s capable of running on either battery or mains power. As any cordless power tool owner will testify, it’s a right old palaver when you’re about to start a strimming session and you realise you’d forgotten to charge the blooming battery. With this one, you simply plug the supplied mains cable into the base of the handle and carry on strimming till the cows come home. 

Another cool thing in its favour is that it features automatic line spooling and that means no more tapping the head on the grass to release more line. After cutting, release the trigger and a new section of line is automatically fed from the spool in readiness to take out the next swathe of your partner’s prized Crocus collection.

The Ryobi Hybrid has a 25cm-30cm cutting diameter which is easily changed to accommodate your needs. It also has a brilliantly designed extendable handle, a three-position adjustable head and you can easily rotate the head by 180˚ for edging purposes. It’s fairly light but comfy in the hand, it strims and trims exceedingly well and there’s no ignoring the convenience of being able to use the mains when the need arises.

Best strimmer: BLACK & DECKER 36V - GLC3630L20

4. BLACK & DECKER GLC3630L20

Best Black & Decker cordless strimmer

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

• Buy BLACK & DECKER GLC3630L20 from Amazon for £133

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 not especially light for a battery-powered strimmer but, 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.

Hyundai HYBC5200

5. Hyundai HYBC5200

Best petrol strimmer

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 but then in this company, it's like a machine gun in a world of air rifles.

Best strimmer: BOSCH ART 23 SL

6. BOSCH ART 23 SL

Best mini strimmer

Specifications
Power: 280 watts
Type: Corded
Cutting area: 23cm
Edging?: No
Weight: 1.7kg
Heavy duty option?: No
Reasons to buy
+Really cheap+Really light
Reasons to avoid
-Cord is only 2m long

• Buy from John Lewis for just £25

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 you will probably have to factor in the cost of an extension cable, seeing as the cord is only 2 metres long.

Best strimmer: STIHL FSA 56

7. Stihl FSA 56

Best high-end cordless 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+Light in the hand+Stihl reliability
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive with battery/charger combo

• Buy from the excellently named Tool Britannia for £129 (no battery)

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. And 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 a tad heavier than the flyweight Gtech, but, hey, it trims superbly well and is reasonably priced for a cordless, especially if you already have a compatible battery for it.