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Edger Vs Trimmer: What’s the Difference?

Lawn edgers are used to define boundary lines and cut edges, whereas string trimmers are used to maintain boundaries. It’s rather tempting to use just one of these for both purposes, but it’s best to use them both for best results.

Finding the right garden tools among the many thousands that are on the market can be quite a challenging and overwhelming task, especially if it requires you to make a hefty investment. If you’ve been concerned about keeping the edges in your lawn tidy, you might have been wondering about the benefits of a lawn edger vs trimmer

These tools share a number of similarities, so it’s understandable that this decision may be a tough one to make. It’s best to be well-informed about both options before investing in either. If you’re still on the fence and need some help deciding, keep on reading to find out everything you need to know about these tools and why it may be best to invest in both!

Lawn Edgers VS String Trimmers: What’s The Difference?

Lawn Edgers

A man trimming grasses with a grass cutter

Edgers are predominantly used to create distinct boundaries between lawns and other areas of yards, such as driveways, flowerbeds, pavements and even between sand traps and greens on golf courses. Edging your lawn will prevent it from looking overgrown, increase curb appeal and save trimming time.

There are several types of lawn edgers to choose from, starting with manual and motorized edgers. Manual edgers can be roller-based, spade-based or hand shears, while motorized edgers can be single-wheeled purpose-designed, multi-wheeled purpose-designed or adaptable string trimmers. Motorized lawn edgers can also be gas or electric-powered.

Manual Edgers

Manual edgers are the simplest of the lot, in terms of technicality. They are generally a lot cheaper than other types of edgers, they don’t require much maintenance and they usually last a long time. However, you do need to exert a lot more energy and effort when using them to achieve the best results.

The roller-based edger involves a roller wheel that needs to be pushed along a hard surface directly next to the edge you’re looking to cut, while the spade-based edger is best described as a broad-bladed spade with a long handle that’s used as a vertical cutting blade. 

YouTube user ehowgarden demonstrates how easy it is to use a manual spade-based edger in this video:

Hand shears, which are also called pruning shears, are operated by hand and come in varying lengths and configurations. Some of them need to be used at ground level, while others have long handles which allow for users to operate them while standing. These often come with an adjustable length, making them easy to customize according to your needs.

Motorized Edgers

Motorized edgers can either be powered by a gas or electric engine. Gas-powered edgers are usually powered by 2 or 4-cycle engines and are known as the best lawn edgers to deliver precise cuts with a single swipe of their blades. 

These heavy-duty machines are popular for a number of reasons, including how easy they are to start, how fast they operate and how smooth they run.

In this video, Husqvarna USA shows viewers how to use a 2-cycle gas-powered lawn edger:

Electric-powered lawn edgers require either electricity or batteries to operate. These are often designed with ease of use in mind and are best suited for small or medium yards. Using nylon wicks as opposed to blades, these lawn edgers are affordable but are known to lack power when used on lawns that haven’t been tended to for a while.

Purpose-designed lawn edgers are used for edging long distances. They are generally known for being more time-efficient for long and even edges. Single-wheeled purpose-designed edgers are easy to maneuver and are lighter in weight. Multi-wheeled ones differ in that they are designed and used for heavy-duty work.

YouTube user How To with Doc demonstrates how an edger should be used in the video below:

Lawn Edger Pros

  • Best to use when edging a lawn for the very first time
  • Edges are more precise and distinct
  • Minimizes the invasion of weeds
  • Defines boundary lines easily
  • Variety of options to choose from

Lawn Edger Cons

  • Motorized lawn edgers are generally expensive
  • Manual edgers are time-consuming

Check out this post if you’d like to learn more about lawn edging!

String Trimmers

A man carrying a lawn edger

String trimmers are used to trim lawns and remove weeds in hard-to-reach places. Also known as weed whackers and weed eaters, this type of tool is lightweight and uses a flexible monofilament nylon line that operates at an intense speed to cut grass. 

They are often used to trim foliage on steep and rocky terrain. String trimmers come in both gas and electric options and varying shaft designs.

String trimmers can sometimes be operated with a vertically-positioned head, as opposed to a horizontally-positioned one, which is the norm. Some of them are sold with attachments for edging your lawn. To edge your lawn with a string trimmer, you will need to remove the string and replace it with a blade fitted to the head.

Gas-Powered String Trimmers

Gas-powered string trimmers come in two-stroke and four-stroke options. Two-stroke trimmers are powered by a combination of oil and gas, while four-strokes are powered solely by gas. 

This heavy-duty tool tends to do the job quicker due to increased power, but they can also be pollutive. String trimmers are often used for larger areas due to their extended use time. 

If you think you might be interested in purchasing a gas-powered string trimmer, have a look at this video where YouTube user ECHO USA shares his tips on how to choose the best string trimmer:

Electric-Powered String Trimmers

Electric-powered string trimmers are environmentally friendly and usually cost-effective. They are generally used on smaller areas as they are known to have less power. 

These come in both corded and cordless options. The corded electric string trimmer needs to be plugged into an electric source in order to operate, which reduces its portability and may prove to be inconvenient if used on larger areas. 

They won’t be suitable for a yard that’s larger than a 1/4 acre. The portable cordless string trimmers are powered by battery, but they may have a shorter run time as a result of battery drainage.

Types Of String Trimmer Shafts

String trimmers come with two types of shafts: straight and curved.

Straight shaft string trimmers are able to reach around trees and under decks and are typically used for large yards. Using a string trimmer with this type of shaft is best suited for taller people, as it helps reduce fatigue and is more comfortable to use.

Curved shaft string trimmers are typically used for smaller yards and are rather lightweight. This type of shaft is best suited for intricate work and for trimming around ornamentals.

YouTube user Lawn Care Life does an excellent job illustrating how a string trimmer ought to be used in the video below:

String Trimmer Pros

  • Great at removing weeds 
  • Easy to maintain boundary lines
  • Compact and easy to store
  • Available in a variety of options to suit your needs

String Trimmer Cons

  • Gas string trimmers can be loud and lead to noise complaints from neighbors
  • Electric-powered cordless string trimmers need to be recharged often
  • The nylon line spins dangerously fast and can lead to injuries if users fail to use protective gear

If you’re convinced that a string trimmer is the best bet for you, check out this video by YouTube user Pro Tool Reviews for reviews of some of the best battery-powered string trimmers on the market:

Edgers Vs Trimmers – Variety, Versatility, Affordability

I hope this debate between the edger vs trimmer has been eye-opening, but it is important to note that these tools share just as many similarities as they do differences. 

The wide range of products on the edging and trimming market ensures that no matter what your individual needs are, there is definitely something out there best suited to you. After researching just how wide the variety of lawn edgers and string trimmers are, it is safe to say that the array of lawn edgers on the market are impressive and incredibly hard to beat.

Winner: Lawn edger

Both lawn edgers and string trimmers are capable of doing what a lawnmower cannot – mainly maneuvering around trees and smaller crevices. They’re both similar in their shape and design, and their compact nature allows them to fit into areas that are too narrow for a lawnmower. String trimmers win in this regard because they’re so versatile that they can even be used to shape intricate shrubs. 

Winner: String trimmers

The fact that both lawn edgers and string trimmers have cost-effective options widely available is a major bonus. After comparing a range of prices of lawn edgers and string trimmers, it appears that lawn edgers are the most affordable. The variety of low-cost manual lawn edgers definitely sealed the deal for this win!

Winner: Lawn edgers

Edger Vs Trimmer: What’s The Difference?

Edgers VS Trimmers: The Edger’s Stand-Out Feature

  • Precision: Lawn edgers provide precise boundaries and edges that just cannot be matched with any other tool, including the best string trimmer on the market. They are clean-cut and offer sharp, pristine results.


Is an edger and trimmer the same thing?

An edger and trimmer are not the same. Lawn edgers are used to define boundary lines and cut edges, while string trimmers are used to trim lawns and remove weeds in hard-to-reach places. Using both lawn edgers and string trimmers to tend to your yard will keep it looking pristine.

Can an edger be used as a trimmer?

An edger can be used as a trimmer if you’re not willing to invest in both tools. However, a string trimmer will not give your lawn the great results that a lawn edger can.

Is trimmer same as edger?

A trimmer is not the same as an edger. A string trimmer is used to trim lawns and remove weeds in hard-to-reach places, whereas a lawn edger is used to define boundary lines and cut edges. They should be used together rather than in place of each other.

Can a string trimmer be used as an edger?

A string trimmer can be used as an edger. However, this may not give you the best results as a string trimmer has not been designed for the type of precision offered by lawn edgers.

Edger Vs Trimmer – The Verdict

While a string trimmer can technically be used to edge your lawn, a key point to note is that you are bound to get different results from each tool. Using a lawn edger is sure to give you clean and tidy edges, but a string trimmer will not. It will still get the job done, but the quality of the end result will be incomparable to that of a lawn edger.

Purchase a lawn edger if:

  • You’re a stickler for crisp edges and boundary lines.
  • You pride yourself on having a pristine and tidy lawn.
  • You like to have a variety of tools to choose from.
  • The aesthetics of your lawn is important to you.
  • You’re still debating between edger vs trimmer but you have the budget for it and know you’ll make good use of it over the years.

Purchase a string trimmer if:

  • Your yard has plenty of spots that you aren’t able to reach using a lawnmower.
  • You have delicate plants and shrubs that you need to be careful around when trimming.
  • You hate weeds.
  • Grass tends to grow through cracks in your driveway or pavement.
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About The Author

Brett Jones

Brett is a private yet hardworking office assistant, who resides in Raleigh with his wife Nadya. He has a passion for backyard projects and spends much of his free time working on landscaping, gardening, and building outdoor furniture. Though he shies away from being in the spotlight, he plays an important role in Nadya's blog by providing her with "raw" content. Brett's knowledge and creativity of backyard design and DIY projects give Nadya material to come up with unique and interesting posts for her blog. On occasion, Brett also contributes to the site showing his tech expertise, particularly when talking about snowblowers and other tools. Follow him on Twitter.

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