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5 TIPS ON HOW TO USE A STRING TRIMMER LIKE A PROFESSIONAL LANDSCAPER 5 TIPS ON HOW TO USE A STRING TRIMMER LIKE A PROFESSIONAL LANDSCAPER
Home, Lawn and Outdoor Power Equipment Tips and Tricks
May 27, 2021

5 TIPS ON HOW TO USE A STRING TRIMMER LIKE A PROFESSIONAL LANDSCAPER

Over a decade ago, The ROP Shop was founded on the knowledge and principles of a professional landscaping company that had been in business for over two decades. Since then, our knowledge and expertise has only grown. If you want to learn a few tricks to maximize your string trimmer use, you’re in luck! Our pros will help you avoid scalping, scarring, and shredding.

A STRING TRIMMER BY ANY OTHER NAME...

  • Weed Eater (brand name)
  • Weed Whacker
  • Strimmer (In the UK and Ireland)
  • Weed Trimmer
  • Lawn Trimmer
  • Weed Whip
  • Brush Cutter
  • Whipper Snipper (Australia and Canada)
  • Line Trimmer

TIP #1: A PRO TRIMMER IS A SAFE TRIMMER

We know… many of you are already rolling your eyes. Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) anyway.

At the very least, protecting your eyes is vital. Any piece of cut line or chip of rock can cause temporary to permanent damage when traveling at 200 to 300 mph. Protective glasses are a good start, but a full visor will protect your whole face from stray material.

And yes, we get that it’s hot outside. Tracking through long grass and brush is never fun, but (for obvious reasons) avoid wearing shorts and/or sandals. If struck, heavier leg coverings like jeans will provide some protection. Plus, broken trimmer line fragments can cause bruising or scrapes and can also cut skin and cause bleeding. It isn’t a bad idea to also wear shoes with steel toes and soles. This will protect your feet if you’re working on an overgrown area or accidentally step on glass, metal, nails, or other sharp objects.

Speaking of debris: Before you start trimming, make sure you check the ground. Glass, metal, rocks, and other small objects can get trapped in the line and turned into projectiles. Avoid these or pick them up if possible.

Angle the trimmer while cutting so that the cut material is spun away from you. Finally, earmuffs should be worn to shield the ears from long-term exposure to loud noises. The ROP Shop carries both 3M hearing protection and Earmuff brand hearing protection with Bluetooth compatibility so you can jam while you trim.

Plus don't forget to keep your trimmer running in top shape to always provide the safest and best cut. Check out our inventory of string trimmer parts and accessories.

TIP #2: TRIMMER TYPES, CURVED-SHAFT VS STRAIGHT-SHAFT

Curved-shaft string trimmers have become very popular among residential consumers. However, most professional landscapers and lawncare pros find that a straight-shaft is easier on your back, not to mention much more controllable and reliable. Plus, it’s easier to get under stuff like shrubs and small trees than a curved tool. There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong choice here. Figure out what works best for you.

TIP #3: SPIN DIRECTION - DO YOU TRAVEL RIGHT OR LEFT?

Many homeowners don’t realize that some string trimmers are manufactured to left, others right. Keeping this in mind can help prevent injury and can keep clippings from being thrown into your flower beds. A trimmer propels debris from its cut path in the same way a saw expels sawdust. If your trimmer spins counterclockwise, it ejects material from the left side and cuts best with the right. If you’re walking along a sidewalk, curb, or low fence, hold your right side closer to the weeds, which will allow the tool’s head to cut and eject to the left. If you go in the opposite direction, you’ll eject material into the cut lane, where it has no place to go. It will build up along the cut line, slowing down the trimmer and causing scalping. The opposite is true if your head spins clockwise. In the end, it’s just as important to know which way to travel as it is to know which direction your trimmer is spinning.

TIP #4: CUTTING TECHNIQUES - TAPERING, EDGING, SCYTHING, AND SCREEDING

Trimming your grass uniformly sounds easy enough—just hold the string trimmer above the grass and the speed of the spinning string will do the rest, right? Wrong. This is not a sound strategy, and it will result in some serious scalping.

It’s key to understand that all the cutting power is at the ends of your trimmer string. Enabling these tips to move faster and more freely will make it more likely that you will get the results you are looking for. Using a few tricks and tools of the trade, you can have the key techniques to turn an unruly tool into a precision machine that cuts the way you want it to.

Tapering:

Tapering is the gradual reduction in height of your grass from your mower cut to a finer cut closer to curbs, retaining walls, fencing, and trees. If you are mowing correctly, then you are not putting your deck on the lowest setting and leaving it at about 3-3 1/2 inches. This gives you room to taper down from that higher mark to something more sculpted near objects without cutting too close and damaging your grass. This is done by tilting your trimmer head slightly. When you angle the string, tip it towards the item you’re trimming toward. You’ll cut less grass and leave a tight, tapered edge, as well as blending the edge with the height of the mowed grass for a neat appearance.

Edging:

When edging, you literally are giving your grass line an edge. It is where the grass ends, and driveways or walkways begin. This is an abrupt change in the grass and does not use the taper method. The string should be vertical after turning the trimmer. Some trimmers have the option of changing the head position, while others will require you to do it manually. The trimmer is then walked the cut route so it can eject the material you just cut the opposite direction you are cutting. Be aware that dirt, rocks, and other debris are likely to be pulled up because of this. To avoid a jagged or harsh edge, do this process gradually over time. Once you’ve achieved the edge you’re looking for, it then just becomes a matter of upkeep.

Scything:

To scythe grass is to make a shallow ‘U’ motion with the trimmer as it enters and exits the area you are trimming. Do this when you’re up against an obstacle you can’t easily navigate around or working in tall grass. The cut is evened out by overlapping the scythes.

Screeding:

When a driveway or sidewalk has been in place for some time, grass and weeds can sometimes grow in the cracks. Some people will use a grass or weed killer on these areas, but then instead of having green plants coming out of these cracks, you now have brown plants coming out of these cracks. Screeding is a fast and efficient solution in which you move the trimmer into the base of the weed, cutting evenly against the pavement, with the ends of the string just glancing off the pavement. If you cut too shallowly, you’ll waste thread and not get a good cut, but if you cut too sharply, the string won’t reach enough of the weed’s root to cut it evenly.

5 TIPS ON HOW TO USE A STRING TRIMMER LIKE A PROFESSIONAL LANDSCAPER 5 TIPS ON HOW TO USE A STRING TRIMMER LIKE A PROFESSIONAL LANDSCAPER

TIP #5: HOW TO MAKE YOUR TRIMMER STRING LAST LONGER

Do you go through trimmer line like it’s spaghetti? The ROP Shop carries a selection of string trimmer line, but why buy more if you can save string. If you find yourself buying a lot of string and spending half your time winding or unwinding your spool, check out these three techniques for extending the life of your trimmer string:

Using your string trimmer properly

Using the trimmer as intended will automatically extend string life. Many homeowners use theirs as an edger when it may not be built for that. Some will take their line into thick brush and twigs, causing it to bind up or fracture.

When you tap the spool on the ground to extend the line out, be sure to keep it level with the surface so it’s less likely to touch dirt or rocks that could sever the string.

Get to know the sound your string trimmer makes when the line is at optimal length. If it’s ever overextended or too short, you will instantly hear the difference. This keeps you from extending more line when it isn’t needed, and will help you know when to fix issues. Feeding should only be done when absolutely necessary.

Spool Dimensions

Trimmer line spool sizes vary, and this can have a significant impact on how long the trimmer line lasts before needing to be replaced. Trimmers can hold a variety of string lengths. When shopping, choose the larger spool head, which you can also find as an aftermarket replacement. This will make a significant difference in the length of time between restringings.

String Sizes

Consider the size, type, brand, and length when you’re wanting to extend the life of your string. Using the wrong type or too small of line for the job can have you eating through string quickly.

Strings are available in sizes ranging from.050-.200 inches and up. Strings in the light-medium weight range from .050 to .08 inches in diameter. Strings in the medium to heavy weight range from .08 to .105. Any string with a tensile strength greater than .105 is considered heavy duty.

String Shapes

Trimmer string is available in a variety of shapes, including:

  • Round
  • Multi-sided
  • Diamond
  • Twisted
Cool String

Trimmer line CAN go bad with time by going brittle. Many pros who have to purchase large rolls soak them in water and keep them out of the sun. Some even store it in a cooler! This helps slow the heat deterioration and prevents the line from turning brittle so quickly.

RUGGED RECAP

Hopefully, you were able to get some useful points out of this latest Rugged U article. Be sure to keep checking back for more information. It’s The ROP Shop’s goal to not only provide you with the parts you need to stay rugged, but also to keep you and your equipment performing at their best. See you again next time!

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