7 Best Walk Behind String Trimmers – More Flexible Alternative to Your Lawnmower!
Last updated: Feb 18, 2020
52Hours of Research
A string trimmer provides a great alternative to a lawnmower for maintaining the patch of green outside your house. This is especially true where the terrain is irregular and includes multiple obstacles.
As you can see from our table and reviews the Remington RM1159 is our favorite out of the 21 products we reviewed. A few of you may even consider it the best walk behind string trimmer. Features listed may be the reason why it has such high standing. They include a powerful 159cc OHV engine, big wheels for easy maneuverability, and a two-year warranty, just to name a few. Also listed are six other great options that should suffice should the RM1159 not strike your fancy.
Top 7 Walk Behind String Trimmers Review 2020
If you were to start looking through the various vendor and manufacturer websites, you would probably need to set aside a lot of your time for the exercise. We know this since we’ve already been through similar motions. Nevertheless, now that we’ve done the relevant research, you will find that all you need to do is read the write up below. Some of the factors that we considered are the cutting swath, engine, and trimmer line diameter of the devices. These are the most important features when it comes to the performance of the devices. Other criteria include warranties, weight, and additional benefits. While these may not affect performance, they might be of interest to the user in different ways. You can thus see the fruits of our labor in the table below that ranks the best walk-behind string trimmers according to merit. You may also appreciate the additional information provided in the in-depth reviews section as well as the buying guide.
If you are going to buy this tool, you will want to know what makes it better than some of the other options. In this regard, the first thing that comes to mind is the engine. Being that this is an OHV engine, it means fuel can move around more efficiently in the machine.
This will, of course, materialize into more efficient operation for the device. Another benefit of the engine is the displacement. If you compare the cc value with that of other devices, you will see that this option offers more displacement than most other competitors. This also means that the device has plenty of power to get the job done.
If the above doesn’t do enough to convince you to buy the tool, you can also add in the wheels. It features 14” wheels that roll over grass and any uneven terrain you might put the device on.
That design tweak also heavily influences the cutting height of the device as well. You can get anywhere from 2.375″ – 4.375″ by adjusting the device up or down. Of course, this is necessary when it comes to different terrains as well as plants.
The device weighs 78 lbs, which, while heavy, may not be a significant downside. This is because you probably won’t be carrying the equipment around a lot. Nevertheless, it comes fully assembled, and all you need to do is fuel it and take it out to your lawn.
Most people would recommend a trimmer line that is at least 0.085” thick for thick grass and weeds. This tool far surpasses that requirement by giving you 0.155”.
Concerning the cutting swath, 22” is impressive. Nevertheless, it doesn’t make this device stand out as a lot of the other options offer the same as well.
You could as well term the icing on the cake as the two-year limited warranty. For those who’ve had previous purchases break down within months of use, then you know how important this can be.
Wide cutting swath
Uses relatively thick and durable cutting strings
Adjustable cutting height
Large, durable wheels
A lot of vibration is present while using the machine
Looking at the features offered by this machine, it’s hard not to be as impressed as we were. One of the key selling points is the three-year consumer warranty. This, of course, is superior to that offered by the editor’s choice since it gives you an extra year of coverage.
However, as we mentioned before, the cutting swath diameter is the same for a lot of the devices on the list at 22”. Another critical element of the invention is the CARB compliance. For those unfamiliar with CARB, it is the California Air Resources Board.
As such, this implies that the device stays within acceptable limits when it comes to fumes output. Some of you may also appreciate the fact that the device is made in the USA
The wheels are a bit smaller than those of the editor’s choice. Nevertheless, you can still make the device work and get the best out of it. Also, since we are comparing the two, it turns out that this model is more cumbersome than its predecessor by close to 9 lbs.
This added weight may be brought about by the inclusion of 14 gauge steel in the body of the device. While this adds to the weight, it is also responsible for the durability of the machine’s frame.
A recoil start mechanism is also prevalent in the machine’s design. As such, with the right input, the device is guaranteed to start every time so long as you put in enough fuel.
As to the cutting size, you have four options to pick from. You may as well want to include a suitable trimmer line in your purchase. This may be quite an expensive affair as the machine already costs upwards of $450.
Here we have another impressive recoil start device. The 150cc engine is, of course, one of the first few things you could write home about. This should provide you with enough power for the trimming projects on your lawn.
Another highlight of the tool is the one-piece deck that sits below the engine. It helps protect the engine, all the while reducing the vibration of the machine. The fact that this component is purely made of steel may also add to the tool’s durability.
You can also not fail to mention the wheels since they are top-notch. They are quite robust, and their 14” diameter is as well quite impressive.
For the user, the size of the wheels combined with the engine will mean a more relaxed time for you as you are doing your lawn maintenance. Also, with the trimmer line being 0.155,” it will be hard to find a patch of grass or brush that you cannot easily cut through.
You can as well not do a review of EARTHQUAKE M205 and fail to mention the handlebar. Included in its design are adjustment knobs that should help reduce the size of the device for more comfortable transport and storage.
Transport may also be made easier by the weight of the device. At about 64 lbs, it is one of the lighter machines that we feature.
Cutting height for the machine is as well adjustable. As such, your lowest cutting height is 0.15,” while the highest comes in at 3.0”. There also have to be a few other height options in-between.
The last impressive component of the purchase is the warranty. At five years coverage, it would be hard to find a better deal warranty-wise.
Adjustable cutting height
Large, durable wheels
Replacing strings can be a bit challenging
Does not perform all that well when faced with tall grass
Cub Cadet has also been an authority in the making of utility vehicles, lawnmowers as well as a lot of other power equipment. As such, it is no surprise that one of their devices features on our list.
The 14” wheels are already one of the more noteworthy components of the machine. They are, of course, complemented by an offset deck. The benefit of this design is that you will be able to reach a lot of corners and work around many obstacles.
As well, the engine is a 159cc with auto choke, which is impressive. Also, the trimmer line diameter is a crucial area that a lot of users will look into. The device provides for a 0.155” line.
For storage, the folding handle might come in handy. A three-year limited residential warranty may also prove to be enough incentive for a few people to consider the purchase.
Concerning the features, you will see a lot of similarities between this machine and the editor’s choice. One obvious one is the size of the wheel. As such, you can expect similar levels of performance with how the tool moves on your lawn.
Also, the product weighs just under 80 lbs. Consequently, this is one of the heavier models to feature on our list. However, for most people, this is not likely to matter.
Once they have it in their homes, the only place they are going to be moving it is from storage to the backyard or front yard and back. This does not often require you to lift the device.
The 159cc engine is also quite similar with regards to displacement. Nevertheless, the design is different, and you can expect a negligible difference in power.
Of course, if you want full service from the device, you should endeavor to keep it in tip-top condition. This means using fresh oil in the tank. Also, cleaning it after use may help.
If it suffers any manufacturing defects when it arrives or gets damaged, you will be glad to have the 2-year warranty backing you up.
You will as well want to know the coverage area on the device. It provides for a 22” cutting swath, which is the maximum diameter of almost all other products on the list.
The comfort holding handle also has to feature in your considerations of the device. This is in addition to the recoil manual starting mechanism that should prove reliable over time.
Wide cutting swath
The device is not ideal for large patches of land and grass
At close to $300, the Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SWFT15022 machine is moderately priced. The OHV engine is another significant benefit of purchasing this machine.
You get 150cc displacement, and as such, you should be good to go on the power front. The trimming line diameter of 0.155” as well will be an advantage when you encounter thick brush.
Similar to the ARIENS COMPANY 946154, this machine comes with CARB certification. As such, you are assured that fumes will be nothing to worry about.
Additionally, the device comes with EPA certification as well.
Some users may be underwhelmed with the 12” wheel size. Nevertheless, finding terrain and grass that these wheels can’t handle is a difficult exercise.
As to the handle, a foam grip seems to be among the key components. This makes sure you are comfortable while handling the machine even for more extended periods.
The handle can also fold up, which might be necessary if you are trying to save up on storage space. Also, lifting the device and putting it onto your truck shouldn’t be all that difficult. After all, it only weighs 50 lbs.
Two years’ coverage is what you get with regards to warranty. Also, perhaps the most underwhelming aspect of the tool is the cutting height. You get precisely 1.5” with no possibility of adjustment. As such, this severely limits your trimming options.
Nevertheless, if you can get around this small limitation, you will find the tool ideal for your landscaping operations.
The image above portrays a gadget that is different from all others on the list concerning the design. This can both be a good and a bad thing.
For one, the Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SWSTM4317 has the advantage of weightlessness. At just 39 lbs, it weighs close to half of what other devices have to offer.
Also, you find the cutting swath at 17” to be the smallest one so far. These factors may turn off some people from buying the trimmer. Nevertheless, one shouldn’t make that decision lightly without considering some of the benefits.
One of the pros of the device is the 12” wheels. This should be workable even if you have the worst terrain in your backyard.
Controls to the device are quite close to the handle. Consequently, it should prove easy to tweak any parameters that the tool allows you to change. The device can even swivel the head up to 30° while you maintain the same push direction.
This 30° angle will allow you to cut the brush along the wall with relative ease. There are even adjustments that will let you control how the edge of your lawn ends up looking.
The EPA and CARB certification help propel the status of the Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SWSTM4317 even further. As to the trimmer line diameter, you have your pick of two options. These are the 0.95” and the 0.105” diameter strings that are as well easy to find.
One of the components that you don’t find in a lot of the competitors is the onboard string storage compartment. Consequently, they are within reach and easily accessible whenever you need them. As well there is a trimmer guide provided to ensure you cut your trimmer lines to the perfect size.
EPA and CARB certified
Trimmer head swivel
Variable trimmer line diameter
Small cutting swath
The engine is not the most powerful, and it struggles with taller and thicker grass
Most individuals don’t just wake up one morning and decide to get a string trimmer. They often need to determine whether the tool is worth getting or not. Of course, the decision to make the purchase is followed by research on budget requirements as well as which models provide the best value. If you did this independently, it would take up a lot of your time and resources. However, since our team has already done this, we wish to save you the hassle. This is why we have provided the purchase options above as well as their benefits. Also, the process of deciding which of the devices to pick from the list above will be easier if you read the buying guide below.
What is a walk behind string trimmer?
A walk behind string trimmer is a gardening tool that works more or less like a lawnmower. It is able to cut through shrubs and brush easily. One significant difference between the two gadgets is the cutting elements. While the lawnmower uses a blade, the string trimmer uses a string of a particular diameter to cut through grass and small plants.
Most of these devices are not self-propelling; hence they need you to walk behind and push them forward.
Benefits of walk-behind string trimmers
If you decide to pick these tools over regular lawn mowers, then you will likely know about the benefits. For one, these gadgets are safer than their counterparts.
Lawnmowers use blades to cut grass, which are just as capable of cutting through skin and bones as well. Should an accident happen, the lawnmower will definitely cause more damage to your body. You needn’t worry about that with a string trimmer.
Replacing the strings should also be easier than replacing blades. Additionally, it should be cheaper. This is because strings are as well easily accessible from various vendors.
Walk-behind string trimmers also often have offset decks. This makes it easier to reach some tight spaces. As well they are able to cut close to various buildings as well as around obstacles.
Things to consider before buying a walk behind string trimmer
In addition to the benefits of each model, there are a couple of things you need to consider before making your selection and consequent purchase. This is because different models will be suited to different users. Of course, given that we are trying to make your work easier most of the things you need to consider are listed below.
How big is the area you are going to cover
You don’t often find string trimmer machines designed with a specific lawn size in mind. Nevertheless, if you are going to use it on a relatively large area, you will want a more powerful engine. This is because it can get the job done much faster and easier.
On the other hand, it’s not the best financial decision to buy top of the line products for a small piece of lawn. A device that costs half as much will still get the job done.
Kind of the area you are going to work in
There are walk behind string trimmer machines that are suited to open grounds. Others are more suited to working around barriers such as trees, statues, ponds, and fences. One example of such is the Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SWSTM4317 due to its head swivel.
As such, you would do well to study the area you are going to work in and select the appropriate equipment for it.
Who is going to do the trimming
The person to do the trimming should also be a key focus area concerning the purchase. This is often in regards to the controls of the device. As such, controls that are closer to the engine should be no problem for a young, healthy person. They can bend over and adjust them accordingly.
On the other hand, if the user is older, bending may present a problem. As such, it would be a better decision to spend the extra money and get a tool with controls closer to the top.
Of course, the device is not going to spend all of its time in your backyard. It will need a shelter away from the elements while it is not in use. This may be in your shed or even garage.
More significant devices will take up more space. The handle may exacerbate this problem as well if it doesn’t fold down.
If you want to purchase any piece of equipment, you need to set aside some money. How much you set aside is dependent on your income as well as recurrent expenditure and constitutes your budget.
Of course, some of the devices you encounter will fit within your budget while some won’t. If you find that the machine you want costs much more than you have, you can change it up for a lower-end model. Alternatively, you can save up more money for the purchase.
Features to consider when purchasing a walk behind string trimmer
The features that make up each device will constitute its overall value. They are also likely to influence how well the tool performs when you put it on your grass. Since features are also part of the decision, we have provided in-depth information on them below.
Of course, the engine is one of the more essential aspects of the device. Just by looking at the specs, you can tell if it is powerful enough for the job at hand.
Of course, some of the engines in the market will provide more torque. Others have the advantage of using up less fuel. Also, it is not surprising to find that different types of engines use different types of fuel.
Two of the more common types of engines you find on walk behind string trimmers are the 2-stroke and 4-stroke options.
The 2-stroke engine generally tends to be lighter since it has fewer components. It is also seemingly more efficient in its energy production process.
With regards to the stroke, it can be defined as movement from the top dead center of the cylinder to the bottom dead center. It could also be the movement from the bottom dead center back to the top dead center. As such movement up and down should be considered as two strokes.
In a two-stroke engine, that is enough to complete the power production cycle. If you know the cycle, then you know the steps involved. They include intake where fuel and air come into the cylinder. The next step is the compression of the gases and fuel, which is then followed by combustion.
A spark plug is necessary for the combustion process to start; hence is included in the cylinder. Lastly, you get the exhaust stage where the smoke from the combusted fuel and gas is let out of the cylinder.
As mentioned before, a 2-stroke engine can pull off all these steps in a single up and down motion hence the name. On the other hand, the 4-stroke engine needs two cycles of the same to pull off the same power production cycle. You will have to pick out one of these two based on the power they produce as well as how they affect the design of the machine.
Another thing that matters is the type of fuel that the device uses. Oil and gas are the two main options to pick from. Of course, each option has advantages of its own, and it may come down to personal preferences.
What we advise is that you go for the gas option if it is available. It constitutes cleaner energy production without giving up much power.
Most of these trimmer devices come with a manual start mechanism or, as it is more aptly named the recoil start. They are inexpensive but will require you expend some of your energy to start the machine. They are also more reliable.
Also, most devices come with a variable cutting height. You can thus move the trimmer up or down depending on your cutting needs at the time. A prime example of this is the EARTHQUAKE M205 that can cut from 0.15” up to 3.0”.
The thicker the line, the more durable it is. As such thick lines can handle dense and thick plants with relative ease. They will also take longer to wear out. Nevertheless, most of these walk behind string trimmers will dictate the diameter of the string you can use.
If you check on the list provided, you will see that almost all the devices mentioned will allow for a 0.155” line diameter. The Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SWSTM4317 stands out since it provides for two string diameters, which are the 0.95” and the 0.105” options.
Bigger is not always better, but in the case of walk-behind string trimmers, go for the machine with the most prominent wheels you can get. 12” is the baseline as it will still allow you to glide over different terrain with relative ease.
Not many people consider the handlebars of these devices as deal breakers in whether they buy the devices or not. Nevertheless, some of them provide extra benefits and are easier to work with.
An example of such is in whether the handlebar has any foam or comfort material. If it is included, it will be more comfortable to hold and use the machine for extended periods. Conversely, you can purchase a pair of comfortable gloves if it doesn’t.
Also, how close are the controls to the handlebar? This will tell you how easy it is to change the torque without letting go of the bar.
Dimensions and weight
Lightweight devices are more comfortable to lift and carry around if you ever need to transport them to a different location. Also, they tend to be smaller in stature.
You may also appreciate the fact that they take up less storage space. However, this may not be ideal as the small size may eat into the functionality of the invention. You can see this in how the small stature of the Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SWSTM4317 eats into the cutting area.
If you are looking to own one of these tools for the long term, an extended warranty is probably a good idea. The five-year warranty provided by the EARTHQUAKE M205, for instance, is ideal. However, you should know most manufacturers will offer less than that.
You may still be left with more than one item in your shortlist after considering all the features above. You can break the tie by bringing in any extra features that the devices may have. Examples of such include the CARB certification provided for the ARIENS COMPANY 946154 model.
There are three common ways for restringing, which all start with the same two steps.
The first is making sure the device is turned off. After that, you need to prepare the line. Always make sure the length, as well as the width of the line, coincide with the device in question.
With a single-line trimmer, you then need to remove the retaining cap. This component is usually found on the trimmer head.
Next, look for a starter hole on the spool. Once found, insert the line and start to wind the spool. During this process, follow the direction of the arrows. As well make sure that you maintain straight rows for the line as you wind it up.
This will prevent the machine from jamming up in the future. You then line up part of the line with the slot that leads outside the trimmer head. This is followed by replacing the spool and the cap.
You can test out the line by tugging at it. By doing this, you ensure that it feeds smoothly. The same process can be repeated for a double line trimmer.
Speed-feed trimmers are the easiest to restring. Put the string through one of the two eyelets provided on the trimmer head. If you push it in far enough, it should come out of the eyelet on the opposite end.
Make sure that both ends are even in length. Next, you rotate the head until the string left exposed is of a reasonable size. Five to six inches is often recommended.
The EARTHQUAKE model features here because of the warranty as well as swing away handle. The big-size wheels may also have a bit of input.
Right above that, you find the ARIENS model. CARB compliance is not easy to come by, and yet this machine delivers. Also, it comes with a strong steel body that will make it hard for the engine to get damaged. As such, you will likely not have to use the warranty.
Another top product is the Remington RM1159. If your lawn is relatively large, this is the tool for you. However, don’t feel pressured to pick any of these three. There is no one-size-fits-all string trimmer and so you can pick any out of the seven we have mentioned above.