Getting the Most out of Your String Trimmer: Beyond Lawn Edging

When it comes to maintaining your lawn, a string trimmer can be a versatile tool that goes beyond mere edging. Traditionally thought of as a tool for creating clean lawn borders, string trimmers can also effectively cut grass in various areas of your yard, offering a dynamic alternative to the standard lawnmower. In this article, we’ll explore the different aspects of using a string trimmer for more than just edging, as well as some expert techniques for achieving optimal results.

Choosing the Right Trimmer Design

One key consideration when utilizing a string trimmer for lawn maintenance is the design of the trimmer itself. While curved-shaft trimmers are commonly used for edging due to their maneuverability, many users who venture beyond edging prefer the straight-shaft version. This preference arises from the straight-shaft trimmer’s enhanced control and effectiveness, particularly in areas under shrubs and small trees. However, the choice between curved and straight shafts ultimately depends on personal preference and the specific tasks at hand.

Understanding Spin Direction

String trimmers, akin to chainsaws, need to eject debris from their cutting path for optimal performance. A trimmer that spins counterclockwise will eject debris from its left side, making it more effective for right-side cutting. When working alongside walkways, curbs, or fences, it’s advisable to keep the right side of the trimmer closer to the work area. This ensures that debris is ejected away from the cut path, preventing accumulation and scalping, where too much grass is cut in one pass.

Mastering Cutting Techniques

While it might seem that hovering the string trimmer over the grass and allowing the string to spin will suffice, professionals recommend employing specific cutting techniques for better control and results. The key lies in harnessing the cutting power at the ends of the trimmer’s strings.

  1. Tapering: This technique is ideal for creating neat edges along the lawn. Angle the string tips of the trimmer toward the object you’re trimming against. This allows the trimmer to cut less grass, resulting in a tight, tapered edge. Tapering also seamlessly blends the edge with the mowed grass, achieving a clean and polished appearance.
  2. Edging: When trimming parallel points between the grass and driveways or walkways, turn the trimmer so that the string is vertical. Walk the trimmer along the cut path to eject debris as you go. Even if dirt, rocks, or other debris are pulled up during the process, don’t worry. For lawns without a pre-defined edge, gradual trimming each week will help achieve the desired edge over time.
  3. Scything: When dealing with obstacles or tall grass, the scything method comes in handy. Move the trimmer head in a shallow U motion against the grass. Overlapping these motions ensures an even cut, effectively managing tall grass or obstructed areas.
  4. Screeding: For grass and weeds growing in driveways, paths, or sidewalk cracks, the screeding method is effective. Tip the trimmer so that the string tips lightly touch the pavement, then cut flush into the hard surface while moving into the weed or grass base. This technique requires precision – too shallow an angle will be ineffective, while too sharp an angle will hinder an even cut.

By adopting these expert techniques, you can make the most of your string trimmer and expand its functionality beyond mere lawn edging. Whether you’re tapering edges, edging walkways, scything through tall grass, or screeding hard surfaces, mastering these methods will contribute to a well-maintained and aesthetically pleasing lawn. Remember, each technique requires practice, so take your time to perfect them and transform your string trimmer into a versatile tool for all your lawn care needs.

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