Weed eaters are some of the best tools available for cutting hard to reach weeds and keeping your yard looking neat; however, they cannot work well unless equipped with the right type of weed trimmer line. You might think that all trimmer lines are the same, but there’s nothing farther from the truth!
There are many types of lines for sale that will help you accomplish different purposes. Choosing the best type for your needs is all a matter of knowing what you need and fitting the right line to this need.
- THE IMPORTANCE OF CHOOSING THE RIGHT LINE
An average weed eater is not designed to accept just any type of line you have and will need a specific type to function properly. If you don’t choose the right type, you may not even be able to use the weed eater or it may run inefficiently.
How can you know which types of line your weed eater takes? It should be listed in the owner’s manual of the device. There will be a model number given for the basic string that your device operates with as well as some information about alternative types of string for your machine.
Before you purchase a weed eater, it’s good to know that the type of string it accepts is what you need to sort out your lawn’s issues. If you already own a weed eater, you can still change the types of lines you can use by installing a different trimmer head onto your current device. The head is the part of the weed eater that holds and spin the string, so if you replace it with a new head than you will be able to use a new type of line.
- DIFFERENCES IN WEED TRIMMER LINES
Never assume that a spool of line will work with your device unless you know for sure that it’s the right type! Slight variations in the diameter or shape of the line can render your weed eater completely useless if they cannot be accommodated properly in the trimmer head.
With that in mind, there are only two real ways that trimmer lines can differ. The size (diameter) and shape of the line are the only important facts to consider when making your choice. Occasionally a brand will offer some specialty line made of a different material or fitted to the trimmer head in a unique way, but in general these are not very important details for you to learn about to make the best choice of line.
Here is a bit more about the differences in trimmer lines:
While you might be told that there are only a few generic shapes of line, this is actually incorrect. Some standard shapes do exist consistently from brand to brand, but then each brand will also make their own unique shapes of trimmer line that cannot be found with other companies.
Universally there are so many different shapes of line, but these are some of the most common types you’ll run into at a local hardware store:
If you only want a basic, reliable, all-purpose trimmer line than you should be satisfied with round line. This is the standard type of line that comes stock in most home-use weed eaters. Round line is sturdy enough to cut well and does not break off quickly, making it ideal for longer sessions of cutting regular household weeds and grass.
For a medium heavy duty line, try a square trimmer line. Square shaped lines can cut through much thicker weeds than round line and will make heavier cuts to whatever you are clearing away. Be careful when using this type of line around any sensitive items in the yard which might be damaged by it such as trees, shrubs, wooden fences, etc.
- Multi-sided (5+ sides)
Like the square line, this shape is intended for use with medium and heavy duty jobs as it is stronger line against thick weeds and some brush. You’ll get a cleaner cut with lines that have more edges, but the downside is that the line is more fragile when it comes in contact with hard surfaces such as the driveway, curbs, and otherwise. Most often these shapes are used only in a commercial context.
Lines that are twisted in shape offer very strong cutting strength for heavy workloads. These lines are usually a bit pricier than other types, but they offer a lot of advantages for that price. Not only do you get a line that can cut through almost anything would trouble, you also won’t have as much vibration coming through the line nor will the cutting be as loud as it is with many other commercial strength lines. Twisted trimmer lines are ideal for professional lawn care providers.
With a serrated edge similar to that of a kitchen knife or a saw, this line shape has excellent cutting power. It cuts more quickly than some of the rounder shapes, but has a tendency to “snag” on the heavy weeds and feel as though the weed eater is getting pulled downwards. This is harmless, but you will have to make sure you can hold onto it when this happens. You can get a job done quickly with serrated line and it works well on medium-heavy weeds.
Trimmer lines in any shape are available in multiple sizes. The thinner the line is, the harder time it will have with heavier brush. Larger line sizes can more easily cut through heavy weeds and brush and won’t break off as easily.
As with the line shapes, not all trimmers accept various line sizes. Find out what the optimal line size range is for your trimmer and stick with it consistently. If you want a different size range, install a new trimmer head.
Each range of sizes is designed for a certain workload. Here is a useful list to help you remember:
- 0.065 – 0.080: Light work (Grasses only and thin, grass-like weeds)
- 0.085 – 0.105: Medium work (Grasses and regular non-woody weeds of varying thickness)
- 0.110 and above: Heavy work (Grasses, weeds of all types, thin woody brush)
- MAKING YOUR FINAL DECISION
The type of line you use won’t necessarily dictate how much you can accomplish, but it can make a big difference on how efficiently you are able to work. When it all comes down to it, you have to choose a trimmer line type that works with your weed eater. If you have a weed eater that only takes a certain line and you want to use a different kind, you might be able to change the trimmer head to adjust it. Otherwise, you need to read your owner’s manual or consult a technician to know what your options are.
Sarah Eberle qualified and became a member of the Landscape Institute in 1980. Over the last 26 years she has practised landscape architecture and garden design, running her own business in Devon.
During the 1990s, Sarah joined Hillier Landscapes as Design Director, where she is still a shareholder but also runs her own practice in Hampshire.
Sarah has an esteemed record in RHS shows, having won eight Gold medals, Best in Show and the George Cook award for innovation twice at Hampton Court. Sarah has also exhibited at Tatton Park and BBC Gardeners’ World Live.