How To Use a Strimmer
Mowing a lawn is a job for a lawnmower – but what about those harder-to-reach areas? That’s where a strimmer comes in handy.
Highly effective and easy to handle, a strimmer fits into every nook and cranny, enabling you to finish off any grass-cutting job and keep your garden looking neat and tidy.
Throughout this article, you will learn all about strimmers, safety guides, what to look for when choosing a strimmer and how best to use a strimmer.
Types of strimmers
“Strimmer” is actually a brand name by Black and Decker that describes the tools used to cut and shape grass fields.
These tools vary in the way they’re powered. Petrol strimmers are perhaps the most powerful and affordable. They come with a two-stroke engine between 26cc and 56cc that powers the strimmer’s head.
These strimmers aren’t meant for daily household use but heavy-duty work. They have no cables attached, making it even easier to move around in a large space and more difficult terrains.
Some strimmers are powered by electricity, and you’ll need to work near an electricity socket. Although effective, you have to learn to work around the cable to avoid disengaging the strimmer from its power supply.
Others are battery-powered, and although they’re the least powerful, they are quite efficient in small areas.
Because of the battery use, you will need to either have a charging station or enough batteries to interchange them.
Battery-powered strimmers work best in small, smoother terrains and require 18v-36v Li-ion batteries to operate.
If you live in a quiet neighborhood, this is the perfect choice for you as these strimmers work quietly and are lighter to carry. The only downside is that they’re more expensive than their counterparts.
The most efficient of these strimmers are the hybrid versions that can use both electricity and batteries to power the head.
Strimmer working mechanism
Most garden tools come with blades that cut down grass; these blades tend to become blunt over time.
A strimmer is different in that it uses a nylon line that rotates as it clears vegetation. These trimmers are motor-powered, and the motor specifically causes the nylon line and spool on your strimmer’s head to spin.
The spool works as a nylon line’s support system. This tool also depends on centrifugal force to tighten the spool, essentially turning it into a sharp blade.
There are two types of strimmers here: one has an auto-feed mechanism that replenishes the strimmer head’s nylon when it wears out, and another that you have to change manually.
The nylon line and power option will tell you how effective a strimmer is. The nylon line’s rotating speed directly correlates to how much grass it can cut.
Because a motor controls the rotation, its fuelling mechanism also tells you how much your strimmer can cut.
What to look for in a strimmer
There are several things you can look for depending on the terrain you want to clear up.
First, before choosing a strimmer, decide whether it’s effective to use a brush cutter head or line spool.
If the grass you’re working on needs a trim or edging, then you need a line spool that is more lightweight than a brush-cutting blade.
Some strimmers can interchange between a nylon grass cutting line and a brush cutting blade, depending on what you need to use them for.
Strimmers come with handles to help you operate them, and each handle depends on the kind of work your strimmer is intended for.
These tools can either have the “handlebar,” “cow horn”, or looped handles. If you’re looking for a strimmer for light use, then you’ll need a looped handle.
For some heavy-duty use or on large spaces, choose strimmers with the cow horn handles.
These tools come with the distended connection between its head and motor, and this shaft can either be bent or straight.
Straight shafts are sturdier and will be more likely installed on heavier-duty strimmers. However, the best versions are more precise and can help strimmers move smoothly for a cleaner finish.
Because we are not all of the same height, grass strimmers also vary in length, and you have to try out your strimmer choice before taking it home.
Other strimmers come with adjustable shafts so that you can have them at the optimal length for both comfort and function.
Others have adjustable handles that can increase your comfort levels as you cut grass.
Other things to consider include:
- Type of cutting head
- Other included accessories such as fuel bottle and harness
Read the instructions manual
There are several things you should look into before using your strimmer.
First, like any other electrical appliance, your strimmer comes with an instructions manual.
Remember that strimmers come with sharp cutting tools, so you should know what methods will work with your strimmer, storage methods and maintenance mechanisms.
Next, clear your garden of all debris so that nothing spoils your strimmer.
If you have any outdoor furniture, clean and cover them so that the grass and vegetation cut doesn’t litter them.
If you have garden tools on your lawn, then this is the best time to find an alternative storage space. Remove all the junk, including stones, and you’re now good to go.
Stones are especially dangerous because they can fly around as you strim, which may hurt you.
Stones can also damage your strimmer’s tips. You may need eye and ear protection depending on the trimmer you’re using.
Finally, you need safety equipment such as gloves, safety boots, and brushcutter trousers.
How to use a strimmer
Turn your strimmer on
The next step is to connect your strimmer to power, especially if it’s connected to electricity, then turn the strimmer on.
Strimmers come in different sizes and have different ways to turn them on.
The best bet is to read your instructions manual. Strimmers mostly have a power switch that starts the motor.
Check your spool line’s rotation
Your strimmer’s spin cycle determines how sharply it cuts grass; it may spin either clockwise or counterclockwise.
The spool line’s motion will tell you where it will discard the grass from. If the line rotates anti-clockwise, then then your strimmer will discard cut grass d from the left. This would mean that the line cuts best on the right side.
This information is important because it will determine where you’re positioned when strimming. If you stand in the wrong direction, you will be ejecting grass pieces onto the area that hasn’t been cut.
Hold the strimmer deep enough to cut the grass
This depends on how long the grass is and whether you’re looking to trim the grass or cut it entirely.
A grass trimmer comes marked with a trimming line that shows you how deep in the grass the appliance should be.
If your strimmer is barely touching the grass, then it won’t really do much. You should ensure that the strimmer is at least touching the grass.
There are four techniques that you can use to cut your grass effectively. These include:
Mowing or edging
This method works best with strimmers that have rotating heads.
All you have to do is turn your strimmer’s head such that it’s perpendicular to the grass so that you have a clean vertical cut.
The vertical cut then creates sharp edges making your lawn look neater. Beware of stones because in the angle you’ve placed your strimmer at, all debris will come flying towards you.
Practice makes perfect, and you’ll need to use this technique several times to understand how to do it.
If you’re using a strimmer with an adjustable shaft, then lengthen it and keep adjusting it downwards as you get used to handling the machine.
This method is similar to weeding, whereby you position your strimmer at an angle so that it’s touching the paved surface and then glade through the weeds.
This technique doesn’t require a heavy hand, and just a slight touch will do. Ensure that you’re not strimming over a hard surface because you may damage your trimming line.
Scything is more of a preparatory technique before you go in with your lawnmower.
It works best when you have long grass and involves moving your strimmer in somewhat of a U-shape.
This method also works if you’re looking to mow around obstacles like shrubs you want to keep because of the U-shape.
Looking to get a neater finish? Overlap the scythes. If you’re looking into making a wavy finish, then space out the Us.
You will need a more heavy-duty strimmer, preferably petrol, for this to work. To create that U-shape, work in gentle sweeping motions; the orientation will depend on whether the appliance cuts best on the right or left.
Tapering involves trimming around trees or shrubbery so that the grass underneath doesn’t overgrow.
With this method, you have to hold the strimmer at an acute angle. This depends on your comfort and how much vegetation you’re trying to get rid of.
Tapering helps you have a blended edge to the grass around the obstacle you’re trying to protect.
Safety precautions to take when using a strimmer
Protect yourself from injury
The best way to protect yourself from injury is by being aware of your surroundings and using protective gear.
First, start by checking out your intended strimming area for anything that may hurt you, including stones, shards of glass and wood chippings, among others, and remove them.
Next, wear protective gear, including work boots, eye and ear protectors, and gloves.
Watch out for hazards
If you’re using an electric strimmer, the first hazard would be the electric wire attached to the socket.
Move in a straight line and ensure that this cable doesn’t tangle you up or get tangled on the strimmer line.
It’s easy for a cable from an electric strimmer to trip you, and it would be even worse if you fell near the spool line.
Electricity is unforgiving so ensure that no parts of the cable are exposed. Avoid working on your lawn or garden when it’s raining or wet.
Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning
Some of these strimmers, especially the petrol-powered ones, produce carbon monoxide.
This gas is not dangerous in open spaces with enough oxygen supply, but you may be poisoned if you’re working in a tight, enclosed space. We discourage working with your strimmer indoors.
If you notice your strimmer producing too many fumes, then look into the carburetor and adjust its air intake. Keep whichever fuel you use on your strimmer away from fire hazards.
Maintaining your strimmer
Even the most durable appliance needs maintenance. Strimmers can be easily damaged because they work close to hard surfaces such as cement and stones.
These are the possible causes of strimmer damage:
Contact with a hard surface
Strimming should be strategic. When you strim close to the ground, you risk bumping your strimmer head on hard surfaces such as stones, paving edges and cemented pavements that will damage it.
To fix this, use the four cutting techniques scything, tapering, mowing and edging with their correct strimmer orientation.
Replacing damaged parts
You can easily find replacements for grass trimmers, but these should be from the same brand. Using incorrect replacement parts will open an entire box of worms. Your manufacturer will have provided replacement instruction manuals to get this right.
Like any other blade, your strimmer will undergo wear and tear after several runs. You may notice your strimmer’s line gets more brittle after winter, so always you take your strimmer out of storage after winter.
Always test your strimmer’s parts so that you’re sure that it doesn’t become useless.
You’ve learned most strimmer do’s and don’t’s throughout this article.
The most important takeaways are the safety procedures and the strimming techniques that make this household chore easy to complete.
You will need to practice a bit before you become a pro strimmer, and while on that journey, be safe and protect your house from fuel fires.
Protect yourself and pets from flying debris by looking into protective wear when strimming and locking your pets in as you work.