During spring, the tell-tale signs of the season’s growth become evident with lush undergrowth thickening along roadside verges and hedgerows. Ponds and ditches suddenly become lost from view. Often, this growth will need to be cleared or trimmed to keep your garden looking neat and tidy. Of course, commercial operators and landscapers, including farmers and council workers, clear undergrowth on a regular basis throughout the year.
The challenge is that while this job can be achieved with powerful lawn mowers, they might struggle with areas that are either too thick or inaccessible. They can potentially be too large or cumbersome to access the mixed and varied areas where undergrowth penetrates.
In such circumstances, a brush cutter or strimmer is ideal. Small, lightweight and manoeuvrable, they are indispensable to any gardener that owns a property with grassy areas that are difficult to reach with a lawn mower.
But first, what’s the difference between a brush cutter and a strimmer (also called a grass trimmer or a line trimmer)?
Conventionally, a brush cutter is a straight-shafted tool with a cutting or mowing head at one end and a power unit such as a petrol engine or electric motor at the other. A strimmer is a tool with a bent shaft, attached to which is a nylon cutting line and power unit similar to that of the straight-shaft brush cutter.
The benefit of the straight-shaft brush cutter is that more power can be transferred from the engine through to the cutting tool. Very often the cutting tool is a metal blade or nylon line fed from a spool. The metal blade is best suited to clearing particularly mature or established vegetation such as bramble, nettles and similarly fibrous growth.
The bent shaft of the strimmer is not capable of transferring the same amount of power as the straight-shaft brush cutter. However, it is more accurate. This is particularly useful when clearing grass from around obstacles such as plant containers, flowerbeds and ornaments.
In brief, a brush cutter will generally accept both a nylon cutting head and a metal blade, while a strimmer or line trimmer will only accept a nylon cutting line.
With this mind, we’ve put together a selection of the best brush cutters and the best grass trimmers for domestic and professional users.
For people with small gardens, the best grass trimmer is likely to be a cordless one. They are powered by a battery and electric motor, rather than an engine requiring a petrol-based fuel mix. Cordless grass trimmers are exceptionally lightweight and easy to use.
The Bosch UniversalGrassCut 18-26 has a versatile head which enables hands-free head tilt and edging adjustments, and has the advantage of lithium-ion technology. Its rechargeable batteries give the user fast recharging times and zero drop-off in performance even when battery energy levels are low.
If you’re looking for something a little bit more powerful that’s still lightweight and affordable, then the best strimmer for you might be the Echo GT-222ES. It offers superb precision, reliable power, and has a quiet 21.2cc two-stroke petrol engine.
Husqvarna is another brand that makes some of the best brush cutters and grass trimmers in the market. If you’re looking for something capable of multi-tasking, then perhaps consider the Husqvarna 129LK. It comes with a range of attachments and is designed to tackle many gardening jobs – from trimming and pruning to cutting branches to cultivating soil.
Another excellent example of a bent-shaft line trimmer is the Honda UMS 425 LE Petrol Line Trimmer. Offering the quality that all of us expect from Honda, this line trimmer is equipped with one of Honda’s renowned 4-stroke petrol engines, giving the user extremely easy starts and peace of mind that no fuel mixing errors can occur.
Most domestic users will find that a brush cutter with an engine size of around 25cc will be sufficient for the vast majority of domestic applications. The superbly made Efco Stark 2500 S Petrol brushcutter is a fine example of a modern, clean running machine featuring a 25.4cc ‘Burn Right’ petrol engine that complies with Euro 2 emissions standards. This brush cutter is available with either a loop style handlebar or the wider grip of the bicycle style handlebars, as fitted to the Efco Stark 2500 T petrol brushcutter.
The benefit of using the loop style handlebar on a brush cutter or grass trimmer is the extra control gained from the smaller gripping surface of the loop handle, and also the ability to work in tighter, more confined areas such as the corners of vegetable gardens or arboretums. The wider stance of the twin-griped bicycle-style bars — often seen being used by contractors and council workers alongside railway lines and roadside verges — is the extra swinging or scything motion that can be achieved, and is especially useful when clearing or mowing large areas of grass and undergrowth.
Other examples of the best brush cutters you can find for domestic use include the UMK series of machines from Hona. The Honda UMK 425 LE petrol brushcutter with loop handle or the Honda UMK 425 UE petrol brushcutter with twin grips are ideal for the home user. Both feature the extremely lightweight Honda GX25 4-stroke petrol engines, a unique lubrication system, and full 360° mobility. There’s also the Echo GT-222ES that has a small but powerful 21.2cc two-stroke petrol engine.
But if you are someone who needs extra power — due to the dense or unruly nature of the vegetation to be cleared, the size of the property, or the regularity with which you need to work — then the best strimmer or brush cutter for you is probably one with a more powerful engine.
Though the Echo SRM-265TESL or Echo SRM-265TESU, loop handle and twin-grip machines respectively, boast a small engine in this class of machinery at 25.4cc, their performance is that of a larger tool, with easy starting and low vibrations coming as standard features.
Husqvarna have an Rx range of commercial brush cutters that are lightweight but powerful too. The Husqvarna 327Rx has a 24.5cc engine that offers excellent balance and power. Alternatively, you could go with the Honda UMK 435 LE or the Honda UMK 435 UE, both of which have easy starting engines and comfortable harnesses, providing great comfort and control during extended periods of use.
There’s also the superb Efco DS 3800 T Petrol Brushcutter. It’s one of the best brush cutters on the market with excellent vibration dampening properties, low emissions from ‘Burn Right’ technology, and a powerful 36.3cc two-stroke petrol engine.
If you need a truly powerful clearance tool, capable of intensive use day after day, then the best grass trimmer for you is a high-end model, one which has an engine capacity of 45cc and more.
The Echo SRM-520ESU is designed for professional gardeners and has a 50.2cc two-stroke engine. It gets the job done faster, with less fatigue. Another option is the Husqvarna 555RXT petrol brushcutter, perfect for the toughest cutting conditions with a powerful 55.3cc X-Torq petrol engine.
Here at LawnMowers Direct, we’re sure we have the best strimmer or brush cutter for you. If you’re not sure which device is right for you, then, please feel free to call us at 01603 255825, where a member of our trained sales team will assist you.