How to Edge A Lawn with A String Trimmer

Many homeowners want to get clean edges on their lawns but are hesitant to invest in an edger. Edgers are costly, and they accrue gas and battery costs just like trimmers and mowers.

The savvy homeowner can edge a yard using a string trimmer. However, edging is not this tool’s intended use, and following safety guidelines is important. When used carefully, a string trimmer can provide a neat lawn edge.

edging lawn with a string trimmer

Choosing a string trimmer for edging

While you can use any string trimmer to edge your lawn with great results, it becomes a lot easier when you have one with an edging attachment or a flip-down edging guide. The edging attachments and guides are becoming more and more popular as homeowners are looking for more of an “all-in-one” tool for their lawn.

Gas vs. electric string trimmers for edging

It’s definitely a lot faster to edge your lawn with a gas-powered string trimmer vs. an electric model. The reason is simple: more power. To get a truly pristine edge, you need to cut into the dirt in your lawn a little bit. Nothing does this better than the power of a gas trimmer.

It’s definitely possible to do the same with an electric edger, just a little less efficient and slower. However, it’s worth considering an electric string trimmer nowadays since they have much more power in lithium batteries. Try to find a trimmer with at least an 18V battery and 3mah or higher for the best results and the longest battery life. There’s nothing more frustrating than having your string trimmer’s battery die before you finish all your edging.

Positioning the string trimmer correctly

A string trimmer is designed for horizontal rather than vertical use, so many aspects of the tool are not great for edging unless you buy one with an edging attachment. You must position a string trimmer correctly in order to edge efficiently and keep yourself safe. Eye, hearing, and hand protection are recommended.

First, determine the string trimmer’s direction of rotation to ensure debris flies away from you. Once the trimmer is facing away from you, rotate the handle to lift the weed guard. Aim to position the trimmer head so that the cut is vertical, rather than horizontal.

There are a few ways to get the trimmer head into a 90-degree position. You can hold the back end of the trimmer up near your shoulder. It will look at though it is resting on your shoulder, though you should still grasp the trimmer with your hands. If you have a trimmer with edging attachment or guide, you’ll have a much easier time since they’re ergonomically designed for edging.

Mind the distance between the back end of the trimmer and your head, especially if you’re using a gas trimmer. The heat from the engine can burn you if it comes into contact with your skin.

If you don’t want to hold the trimmer this close to your head, you can also get the trimmer into a 90-degree position by maintaining the angle with lowered hands. It might be more difficult to maintain this position your first time, but it does work as an alternative option.

Using the string trimmer to edge

Once you’ve mastered this position, start the trimmer and begin to edge carefully around your yard.

You can either edge from the sidewalk/driveway side of the grass, or you can stand on the lawn. Either of these positions will work, and you can choose to edge from where you feel most comfortable. One side might feel easier than the other depending on whether you are right or left-handed.

Once you start edging, the most important part of the process is maintaining the trimmer head’s 90-degree angle. You may need to stop to change your trimmer’s string or adjust your hand positioning.

edging grass along sidewalk

Professional landscapers move quickly as they edge, but keep in mind that you don’t need to move at too fast a pace. This is especially true if this is your first time edging with a trimmer. Keep a steady walking rhythm as you move around the edge of your yard.

Common Mistakes While Edging with a String Trimmer

It’s easy to make some of these common mistakes when learning how to edge with a trimmer. Follow along below to make sure your edging is neat and safe.

Using string that’s too short

When your trimmer’s string shrinks below four inches, it’s difficult to cut a clean edge around your yard. You may chop into the edge more than you want and create an uneven line.

Additionally, a short string can get stuck inside your trimmer head and removing it will cost you time. To avoid this, change out your string before it gets too short.

Bad Positioning

As you edge, it’s easy to relax your arms and lose the trimmer head’s 90-degree angle. Make sure that you maintain this angle as you work. If you shrink your angle from the grass side of the edge, you may cut the grass so that it leans too far away from the sidewalk. If you shrink your angle from the sidewalk side, the grass may still hang over the edge.

If you make this mistake your first time, there’s no cause for concern. Simply keep in mind that repeating these practices will alter the shape of your lawn’s edge over time. Poor edging technique can exacerbate a gap between the sidewalk and your yard, or it can lead the grass to grow at a strange angle around the edges.

Ignoring the direction of rotation

Usually, string trimmers rotate clockwise. It’s a good idea to check the direction of rotation before you begin edging.

You want to walk so that the grass clippings rotate away from you and do not get bogged down under the trimmer. Traveling the opposite direction will send debris toward you and slow the trimmer. It’s difficult to edge when the tool has to cut through grass clippings as well as the lawn itself.

Rotation is another aspect to consider when you’re deciding how to hold your trimmer. Pick a position that is comfortable but also efficient and safe.

Moving too quickly

As we mentioned above, trying to edge too fast with a trimmer can ruin your line and risk injury. Try to maintain a pace that still allows you to hold your trimmer correctly. Be especially careful if you are completely new to these techniques.

Forgetting about safety

Safety equipment is a must for all lawn care, but it’s especially important when you’re altering a tool’s intended use. Make sure to wear eye, hand, and ear protection.

It’s easy to forget that trimmers don’t just create grass debris. They can also kick up small rocks, dust, and other more damaging substances that are laying around your yard. Put on goggles or comparable eye protection before trimming your hard.

It’s also a good idea to wear gardening gloves while you edge. These will protect your hands from debris and will help you maintain a grip on the fool while you work.

You’ll be holding the trimmer’s motor closer to your head than usual, so you’ll want to protect your hearing. Use ear plugs or over-ear protection while edging.

Final Thoughts

A string trimmer makes for a helpful edging tool for flexible homeowners. With proper technique and safety practices, you can easily re-purpose your trimmer to get a clean edge on your lawn without breaking the bank!