If you really want to give your yard a professional finish and be the envy of your neighbors, you’ll need more than one tool to do the job.
While having a good lawnmower is vital, so too is having the right equipment to finish it off. With that in mind, we’re here to answer the age-old debate of which is better in the edger vs trimmer match up.
What do they do? How versatile are they? How fast do they get things done? Is there any real difference? Are there any alternatives?
All these questions and more will soon be answered – so read on for loads of information and let’s finally put the topic to bed.
Sample reviews, a buyer’s guide, and frequently asked questions section are also included.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you shop through the links on YardThyme, we may earn an affiliate's commission from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. For more information, read full disclosure here.
- Too Long, Didn’t Read – Edger Vs Trimmer
- Edger Vs Trimmer – Example Reviews
- Advantages and Disadvantages
- Things to Consider Before Buying an Edger or Trimmer
Too Long, Didn’t Read – Edger Vs Trimmer
Before we dive into the pros and cons of each, let’s do a quick summary of each tool and highlight the differences between the two.
But here’s the answer in a nutshell – it’s worth owning both.
What is a Lawn Edger?
Lawn edgers can either be manual or motorized and are specifically designed for edging your lawn area and tidying up the boundaries that are most commonly found between the grass and concrete walkways.
They’re ideal for use along straight edges, such as down your driveway, along sidewalks, or even around flower beds.
A manual edger is a spade-like tool with a semi-circular, bladed head that you use to cut into the grass edge.
A rotary edger is also available which falls under the manual category. Also known as a stick edger, it’s a wheeled cutter that you physically push along the lawn edge to achieve a nice, tidy finish.
Hand shears can also be used to cut the edge of the grass. The tool is available with long handles so you don’t have to crawl along on your knees.
A motorized edger does the same thing of cutting into the turf to create the edge, only it’s done by using a rotating metal blade powered either by gas or electricity.
What is a Lawn Trimmer?
Depending on where you come from, a string trimmer is known by a variety of different names around the world.
Whether it be a weed whacker, strimmer, line trimmer or even whipper snipper, they all do the same thing. They’re designed to cut grass, ground cover, and foliage – usually in difficult to reach or awkward areas.
It operates by utilizing a nylon string instead of a blade, which is fed through a motorized spinning spool and cuts with a continuous whipping action.
Some trimmers use blades, while others can use chains. This tool is more commonly known as a brushcutter and is generally used for more heavy-duty jobs. Note that chain trimmers have been banned in Europe following a fatal accident in 2010.
It’s also worth noting that string trimmers contribute significantly to microplastic waste. You’re basically distributing minuscule amounts of plastic all over your yard. Biodegradable lines or plastic alternatives should be improved and encouraged.
Trimmers can either be gas-powered or electric, with corded and cordless options available.
Edger Vs Trimmer – Example Reviews
Below you’ll find a series of short reviews on the types of edger and trimmer available on the market today.
Note that some of the pros and cons for each reflect more the type of tool it is – and not necessarily for that brand or model.
Truper 32100 Tough Rotary Lawn Edger
This is a rotary style, manual lawn edger that you use to keep sidewalks clear of grass and weeds. It’s a handy tool to have around if you don’t have a large plot of land to cover.
Offering 48-inches in length, and made from North American ash, with clear-coated gray-steel finished heads, this is a solid and dependable device that will get the smaller jobs done with little fuss.
- Well constructed tool.
- Tough and durable.
- Little maintenance required.
- Manual work.
- Not as powerful as gas or electric.
- Not suitable for larger areas.
Radius Garden 20602 PRO Edger
Another manual edger – this time in the recognizable, half-moon, spade style.
While you can get cheaper versions, this is the Cadillac of manual lawn edgers. With a super-strong stainless steel blade, and a resin-encased carbon steel shaft with extra-wide, elevated forward step for safety and performance – it’s very comfortable and effective to use.
The O-size handle offers excellent grip and is ergonomically designed to reduce stress and keep you edging for longer.
- Tough and durable.
- Low maintenance.
- Choice of colors.
- Other garden tools are available in this line.
- Not suitable for larger areas.
- It’s still manual labor.
Greenworks 12 Amp Corded Edger 27032
Here we have an example of an electric – corded edger.
The 12-amp motor offers powerful edging capabilities, while the spring-assisted front wheel provides variable blade depth to the 7.5-inch cutting edge.
The handle is adjustable for added comfort and control, and the useful integrated cord-lock feature prevents that frustrating accidental disconnect.
- Affordable price.
- Highly rated.
- Faster than a manual edger.
- Not as noisy as a gas-powered equivalent.
- Limited range with the cable.
- Maneuverability can depend on the position of sockets/extensions.
McLane 101-5.5GT-7 Gas Lawn Edger
This monster of a machine is a gas-powered, commercial-class lawn edger. These are only suitable for very large lawn areas, but it will offer you outstanding power with a professional finish every time.
It can cut vertically and horizontally, with wide rubber tires that are designed to ride on the curbside and give you a smooth, clean-cut in the process.
If you have the space and the budget, it doesn’t get much better than this for edging your lawn and walkways.
- Professional quality.
- Built to last.
- Highly rated.
- Excellent cutting angle control.
- Super-fast job time.
- Requires regular maintenance.
- Uses fuel.
- Very loud.
- Pull-handle start.
- No use in smaller areas.
Craftsman WS205 String Trimmer
An example of a good, gas-powered string trimmer with this model from Craftsman. The 25cc two-cycle gas engine and 17-inch cutting width allow you the ability to trim more grass in less time.
With easy-start technology, an adjustable handle, and the opportunity to convert the machine with other attachments and compatible brands, this is a versatile and powerful bit of help around the garden.
- Easy operation.
- Bump-feed head.
- Reduced vibration.
- Relatively lightweight.
- Large cutting width.
- Maintenance will be required.
- Needs gas.
- It can be noisy.
- You might need a back harness for longer use.
Dewalt DCST990H1 String Trimmer
As an alternative to gas-powered string trimmers, this is the 40-volt battery-powered Dewalt trimmer – and it’s a beast. The battery and charger are included, and it features a brushless motor and patented gear drive design housed in a metal gear case for durability.
Offering a 15-inch cutting swath, bump-feed line, and a fully-variable trigger to have maximum control over the speed and noise – this is a top-quality power tool to have in your locker.
- Excellent construction.
- Low maintenance.
- Quieter than gas.
- No pull cords.
- Very highly rated.
- Will only last as long as the battery.
Black+Decker LSTE525 Trimmer/Edger
We finish with an example of the two-in-one combo trimmer and edger.
This Black & Decker product is powered by a 20V battery and comes with two power-packs included. It easily converts from a trimmer to an edger and features power drive transmission for increased torque and two-speed control for extended run time.
If you want an all-in-one it’s a great option – as it’s much safer than simply turning a weed whacker on its side and trying to edge without a guard and wheel guide.
- Highly rated.
- Easy to use.
- Adjustable handle.
- The battery can be used with compatible products.
- Affordable price.
- Not nearly as good as a dedicated tool for each job.
Advantages and Disadvantages
You’ve probably already figured out the pros and cons of each, but let’s just touch on each tool’s plus points and also their limitations in the trimmer vs edger showdown.
Perhaps the main advantage an edger has over a trimmer is that it’s a dedicated tool that is specifically designed for the purpose of edging your lawn.
Whether manual or motorized, its one job is to keep your borders neat and tidy.
Motorized edgers are ideal for long, straight edges. If you’ve got a lot of ground to cover, this power tool will be your best bet.
It’s also not going to be as much effort as a string-trimmer or manual edger, as you simply walk behind and push the machine along to create a nice, sharp edge.
With a manual edger, it’s worth noting that this handy tool is considerably cheaper than anything that’s motorized. It’s a great option if you’re on a budget, or even if you need to touch up smaller areas or anything you might have missed.
For the manual edger, the obvious disadvantage is that it takes a lot of work. It’s not at all ideal if you’re trying to edge a larger area.
Aside from that, both manual and motorized edgers are really only suitable for one job. They’re certainly not as versatile as a string trimmer.
Certain motorized edgers can also be large, heavy and cumbersome.
A trimmer is an essential piece of gardening equipment for anyone who likes to take care of their yard. It’s a super versatile tool for tackling weeds, difficult to mow areas, tough terrain and for cutting around obstacles.
They can also be used to edge if required – which is a great option if you’re just looking to purchase one tool only.
String trimmers are easy to store – they certainly won’t take up as much space as the larger edgers on the market.
When it comes to speed, trimmers will win over an edger any day of the week. Having said that, there really isn’t much in it.
If you want a well-manicured lawn, you’ll need a string trimmer in your arsenal.
Edging with a string trimmer is just not as neat or as accurate as with a dedicated edger. It will also take a lot of practice to get right, and the results will heavily depend on the skill of the user.
Turning the string trimmer over to expose the spool without the guard can also be more dangerous.
By the very nature of the way they operate, string trimmers can whip up grass and other debris, and they have been known to cause damage to property and even serious injury.
Although string trimmers are moderately lightweight, they will start to become heavy after a while. A back harness is recommended for supporting the more professional and heavy-duty models.
Such models can also be difficult to control and they should only be operated by someone who knows what they’re doing. You might find that the vibrations the machine will cause in your hands and arms to be very uncomfortable and sometimes painful.
Gas-powered string trimmers can be very loud and they’re not the most environmentally friendly tools available as they emit fumes.
As previously mentioned, string trimmers also contribute to microplastic waste as the spool string regularly snaps.
Things to Consider Before Buying an Edger or Trimmer
Below you’ll find some food for thought before making your choice on which tool is right for you.
The Type and Size of the Job
First of all, you should establish what you need the tool for on and around your property – or wherever you’re doing the work.
If you only own a small yard and you’re physically capable, it might be a good idea just to have a manual spade-edger.
If you have plenty of long, straight edges to your lawn in a large yard, a motorized edger is the way to go.
For dealing with weeds, leveling the grass in hard-to-reach areas, or cutting around garden obstacles, a trimmer is the right choice.
Once you’ve established what you need to use the tool for, you can then decide on what kind of power source it should have.
As previously mentioned, edgers can be manual, gas, or electric – with corded and cordless models available.
Trimmers can be gas-powered or electric – also corded or cordless.
The type you choose will depend on a number of factors.
Gas tools will offer you much more power, but they are expensive to own and run, and they can be very heavy and often need a supporting harness. Fuel and maintenance costs can soon add up, and they’re considerably louder to operate than other models.
Corded tools are cheaper, but you have serious limitations when it comes to freedom which will depend on your electric socket locations. However, they’re so much lighter than any other power source and can be ideal for anyone who isn’t as strong as they once were.
Tools with battery packs can offer excellent power with the freedom to roam – but they are limited to how long the charge lasts and you’ll need to juice them up eventually. Battery packs can also get heavy.
Your own physical condition is a very important consideration that you should never overlook when purchasing power tools.
You need to be able to safely hold and operate the machine without doing any injury to yourself or anyone in the vicinity.
In spite of this being somewhat obvious, accidents still regularly happen because this essential factor is often ignored.
Be honest with yourself and err on the side of caution if you’re in any doubt.
If you have any back problems, a trimmer will remind you of them very quickly.
So, if you have a small lawn, I recommend you read this article on some of the best options for a good lawn mower for small yards. The list includes small (in size and weight) lawn mowers that can easily be used as a trimmer to go over tricky places.
Or you can always get someone else to do the job for you – which is considerably better than losing a limb.
The condition of your garden can have a big impact on the type of machine you need to tackle it.
This might include hilly or tough terrain, difficult obstacles such as trees, flower beds or water features, and even the type of grass and strength of weeds.
If you’re trying to tame a jungle, you’ll need to make sure the tool is up to the task.
Likewise, if it’s no more than a little light pruning, an expensive gas-powered beast is going to be overkill.
Just a trimmer won’t cut it! Literally, you’ll be exhausted even before the gas or battery end on your trimmer.
Two-in-One Edger and Trimmers
You might notice that there are some machines that claim to do both jobs. The jury is still out on whether or not this is actually true.
Be wary of combo-tools that incorporate both an edger and a trimmer. While they might seem like a good investment, there is simply no substitute for using a dedicated tool for each job.
Having said that, I have included a decent example of a combo edger and trimmer in the reviews above for your consideration.
When purchasing a trimmer or edger, costs can vary wildly, with some professional tools setting you back well over $1000.
Again, think about the type of job, how often you will use the tool, and your own budget.
Always purchase the best you can afford – but with a little bit of research, there’s no reason you won’t be able to obtain excellent results at the right price.
Do I Need a Lawn Edger?
You don’t need one. You can get away with mowing your lawn and leaving the edges if you really want – but it will look as untidy as an uneven haircut.
If you really want that super-neat finish that’s very pleasing on the eye, then an edger is an essential item to add to your gardening tool collection.
Is a Trimmer the Same as an Edger?
While a trimmer has the capability to edge, the two are essentially different tools for two completely different jobs.
For cutting brush, ground cover, grass and foliage in difficult to mow areas – you need a trimmer.
For finishing your lawn with a nice neat edge – you need an edger.
There really doesn’t need to be a string trimmer vs edger debate at all. Just get both!
What Is The Best Lawn Edger/Trimmer?
This comes down to a matter of personal preference.
The chosen power source will also dictate the best edgers and trimmers in that particular class.
I’ve added several examples in the review section above that I think are quality tools. They should point you in the right direction.
If you’re looking for decent manufacturers, you can’t go wrong with Greenworks, DeWalt, Black & Decker, Craftsman, Ego, Husqvarna, Troy-Bilt, Ryobi, Echo, Worx, and Honda.
When Should I Use a Trimmer or an Edger?
Generally, you’ll want to use your edger and trimmer when you mow the lawn. You’ll know yourself how often you need to do this through the season.
Mow the lawn first, finish the hard-to-reach areas with the trimmer, then polish up the borders with your edger.
When in doubt, simply use the tools when the lawn isn’t looking its best and it doesn’t have a neat and tidy aesthetic.
What Safety Gear Do I Need When Operating One of These Tools?
When using any power tools or gardening equipment, safety needs to be the number one priority.
This is particularly true when it comes to using the trimmer. Trimmers can be very dangerous if not operated correctly.
Always wear good-quality work gloves. The vibrations that a powerful trimmer gives off can play havoc with your hands.
Safety goggles or eye-wear is essential when using a trimmer – especially if you’re trying to use it as an edger and exposing the line. The guard is there for a reason, and trimmers are notorious for spewing debris everywhere.
Finally, you should be using ear protection if operating gas-powered tools as they can be very loud. This is especially true if you have a lot of ground to cover as exposure to this noise for extended periods of time can do lasting damage to your hearing.
As these two very useful garden tools actually do completely different jobs, we shouldn’t really have an edger vs trimmer contest.
The reality is, if you have the budget and the right size of yard, it’s highly recommended that you own both.
Then, there is only one winner – you. Your beautifully kept lawn and yard will thank you for it.
But if you really only want one tool for whatever reason, then I would suggest a trimmer.