Super String Trimmers

Love the look of a well-manicured lawn? Consumer Reports tested more than 40 string trimmers and found 13 that make the cut … and a few that don't.

Peter Sawchuk with Consumer Reports explains, "Propane-powered trimmers aren't the best choice. You pay more for the convenience of not having to deal with gasoline, and they tend to be heavier."

Gasoline is still the way to go for maximum power. Brands like Echo and Stihl were tops in the tests for fast, neat trimming and edging. Plus they have the muscle to slice through heavier growth.

The Stihl FS 45 is the top-rated trimmer. It did an excellent job edging, trimming, and cutting through tall grass, and the curved shaft makes this $160 trimmer easy to use.

If you want to skip the fumes and pull-starting, your choices have gotten better.

Peter says, "There are powerful plug-in trimmers out there. They start with the push of a button, run as long as you need them, but you are limited to the length of the cord."

But battery-powered trimmers can give you push-button starts and cordless freedom. The Black and Decker NST-1024 cut cleanly with one pass and performed adequately in taller growth. It's a Consumer Reports Best Buy at $140.

The catch - the battery gives you only 15 minutes or so of cutting time -- and takes about 10 hours to recharge.

So maybe gas isn't such a hassle after all.

Whichever string trimmer you choose, Consumer Reports recommends wearing goggles, long pants, and sturdy shoes.

Consumer Reports also recommends hearing protection, particularly with gas trimmers, which can be pretty noisy.

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