The Best Brush Trimmers and Cutters
I am city person by birth, and never had much of a backyard until recently. One thing you do not realize in the city is how fast weeds and brush grow!
After living for a while in a big property in the suburbs, I started to understand. And I soon found out that I needed to get tooled up for a fight that would never end...
If you are also dealing with resolute undergrowth on a serious scale, I hope this page helps.
Below, there is a mix of machines that can deal with anything nature can throw at you.
Some of them can be used as brush cutters with the full array of blades. Some are powerful string cutters that can tackle lighter kinds of brush.
Rent or Buy?
If you are determined to just have a once-a-year clear up. renting a commercial-grade brush cutter can be a good choice. Most machines seem to come at a price of around sixty dollars a day.
Cost-wise, though, a smaller (but slower) homeowner-grade brush cutter can be the better choice in the long term.
Walk Behind Brush Cutters (or Brush Mowers)
These are real monsters but can rip through huge areas of really tough vegetation at around 5 miles an hour, even on slopes and rough terrain. If you have a lot of land that is rapidly turning into forest, it is worth giving a thought to renting one of these.
Handheld Brush Trimmers
For tough work, gas-powered machines are always going to be the best option.
Electric string trimmers are always useful but can only tackle soft stemmed weeds and grass and you will be limited by the need to run power cables.
How to Choose
Two-cycle or Four-Cycle?
Two-cycle (or two-stroke) gas engines are twice as powerful as four-cycle (four-stoke) engines, pound for pound.
They are a good choice for handheld machines where weight is always an issue. Even a strong, fit person will notice the difference between 10 lbs and 20 lbs, after an hour's work.
Two-cycle machines guzzle more gas, though, and the noise can drive users, pets and neighbors crazy.
If you have a big, isolated property, a pair of ear protectors will solve the noise problem. If you have near-neighbors they will be grateful if you choose a four-cycle machine.
Expect to pay more for a four-cycle machine but expect a longer life from the engine.
You will also have to mix gas and oil together for a two-cycle machine, which can get messy.
Straight or Curved Shaft?
If you are only going to buy one style and have a small property, a straight shaft is probably the best choice. They will do any kind of job a brush cutter or string trimmer can do.
A curved shaft is ideal for large. flat areas. It can be swung from side to side easily, will put less load on your back (even with a shoulder harness) but is harder to get into hollows, corners or to use on slopes.
Horn-style handles can help keep chips out of your face.
Longer shafts mean quicker work (bigger swing path) but are harder on the shoulders.
What Kind of Blades do You Need?
Blades need not be expensive and it is worth getting a good variety. The picture right illustrates some of the most useful kinds.
The simple three blade cutter is the quickest but will struggle in denser and tougher brush. The forty blade model that looks like a circular saw blade will cut woody scrub but is much slower.
I usually try a couple of blades to see which is most effective before tackling a large area.
Some blades work better in dry conditions, some are better in damp. Trial and error is the best approach!
How Much Power do You Need?
The most powerful machine produced by Husqvarna is the 345FR, aimed at landscape pros and farmers. It is a 45 cc, 2.8 horsepower two-cycle machine that will spin the blade at 12500 rpm.
This is huge power with high torque and very fast acceleration when you hit the gas. That adds up to very fast brush cutting but you can expect to pay over seven hundred dollars for the Husqvarna 345 FR.
For homeowners, anything above a 25 cc engine should get even tough jobs done, at a reasonable kind of speed.
Makita EM2650UH: Professional 4-Cycle Brush Cutter
If you are looking for a quiet, fuel efficient, easy-start machine with plenty of power, this Makita model will deliver without breaking the bank.
The 4-cycle engine will use around fifty per cent less gas than a comparable 2 stroke but there is plenty of power.
It is a straight shaft design suitable for all kinds of terrain. Horn handles help reduce back strain.
Makita blades are not always easy to find but many other blades are compatible. With a heavy-duty, sawtooth-style blade you can tackle saplings, vines and shrubs with two inch stems.
The Husqvarna 128DJx is a genuinely powerful machine with a 28 cc, two-cycle engine from one of the most reliable manufacturers around.
The shaft is shorter than some models at 17 inches. This makes it a little slower in use but easier on the shoulders
The smart start system makes it less trouble to the machine into action.
This is a really tough machine that will last for many years.
Poulan Brush Cutter Attachment
If you have Poulan, Snapper, Weed Eater, Ryobi, John Deere or Craftsman machines with a multi-tool attachment facility, then the cheapest and simplest way to get a brush cutter for light duty work is the cutter from Poulan pictured.
Better check for compatibility first, though.
String Trimmers Powerful enough to Tackle Light Brush
Tanaka String Trimmer
If you want to cut tough weeds around the backyard, under a deck or maybe round a tennis court-- without any kind of tough, woodland plants to worry about-- a powerful string trimmer might be all you need.
The TCG24EBSP model is a 25 cc, two-cycle machine with a straight shaft and a lot of power. At under ten pounds it is light enough for most fit people to use comfortably. It is a favorite among professional landscapers for its build quality and longevity.
A shoulder harness is a worth extra purchase, if you do not see it already included.
Hitachi CG22EASSLP 2 Cycle
This is one of the less powerful machines at 21 cc but it is well-priced and popular with home users. It will efficiently cut weeds and grass and the separate brush-cutter kit allows you to most kinds of brush.
The start up and vibration dampening systems work well but the noise is noticeably harder on the ears than some models. The guard could be more sturdy, too, and there is no shoulder harness included.
As with the Tanaka model, above, the brush-cutter blade kit is a separate purchase.
You can find one of these machines at Home Depot for under two hundred dollars.
Husqvarna 224L: 4-Cycle Professional String Trimmer
This 25 cc machine is a good choice for anyone with a lot of ground to cover. It is light for a four cycle machine at under ten pounds and while it is less powerful than the Tanaka above it will give longer service.
As with other four cycle devices it is quieter and uses less gas.
A useful safety feature is the double finger switch to prevent accidentally starting.
Chips and small stones can fly at speed off these machines. Thick pants and a long sleeve shirt will protect your legs and arms. Gloves, eye protection and ear defenders are a something worth investing in if you do not already have them.
Once you have a glass shard from a coke bottle embed itself in your leg, you will never forget that safety gear...
Husky Advice Video
More by this Author
Find the best tree saw for any job around your backyard or garden. Pruning, tree cutting, clearing fallen branches or just keeping...
A pole hedge trimmer is the perfect tool for taller and bigger hedges. Which is best: cordless, electric, or gas? Should you buy or rent? Find the best models here.
Pole pruners are the best choice for pruning smaller or higher branches. They are lightweight, have great reach. Here are five different pruners, reviewed and recommended for their specific features.