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8 best strimmers to help tame the grass in your garden or allotment

·12-min read
They can tackle everything from intricate garden borders, to tough patches of weeds (iStock/The Independent)
They can tackle everything from intricate garden borders, to tough patches of weeds (iStock/The Independent)

A cordless grass strimmer can be a real game-changer for gardeners. Especially so if you want to dispatch large areas of long grass without being reigned in and constrained by a trailing power cord or having to resort to expensive and messy, petrol-powered means.

Although petrol strimmers can be more powerful and therefore more capable of slicing through tougher grass and twisted thickets, they tend to be both heavy to use and noisy, with the resulting carbon emissions doing the environment no favours.

While some early cordless strimmers suffered from a lack of power they were able to generate, the advance in Li-Ion batteries means that today’s models are much better equipped for the task at hand, with high-end machines often matching and surpassing the performance of their petrol-guzzling brethren.

How we tested

The majority of the strimmers we had on test are aimed at taming small to medium gardens, but we’ve also included a couple of big hitters that will help tackle large areas of undergrowth. We tested them on a variety of jobs, from sculpting intricate garden borders, to rough patches of weeds down on our poor neglected allotment. Pack away those petrol cans and gird your Li-Ions, here are eight of the best cordless grass strimmers currently on the market.

The best grass trimmers for 2022 are:

Stihl FSA 86 R brushcutter

Stihl’s FSA 86 is the punchy, middleweight champ in their impressive lineup of domestic and pro use cordless strimmers. It’s a lovely tool to wield, featuring an ergonomic, soft-grip handle and an intuitive trigger and safety switch. It’s also disarmingly quiet, belying the fact that it absolutely flies through rough grass and is perfect for robust work on an allotment or for when you need to engage in tough brush cutting duties.

That said, we also found it equally at home in a less demanding garden setting where its ergonomics and balance make it a pleasure to use. From a 45 minute charge using the AL 500 quick charger, the AP 200 battery will give you around 25 minutes of strimming time using a nylon line mowing head. It’s also worth noting that the FSA 86 R can also be fitted with a variety of cutting tools, and swapping to a Stihl 6-2 polycut mowing head will increase the runtime to around 60 minutes.

Buy now £259.00, Lawnmowersdirect.co.uk

Flymo contour cordless 20v li

The contour cordless is a beefier, souped-up version of Flymo easi trim (£140, Wilko.com) – one of our go-to strimmers for smartening up edging on raggedy lawns. This weightier 20v model boasts similar properties but packs more power and introduces a lockable telescopic shaft and adjustable handle to best suit your posture.

Another neat feature is a foot pedal which allows you to lower the angle of the cutting head for strimming under trampolines, low hanging foliage and garden furniture. As with the contour strimmer, the edging function works a treat and is a damn sight easier than wrestling with a pair of shears. Run it around your garden after mowing to add a super speedy, razor sharp edge to your borders and turn your lawn into a grassy masterpiece.

Buy now £89.00, Amazon.co.uk

Bosch universal grass cut 18-26

This striking strimmer from Bosch’s 18v range boasts a distinctive v-shaped frame, designed to keep your back straight while you work to help alleviate aches and strains. The handles can be telescopically adjusted to suit the user, whilst a neat pedal situated at the base of the unit enables bend-free adjustments to the cutting head. Press it with the toe of your boot and you can swap between upright position, tilt mode (for accessing long grass under foliage and furniture), and a 9-degree mode for edging work.

In use, the twin bar design enables controlled, comfy cutting and while it might not be the most powerful strimmer on test, it at least made the onerous task of cutting grass a pleasant experience. We also applaud the joystick-style trigger handle which made us feel like we were doing something way cooler than just tending our lawn.

Buy now £133.95, Amazon.co.uk

Gtech GT50

This newer, slightly updated version of the popular GT40 gets a fresh white paint job and a few electronic tinkerings but it’s essentially the same zippy, Dyson-esque strimmer we know and love. The unit is powered by Gtech’s distinctive grenade shaped Li-Ion battery that slots in the end of the handle and grants around 30 minutes of cutting time from a four-hour charge. Compared to other strimmers on test, the cutting head is quite small but it does mean you can venture into narrower, more inaccessible areas of your garden where other larger-headed strimmers might struggle.

The unit weighs in at 1.85kg, which makes it nice and nimble for keeping a small garden in check but it will struggle on thicker patches of long grass. This strimmer utilizes a custom plastic cutting blade instead of strimmer wire. It’s a neat solution and super easy to fit but we found that they do tend to wear down quite quickly, especially if you accidentally come into contact with anything hard and heavy. Just be careful working close to paving and stony borders.

Buy now £149.99, Gtech.co.uk

Cobra GT3240VZ

This cordless wonder from Cobra comes decked out with a Ferrari-red paint job – perfect for racing around an unkempt lawn on a hot summer’s day. On unboxing, you’ll need to engage in a spot of minor assembly before you can unleash it but this does mean you can fix the handle in the perfect position to suit your strimming stance.

In use, the Cobra will give you quite a wild ride – there’s a fair bit of vibration to contend with and it runs quite loud and raspy, but it certainly makes short work of long grass, offering up a large cutting arc for speedy strimming. The cutting head rotates 90 degrees for edging duties and comes packing a plant bumper guard to protect your precious perennials.

It’s a decent piece of kit for the money, especially if you already own tools from the Cobra cordless range and can share batteries and chargers to cut down the upfront expenditure. A 90 minute charge will give you an impressive 80 minutes of run-time, depending on how overgrown you’ve let your garden grow.

Buy now £65.99, Cobragarden.co.uk

Toro flex-force 51835T

The first thing to note is that this robust strimmer from Toro comes packing a chunky 2.4mm cutting line. This, powered by the hefty 60v battery (£51.98, Lawnmowers-uk.co.uk) makes it a capable machine for chewing through brush and thicker undergrowth, so it’s a good knockabout choice for allotment taming.

In use, it absolutely flies – in fact it took us longer to attach the handle to the shaft than it did to whizz over the grassy paths we tasked it on. From a 60 minute charge you’ll get up to 45 minutes of cutting time depending on the demands of your job in hand.

Strimmer line is easy to replace – there are no spools so you just thread the replacement line directly into the cutting head, reducing the chances of a sweary exchange between man and machine. Unlike the Cobra (£65.99, Cobragarden.co.uk), there’s no plant guard rail to prevent collateral damage – this bullish strimmer has no time for sentimentality.

Buy now £144.00, Lawnmowers-uk.co.uk

Mountfield MBC 50 li

The MBC 50 li strimmer forms part of Mountfield’s relatively new, nippy cordless range and although it is primarily aimed at gardeners wishing to tame medium-sized gardens, we found it more than capable of taking on the omnipresent nettle patch down on our allotment.

It’s a light, breezy, easy-to-wield machine, with a sleek, adjustable shaft and a twistable cutting head to make short work of lawn edges. Fit the strimmer with a 2AH battery and you’ll get a max running time of around 20 minutes, but we’d recommend upgrading to a 5AH for just under an hour’s worth of sweet strimming pleasure. This, like the Toro (£144, Mowermagic.co.uk), has a bit of construction required before use, so have an Allen key and a Phillips screwdriver to hand when unboxing for the first time.

Buy now £179.00, Moweermagic.co.uk

Husqvarna 520iLX cordless trimmer

Husqvarna’s high-performance, professional strimmer is packed with top-end features with a price to match. It’s not the lightest machine we had on test, which was mostly down to the whopping BLli200 battery (£189.22, Worldofpower.co.uk) we were using, but it did mean we could squeeze around 60-70 minutes of power from a one-hour charge.

A neat feature is that the cutting head direction can be reversed to prevent cut grass being flung onto walkways and paths. Depending on your strimming requirements, you can also set the machine (via the trigger mounted keypad) to maximise run-time or to maximise power.

If we were being hyper-critical, the pincer-style power trigger and lock system seems slightly lo-fi on a machine of this spec, but we can’t really fault it otherwise.

Buy now £389.00, Husqvarna.com

Grass trimmers FAQs

Things to look out for

Ergonomics

Strenuous strimming whilst hunched over and tense is the fast-track way to back pain, so if you are prone to such ailments, choose a strimmer with adjustable handles and shafts to help you get the right balance and feel for your posture. If possible, try out your prospective purchase before you buy. The ability to adjust the length or angle of the cutting head can also help when strimming on inclines and working in confined areas of the garden.

Battery system

Many of the strimmer brands reviewed below have interchangeable batteries that will work across a number of power tools within their respective brands’s cordless range. Li-Ion batteries (also known as Lithium Ion rechargeable batteries) and their accompanying chargers tend to be rather pricey, so this may sway your choice if you already own cordless tools. Be sure to check whether your strimmer comes bundled with batteries and chargers as this can add considerably to the total cost.

Strimmer cutting head

Strimmers are usually equipped with a flexible strimmer wire which becomes taught as the strimmer head rotates, enabling it to slice through vegetation. The standard wire thickness for light residential use is around 1.5 mm but if you intend to cut through thick brush you need to be looking at a wire thickness of 3-4 mm. Note that using a thicker wire will reduce the runtime of your battery.

Grass trimmer safety tips

  • Protection – It might not be the most comfortable gardening get-up but using powerful tools such as these requires some protective gear, so make sure you’re sporting full length trousers, gloves, closed-toe shoes and a long sleeved top. It’s also important to invest in eye protection, a pair of earplugs and a gardening face shield.

  • Clear the area – Before you start strimming, check the area for bits of debris such as pieces of glass and metal or sticks and stones, as these can be picked up and thrown by the trimmer. Of course, you should also make sure that no one will be coming into the area you’re working on – this means keeping an eye on curious pets.

  • Get the right tool for the job – It’s vital that you ensure your trimmer is suitable for the work you plan to do. Don’t attempt to tackle large areas of undergrowth with a compact, light-weight model and, before getting to work each time, you should check the machine for any damage.

  • Cutting techniques – This may seem obvious but you should keep your distance from the strimmer end of your power tool at all times. This includes avoiding raising the blade above your waist and trying not to strain too much when tackling hard to reach spots. If you begin to get tired, step away and recharge – it’s important that you don’t push through fatigue as this is when accidents can happen.

Can you cut wet grass with a grass trimmer?

The short answer is no. In terms of safety, the electrical components found in battery-powered trimmers are isolated, unlike their corded counterparts, but there is still a risk of starting a fire or giving yourself a nasty electric shock when working with wet grass. You will also be working with an uneven surface, as soggy grass tends to get trodden down more easily, which will only lead to an uneven cut. Plus, wet grass can clump together and cause blockages to the blade.

The verdict: Grass trimmers

If you’ve a large garden or plot to tackle and have the necessary funds, then we’d go for the Stihl FSA 86 R brushcutter every time. However, for taming small to medium gardens quietly and efficiently, you can’t go wrong with the Mountfield freedon 500 MTR cordless grass strimmer.

Make sure you’ve invested in these essential garden tools that will help you get green-fingered all-year-round