The grass trimmer has become an essential tool for both lawn-service companies and the average homeowner, making it much easier than trimming grass by hand around borders and trees. A relatively inexpensive addition to your lawn tools considering the labour and time it saves, a grass trimmer can be powered by gasoline or electricity. Whatever the power source and no matter the brand, all grass trimmers operate essentially the same way.
You will need to check only a couple of items before starting to trim the grass. Check the line holder to make sure you have enough trimmer line installed. Most trimmers have prefilled, slip-on line cartridges. You can also restring your own cartridge with replacement line at a fraction of the cost of prefilled cartridges (see "Refilling Line" below).
Though the grass trimmer will have a guard on the bottom to shield you from flying rocks, it's always advisable to wear safety glasses and sturdy clothing when operating it.
Learning the Ropes
Using a grass trimmer may take some practice to get the feel of it and know how far away from something you should cut without scalping it. Practice in an area that you won't mind looking "hacked up" while you figure out what the trimmer can do. Remember, the grass will grow back.
If using your trimmer to edge, turn the base sideways to cut a straight line. This is a bit tricky and will require some practice, but it's possible to do.
To advance your line, bump the base of the trimmer on the ground. As you near the end of the trimmer line, the engine will rev higher, letting you know you need to add line. Keep your hands, legs and feet away from the line while the trimmer is on as you can get cut.
All gas-powered grass trimmers run on a three-cycle oil-and-gas mixture. Check the owner's manual to make sure yours is filled with the correct mixture of gasoline and oil. If you don't have a manual, add a capful of oil to your trimmer's gasoline tank. The oil is essential. If you run the trimmer without adding it to the gas, your engine can seize up.
To start, flip the switch to the "On" position. Pump the fuel bulb four times and move the choke to the cold-start position. Pull the starter cord three times. Move the choke to the halfway position and pull the cord until the grass trimmer starts. Once started, move the choke to the last position. Your gas-powered grass trimmer is now started and ready to do its work.
Electric trimmers work in the same way as their more-powerful gas cousins but operate off electricity. You will still restring them or purchase new cartridges of line just as you do with the gas grass trimmers. Just plug them in, push Start and you're ready to start trimming. With a battery-powered trimmer, you charge a battery pack by plugging it into an electrical source for the amount of time stated in the operations manual and then plug it into the grass trimmer. Flip the start button to "On" and the unit is ready to run.
Though less expensive than gas-powered trimmers, electric ones have drawbacks that need to be considered. Working with a trimmer that plugs into an electrical socket means you'll have to deal with a cord as you go. Keep the cord out of your way to avoid tripping over it or cutting it with the string. Battery-powered units are usually heavy to work with since you're carrying the battery pack with you. You will also have to wait for the unit to charge before you can start using it. Electric trimmers usually don't have as much operating power as a gas grass trimmer, so they might lack the heavy-duty horsepower needed to complete a job.
Filling a line cartridge is not as hard as it might seem. Remove the cartridge from the end of the grass trimmer. Place at least a 6-foot length of trimmer line into the cartridge, slipping it through the holes on the centre cartridge base. Pull out the line, leaving one end 6 inches longer than the other. Placing your index finger on the centre of the cartridge to keep the line separated, begin winding both lines in a clockwise direction until you have approximately 6 inches left. Place the lines in the notches on the side of the cartridge. Pull the line through the holes on the base of the grass trimmer and lock your cartridge back in place by twisting it clockwise. You now have new string on the trimmer.