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These efficiency tips can help you get the most out of your string trimmer

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(Photo: AdShooter/E+/Getty Images)
(Photo: AdShooter/E+/Getty Images)
(Photo: AdShooter/E+/Getty Images)
(Photo: AdShooter/E+/Getty Images)

String trimmers are an essential part of maintenance operations, but these tools can also be inefficient if started, used and stored incorrectly.

Jack Easterly, product manager for Husqvarna, and Kenneth Glass, technical sales specialist for Stihl, share tips for getting the most out of your string trimmers. They also offer a look toward the tool’s future.

Don’t make these mistakes

Glass says removing the tool’s debris guard is a major mistake he sees landscape professionals make. Not only does it pose a safety issue, allowing the tool to throw debris around freely, but it also affects the engine.

“If the line is farther out than it’s designed for, you lose engine rpm,” he says. “You’ll build heat in the gearbox, the drive shaft and the clutch; basically, the entire engine suffers from it.”

Easterly adds that the manufacturer tuned the string trimmer to a specific rpm, and the machine won’t operate correctly with the guard removed. It may increase short-term productivity and visibility, but it’s not good for the engine in the long run.

“(The rpm) what the engine and the carburetor were tuned to,” he says. “It’s what’s going to make your trimmer operate correctly and reduce downtime because the engine can operate at optimal rpm. (Removing the guard) can cause carbon buildup in the engine because it cannot reach that higher rpm.”

Another common mistake, Easterly says, is not understanding the unit’s starting procedures by the book.

“There are hot and cold start procedures for string trimmers,” he says. “I think knowing each manufacturer’s starting procedures is imperative. Operators know roughly the procedures for how to start the units, but there are some differences in each manufacturer’s procedures. Knowing those could reduce a lot of downtime and headache in the field.”

Safety is key

Easterly says it’s important to remember what personal protective equipment (PPE) operators should wear while operating a string trimmer.

“We recommend long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, gloves, close-toed shoes and eye and ear protection,” he says. “We see a lot of operators use gaiters to keep from breathing in dust and debris. It’s no N95 mask, but it protects against some of those larger particles.”

According to Easterly, improper tool storage on trucks and trailers is also a major safety issue. Incorrect storage can lead to damaged units, which can be unsafe for operators and the property.

“You don’t need to baby them, but we do see units get dropped and thrown and improperly stored,” he says. “If you have a rack for your handheld (equipment), ensure that your operators put that on the rack every time. I’ve seen countless trailers with trimmers laying around by zero-turns, which are also not strapped in, which will move and bend and damage those tools.”

What’s next for string trimmers?

Easterly says there isn’t a lack of power in today’s string trimmer market, so the manufacturers’ next task is to make them more compact.

“Creating something very lightweight is the next challenge,” he says. “Weight and vibrations and making the tool less fatiguing for the operator and keeping them comfortable throughout the day (are important). It increases productivity, and it’s better for everyone involved.”

Glass adds that battery-powered string trimmers have gained popularity among professionals in densely populated areas, where low-noise operation is a must.

“The FSA 135 (battery-powered string trimmer) shares a lot of the same parts that you’ll see in our gasoline units,” he says. “It’s a move to a unit that has the same balance and power as its gas counterpart, but it’s got a battery, and it’s a lot quieter.”

Much like gas trimmers, removing the debris guard can cause issues in battery-powered trimmers, according to Easterly. He says a long line can cause shorter run times for the unit, as can its thickness. 

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Rob DiFranco

Rob DiFranco is Landscape Management's associate editor. A 2018 graduate of Kent State University, DiFranco holds a bachelor's degree in journalism. Prior to Landscape Management, DiFranco was a reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio.

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