We’ve been busy testing strimmers (string trimmers) and consider the Husqvarna 115iL as the best garden strimmer of 2020 for sale. It has bucketloads of power, all while using little battery. This makes for a time-efficient trimming while achieving long battery life. Ryobi RLT183225 is also a solid option with a long battery life and several useful settings for maintaining your garden - and making the neighbours jealous.
Every professional strimmer was used to cut grass and larger areas of weeds. The ultimate challenge was areas of tall nettles and young thickets of wild raspberry bushes. However, for the majority of the time they were tested on different types of tall and short grass. They have also been tested on wet grass.
We investigated the following aspects to provide accurate strimmer reviews:
Performance: What height grass can the strimmer cope with? Does it strim as effectively throughout its battery life? How quickly can it cope with clearing different types of grass? How does the result vary when the grass is damp or over industrial landscapes?
User-friendliness: How easy is it to assemble the garden strimmer? How easy is it to start? How can you adjust it? For example, is there a telescopic handle and can you set the strimmer head in different positions? Does it have any edge trimmer functions that mean you can go close to objects without damaging them? Is it a cordless strimmer?
Ergonomics: Can you strim throughout the entire battery life without getting pains anywhere in your body? How stable does it feel in your hands? Is it easy to use in inaccessible spots? What is the noise profile like?
Battery life and charging: How long does the strimmer run before you have to recharge it? How long does it take to charge the battery? Can you see how much battery life there is left? Can you see how much it has charged?
Functions and accessories: Has the strimmer got any extra functions? What accessories are included?
Strong, user-friendly and well designed in almost every way
Power source: Battery Voltage: 36 V Measured battery life: 36 min/48 min (max/eco) Measured noise level: 83 dB/78.1 dB (max/eco) Charging time: 70 min Cutting mechanism: Line and spool Battery capacity: 4.0 Ah Automatic line feed: Yes Miscellaneous: 33 cm trim circle diameter with two line system
In our opinion, the Husqvarna 115iL is the best battery operated cordless strimmer of 2020 because it's a powerful strimmer that coped with almost everything we put in its path. It trims thick and dense tufts of grass with no problems, and the same applies to weeds, such as nettles and misplaced raspberry canes. The only time that the strimmer somewhat struggled is when very dense grass is also damp. In these instances, you can hear the motor is having to work harder and the speed drops. When this happens, you sometimes have to lift the strimmer head and repeat areas more carefully. But this is only under extreme conditions and this remains one of the best trimmers for long grass and difficult garden areas. Under normal to difficult conditions, there are no problems in efficiently trimming large amounts of weed and brushwood. The Achilles' heel is thin tufts of grass which occasionally get stuck in the strimmer head and wind around it. Fortunately, this doesn't happen often, and even then, only with grass that's at least 50 cm tall. Another flaw is that you can't angle the strimmer head, which is a disadvantage if you're trimming slopes.
The Husqvarna 115iL has a good design and high build quality. Despite the garden strimmer being heavy, this isn't something you notice when you're strimming. The balance in the machine is excellent. You can easily adapt the strimmer to your height by releasing a control, pulling out the lower part and locking the control again. Tool-free solutions like this are user-friendly and what buyers appreciate. There's a small but clearly marked power button, together with a button that starts an eco-mode which reduces the strimmer speed. This is handy when you're cutting not too dense vegetation and don't want to use the battery unnecessarily. In this mode, it's relatively quiet for a strimmer. In the normal mode, the noise level is medium-high, but it has a nice muffled profile. The 115iL is a user-friendly, well designed and powerful strimmer that's suitable for homeowners with mixed weeds and grass - primarily on flat ground.
Professional strimmer with long battery life and great cutting result
Power source: Battery Voltage: 18 V Measured noise level: 82.7 dB Charging time: 80 min Cutting mechanism: Line and spool Battery capacity: 2.5 Ah Measured battery life: 25 minutes Automatic line feed: Yes Miscellaneous: Adjustable cutting width, 25-30 cm, edge cutting mode User manual (PDF): PDF
The Ryobi RLT1832 has a long battery life and provides effective strimming, making it extremely good value for money. It’s never too heavy for your back or painful on your hands. It also runs at maximum throughout the battery life and doesn't start to lose power towards the end.
The rubberised handles offer a good grip. The build quality feels solid, without strange noises or instability in any parts when we wiggle or pull on them. It's easy to set the handle and strimmer head in the right position.
However, it can sometimes be difficult to get the battery out of the attachment on the strimmer. We'd also have liked a plant protector to be able to get as close as possible to objects.
The RLT1832 is powerful and can cope with most terrain. It deals with thick clumps of tall grass and weeds despite coming with a spool of line instead of plastic blades. However, it struggled somewhat when it came to thickets of small wild raspberry bushes. For a strimmer, however, it does more than an acceptable job.
The spool of line lasts for about seven medium-tough sessions with lots of grass and some weeds before you have to replace it. Replacing the spool is simple. However, something that's a little less pleasant is the strimmer's noise profile, which is quite strident.
Another negative factor is that on a couple of occasions the line wasn't fed out enough, so we had to pull it out by hand. But given the quality of this cheap strimmer, and above all how long it strims before the battery gives up, this is a really good purchase in the 18-volt class.
Long battery life and good cutting result
Power source: Battery Voltage: 20 V Measured noise level: 84 dB (measured) Cutting mechanism: Line and spool Battery capacity: 2.5 Ah Dimensions: Adjustable length mm Weight: 2.4 kg with battery Measured battery life: 24.5 minutes Charging time: 200 min (stated value) Automatic line feed: Yes Miscellaneous: Edging wheel User manual: PDF
The AL-KO GT 2025is an easily adjusted cordless strimmer with arguably the best battery life around. It’s easy to assemble, but it would have been nice if the assembly process was tool-free like many of its competitors. As it stands, you need to use four screws. But this is neither difficult nor too time-consuming.
Once it's assembled, the strimmer is easy to adjust. Replacing the spool is simple. The strimmer is also good at feeding out the line when required.
And it's very easy to adjust the strimmer head angle. You can rotate the extra handle around simply by releasing a knob – or change the angle of the handle. This means you can easily find a really comfortable working position regardless of whether you’re strimming along the fence or under garden furniture.
But the machine suffers from considerable vibration, which can be unpleasant over time. It’s also quite heavy for a relatively small strimmer and plasticky piece of gardening kit.
The AL-KO GT 2025 has a single line that it uses to strim with. It does a really good job of handling thick weeds. For example, individual raspberry canes in light vegetation pose no issues at all.
But it does sometimes struggle with very thick, dense grass. Areas of very green grass that's developed into large tufts tend to slow it down, although it doesn't get completely stuck. Now and then, the long grass winds itself around the strimmer head. For that reason, there are better strimmers for long grass out there.
We managed three sessions of normal vegetation before the spool runs out. But there's a handy extra spool mounted on the side of the strimmer. The operational time is very good and the battery charging time is exceptionally fast – at just under two hours.
Overall, this is a decent strimmer if you've got an average-sized garden with mixed vegetation, as long as you don’t have large areas of high, very dense and thick grass. The long battery life is its main advantage because you’ll get quite a lot use before it needs recharging.
User-friendly strimmer with long battery life
Power source: Battery Voltage: 18V Measured battery life: 25 minutes Measured noise level:77.1 dB Charging time: 180 min Cutting mechanism: Plastic blade Battery capacity: 2.6 Ah Automatic line feed: No, blade Miscellaneous: Edge cutting position User manual: PDF
The Gardena Li-18/23R is a useful professional strimmer that's easy to install and use. It's one of the trimmers with blades instead of a spool of line, together with a set of replacement blades. As standard, a blade is attached to the strimmer head. The metal blades handle everything we exposed them to – from normal grass to tougher undergrowth and thick clumps of wet grass. But it wears out quickly. It gets significantly abraded even during the first strimming session. After this, the strimmer isn't really as efficient when strimming, as the more stubborn strands remain - and you have to strim the same area several times. However, it can still cope with relatively coarse and more stable undergrowth. The blades then work for a further 3-4 sessions before they need changing. They're very simple to change, with a simple click-in function. The installation of the strimmer is also very straightforward. All parts are snap-on, so no tools are required. It's easy to adjust the handle and the angle of the strimmer head. In other words, user-friendliness is top-notch from start to finish. The strimmer is relatively light too.
The aspect we found to be negative about the design is that it's bulky and plasticky. The entire trimmer somehow gives a cheap strimmer impression. It could have been neater and had more rubberised details at the adjustment points. However, the battery life is solid. The included battery gives you a cutting time of 25 minutes. The battery is charged using a compact and neat charger. The battery also has an indicator that shows how much it has charged. However, we never really got this to work as it always seemed to show 50% full on our example even when the strimmer battery was completely flat. But the Gardena Li-18/23R is a powerful and very user-friendly strimmer with a very long cutting time. If it had received a little more love in terms of sustainability in the blades (preferably metal blades), it would have received top marks, but it's still a very good buy.
Strong and long, but short battery life
Power source: Battery Voltage: 18 V Measured noise level: 84.9 dB/82.3 dB (max/eco) Charging time: 180 min Cutting mechanism: Line and spool Weight: 3.3 kg Measured battery life: 6 min Battery capacity: 2.5 Ah (not included) Automatic line feed: Yes Miscellaneous: 28/33 cm trim circle diameter with two line system User manual: PDF
The Ryobi OLT1833 is a relatively strong and long strimmer that deals effectively with tough terrain. It’s efficient because it can handle large areas in a single sweep without you having to go over them again.
The OLT1833 also has an eco mode that's meant to save battery. This means it runs on a slightly lower speed, but even then it's still very strong. But we'd have liked to see a bigger difference between the two modes. As it stands, the time saving is only about two minutes, while it can still cope with quite tough terrain in eco mode.
By reducing the strength still more, it would have been possible to get a much longer operating time for simpler tasks. And this would have made the OLT1833 much better, because it really suffers from its battery life. Consequently, we recommend that you buy an extra battery of at least 2.5 Ah to get a reasonable operating time, even if this makes it twice as expensive.
As we mentioned above, the Ryobi OLT1833 has quite a long shaft. Unfortunately you can't set either the angle of the strimmer head or the length of the shaft. So the OLT1833 is most suitable on flat terrain.
It's also unnecessarily complicated to assemble the strimmer. In total you need three different types of screws – for just five screws in all. We would have preferred a solution where all of the screws could be tightened with the Allen key included, and that the solution for the handle instead had a lever or a fixed screw.
Despite the fact that the shaft length isn't adjustable, you can still find a good balance in the machine. The strimmer is also quite light, so it’s never a problem carrying it around. We'd have liked to see a plant protector, though.
The OLT1833 is primarily suitable in smaller gardens with plentiful, dense weeds where you don't need to work around a lot of obstacles.
User-friendly and tough but poor battery life
Power source: Battery Battery: 18V Dimensions: Adjustable length mm Weight: 2.4 kg with battery Measured battery life: 14 minutes Measured noise level: 81.7 dB Charging time: 200 min Cutting mechanism: Line and spool Battery capacity: 1.3 Ah Automatic line feed: Yes Miscellaneous: Edging wheel User manual: PDF
The AL-KO GTLi 18V Comfort is a strimmer with a spool of line that strims effectively and can cope with extremely tough terrain despite using wire instead of plastic blades. It can even cope with minor undergrowth such as young raspberry bushes and thicker weeds. However, it's not as effective on wet and tougher grass. It has a useful automatic line feed feature. The line spool lasts for about five medium-tough sessions, mainly consisting of grass trimming, but also with some weeds before it's time to replace. It comes with an extra spool of line on the strimmer arm and you don't need tools to replace it. The build quality is generally quite high, although the line wears out rather quickly. The accessories included make this a serious machine. For example, it includes an edging wheel and a metal plant protector instead of the plant protector alone. And it boasts rubberised parts at points where you might hold the machine. The edging wheel makes it easy to go close to other objects without damaging them, as the machine runs around them instead. Some of our testers found the GTLi 18V Comfort to be heavy. They also quite quickly developed sore hands and wrists, which we suspect is the result of too much resistance in the handle. But we can't complain about the noise profile.
However, the cutting time isn't good, being slightly under average, and we'd have liked a few more minutes out of it. This is an extremely important aspect, so our score drops a bit. Another major disadvantage is that the battery doesn't have an indicator. However, the charger is small so you can easily store it away when not in use, and the plug has an indicator light that shines green when the battery is fully charged. Overall this is a reasonable tool which would have had a much better score with a longer battery life.
Compact, high-performance but not very user-friendly strimmer
Power source: Battery Battery: 18V Dimensions: 110 mm Weight: 2.3 kg Measured battery life: 17 minutes Measured noise level: 76.9 dB Charging time: 210 min Cutting mechanism: Plastic blades (can also use line spool) Battery capacity: 2.0 Ah Automatic line feed: No User manual: PDF
The Stihl FSA 45 is one of the strong trimmers with blades (double plastic) in the head, which clear both grass and tough weeds very effectively. You can easily replace the plastic blades by unclipping them from the strimmer head and clicking in new ones. It includes a couple of extra blades, which are tidily attached to the machine. You don't get many, but on the other hand, they're very tough and you only need to change them every four or five sessions. You can also install a spool of line instead of plastic blades if you wish. Assembly of the strimmer itself is straightforward and only requires two screws. However, the battery is built in and you can't disconnect it for charging – instead you have to plug in the entire strimmer. Nor can you change batteries with other products from the same manufacturer or swap between two batteries so that you can quickly get back to work. The FSA 45 is special in another way, in that it includes a small plastic "key" that has to be inserted into the machine before it will start.
The FSA 45 is a neat strimmer in terms of size, and feels well-balanced and light when you hold it. Ergonomically, the user-friendliness is admirable. However, when it comes to actually cutting the grass, it's considerably less easy to use. This is largely because you have to slide a button forwards while at the same time holding in another button and handle to start the machine. Not to forget that it comes completely to a stop every time it runs into too much resistance. In other words, you can't simply lift the strimmer head to get it started again. This means that you have to do the starting hand movement over and over again during one trimming session. This rapidly tires out both hands and wrist and can lead to cramp. Because it has a key that you can pull out as a safety function, we think that this is unnecessarily fussy. The battery life is good, and it runs at full speed during the entire session. The machine is also superbly quiet.
Easily adjusted strimmer for simpler areas
Power source: Battery Voltage: 36 V Weight: 4.1 kg Measured battery life: 17 minutes Charging time: 70 min Cutting mechanism: Line and spool Battery capacity: 2.5 Ah Automatic line feed: Yes Miscellaneous: 30 cm trim circle diameter with two line system
The Bosch AdvancedGrassCut 36 is a strimmer that maintains a quiet noise profile and can cope with normal amounts of vegetation in a time-efficient manner. This strimmer easily removes long dry grass in a short time. The same applies to weeds such as young raspberry canes and sparse nettles. But for a 36-volt machine we would have expected better performance. It's immediately obvious that it has to struggle where the grass is more dense and greener. Particularly if it's a bit damp. This makes the noise more obvious. After a while, it starts to get stuck in the grass rather than chopping it off, which makes it jerk irritatingly. However, the cutting time is reasonable, and the line reel lasts for a long time, even though the machine tends to feed out more line too easily on some occasions.
In terms of design, the Bosch AdvancedGrassCut 36 is stable but somewhat unwieldy. For example, it feels rather chunky and front-heavy. We would have liked it to include a harness. At the same time, we didn't encounter any loose parts or strange noises. The strimmer is easy to assemble, and equally easy to adjust. However, the throttle in the handle is unnecessarily large and overly stiff. And it also runs slowly if you don't keep it completely depressed. This function is probably intended as a kind of environmental function that allows you to run the machine more economically at a lower speed, but we'd have preferred this to be controlled via a button instead. The function means that when you've run the strimmer for a while and have lost a bit of force in your hand without noticing, the motor will slow down and give you a worse cutting result. Just like in tougher vegetation, the result is that it can't cope with cutting the grass properly, getting stuck instead. But the AdvancedGrassCut 36 is otherwise a perfectly acceptable strimmer option. If you have good grip strength and a garden where weeds and grass aren't too dense, this is an ideal strimmer.
Lightweight strimmer with power for smaller gardens
Power source: Battery Voltage: 36 V Measured battery life: 11.21 min Measured noise level: 86.1 dB Cutting mechanism: Line and spool Battery capacity: 2.0 Ah Automatic line feed: Yes Miscellaneous: 28 cm trim circle diameter with two line system
The Stihl FSA 56 is a neat but also relatively powerful strimmer that's easy to carry. At the same time, it feels sturdy and stable. This lightweight strimmer can cope with thick tufts and has no problems taking on tall grass. It's time-efficient on larger grass surfaces because you don't need to go over the same area several times - at least not as long as the terrain is not problematic. If the grass is very dense, however, the strimmer isn't quite so effective. It finds it difficult to deal with thickets of raspberries or nettles. It manages - but you'll have to go over them several times. But the FSA 56 copes with individual tufts of weeds very well. Unfortunately, you can't reduce the strength on easier terrain to save on the battery, which we think this strimmer could do with. The battery life is the FSA 56's main issue, and is shorter than what we think is acceptable. So, to get a more reasonable cutting time, you need to buy an additional battery, which unfortunately drives up the price, particularly as Stihl's batteries are quite expensive. You can see how much charge there is by pressing on a button on the battery. The range runs from 1-4.
The strimmer line feeds out smoothly when you press the strimmer head on the ground. But the line isn't particularly tough, so it wears out quickly. The shaft and handle are both adjustable, which makes it easy to find a suitable working angle for both shorter and taller users. This reduces strain as you use the strimmer. Nor did we feel like this machine needed a harness. On the other hand, we weren't using it for very long as the battery life is too short. The FSA 56 has grip-friendly surfaces, but unfortunately it also has quite a lot of vibration for an electric strimmer. The noise level is above average but not particularly loud. The noise profile is a little unpleasant, but not so much that it will drive you up the garden wall. Overall, the Stihl FSA 56 is a relatively powerful and a lightweight strimmer which is suitable for smaller areas.
A strimmer is a useful piece of garden kit for the spring and summer when the grass grows most. It makes an excellent complement to a push, ride-on or robotic lawn mower. Lawn mowers rarely get right up against the edges of flowerbeds, fences, or into stony areas. That's when you pull out an edge trimmer to tidy up.
A number of different types of strimmer are available. They can boast a range of strimmer tools, together with different power sources (battery or mains). Historically, strimmers were petrol driven, but now the best battery strimmers have taken over the market. You can choose between line spool or garden strimmers with blade cutting performance. There are also models where you can use both types on the same machine. Plastic blades are useful if you have slightly coarser grass and weeds as they can cope with these tougher jobs and don't wear out as quickly. But a strimmer wire line is useful for efficiently clearing large areas because you can adjust the length of the line. However, if you pull it out too far it will quickly snap off. The advantages of a battery powered strimmer over mains power is that you don't have to deal with extension cables. On the other hand, you have to recharge it regularly. So it's important to choose a model with a short charging time and sufficiently long cutting time, bearing in mind your budget and your garden's strimming needs. Mains powered machines can be handy if you have a smaller garden or only need to clear areas close to your home; then you don't have to worry about the operating time. But even in this instance the best alternative is arguably to buy a battery powered machine with a slightly smaller battery.
You can also buy brushcutters. The difference between these two garden tools is that a brushcutter is primarily intended for removing undergrowth or even small trees. However, the majority of them can be equipped with line spools and used for strimming grass. The price for a brushcutter is significantly higher than for a dedicated strimmer, which is only intended for trimming grass and removing minor weeds. A brushcutter is petrol operated and, confusingly, is also often called a strimmer. The advantage of using the best petrol machines is that you can quickly get going again when the fuel runs out (no charge time!). And the disadvantages are the exhaust, the noise level and the fact that petrol will add to your gardening costs.
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