A decent cordless grass strimmer can be a real game changer. Especially for gardeners wishing to dispatch large areas of long grass without being reigned in and curtailed by a trailing cord or resorting to messy, petrol powered means.
Petrol strimmers tend to be more capable of slicing through tougher grass and twisted thickets but they can be both heavy to use and noisy, and the resulting carbon emissions do the environment no favours.
While some earlier battery-powered strimmers suffered from lack of performance and power, today’s cordless models are much better equipped for the task in hand, and high-end machines often match the performance of their petrol-guzzling brethren.
Most of the strimmer brands reviewed below have interchangeable batteries that will work across a number of power tools within their respective brands’ cordless range. Lithium ion rechargeable batteries (also known as Li-ion) and their accompanying chargers tend to be rather pricey, so this may sway your choice if you already own cordless tools.
How we tested
The majority of the strimmers we tested below are aimed at use in small-to-medium-sized gardens, but we’ve also included a couple of big hitters that will help to tame large areas of undergrowth. We tested them on a variety of jobs, from intricate garden borders to tough patches of weeds down on our neglected allotment. Gird your Li-ions, here are seven of the best cordless grass strimmers currently on the market.
The best grass trimmers for 2021 are:
Best overall – Stihl FSA 86 R brushcutter: £259, Stihl.co.uk
Best ergonomic design – Bosch grass strimmer: £136.87, Amazon.co.uk
Best value for money – Flymo simplitrim cordless grass trimmer: £74.97, Appliancesdirect.co.uk
Best for allotment taming – Toro flex-force 51835T: £119, Lawnmowers-uk.co.uk
Best for long grass – Cobra GT3240VZ: £67.99, Justlawnmowers.co.uk
Best top-end strimmer – Husqvarna 520iLX cordless trimmer: £314, Gardenmachinerydirect.co.uk
Stihl FSA 86 R brushcutter
Cutting width: 35cm
Attachments: AutoCut C 6-2 mowing head
Stihl’s FSA 86 R strimmer is “a new for 2021” addition to its impressive lineup of powerful brushcutters for larger gardens. 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, disguising the fact that it packs a real punch 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 (£120, Stihl.co.uk), the AP 200 battery (£140, Stihl.co.uk) will give you around 25 minutes of strimming pleasure 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, Stihl.co.uk
Bosch grass strimmer
Best: Ergonomic design
Cutting width: 26cm
This nippy piece of kit from Bosch’s 18v range is designed to take the back-breaking strain out of strimming. Its distinctive, v-shaped frame is ergonomically designed to keep your back straight while you work and can be telescopically extended or reduced to suit the user.
A neat pedal situated on the cutting head enables you to swap between upright position, tilt mode (for accessing long grass under drooping foliage/deck chairs you can’t be bothered to move), and a 90-degree mode for edging work. Regarding the latter, we found it quite tricky to perform an accurate cut and felt that the attached guide wheel was a tad flimsy, but nevertheless it got the tedious job of lawn edging done in a speedy manner. Besides, if you are looking for a super-precise finish on a manicured lawn, a pair of edging shears are probably the order of the day no matter which strimmer you choose.
We thought that the twin-bar design gave this strimmer a slightly geriatric, walking frame vibe, but there’s no doubt it’s comfy to use. We also applaud the joystick-style trigger handle, which made us feel like we were doing something way cooler than just cutting grass.
Buy now £125.88, Amazon.co.uk
Flymo simplitrim cordless grass trimmer
Best: Value for money
Cutting width: 23cm
This lightweight strimmer from Flymo sports an integrated battery that boasts 40 minutes of runtime – a decent pay-off for a cordless strimmer at this price. It also shuns the more traditional spool and wire cutting mechanism in favour of easy-fit plastic blades, which should please folks who have ever had trouble replacing unruly spools of snaking wire to a depleted strimmer.
In use, the Fymo runs quietly and effectively – there’s a fair bit of vibration and the rotating hub takes an age to stop spinning once you’ve taken your finger off the trigger, but this is certainly not a deal breaker. Although the integrated battery means you’ve got less parts to get lost in your shed, you’ll have to plug the entire strimmer into the power source for charging. That’s fine if you’ve got an outdoor power supply or extension cable, but not so great if you need to plug your filthy Flymo into a kitchen wall socket.
If you are prepared to forgive the relatively meek slicing power and understand that it’s not really cut out to tackle knee-high, knotty undergrowth, this strimmer is a top low-cost cordless option for keeping small gardens neat and tidy.
Buy now £74.97, AO.com
Toro flex-force 51835T
Best: For allotment taming
Cutting width: 60cm
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 (£67.99, Cobragarden.co.uk), there’s no plant guard rail to prevent collateral damage – this bullish strimmer has no time for sentimentality.
Buy now £119.00, Lawnmowers-uk.co.uk
Best: For long grass
Cutting width: 32cm
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. This model is currently out of stock but you can sign up to be notified when it becomes available again.
Buy now £67.99, Justlawnmowers.co.uk
Husqvarna 520iLX cordless trimmer
Best: Top-end strimmer
Cutting width: 40 cm
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 £314.00, Gardenmachinerydirect.co.uk
Grass trimmers FAQs
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.
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