Advanced String Trimming

Landscape MaintenanceTools

Advanced string trimming techniques are necessary when tackling heavy-duty projects such as overgrown yards and angled banks and ditches. Implementing strategies such as cutting from the top down or adopting a wide stance with a full cutting arc result in successfully completed tough trim jobs.

The world is full of weeds and grass. As long as the sun keeps shining and the rain continues to fall, grass and weeds will grow. Landscaping equipment such as mowers and string-trimmers (aka weed whackers or weed eaters) keep it all under control.

In the last article on string trimming, we covered the basics—set-up, technique, and cutting patterns. In this article, we talk about how to string-trim specialty areas: ditches, ponds, banks, yards with no mower access, brush, and overgrowth.

Setting Up for a Big Project

Getting to know your equipment and property is essential before starting any big project.

  • Know how to keep your machine running smoothly
  • Protect your eyes and skin from the sun and flying debris
  • Know what needs to be cut
  • If it’s not yours, don’t cut it

How to String Trim a Large Area

When string trimming a large area, be it a side yard with a gate too small for mower access, a ditch, or a bank, there is a specific stance to adopt and a particular way to maneuver the weed eater.

Stand with your legs spread further apart than shoulder width. This position will allow you to swing the head of the string trimmer in as wide of an arc as possible. While swinging, lean from side to side, leveraging your wide stance to reach out while keeping the head of the trimmer parallel to the ground. This way, the cut is smooth and efficient. Complete a full arc before taking a step forward.

If the job is a bank or a ditch, your arc must slant in order to cut the grass at a uniform height. Extend the line as far out as possible but listen to the machine’s motor. If it bogs down when throttled up, clip a couple of inches off the line.

Handling Brush and Overgrowth

When string trimming commercially, clearing brush, or cutting down long weeds in a ditch, follow these pointers for optimum results.

Usually, cutting is executed with the forwardmost part of the string trimmer. However, when cleaning taller grass, a different technique is more effective. If you cut with the eight o’clock to eleven o’clock portion of the string trimming circle, debris will get thrown behind you instead of piling up in the grass ahead. Additionally, cutting in a right-to-left arc will also mitigate pileups.
Taller grass, or grass and weed mixes standing 18” or higher, must be reduced first from the top before being cut at the base.

Hold the string trimmer up and out, away from your face and body, and lightly start taking growth off at the top. Gently pat the head of the weed eater against the uppermost layer, cutting it, until six inches to a foot of height are left. Then lower the head of the tool to normal trimming height and cut at the base of the grass or weeds in the arc style described earlier.

Rinse and repeat until there is no more to clean up!

Care and Protection

Heavy-duty trimming is hard on equipment; make sure to maintain correct line length and keep the string-trimmer motor well oiled. Risk of injury increases during heavy-duty trim jobs, so take active measures to protect eyes and skin.

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