Pottering around in your garden is supposed to be calming and relaxing. That’s not always the case when you deal with weeds, which seem to grow no matter what you do. A weed wacker can help take the sting out of your summer chores.
Also called a string trimmer or a weed eater, it’s one of the essential tools for garden owners. Of course, you should also make sure you know how to use a weed wacker.
It’s essential that you buy a weed wacker that is constructed from high-quality materials and easy to use. Before using it, you also need to familiarize yourself with how it works as well as some safety tips to make sure you don’t get hurt.
Safety First: How to Use a Weed Wacker
Weed wackers come with high-speed motors. The spinning trimming-head can whir around so quickly that it can fling various stuff in unpredictable directions. The debris that it can shoot towards you can be very painful, and it can cause a serious bruise or scarring.
You don’t want to know what it can do when the stuff hits your eyes. So here are a few tips that you ought to keep in mind before you even pick up that weed wacker.
Get some protective gear
This means protective goggles for your eyes, thick trousers, proper shoes, and gloves. You may also want to get some ear protection, especially if you didn’t factor the noise when you bought your weed wacker.
Avoid things that aren’t weeds
Stay clear of bricks, stones, and fencing boundaries when you are weeding your garden with a wacker. Aside from the risk of flinging such items around, you’ll also wear down the cutting string of your weed wacker. It’s usually made of nylon, so it’s not exactly designed for rocks.
Learn how to use the weed wacker
Always be aware that you’re using a power tool that can cause horrible injuries when not used properly. So, when you’re using it, do try to be aware and keep a safe distance. You also need to pay attention to what you are doing and read all the instructions beforehand.
Are you using an electric weed wacker? If that’s the case, you may want to avoid water, so you don’t risk electrocuting yourself.
A safe distance from pets and children
In addition to watching for bricks and rocks, you also want to make sure to keep a safe distance from pets and children. Additionally, you should also keep an eye out for smaller animals that may be in the area such as frogs and snakes.
Using the Weed Wacker
Now that you’ve donned your protective gear, including safety glasses and gloves, and you have taken the time to memorize the safety rules and familiarize yourself with all the controls, let’s begin:
Start with a diagnostic examination of the weed wacker
Usually your manual will provide you the details of what you need to check, but in general, the point is to make sure that the tool is in good working condition. You’ll want to look over all of the components to see that they’re all working properly. Once this is done, you may then need to load trimmer line to the head.
Check the Area
Now it’s time for you also to check the area where you’ll be using it. You should remove all the various debris that can impede your work or can get flung about. This means getting rid of pebbles and stones as well as trash and sticks. Look over the area very carefully.
Using an Electric Trimmer
If you’re using an electric string trimmer, make sure that you plug it in securely. If it’s gas-powered, check the gas level and put in more if you need it. If it’s cordless, make sure the batteries are charged and keep a spare battery available just in case.
Holding the weed wacker
Now hold the wacker so that the handle goes nicely against your hips. Keep the trimming head parallel to the ground. You should hold it low enough that you’re cutting the grass at least an inch from the soil level. You may have to place it even higher if your lawn isn’t suitable for cropping closely.
Activate the power tool
Gently swing the handle from one side to another, while you take short steps to move forward. All these moves should be nicely smooth and continuous. To make sure you cut the grass evenly, keep the trimming head at the same height from the soil throughout.
As you move forward, overlap the previous stroke with the next one. This helps keep the cut even. Once you’ve reached the end of your garden, go back the other way with the next swath that’s parallel to the previous one. Don’t forget to overlap the edge of the first swath with the side of the next one.
Mind the Edge
For grass near plant beds and sidewalks, tilt the weed wacker 90 degrees to the ground. Make sure the protective shield is on top facing you. Gently lower the trimming head so that the line is slightly cutting into the ground. This is called “edging,” and you may need to practice a bit so that you can make a clean edge.
Once you’re done, rake the grass and collect the cuttings into a sack. Consult the manual on how to clean the weed eater properly. Store it away when you are done, so it is ready to go for next time.
It’s not all that hard, though newbies may need some practice. Consult the manual often and always keep safety a priority. By learning how to use a weed wacker, you protect yourself, your garden, and the wacker itself.
Types of Weed Wackers to Use
Depending on the kind of yard you have and what you need to do, there are different weed wacker types you may want to consider to get the job done. For example, if you have a larger yard, you may want to consider using a gas-powered weed wacker.
Gas Weed Eaters
Gas string trimmers need to be primed before use. This means that the primer button should be hit in two or three strokes. This button is typically located underneath the motor of the gas string trimmer. You can then switch the button to the on position.
Holding down the gas trigger, you should pull the starting cord using a few quick and powerful pulls. Continue this motion until the weed wacker starts up. Once this happens, you can then switch it the run position.
Make sure to hold the weed wacker as far away from your body as you can while allowing it to remain comfortable to use. If you are noticing that the wacker isn’t working as efficiently as it should, you may need more line. You also want to be sure not to put plain gasoline into the tank. Always refer to the manual before filling it up to learn the proper ratio that may be needed.
Battery Powered and Electric Weed Wackers
A battery powered weed wacker is much less noisy and more lightweight than other options. You may even find electric weed wackers that are rechargeable meaning you can ditch the cord and have more freedom of movement while working in the yard.
Cordless string trimmers may not be as effective against the tougher growing weed and grass and may be better suited for lighter weeding jobs.
Before using an electric weed wacker or cordless string trimmer, make sure that you either have a full battery, or it is completely plugged in. You then grip the rear handle and the trigger throttle and then reach forward to hold the forward assist handle.
When you press the trigger of an electric weed wacker, you will effectively supply power to the motor. Tilt the trimmer forward and press the trigger and use back and forth movements on the area you are working.
While simply trimming the grass may be easy enough to accomplish, there are a variety of cutting techniques you can use that may prove to be a better approach.
This involves holding the weed wacker so that the string hits the grass at a slight angle. It provides more of a clean look and edge. Remember, the string ends are what provides the cutting power.
This is for surfaces that are more parallel. For example, you may want to edge the areas between the grass and the driveway. To do this, you turn the trimmer so that it is vertical and then walk along the path with the trimmer.
When doing this, you are bringing the trimmer in an out while maintaining a shallow U motion. To even this kind of cut, you want to make sure you overlap. This cutting technique is best for when there is some obstruction, or there is tall grass.
This is used when there are weeds and grass growing in the driveway, on a path, or in sidewalk cracks. Tip the trimmer so that the strings are barely hitting the pavement. You then need to move into the base of the weed and cut it flush to the surface. If you angle this wrong, you may just damage the string and will find you won’t have an effective cut.
Restringing a Weed Wacker
Some weed wacker models only require that you pop in a new spool of string when needed. An automatic feed spool is relatively easy to use and pretty straightforward.
However, you will find that many more models require that you add the new string. To do this, you must push in the tabs on the weed wacker or turn it to unscrew the ring that is attached to the trimmer head. This will release the spool that is inside. Removing the string this way may not be the same for all models, however.
Always check the manual to determine what kind of string size you need for your particular model. Common string sizes for a gas string trimmer, for example, are .080 and .095 while electric weed wackers require .065 string instead. These numbers all refer to the thickness of the type you are using.
Once this is determined, cut the length you will be using. Cut two lengths if your weed wacker requires two strings. Then you must locate the small hole at the spool’s center and push ½ an inch of the line into the hole – this will keep the string in place while you load the spool — wind one piece at a time in a two-string weed wacker.
Winding the Spool
When winding the spool, follow the direction as marked by the arrow. Be careful as you turn so that the string doesn’t become tangled. You want to leave approximately six inches of line unwound at the end.
Clip the end of the string. Clip it where the notch is on the edge of the spool. You can then place the spool back inside the trimmer head, releasing the loose string from the grooves.
The loose string should be fed into the eyelets in the trimmer head, and the retaining ring is screwed back onto the trimmer head. Always wiggle the ring to make sure that it is securely in place.
Do this before even starting the weed wacker again to make sure it doesn’t fly off. If your wacker requires two strings, follow the same steps for each length.
Before changing the string, always make sure that the trimmer’s engine is completely turned off and cooled down. While it may seem like a lot of complicated steps, it will be easy to accomplish if you refer to the manual before replacing the string.
Remember, before using any weed wacker on your lawn or any other kind of power tools for that matter; it is essential that you first understand how the machine operates.
By understanding how it works, you are allowing for safer use and will avoid serious injury. You should also familiarize yourself with the different cutting techniques so you can use your weed wacker more effectively without damaging the strings.