PHOTO: J. Keeler Johnson
September 20, 2016

When it comes to tools and equipment, I’m a firm believer that bigger isn’t always better. That doesn’t mean that I’m not a fan of large, powerful machines that can easily handle big jobs, but I’ve found that in many cases, a smaller tool can do things that larger ones cannot.

That’s why I am a big proponent of string trimmer mowers—small, gasoline-powered, hand-pushed mowers that cut using replaceable plastic string instead of blades. They are similar to handheld string trimmers, though string trimmer mowers can be significantly larger and more powerful (good for slicing through thick weeds and even seedling trees!) since they have wheels and don’t have to be light enough to carry.

The benefits of having a string trimmer mower are impressive, and while I’m not recommending that you use it to mow large yards (a task much better suited to a riding mower), there are a wide variety of smaller projects that a string trimmer mower can handle perfectly.

1. On Uneven Ground

You would never drive a riding mower across a steep slope, or across very uneven or rocky ground, but a small string trimmer mower will happily traverse such conditions and allow you to keep grass and weeds under control.

2. Around Trees

Riding mowers, being large and difficult to maneuver into small spaces, aren’t the best for mowing in and around groups of trees. This is an area where string trimmer mowers truly excel, as you can carefully and slowly move them into position without the risk of inadvertently driving into a tree.

3. Underneath Benches and Fences

Is the grass getting too tall under a heavy bench or similar item? You could move it and mow the grass with a riding mower, but I’ve found that string trimmer mowers can often slip right underneath benches and clean things up nicely without moving anything. String trimmer mowers can also slide under fences to help keep the grass under control, which is something that a riding mower could never do.

4. On Unfamiliar Landscapes

Are you planning on mowing a new area, but aren’t sure if there are rocks or other objects hidden in the grass and weeds? Rather than tackling it with a large machine that could be damaged by unseen obstacles, let your string trimmer mower do the job! Since you’re controlling it by hand, you can move in very slowly and carefully, clearing the way bit by bit and letting you see trouble spots before you hit them. And if you do hit an object that refuses to budge, chances are the only part of your string trimmer mower that will be damaged is the plastic string, which couldn’t be easier to replace.

5. Near Buildings

It can be tricky or impossible for a riding mower to cut the grass right alongside a building, but for a string trimmer mower, this is a simple task! You can carefully push the mower just close enough to cut the grass without hitting the side of the foundation, rapidly improving the appearance of your house, barn, shed and any other buildings that might need a trimming.

As you can see, string trimmer mowers can handle many tasks that riding mowers can’t, making them (in my opinion) an essential machine to have in any tool shed.

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