A growing trend these days is to let your lawn go wild, but that doesn’t mean letting it take over your entire yard and garden! We’ve teamed up our resident Almanac lawn and yard editor, Benjamin Kilbride, with ECHO-USA to provide expert tips for keeping your lawn trimmed, defined, and—most importantly—healthy.
Trimming, Edging, and Redefining a Lawn
Today, let’s talk about trimming, edging, and redefining. It may surprise you to hear that “grooming” is not just about looks, whether it’s a person, a dog, or a yard. It’s about staying healthy. First, let’s start with the basic definitions:
- Trimming: Using a string trimmer or shears to cut any grass or thin-stalked plants that the lawn mower can’t access.
- Edging: The specific act of trimming the edge of the lawn—with a tool called an edger—where a hard surface such as a path, sidewalk, or driveway meets the grass.
- Redefining: Similar to edging, redefining is the act of correcting overgrown lawns along garden beds, “redefining” the border between them.
The Benefits of Lawn Maintenance
As with pruning, the regular trimming of your lawn—if done correctly—can be good for its health. Mowing or trimming back long grass to an appropriate height encourages it to produce new shoots and become bushier, and the thicker the grass grows, the more resistant your lawn is to disease, weeds, and drought. The key thing to avoid is cutting it too short; this weakens the grass and exposes it to all the bad things that proper trimming helps prevent. A height of 2 inches is generally considered a healthy length to keep most turf grasses.
Keeping your lawn trimmed also adds value to the landscape—the clean-cut lines and boundaries are visually satisfying and help prevent the spread of weeds into other areas. Edging and redefining keep the lawn from encroaching on any hard surfaces or garden beds, which can quickly become overrun and choked by creeping grasses.
Tools for the Task
What types of garden tools are needed to keep a lawn maintained? Let’s take a look at each type of tool and how exactly they can help you get the job done.
String Trimmers – Use a trimmer to access those hard-to-reach areas that the lawn mower can’t get to, such as tight corners, under fences, or along garden beds. Grasses that are left to grow wild can become unsightly and spread their seeds to unwanted areas, so it’s a good idea to trim them at the same time as when you mow. There are a few different trimmer designs out there; here are some of the key features to consider:
- Automatic- vs. Bump-feed: One of the main differences between trimmer designs is the way the string is fed through the trimmer head. With automatic-feed trimmers, the cutting string is continually kept at a certain length by sensors in the head and centrifugal force. The bump-feed design, on the other hand, requires the user to gently “bump” the bottom of the trimmer head against the ground to allow string to be fed through. While the automatic-feed may be more convenient for some, the bump-feed design allows more versatility in the length of the string, which is great for trimming in areas where a lighter touch is needed.
- Straight- vs. Curved-shaft: The traditional straight-shaft trimmer is great for heavy-duty jobs and trimming hard-to-reach areas. The curved-shaft trimmer is a bit shorter and has less reach, but is usually lighter and gives the user finer control over where they’re cutting. The angle of the curved-shaft design also makes it a lot more comfortable to operate for longer periods of time. Check out both curved- and straight-shaft trimmers at ECHO’s website.
Edgers – If you were to combine a lawn mower and a string trimmer, remove the string and turn it on its side, you would end up with a tool called an edger. Instead of string, it uses a blade that spins perpendicular to the ground, which allows the edger to easily cut along sidewalks, driveways, or other hard surfaces. A wheel attached to the side ensures smooth and even trimming while rolling along the edge of the lawn. Edgers are great for creating neat, even boundaries between your lawn and other areas, and for containing creeping grasses and weeds. Like trimmers, they come in curved- and straight-shaft designs, too.
- Not sure if you’ll need a dedicated edger? Consider getting one as part of a multi-attachment tool, like those in ECHO’s Pro Attachment Series.
Bed Redefiners – For cutting along existing garden beds or creating new ones, use a bed redefiner. Redefiners are similar to edgers in design, but are typically more heavy-duty and powerful, since they need to cut through thick grasses and roots. They work great along vegetable or flower patches, or around landscaped plantings in the yard. As one reviewer for the ECHO Bed Redefiner said, “[the tool] turned what used to be an all day project with a shovel into a less than 2 hour job.”
Cleaning Tools – Trimming and related tasks leave debris, and while a rake can get the job done, it may be worthwhile to invest in stronger tools that will clean up grass and weed clippings quickly and without any fuss. Look into tools like blowers or power brushes to make quick work of otherwise tedious tasks.
How to Choose the Right Tool for the Job
When deciding on what tools you will need, consider the size of your lawn and the number of obstacles you need to navigate.
- Do you have a lot of pathways, garden beds, or a large driveway bordering your lawn? A curved-shaft trimmer is perfect for a small- to medium-size yard or for trimming in delicate areas, while a straight-shaft trimmer is great for large lawns with tall or dense clumps of weeds.
- If you have many pathways, a sidewalk, or a driveway at the boundary of your lawn, an edger is incredibly useful for cutting a clean line in no time.
- For maintaining or creating borders along garden beds, use a bed redefiner, which can cut through grass, weeds, and roots much faster and much more evenly than a shovel.
- If you are pressed for time or have a hard time raking, a leaf blower, paddle, or brush tool can help you to clean up quickly and neatly.
A Powerful, Economic Tool Solution
Need a few of these yard tools (or more)? Consider a multi-attachment power tool instead. Here’s why Benjamin and The Old Farmer’s Almanac partnered up with ECHO outdoor power equipment.
“As a former landscaper, I’ve tried a lot of tools, including ECHO tools. The best thing today really is ECHO’s PAS [Pro Attachment Series™]. It’s nothing like an old multi-tool.”
Essentially, the ECHO PAS is one professional-grade engine that is used to power a variety of interchangeable attachments—like trimmers, blowers, and edgers—so it’s a very economical way to go if you have a need for more than one tool.
“I’ve used the PAS—primarily as a line trimmer, and secondarily as an edger. It’s a powerful but economical combo. Not only does it have the right amount of power, but it’s easy to handle, too. Plus, it starts on the first pull every time.”
We recommend the ECHO PAS to not only homeowners with mid-sized yards, but also to landscapers as a great tool for all but the heaviest of cutting (for which we’d recommend the PAS-2620). You can add on up to 12 attachments to do anything from trimming trees to blowing leaves.
Don’t just take our word for it! Read customer reviews for the PAS system here.