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How we test line trimmers

Our experts cut through acres of grass to get at the truth.

gardener using line trimmer

Line trimmers (aka lawn trimmers or whipper snippers) are handy for keeping long grass and garden edges under control. But you can't always tell in store which ones are best at the job.

We put them to the test to weed out any poor performers. Here's how we go about it.

Our expert testers

CHOICE maintains a highly professional NATA-accredited laboratory and the vast majority of our product testing is done in-house. Our testers are qualified and well-experienced in testing a wide range of products, and many sit on Standards committees and belong to other professional and expert bodies.

For some products there are Australian or international standards, which usually form the basis of our testing for those products. In other cases, such as with line trimmers, our testers and content producers work together to devise our own test methods based on the key aspects that matter to consumers.

How we choose which line trimmers we test

With so many to choose from, what makes us choose one line trimmer to test over another? Like with most of our product testing, our aim is to test the popular brands and models on the market and what you are most likely to see in the retailers.

We survey manufacturers to find out about their range of models, we check market sales information and we also check for any member requests to test specific models. From this information we put together a final list that goes to our buyers. They then head out to the retailers and purchase each product, just as a regular consumer would. We do this so we can be sure they are the same as any consumer would find them and not 'tweaked' in any way for better performance.

How we test line trimmers


We test the line trimmers on a large semi-rural property with plenty of long grass. In 2019, 2020 and again in 2021 we had to move the test to new sites, and because the test conditions are a bit different (the grass, terrain etc.) our results from previous years are not directly comparable. That said, we re-tested some models from past reviews on the new site, and their past results are similar to their latest results so we've kept all the previous test results in the review.

Our tester tests:

  • horizontal trimming along fences and walls and on areas of lawn
  • vertical trimming (with the cutting head perpendicular to the ground) along the edges of paths and garden borders. We simulate a hard garden border using a wooden plank on a grassy area, moving the plank to new grass as needed
  • cutting long grass.

If the trimmer is supplied with other cutting options (e.g. a brush-cutting blade that can be mounted instead of the line head) these are also assessed and commented on, but not included in the score.

Ease of use

The tester assesses:

  • how comfortable the trimmers are to use, taking into account their weight, balance, handles, shaft length, and visibility while edging (the angle of the cutting head)
  • re-spooling the line into the head
  • using the controls
  • starting the line trimmer
  • using the line feed
  • the amount of vibration
  • noise levels, at the operators position and at 7.5 metres from the trimmer.
For cordless models we also measure run time and battery charge time, so you know how much trimming you can get through.

Test criteria explained

The CHOICE Expert Rating, our overall score that determines which products we recommend, for line trimmers is made up of:

  • performance (50%)
  • ease of use (50%).

The performance score is made up of:

  • horizontal trimming (40%)
  • vertical trimming (40%)
  • cutting long grass (20%).

Weightings are in brackets.

The ease of use score is made up of the following, all weighted equally:

  • comfort (weight, balance, handles, shaft length, and visibility while edging)
  • re-spooling the line into the head
  • using the controls
  • starting the line trimmer
  • using the line feed
  • the amount of vibration.

Our test lab

We maintain a climate-controlled lab that is up to date with the latest reference machines and calibrated measurement tools for our testers to bring you the right results. For tests of outdoor equipment such as line trimmers, most of the actual testing is done "in the field", in this case quite literally, on a rural property with ample supplies of long grass and brush in order to really challenge the trimmers.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.