Looking for a whipper snipper to keep your edges trim? These are our top recommendations.
It's easy to get lost in the grass when you're buying a whipper snipper, but don't panic! Whipper snippers (also known as line trimmers, edge trimmers or weed whackers) are handy machines that make lawn maintenance quick and simple. They're especially useful for small properties as they take up less storage space.
We've narrowed down the best choices for beginners, budget buyers and garden enthusiasts, as well as offering tips on what to look for when comparing and a guide to whipper-snipper jargon.
Best whipper snipper for small yards
In a small yard, a whipper snipper can serve as a makeshift mower as well as doing your edging. A single cord head should suffice (as you won't need to change cords during a single snipping session). We'd also suggest a four-stroke model: while these weigh a little more, they save the hassle of needing to pre-mix your fuel.
Our pick is the Honda UMS425 Bent Shaft. It's reasonably priced, has a four-stroke engine and features a one-pull starting mechanism.
Best whipper snipper for ease of use
If you're new to whipper snipping, go for a two-stroke whipper snipper with a straight shaft and single cord head. The straight shaft lowers the risk of injury, while the single cord head makes for simpler operation.
Our pick is the Victa Tornado Trimmer (Straight Split Shaft). It features an anti-vibration system so it's more comfortable to use. It also has an ergonomic handle design.
Which is the best whipper snipper on a budget?
Whipper snippers can be quite expensive once you factor in any attachments, oil, cords and maintenance you might need, but they don't have to completely decimate your bank account. If you are on a budget look for a basic model without two many extra features or attachments that can still get the job done.
Our tip? A two-stroke whipper snipper means fewer oil changes than a four-stroke.
Our pick is the Victa Swift Start Bent Split Shaft Trimmer. It has two different heads (easy feed Bumphead or Victa Easy Change Alloy Head) a built-in auto-choke and a soft pull-start system.
Which is the best electric whipper snipper?
Electric whipper snippers are a good alternative to petrol powered models particularly if you have a smaller yard, they are also quieter. Electric models are easy to start and you can choose from cordless or corded whipper snippers where you can either charge it up or keep it plugged into a powerpoint (though these are really only suitable to small gardens.)
Our pick? The EGO Electric Whipper Snipper with Battery and Charger (38cm). It's lightweight and comes with a 2.5 Ah 56-volt lithium-ion battery that can run for up to 30 minutes. The line replacement system is simple and straightforward, so you won't waste your time fiddling when you could be whipping.
Which is the best whipper snipper for professionals?
If you are a professional landscaper or you have a lot of lawn to maintain at home then you might want to consider a heavy duty ‘professional’ style machine.
While these will cost more and will require more maintenance you will have a better choice of attachments, a powerful four stroke engine, straight shaft and a loop handle which will all help give you greater control over the machine and great results.
Our pick is the Shindaiwa 2 Stroke Petrol Whipper Snipper. With a lightweight body and large fuel tank, this model can handle larger areas efficiently and comfortably.
What to look for in a whipper snipper
Whipper Snipper jargon - don’t know a four stroke from a bump head? We’ve got you covered:
- Two-stroke: An engine that only has two internal processes to function (intake and exhaust).
- Four-stroke: An engine with four internal processes to function (intake, compression, power and exhaust).
Head type: You can find whipper snippers with single cord, bump or auto-feed heads.
- Single cord head: Uses a single cord cut to size and reaches approximately 100-200m.
- Bump head: Enables you to increase the cord length with a simple bump to the snipper head, releasing some of the wound cord.
- Auto-feed head: When the head's spin reaches a certain velocity, it senses if there's enough tension and releases more cord.
- Bent shaft: the head is angled closer to the ground, meaning you can hold it in position more naturally.
- Straight shaft: the head is further away from your feet on a straight angle, meaning lower leg injury is less likely.
- cc: This acronym means "cubic centimetre". The higher the cc, the more power a whipper snipper produces. In theory a higher cc will spin the head faster and cut the grass more easily, but they're also generally louder machines.
- Kilowatts: Another measurement of power, kilowatts measures engine output
- Sump: This where the fuel is deposited in four-stroke engines. If a whipper snipper has a sump, it can’t be turned upside down as fuel will leak into the machine.
What’s the difference between four-stroke and two-stroke engines?
The chief difference is the structure of the engine itself. The number of strokes refers to the number of steps a piston takes along the cylinder to turn the engine's crankshaft in the process of running the machine.
Two-stroke: In a standard two-stroke engine, the components are comprised of the intake and the exhaust. This means that within the cylinder, the pistons complete two strokes (one up and one down) to complete the power cycle. The first stroke is the compression stroke and the second is the exhaust stroke. As the oil and fuel are mixed, there is no need for an oil sump. This means you can turn the whipper snipper upside down without fear of leakage.
Four-stroke: The makeup of a four-stroke engine is slightly more involved, with the pistons needed to complete four strokes (up, down, up, down) within the cylinder to complete a full cycle. The strokes are comprised of intake, compression, ignition and exhaust. As the oil does not mix with the fuel and instead gets burned off, there is a sump on the inside of the engine. This means that the whipper snipper cannot be turned upside down without spilling.
Outside the engine, the main differences lie in the noise level, speed and capacity.
What safety gear do I need when whipper snipping?
Whenever you use your whipper snipper it’s a good idea to wear:
- ear muffs for hearing protection
- glasses to protect your eyes
- closed-in shoes