With the variety of depth positions available and the tilt blade for bevel cutting, users get the exact cut they prefer. Cuts stay even thanks to curb-hopper technology, which allows wheels to adjust to uneven spots without affecting blade position. The frame and blade guards protect the edger from debris.
The wheels may not turn as easily around curved areas, making those more difficult to trim evenly.
Users report that this model can handle even the thick grasses of the southern US, while leaving behind a clean edge. Includes an adjustable handle that can easily be raised or lowered based on a user's height. Engine runs on corded power. Assembly is simple.
While it works great on grass, this small model is not as good with dirt and debris, so creating the initial edge may be a bit of a chore.
Jump-start technology is the primary benefit of this model, which is easy to use and requires no mixing of gas and oil to run. Handle is cushioned to avoid strain on hands. Handle-mounted throttle makes for an easy transition from cutting to idling. 1.75-inch maximum depth. 3 transport wheels offer stability so cuts stay even.
Less powerful than some models, it may not work as well on areas of thick growth.
Cord-retention technology locks the cord into the extension cord so it doesn't come unplugged and users can keep working. The unit is lightweight enough to make clean cuts around curves as well as straight edges. Powerful enough to cut through any thickness of grass. Built-in trencher.
While offering 3 cutting depths, the blade angle is not adjustable, so no bevel cutting.
The front wheel has a built-in spring to assist users in varying the cutting depth. At any depth, the motor is powerful enough to cut through most thicknesses of grass. Lightweight and easy to maneuver for curved cuts. Cord and extension cord lock together. Adjustable handle.
Without curb-hopper technology, using this model over uneven or rough terrain may cause slightly uneven cuts.
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In small yards, a spade or weed eater will do an adequate job of edging your lawn, but if you need to go more than a few yards, using one of these starts to become hard work, and it’s difficult to maintain a consistent appearance. The solution is a walk-behind lawn edger, a machine specifically designed to do one job and do it well.
But which lawn edger should you choose? There are electric and gas-powered models, each with its own unique features. It’s a question to ponder, for sure.
Sorting through the available information and providing well-researched buying advice is exactly what BestReviews is here for. We looked at a wide range of walk-behind lawn edgers so we could help you choose the right model for your yard. Our recommendations highlight the performance and price options, and in the following guide we look at the elements you’ll want to consider in more detail.
As is often the case with power garden tools, you have a choice of corded electric or gas machinery. At the time of writing there were no cordless walk-behind edgers on the market.
Corded electric: These edgers tend to be the budget option. They’re small, light, and easy to use, everything that many urban gardeners need. Almost all have 12-amp motors. Their only real limitation is the extension cord, which can’t be any longer than 100 feet. You can try daisy-chaining cords, but almost invariably the resistance in the cables saps power to the extent there isn’t enough left to run the machine properly.
Gas: If you want to go farther, or you’re frustrated with dragging a cord around the yard, you need a gas-powered lawn edger. Most are four-stroke, which are usually quieter, more fuel efficient, and more durable than two-stroke models (though the latter are often cheaper). In terms of performance, they vary from 79cc engines that are all most people need, to 140cc and larger, suited to park maintenance and contractor use.
Extension cords should always be plugged into a GFCI outlet. In the event of a short, this will cut the power in a fraction of a second and save you from a potentially lethal electric shock.
Number: Most electric walk-behind lawn edgers have three wheels. These are lightweight machines, and controlling one isn’t challenging. Mid-range gas-powered machines may also have three wheels, but larger models are heavier and often have four, which gives them greater stability.
Material: Wheels on cheaper machines are usually made of hard plastic. Rubber alternatives run more smoothly and should be more durable.
Adjustments: A few walk-behind edgers have a “curb hopping” facility. The wheels can be adjusted for height so they can trim edges when the lawn is above the level of the pathway.
Blades are either two or three pronged, sometimes with teeth designed to cut through the turf efficiently, but often they just have a smooth, sharp edge.
Cut: Lawn edgers are often rated by blade size, but depth of cut and the variation available are more important. On electric models this is set on the unit. On gas models there’s often a handlebar-mounted lever, giving you the option of adjusting it on the fly.
Angle: Electric machines all cut vertically, but a few of the larger gas-powered walk-behind lawn edgers have a pivoting head and are capable of cutting angles. On some this is just 15°, but others can cut all the way to horizontal.
Guard: A blade guard protects the user from any stones that might be picked up. Gas machines often have rubber mudguards as well to stop cut grass and dirt being thrown all over the place.
The leading edger
The Southland is a perfect example of go-anywhere lawn-edging power. The four-stroke 79cc motor is easy to start, reliable, and durable. It drives a fast and efficient three-pronged cutting blade with five depth positions adjusted from the comfortable handle. It can also be tilted plus or minus 15°. The tough, powder-coated steel chassis supports a cleverly designed wheel system that allows curb hopping. There isn’t a lawn-edging job the Southland can’t handle, and it will go on doing so for years.
It’s worth thinking about the handle ergonomics.
Electric edgers usually have a shaft that’s shared with other tools in the range – typically weed eaters. While not unpleasant, it’s not the most natural hold (though it may be adjustable for reach).
Gas machines tend to have a loop, much like a lawn mower, or handlebars. It’s a matter of personal taste, but many find the latter more comfortable.
Cord lock: Look for this on electric models. It stops you from pulling out the extension.
Noise: Electric models are considerably quieter than gas, which may make a difference depending on your local zoning regulations.
Warranty: Check the warranty. It’s common for these machines to be covered for one year, but some manufacturers offer up to three years.
Although it’s possible to use a string trimmer for edging, an edger is much easier to control, and the steel blade gives a much neater finish.
Inexpensive: The cheapest walk-behind lawn edgers we found are corded electric models that cost around $70 to $90. These are perfectly good tools for use in modest-size yards.
Mid-range: With no cordless walk-behind lawn edgers available, if you want freedom of movement you need gas. There are several very good machines available for the average yard in the $150 to $250 range.
Expensive: Landscaping professionals or owners of really extensive lawned areas may want to invest in a larger gas-powered machine. These can cost anywhere from $300 to over $600, but you do get immense capability.
Some lawn edgers include a trenching option, ideal if you want to run cable for garden lighting.
Versatility and value
The lightweight Worx is everything most urban gardeners need to keep their edges neat and tidy with a minimum of effort. The 12-amp motor is strong enough to cope with any task, and the durable blade has been sculpted for efficient cutting. There are three depth options, and the handle is adjustable to provide optimum ergonomics. Usability is extended with the inclusion of a trenching option. It’s a smart machine from a highly regarded manufacturer at a price that’s hard to beat.
We stand by the products in our matrix, but we found a few more that might interest you. The Truper Tru Tough Rotary Lawn Edger puts an unusual twist on “walk-behind” edgers. It’s cheap, light, and very simple, but there’s one drawback: the power is supplied by you! By contrast, the Craftsman 140cc Gas-Powered Edger is designed for almost effortless work over large areas, yet it’s compact enough for use in tight spaces. There’s a reliable, easy-start 140cc motor and four wheels for balance and maneuverability. Finally, we have the McLane 101-4.75GT-7 Gas-Powered Lawn Edger which features a Briggs & Stratton motor renowned for its power and reliability. The cutter head runs on ball bearings for long-term precision, and depth control is fast and simple via a lever on the handlebars.
Q. Do walk-behind lawn edgers need much maintenance?
A. Not a great deal. With electric models, it’s really just a question of a quick clean after use (which is much easier to do before any dirt gets dried on), and periodically checking that fixtures haven’t worked loose. With gas models, you’ll also need to look at the spark plug and fuel and oil filters and clean or change them occasionally, but you don’t have to do anything particularly onerous.
Q. Are there any safety precautions when using these tools?
A. When working outdoors it’s always a good idea to wear sturdy footwear. Many people also like to wear gloves. While lawn edgers have shielding to stop debris being thrown at you, dirt or small stones might escape, so it’s recommended that you wear long pants rather than shorts. Always unplug or turn off the motor if you’re going to work on the blade, to clear a buildup of soil or grass, for example.
Q. Does my gas lawn edger require a CARB- or EPA-compliant motor?
A. All gas motors on garden tools sold in the US should be EPA compliant. California Air Resources Board (CARB) is a stricter standard that has been adopted by an increasing number of states, but it’s not a national standard at the time of writing. However, if you have environmental concerns, a CARB-compliant motor is the cleaner option.
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