Introducing my official Rant product tester


Cleaning Up Walkway Stones with the Troy-Bilt Cordless Electric Trimmer

THANKS FOR PLAYING, EVERYONE: Claire Splan is the randomly chosen winner

Proxies come in handy sometimes. At first I loved the idea of receiving equipment to test from companies like Troy-Bilt. I’d never done it before and, besides, it was free stuff. But while I know just what to do with freebie concert tickets and bottles of organic gin, I must admit, power equipment in my tiny garden can be just a bit out of place. So for this review of Troy-Bilt’s cordless electric trimmer, I brought in a ringer, Buffalo Spree writer Catherine Berlin, shown here. Catherine regularly tests gadgets for the magazine, and actually has a lawn. Here are her thoughts on the trimmer:

Some time ago, somebody figured out that a pole with a bit of monofilament had the potential to be a tool for work, and not just a symbol of indolence. (Could it be that a widowed-feeling, weekend-fisherman’s wife came up with the power edger?) Since that “Aha!” moment, trimmers have become nearly as ubiquitous as lawnmowers. There is a surprising amount of variety among the trimmers out there. Gas gave way to electric, leading to cordless. Troy-Bilt’s entry into the field enlists ergonomic design as its selling point: the handle telescopes, so you can adjust it to a length that fits your reach and your spine’s comfort zone, from 42 inches long up to 56 inches. This may not seem to be the most exciting feature, until you consider that this means that the whole family can share in edging duties. This edger does not have a wire guide or an extra battery pack for quick switch outs, but then again, the 12” cutting swath is easy to control, the ion battery is designed to last longer before recharges, and the trimmer’s price point is an acceptable compromise.

We also appreciate the automatic line release that advances the trimmer line as needed when the trigger is pulled (because we don’t have a clue how to deal with those lines), and speaking of triggers, seriously. Once you get the feel of pulling that trigger to trim grass or edge around sidewalk and stones, you are, well, hooked for life. Perfect for a fun-filled afternoon that includes work along fences, trees, patios, and sidewalks.

Shortcomings? It didn't have a guide, which I don't use because I have an eye and I like to be able to angle the device for special edging. Some people think its 12 inch cutting range too small, but for my backyard, it is plenty big and as with all tools, I can make two swaths with something small; if the unit is too large, I can't make a swath at all. So I'd rather go small and be more precise. It's not perfect, but it is a nice tool for a manageable piece of property.—C.B.

Carol/May Dreams Gardens and Dee/Red Dirt Ramblings have also tested this.

Want a trimmer of your own? Troy-Bilt will send you one; just leave a comment about trimming—or about getting other people to do your work—and I’ll draw from them. Please leave the comments before 9 p.m. EST.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. Ah, trimming. Jeez.

    Remember the Wheel of Fortune jingle/song – I’m a Wheel Watcher? While trimming, I sing, tunelessly, “I’m a weed whacker, I’m a weed whacker, whacking everywhere I go.” I have acres – the song goes on and on and on through whacking, untangling the whirly thing, etc. It’s only interrupted for bouts of cursing as I don’t much care for my trimmer.


  2. Since moving, I am coming to realize that having a lawn means having equipment, even if I don’t want a lawn and have no money for equipment and have no interest at all in edging the lawn. So winning this would be, like, way convenient.

  3. Went out to the ‘farm’ last Friday and was pleasantly surprised to see my lawn guy had been there just a few hours before I arrived. How do I know this? Not only were the lawn clippings still green and the grass still short (during this kinda wet spring it seems to grow a few inches every night!), and short grass means fewer mosquitoes says the other half, but I was able to create an entire arrangement with the Siberian Iris flower stalks that the edging guy had trimmed off. I filled in some bare patches with the sedums he had trimmed and left neatly beside the rock garden, and only had to spend 45 minutes or so brushing away grass and dandelion seed heads that his trimmer had conveniently sent right onto my mulched beds.

  4. Since writing this (or not writing it), I realized that this might be good for whacking the weeds that grow between the flagstones of our patio. Might save our aging backs. But I already gave it to Catherine; too bad.

    Connie, was that set to the “I’m a Girl Watcher” tune? Or no?

  5. i need a trimmer! i put in all these new raised beds never contemplating how much trimming would need to be done around them. arghhhhhh….a lot of trimming needed….help!!!!

  6. You know, I used to think of trimmers as one of the more annoying and useless power tools that existed. That make that buzzing sound and as far as I could tell their main purpose was to shoot lawn bits all over your legs. Then I got a house. And a big yard. And a big garden whose edges need to be trimmed in order not to look like a kid who grew out his hair for the summer. Suffice to say, my opinion on trimmers changed when they were put in the perspective of my garden.

  7. I had a husband!!! He didn’t bother to trim so I got rid of him, and he isn’t even buried under the roses. He did own a trimmer but it was so damn big and unruly that I can’t get it started. Help me please! The men on my street don’t want a second wife! I would like to succeed on my own, but I need the big girl tools!

  8. Since my whole lawn is about the width of most people’s front walks, and likely shorter, a trimmer might be good for doing the whole job. Besides, half of the lawn is on a slope, which means that the top gets beheaded by my ancient push mower, while the side looks like the Serengeti.

    I’ve also lusted after a trimmer ever since I learned you could use them to shred leaves to speed their transformation into compost.

    I know that Troy sells in Canada, too. Wouldn’t it be good to get the Canadian perspective?

  9. My husband is too busy working that I have to do the lawn. We have a lawn trimmer but it’s too big for me to use it so trimming doesn’t get done at all.

  10. Every few years I get a trimmer and enjoy it until it jams (frequently) and then throw it away when I can no longer change the line.

  11. @Eliz — Indeed it was Girl Watcher — this morning I was far too sleepy to dredge up the real lyrics. Thanks for jogging my memory.

  12. The lot for our 1970’s house is trapezoid in shape with the long edge in front. The result is the maximum amount of edges along the sidewalk, driveway and the parkway/hellstrip.

    I don’t mind mowing what’s left of the lawn but can’t handle the corded line-trimmer my husband bought – this Troy-Bilt cordless version looks wonderful to me.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  13. I would love one of these! I use my manual trimmer, but a battery powered one would make it go so much faster!

  14. String line weed whackers are one of those required tools of any professional gardener.
    My first gas powered Echo ( more than 20 years ago) came with a brush cutter , which is basically a skill saw blade that you attach at the end of the machine instead of the plastic filament line.
    Talk about power ! No one messes with a woman who wields a fast turning blade on the end of a five foot long metal pole.
    Those days of cutting brush and weed eating estate gardens and commercial properties are behind me but I still appreciate the weed whacker as a sensible gardening tool even if I am maintaining just one small urban lot.

  15. I have been seriously considering buying a cordless trimmer ever since last year when the yard guys whacked the heck out of several small trees, causing damage to the bark and restricting their growth. This year in order to avoid that we’ve been doing our own mowing and get this, pulling the grass around the fence and other places by hand! Need I say that gets old? A cordless trimmer that both my husband and I could use sounds almost like heaven!

  16. I love the look of a nicely edged garden. Unfortunately I have to nag my husband to do it. Our current trimmer is corded and unwieldy. This one sounds like I could do the job myself!

  17. It’s the only thing I hire someone for — the mow, trim and blow. BORING!!!!

    Besides, when I trim, it’s with my pruners. Less noisy, more fun.

  18. Oh I want a trimmer baaaaaad. I’m currently hand-trimming the edges of my lawn, when I get to it at all.

    I’ll even review it on my blog, if I am the winner!

  19. My husband took out a strip of Iris germanica trying to ‘trim’ the lawn edge with our mower. Please – save the irises – pick me for the free trimmer !

  20. Everyone allways says that electric/cordless trimmers are great for small lawns and more economical than gas models. What about garden scissors? Most lawns that would need an electric vs a full powered gas model have only a few yards of trimming to do and hey, never run out of juice, never need the string replaced, and virtually never break down (I guess they do need sharppened occasionally).

  21. I want a trimmer with a telescoping handle! I have a cordless one now and my weak-ass arms get tired holding it up so high, and I’m a tallish woman at 5’8″! And my husband (who actually does most of the trimming) has to hunch over some to use it. Pick me!

  22. This sounds like a very useful item, whether won in a drawing or not–available at one’s local Big Box store, I wonder?

    Yes! yes! I want to win the contest too!

  23. A power trimmer is the one power garden tool I consider essential. Having a large paved patio space with lots of cracks in the concrete, it’s the only reasonable way to deal with the weeds that sprout up. But my current trimmer is old, heavy and cumbersome. I love the idea of the telescoping handle, which would save my back a great deal of strain. I already have trimmer envy.

  24. I love the cordless but how long will it run without a recharge? Also how long does the recharge take? I don’t want to do half the lawn then have to wait 48 hours to finish it up. I do appriciate the adjustability. I don’t know why that isn’t standard on all tools.

  25. I’m so fed up with my string trimmer right now. I want the darn thing to die die die!
    Oh, that bit of venting felt really good!
    I’m wondering if all trimmers are evil bits of machinery or just the type I own? If I win I’ll find out and let you all know!

  26. The edging around our raised beds used to be trimmed with shears, but aging knees are making that more difficult. A trimmer may be the answer.

  27. Tulipa, and L. Greene,

    The trimmer is available at Lowes and I am sure other hardware/bog box stores, it’s $199, and from what I read, the charge lasts as long as it takes to do a small front yard and sides–over an hour. I didn’t see an exact duration.

  28. I have a corded electric model. I don’t really mind the cord, but the telescoping part sounds good since I’m 5’2″.

  29. I would be happy to test one of these. I had been getting down on my knees with a pair of grass clippers, but my knees don’t like that so much this year.

  30. Something I could win and give as a Father’s Day gift from the kitties!! “Here, Dad, we got you a trimmer. Be careful around the fig tree, it’s just a little thing now…”

    And it’s useful!

  31. i so very badly desperately need a new trimmer. mine drips gasoline everywhere and my husband insists he’ll fix it and it just doesn’t get fixed!

  32. I would love the trimmer. My husband bought me a gasoline for my birthday but I can never get it to start and it’s been nothing but a hinderance to getting something else…… he tells me I don’t need to buy another one because I have one… If I win I’ll give the gasoline one to him for his birthday!

  33. I keep thinking that if I found the ‘right’ trimmer I’d learn how to use it and relieve my very cooperative husband from that one chore. I have been trying to eliminate lawn so he won’t have so much to mow, but mostly I just end up creating more edges for him to trim.

  34. We have a very naughty trimmer that is miserable to handle. In fact, my 3 1/2 year old is afraid when Dad uses it because of his reactions with a malfunctioning, oops there goes another tree sapling tool. Please help! A new one would help the nightmares!

  35. I realized this year that pruning back the boxwoods that were taking over our yard means that now I have to weed under them. It would be nice not to have to do it by hand.

  36. A telescoping handle might mean I’d get to do some weeding. I can’t handle our big (noisy) gas powered monster and neither can Garden Punk. I’d bet we could handle this one just fine.

  37. I far prefer a string trimmer to chemicals for weeding along sidewalk cracks, along foundations, etc. Our gas-powered one is too big and way too heavy for me. I’d love a rechargeable one that also meant no cord to drag behind (or accidentally cut)!

  38. In Australia we call them “whipper snippers”. Isn’t that a classic name. Very Wagga Wagga, Toowoomba, Goondoowindi and Lillypilly, i.e. very Australian. Monty, my three year old, thinks they’re the coolest machine ever!

  39. We currently use an electric one but I would love to try one that you didn’t have to drag the 40 plus feet of electric cord behind you, cordless would be great!

  40. Eliz, thanks for the link love. I think the review, above, was great. Interesting that we each had a different experience with it. I still like the idea of no emissions even it isn’t sturdy enough for my large property.~~Dee

  41. I live on 10 acres in southern Michigan with about 4 of it in some sort of landscape or edible garden duty. It takes 5 hours to cut and trim our grass…I know it’s ridiculous!! My husband has a mongo-sized gas-powered string trimmer as he is 6’6″. I cannot wield the thing. Would love to try a trimmer that I can manage myself around our field stone-edged beds and flagstone walkways…don’t forget the miniature weeds that come up through the old brick patio! Could I have made my life anymore complicated. It is, however, beautiful and somewhat edible…oh, and lots of fodder for my paintings which is how I help pay for the place.

  42. My next door neighbor mows and trims all the front lawns on my 1/2 block street. Mine is the smallest about 200 sq. ft. I’ve eliminated grass from the back yard. I would gladly give him the trimmer should you choose my entry.

  43. I’m late to comment but then, I’m late for lots of things including repairing my gas-fired trimmer. I trim around rock borders and also invert to edge so I’d be happy to report on it’s performance under rough treatment. I’m not the most meticulous of yarders so the most grateful person if I was to get a new trimmer would be my retired next door neighbor with the perfect lawn. Extra benefit would be low emissions on those ozone action days. Thanks.

  44. I’ve been renting a gas-powered trimmer at the end of the summer to clean up the garden. It saves a lot of cutting by hand, though I find I go through a lot of that pull-out, nylon thread. But the “brush cutter” Michelle D. mentions, above, sounds pretty terrific. Maybe I’ll rent one of those if I don’t win the random drawing. Thanks for contributing to/ maintaining such a splendid website!

  45. i’d love to do the trimming myself. but my low back barks like crazy and i hate the gas and yadda, yadda, yadda.

    and my husband? well, he just wants to get the job over with. the other day he wiped out all of my low bush blueberrie. i’ve been planning his death ever since…

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