Lawn Trimmer With Thread, Blade Or Scythe?

Anyone who owns a lawn wants to maintain it as well as possible, but also with as little effort as possible. The use of modern technology is making it easier and easier to trim and clear the edges of the lawn, which used to be very time-consuming and usually had to be done on the knees. What differences there are in the lawn trimmer and when thread, knife or scythe are the right choice, we explain here.

Lawn trimmer buying advice

It is not possible to give universal buying advice for the perfect lawn trimmer. Because which variant is most suitable depends heavily on the planned area of application. Strictly speaking, before a recommendation for individual tool attachments, it is even necessary to distinguish different devices against each other:

The lawn trimmer

The brush cutter or the power scythe
There is no clear, universally recognized demarcation between the two devices. Basically, both devices are suitable for cutting lawn edges and pushing back overgrowing vegetation in the lawn. The general differences between the two devices are based on the following points:

  • Type of drive
  • Engine power
  • Equipment weight
  • Device dimensions
  • handiness
  • Typical tool attachments

Lawn trimmer

When you buy a lawn trimmer, you usually use it to cut the grass in all those areas that you can’t reach with your lawn mower. These are the edges of the lawn, as well as the immediate vicinity of tree trunks, shrubs and other objects, such as garden benches or even birdbaths. Accordingly, this device is also intended for cutting grass, weeds or at the very most young plant shoots that have just broken through the ground. From this intended use, typical characteristics that clearly distinguish the lawn trimmer from the motor-driven scythe:

Type of drive: electric, corded or battery-powered
Motor power: approx. 250 to 600 watts
Weight: approx. 1 to 2 kilograms, depending on the tool somewhat more
Dimension: small, light drive with control unit, linkage for standing application with tool just above ground level

Manageability: due to low weight also good for use under bushes and trees, as well as along hedges, sometimes adjustable shaft for kneeling operation
common tools: thread on spool or nylon knife
Costs: simple devices from approx. 20,- EUR, brand devices with multiple use (exchangeable tool attachments) between 100,- and 150,- EUR

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Brush cutter

The brush cutter, often referred to as a brush cutter, is a more powerful version of the lawn trimmer. Stronger and more robustly executed, it is beside grass also in the position to remove branches and twigs, as well as already more strongly developed young plants at the lawn, in addition, in woods purposefully. For this purpose, the brush cutter can be equipped with various tools, so that it is ultimately versatile from classic lawn trimming to real free cutting and clearing:

Type of drive: electric or gasoline-powered

Engine power: electric from approx. 800 watts upwards, petrol-driven up to approx. 3 to 5 hp
Weight: depending on the drive up to about 5 kilograms, very large models even beyond that
Dimension: with increasing power heavier motor block, more stable shaft for high power transmission, overall more robust and stable design, often with carrying harness and two-handed handle

Maneuverability: significantly less than lawn trimmers, usually can only be used standing upright
common tools: two-, three- or four-bladed blade, rarely thread on spool, optionally also saw blade
Costs: inexpensive entry-level models from 80 to 100,- EUR, powerful devices with exchangeable tools (e.g. besides scythe also hedge trimmer, high pruner etc.) from approx. 200,-EUR; premium devices from 500,- EUR to approx. 1000,-EUR

Note: The motorized scythe is generally able to take over the tasks of a lawn trimmer as well. The lawn trimmer, on the other hand, can only perform the tasks of a power scythe to a limited extent due to its lower power and less resistant tools.


While with the actual devices the purchase consultation is strongly individually coined and can be accomplished in the long run only by the user on the basis its future plans, it falls with the tools applicable with it far more easily. On the one hand, these are in any case wearing parts that you buy again and again. In addition, the costs here are also much lower, so that it can be both technically sensible and financially affordable to provide a tool with changing attachments, depending on the application.

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A nylon thread is wound on a spool and unwound a short distance. Set in rotation, the nylon thread cuts through grass, weeds and other soft plant matter. If the thread is broken over time or after contact with a solid object (stone, metal post, tree trunk, etc.), it is simply unwound a piece again at the push of a button.

Strengths: low material costs, fast thread refeeding without significant work interruption, no damage to tree trunks, solid wood or even building components
Weaknesses: only limited cutting effect, severing more by tearing than real cutting, only suitable for lawn and weed cutting.


Equipped with two, three or four blades, a knife can already achieve significantly more mass and thus also cutting performance than a thread. The ground cutting edge does the rest. Knife attachments are available in two variants:

Nylon blades

They are used on lawn trimmers as a more durable alternative to string. Once dulled, they are replaced, while regrinding is not possible.

Strengths: better working performance than thread, longer working interval possible.
Weaknesses: cannot be resharpened, usually destroyed on contact with solid objects
Steel knife

A steel blade is usually adapted to the powerful motor of a scythe and can also cut through branches and other woody plants due to its weight and cutting edge in combination with the drive power of the device.

Strengths: high working performance, resharpenable
Weaknesses: cannot be used on lawn trimmers, requires some force to control when in contact with solid objects, risk of snagging due to lack of a circumferential cutting edge

Saw blades

Saw blades are explicitly designed for the toughest free-cutting work. Very similar to a circular saw blade for wood, they are only used in conjunction with genuine motorized brush cutters. As a rule, it is primarily the gasoline-powered models that have the necessary power to be able to use the saw blade sensibly.

Strengths: very high performance, can be used even for thicker woods, unlike knives no risk of snagging due to round shape, easy to resharpen

Weaknesses: can only be used in conjunction with a certain engine power, very expensive to purchase, definitely not suitable for lawn trimmers

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If you look at the individual tools, it becomes clear how wide the range of possible applications for lawn trimmers and brushcutters can be. Now it also becomes clear why it is hardly possible to cover all jobs equally well with one universal tool.

Either a brush cutter seems oversized for edge trimming, or the power of the lawn trimmer is only partially sufficient for real clearing work. A thorough consideration of the actual requirements is therefore indispensable in order to be able to buy your personal device in a targeted manner and not overdone.

Tip: If, on the other hand, you want to cover as wide a range of work as possible or perhaps don’t even know where you want to go in the future, you will probably be well served by a smaller model of brush cutter. The device is handy enough for everyday trimming work on the lawn, but has enough power reserves to still be able to handle smaller brush-cutting jobs well. Ideally, there is the option of equipping with a thread spool and metal blades, so that the optimum tool is available for every job.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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