What is the difference between a strimmer and brush cutter?

Most of us are familiar with garden grass trimmers. Whether you call them strimmers, trimmers, or line trimmers, if you have some grass in the garden, there is a good chance you have used one.

Grass strimmers are designed to cut long grass shorter before you use a lawnmower on it to trim it to the desired length. This ensures your lawnmower isn’t damaged by having to work too hard. Strimmers can also tidy up edges which is handy if you have borders.

But have you heard of brush cutters? They are similar in appearance, and the two can often be confused too. So, which do you need if you have some garden jobs to do?

Always wear the appropriate PPE when carrying out any DIY or home and garden improvements. When using a brush cutter, eye protection, gloves and suitable clothing and shoes are all required.




What is a brush cutter?

Trimmers and brush cutters are similar in both appearance and use technique. However, a brushcutter is a lot more high-powered and able to deal with more difficult textures than grass.

Brush cutters are slightly more heavy-duty and industrial, able to tackle:

  • Undergrowth
  • Hedges
  • Brambles
  • Scrubland

Strimmers often have a nylon or plastic blade, which deals with grass trimming and weeds just fine but could easily break upon contact with overgrown areas. Brush cutters, on the other hand, use metal blades to get through thicker, hardier vegetation.

Lawn mowers are often unwieldly to use on areas such as this, and should never be lifted off the floor, hence why you have to cut everything down to the bare minimum before even risking your lawnmower going near it.

So, if you’re cutting back an area of garden or outdoor space which has been neglected, such as when renovating an old house, always choose a brush cutter to get most of the overgrowth back until it is manageable.


Pros and Cons of Brush Cutters

Brush cutters are versatile

As well as being able to cut thicker materials than grass, many give you easier access to difficult areas thanks to their portable design. They’re usually petrol powered, so there are no wires to worry about. But various power sources are available, including battery options.

This means you can get into previously untouched corners of gardens, as well as underneath any bushes or trees to cut back weeds and brambles which are inhibiting growth of foliage.

Some also allow you to swap out the blade attachments to cut a variety of materials. Blades need sharpening regularly, particularly if you’re using in rockier, denser areas where they have to work hard.

Brush cutters are easy than expected to control

Their stick-like shape means they aren’t too bulky to hold and control. With handles positioned perfectly for safe and pinpointed handling, including a handlebar around halfway down the stick, they don’t require too much effort to manage.

All brush cutters come with a harness, too. Always use this, as it will prevent the brush cutter running away with you. Remember that they are powerful machines. It will also take some of the weight pressure off your arms, again improving targeted handling.

But their power can be hard to get used to

If you’re using a brush cutter for the first time, don’t expect it to be as lightweight as a strimmer. With their power comes some weight, even when wearing the harness, so you need to take things slowly. If using over long periods, take regular breaks when your arms start to feel tired.

Grass strimmers still should be used only when wearing the appropriate PPE, but if they come up against rocks or other tough debris, the blade is likely to break. However, with a brush cutter, the blade is unlikely to break.

This means there is a higher risk of debris flying into the air when using a brush cutter. So, always wear eye protection and ensure the area is clear before you commence the job.


Do I need a brush cutter or grass trimmer?

If you’re going to hire a product, it can be hard to know which is best to choose.

What will you be cutting? If you’re just tidying up your lawn, which has already been trimmed and mown regularly in previous years, then a grass trimmer is absolutely fine.

A grass trimmer is great for edging, and for cutting back long grass for that first cut of the year after winter. They can also tackle everyday weeds.

But if your grass hasn’t been cut for a few years, you may want to hire a brush cutter instead. This is because there is a risk you may encounter non-grass vegetation. Even thicker weeds or longer grass is easier to deal with using a brush cutter than a line strimmer.

If tackling a large area, or various different areas such as brambles, you should definitely hire a brush cutter. Think about how far away from the house you are, and what is around the vegetation. Cordless, petrol options are perfect for out-of-reach areas, and trimmers with smaller heads will be easier to work around bedding plants which you don’t want to cut back.

Usually, petrol brush cutters and strimmers are more powerful than their battery-powered counterparts which may be worth thinking about, too.



Yes. Speedy Hire, the UK's leading tool hire company, have a range of brush cutters for hire nationwide. Speedy has more than 200 service centres across the nation, hire counters in selected B&Qs and nationwide 4-hour delivery.

Hiring all of the power tools you need for your garden transformation and renovation has never been easier.

Why not make life easier too, and open a Speedy account today online and in-store?


Ready for more Gardening DIY tips and ideas?

We hope you found this guide to brush cutters and strimmers useful and know which tool you need for your garden project. When you’re ready to take on the next task, please check out our Gardening Projects page for further inspiration.

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