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Aussie Green Thumb – Top Gardening Tips For Everyday People

Gardening Product & Review – Stihl Brushcutters

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UPDATE – I now recommend Husqvarna Brush Cutters. Check out my review of some of their new additions by clicking here or go direct to their website here.

Last month I reviewed lawnmowers, in particular I recommended that when you go to buy a lawnmower that you buy a Victa lawnmower. However when it comes to making your grassed area look good, mowing is only one aspect. When it comes to keeping your grassed area’s and your garden beds separate one of the quickest and easiest tools to use is a Line Trimmer or a Brushcutter. When it comes to buying a Line Trimmer or Brushcutter in Australia I believe there is a brand that stands head and shoulders above the rest and that is Stihl. So why should you buy Stihl line Trimmers or Brushcutters? Read on to find out.

I myself have owned a few different Brushcutters or ‘whipper snippers’ as I have always called them and I can categorically say the best purchase I ever made was from the Stihl range. I never needed to use it but they offered a fantastic warranty as standard. I never once had a break down and my whipper snipper required very little maintenance. I believe Stihl themselves say it well on their website when they say “No matter what your requirements, be it home garden maintenance, tending parks or landscape maintenance, on farms or in forests: STIHL has a Line Trimmer or Brushcutter to make job done more quickly and efficiently and to make the work feel easier.”

For the moment let’s just assume you have decided that Stihl is the way to go. Great, now what? What Line Trimmer or Brushcutter is right for you? Stihl has a large range. They have light Brushcutters, Line Trimmers, powerful Brushcutters, professional clearing saws and electric Line Trimmers. For the purpose of this article I will review a light Brushcutter, a Line Trimmer and a powerful Brushcutter because I believe this will cover the needs of most of my readers.

Line Trimmer
Line TrimmerStihl Line Trimmers are the most basic trimming tool. If you are looking for a tool to do a basic trimming job every now and then (when you get the lawnmower out once a month), a Line Trimmer is probably all you need. Line Trimmers are good for quickly tidying up area’s such as along fences and along walls and around the various hedges, trees and plants that you have in and around your grassed areas.

Stihl offers 3 different Line Trimmers but I am going to recommend the FS 45 C Easy2Start Line Trimmer because this product is truly designed for gardeners who what no hassle and no fuss, particularly in starting the machine. This offers a basic 0.75kW of power and weighs only 4.3kg. Perfect if you have just a small amount of trimming to do after you have mowed your front and/or backyard.

Light BrushcutterLight Brushcutter
The main difference between Line Trimmers and Brushcutters is Line Trimmers generally have bent shafts and Brushcutters generally have straight shafts. This is in general and doesn’t always hold but as far as the Stihl range is concerned, it does. Straight shaft’s are designed for more heavy duty work and also allow for the addition of a blade attachment for cutting large areas of grass where a lawn mower cannot reach for whatever reason.

In the Stihl range the best light Brushcutter for home use is the FS 55 RC Easy2Start. It is very similar to the Line Trimmer I recommended above in that it boats a 0.75 kW of power and weighs only 4.8kg. In fact the only real difference is the shaft, straight shaft versus the bent shaft of the FS 45 C Easy2Start Line Trimmer.

Power Brush CutterPowerful Brushcutter
Perhaps you need a Brushcutter for more heavy duty use. This might be because you are running a gardening business and so use your tool daily. It might also be because you have a larger than normal garden or lawn area to maintain or because you intend on using your Brushcutter on a very regular basis. If this is the case then you may as well get a top notch powerful Brushcutter and as such I recommend the Stihl FS 130 or Stihl FS 130R. The only difference between the 130 standard and the 130R is the standard comes with what is called ‘bulbar’ handles and supposedly offers a more comfortable experience where as the 130R has ‘loop’ handles designed to allow more manoeuvrability. I personally prefer the ‘loop’ handle. This wonderful machine boasts a significant 1.4 kW  of power and weighs in at 5.6kg, a respectable weight for a machine with this power rating.

Last Word
I hope one of these three machines suits your needs. Remember, the Line Trimmer works best for casual, general use. The Light Brushcutter allows the addition of a blade for trimming large grassed area’s that a mower can’t get to and the powerful Brushcutter is for more heavy duty work and more brings more grunt to the table.

On a related note check out Yardsurfer’s post on John Deere Snow Blowers.

So You Want A Better Garden?

All my best articles have been collected into what I’m calling the ultimate gardening toolkit – make sure you take a look, there’s a heap of great gardening advice available.

I’ve also published a series of gardening ebooks that you might be interested in. Good luck!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • T D

    Curious to know if theres a real difference between using a motor which uses straight gasoline rather than a gas/oil mix? I’ve seen a few of them but it appears as if the only thing that I can tell is that the straight gas ones actually become much more odorous and also sucks up more gas. Read a few reviews on http://www.brushcutterreviews.com and saw that a lot of people seem to be opting to do the line trimmer if they are just using it for really light jobs around the home. Still not too sure if I should upgrade to a more powerful one. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

  • aussiegreenthumb

    4 stroke (straight gas) are usually considered to be more powerful than 2 stroke (mixed gas/oil) but for most home gardeners nothing more than a 2 stroke is needed.

    The key I’d be looking for is a straight shaft over a bent shaft, simply because it allows you to do slightly more heavy duty than required and you can buy attachments for a straight shaft for other jobs, you can’t do that for bent shaft brush cutters and line trimmers.

  • Justin Weathers

    What’s your thought on electric trimmers? I was thinking of getting a corded electric one for my father. He’s got a small suburban block in a built up area. There were a couple reviewed on http://whippersnipperreviews.com.au/ that claim to be quite quiet. You see I’m worried about noise levels on petrol powered units which may disturb the neighbors. Electric models also seem to be cheaper than petrol ones and easier to start and maintain. I don’t want to get my dad something that he has to worry about.

  • aussiegreenthumb

    For a small suburban block and low use (every couple of weeks to months) electirc will be fine. They definitely are usually quieter than the petrol varieties.

    I have only seen the Flymo ones in action and they seemed to work very well. They were also very strong, you could jump on top of them and they would not break.

    Good luck!

  • Terry Laybourne

    We have the big brush cutter and we have been using it on a couple of acres of kikuyu. (We are working on converting a farmland gully back into bushland) It has been doing an amazing job. The grass is up to waist high but the machine never misses a beat. I have even worn out the blade because it has been such tough work.

  • Matt’ Mowing and Maintenance

    I love Echo wipper snippers at $300 and they don’t miss a beat. I recommend a bent shaft for home use and a expereinced person can do a finer better cut with a bent shaft. Don’t follow the sheep new Echo wippersnippers have a 5 year warranty and commerical 2 year. Lot cheaper, better product Stihl is coke of soft drink.

  • Gozz

    I have a Stihl FS45R just over two years old (6 weeks past warranty) and the workshop tells me they have found it to have a bent con rod. Has anyone else heard of this happening?
    I’m told it has been caused by excessive force from hydraulic block due to starting when flooded. I don’t believe I did this, but I guess it possible. You’d think if it was an issue the operating manual would provide instruction or warning about it.

    Anyway, I’m told the repair will be worth $120 (vs $249 new)

    Should I fix it or ditch it and get a new trimmer – not sure I can buy Stihl again though.

    Thanks

  • aussiegreenthumb

    Stihl is easily the market leader in brush cutters though I can see Husqvarna starting to get a good name as well. I myself just bought a Husqvarna combi unit (review to come) and am over the moon with it.

    I’d still say Stihl is ahead but if you ready don’t want t go Stihl again, you could try Husqvarna.

  • gman

    How accurate are manufacturer listed weights on the website? I find that for the same engine, shaft specs etc, there is a wide range in weights – e.g. 6.0 vs. 6.8 kgs. What weight can an average homeowner manage if using a full harness and bike-handle bars? Is balance more important than overall weight (esp. if I need to use the brushcutter on a slope – which is too steep for my lawnmower)?

  • aussiegreenthumb

    To be honest, to answer those questions you will likely want to ask the manufacturer as I am not sure. However I will say that balance is definitely more important than overall weight. Weight matters but you may find one with better balance that weighs more FEELS lighter than some other lighter models. On a slope you want one which is most comfortable and balanced for you.

  • mark

    hi bit late but balance is a huge benefit for professional i used my smaller stihl one handed for most yards. i had what i think was a honda the engine was high and tended to tilt itself leaving the odd shallow crescent it was a bit of a beast though….i miss being a gardner

  • David George

    Just don’t ever take it in for service,. Stihl service in Launceston is appalling! Read the warranty carefully: it is up to the agent to decide if your problem comes under the warranty or not and you can be sure he will decide it doesn’t!!

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  • bruce

    Stihl trimmers are ok – to not bad. But you are paying for the brand and advertsing etc, same applies to honda.
    However I am a profressional gardener, and shindiawa are the best by far.
    Huge amount of power capable of moudling thick over grow grass, dirt etc.
    They are costly to buy, but once you have one, you will think a stihl feels like a cheap bunning job or china import. You wont a machine that you will buy for 10-15 years. I run my machine 7-8 hours a day . Flat out, including nature strips over 400 metres long. try the T260X

  • Thanks for your thoughts Bruce

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