Lawn Mower Vs Trimmer Mower: When To Use Each

By now you’ve probably seen commercials for trimmer mowers and they are absolutely useful tools. Can or should they replace your lawn mower, though? We took a deep dive into the design and uses of each to help you decide on this lawn mower vs trimmer mower comparison.

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Lawn Mower Vs Trimmer Mower Design

On the surface, the comparison between a lawn mower and a trimmer mower is simple. A lawn mower cuts using a spinning blade and a trimmer mower uses a thick trimmer line.

There’s more to it than what each one cuts with, though. A lawn mower surrounds its blade with a deck while a trimmer mower only partially encloses its line.

Then there’s the drive system. Lawn mowers use four wheels, usually no more than 8 or 10 inches on the back and 6 inches or so on the front. Self-propelled drive systems can reduce the amount of effort you put into mowing. A trimmer mower uses just two wheels and they are oversized to roll well on terrain that doesn’t get as much attention as a typical lawn.

To adjust the cutting height of your lawn mower, you pivot the wheels so they either raise or lower the deck. On a trimmer mower, you change the location of your trimmer line up or down on the head.

One design feature that makes a big difference in how these tools are used is engine placement. A lawn mower’s engine is a direct drive and sits immediately above the blade. A trimmer mower has an elongated front section that extends the center of the head well in front of the engine.

Of course, lawn mowers have ride-on options that take their design to a whole different level. Trimmer mowers don’t, per se, but they do have tow-behind models making your UTV or tractor a ride-on trimmer mower.

There are a couple of things they have in common, though. Both have both gas and battery-powered options available (though battery-powered lawn mowers are far more widespread). You can also find electric start options for models with gas engines.

Lawn Mower Vs Trimmer Mower Cutting Characteristics

How well each type of mower cuts varies as widely as what they cut with. A lawn mower’s blade slices through grass and creates clippings. The deck design creates airflow that lifts the clippings up where they can be cut multiple times before they discharge.

Many lawn mowers have a 3-in-1 design. They can discharge out the side (which is great when you miss a cut and your lawn gets too tall). You can bag to leave a clean lawn or you can mulch to return nutrients back to the soil. Lawn mowers also have the advantage of choosing between standard, high-lift, and mulching blades to match the way you mow. Plus, there are dethatching blades, making your lawn mower a bit more versatile.

Trimmer mowers attack grass with the tips and edges of the line cutting through. Because of the open design of its deck, most grass is only cut once before the line throws it aside with enthusiasm. This leaves you with much longer clippings.

While there are some line options, they don’t affect the cut quality in terms of evenness or efficiency the way lawn mower blades do. It primarily boils down to the thickness and durability of the line you want and pairing it with the type of grass you’re cutting.

When to Use a Lawn Mower

Use a lawn mower for cutting defined lawns and other areas that are maintained regularly. If you need to cut more than 8 to 10 inches off, you’re getting out of range of what a lawn mower is designed for.

Keep in mind a lawn mower’s ability to side discharge if you’re cutting overgrown grass. Once you have it under control, you can bag or mulch to get that even, cultivated look back to your lawn.

When to Use a Trimmer Mower

DR Power Pilot XT Trimmer Mower Review

Trimmer mowers do their best work in reclaiming overgrown areas that are too tall for a lawn mower’s fully enclosed deck. The height of the grass isn’t the question—only the thickness of the stalks. Thanks to the open front section, a trimmer mower is great for trimming under fences and into areas that a lawn mower’s deck and engine placement can’t reach.

Trimmer mowers are better for areas of field rather than maintained lawns. The trade-off for their much greater cutting range is a rougher finished cut compared to what you can get from a lawn mower blade.

Lawn Mower Vs Trimmer Mower Price

While it may be a surprise, lawn mowers and trimmer mowers run in similar price ranges. You can find both in the $350 – $1000 range, though there are some lawn mowers that run on both the lower and higher sides of it.

One of the big differences is the availability of battery-powered options. You can find effective battery-powered lawn mowers running from basic homeowner all the way to commercial level with a lot of options and price points. Battery-powered trimmer mowers are much less common at this stage.

Want to know more about the mowers we used in this comparison? Check them out at DR Power Equipment’s website!

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