Once the lawnmower has done its bit then it’s the task of the grass, or line, trimmer to finish the job by cutting down any long grass or weeds that the mower’s blades couldn’t get to and applying the finishing touch of a nice, neat lawn edge.

They, usually, do this with a rotating cutting line that whips around at high revolutions per minute, which allows you to cut grass that’s grown up around immovable lawn objects such as trees, paths and patios.

One of the most important things to look for is an efficient mechanism for supplying the cutting cord so that when it breaks (and it will) you don’t have to stop what you’re doing.

Most machines will use “bump and feed”, which automatically spools out more line when you lightly bump the cutting head on the ground while working.

You also want a tool that makes it easy to load the line in the first place, which can be a frustrating business.

As with all garden machinery, you have a choice of electric, battery or petrol, with electric being the natural choice for a small plot.

The days when large gardens were the sole preserve of petrol models is over, with plenty of lithium battery powered options offering up power and longevity, especially if you have two batteries so that one can be charging while the other’s in use.

We took a look at the current crop of machines for spring 2019 and singled out the top performers.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Ego Power Plus ST1510E loop handled line trimmer: £279 (includes battery and charger), Ego Power Plus

One of the annoying things about using a grass trimmer can be the fiddly and fussy business of loading the cutting line in the first place. However, this light and easy to use battery model makes quick work of the job and you’ll be ready to go in just five seconds.

This is thanks to the tool’s powerload system, which pretty much does the job for you – all you have to do is thread the line into the spool and press a button. The good news continued when we started work, as the machine performed brilliantly and the 38cm cutting diameter quickly dispatched low-lying nettle beds and thick grass sections, with plenty of power available from the lithium battery for both.

Feeding out more line was never an issue and we got around 40 minutes from the 2.5Ah battery, which took 50 minutes to charge fully. As a bonus, the machine was ergonomic to use with an easily adjustable handle for comfort and the carbon fibre shaft meant that it was light enough to use for strimming without having to always strap into the provided shoulder harness.

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Gtech ST20 grass trimmer: £129.99 (includes battery and charger), Gtech

This battery-powered model is easily assembled and very light to use making it a good tool for small lawns, especially as the battery maxes out after 30 minutes.

The unique thing here is the absence of a strimmer cord, which is replaced with a plastic blade that had no problem dealing with grass and weeds. You also get 20 replacement blades as standard, but as long as you clear your working area of hidden rocks and stones and take care near patio edges, a few blades should see you through a summer’s worth of strimming.

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Stihl FSA56 power and poise cordless grass trimmer: £199 (includes battery and charger), Just Lawnmowers

For a battery model, this delivers really impressive power with a minimum of noise and fuss, and the fact that the battery and charger are included makes it excellent value for money. We were able to get through some thick ground-hugging ivy and clumps of long grass without any issues and when we wanted more line to deal with them the bump and feed mechanism worked well.

A push-button start, and easily adjustable handle and shaft add to the ease-of-use of this machine that is powered by a lithium battery that’s interchangeable with any of the Stihl compact cordless range. The AK10 battery lasted for almost 40 minutes and the fact that the machine runs so quietly makes it an attractive option for urban gardeners who don’t want to be branded a noisy neighbour.

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Makita Twin DUR364LZ Li-ion brushless line trimmer: £124.90 (tool only), Amazon

If you’ve got a serious amount of trimming to do but aren’t a fan of the noise and fuel mixing that comes with petrol power then this model is powered by 2 x 18V lithium-ion batteries that gave us two hours of operating time toggling between the two speeds on offer via an ergonomic control panel.

The machine also features a switch that reverses the direction of the cutting head to free it of any long grass that has got jammed around the cutting head. More cutting line is easily fed out by bumping it on the ground so you don’t have to stop work. A pack of two 3Ah batteries sell for £71 and a dual port charger will set you back £48.10.

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Husqvarna 129C petrol trimmer: £220, Husqvarna

We never had any problems starting this petrol trimmer (which was an issue with other models) so there wasn’t any time wasted wrestling with engine cords and chokes. The line fed out well to the impressive 43cm cutting width and the soft grip handle and long curved shaft added to the machine’s ease of use and ensured that tidying up a large lawn didn’t turn into a back-breaking chore. The see-through petrol tank ensures that you know ahead of time when you need to top up.

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Flymo C-Link 20V grass trimmer: £100 (includes battery and charger), Argos

When you don’t have a jungle waiting for you in the back garden and just need to tidy up the edges of a small to medium sized lawn then this battery machine with a 30cm cutting width will efficiently get the job done.

The line fed out well and we managed to get 18 minutes of cutting time from the lithium battery (with a three-hour recharge), which gave us the freedom to maintain the lawn without having to worry about losing power halfway through.

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Makita DUR181Z cordless Li-ion line trimmer: £71.99 (tool only), Amazon

The lithium battery for this cordless trimmer slots smoothly into its housing just underneath the handle and the weight of it seemed to help the handling of the machine when it’s being swung to and fro to cut long grass.

The line fed out without any issues making this a versatile tool with an adjustable shaft, which is great if you have grassy banks as well as lawn to contend with. And once you’re done with the lawn, the head rotates 180 degrees so that you can edge it for a tidy finish. The 4.0Ah battery and charger sells separately for £95.

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Bosch ART 27 grass trimmer: £64.99, Bosch

A super-light, corded model that is perfectly suited to keeping a small front and back garden in check during summer. A pull out metal bar means that you don’t have to worry about the cutting line breaking on patio edges or inadvertently cutting down a favourite shrub or bloom. The line fed out well and the cutting head can be turned so you can switch from trimming to edging without hassle. There is also a handy wheel attachment that makes operating it in a straight line even easier.

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Mountfield MT48LI 48V Li-ion cordless grass trimmer: £99 (tool only), Mountfield

The line fed out automatically after stopping and starting the trimmer and kept the working width at a respectable 30cm. We got almost half an hour of working time with the standard 2.0Ah battery, which you can purchase separately for £99, with the charger costing £89. The cutting head rotates for edging and there’s a handy guide wheel incorporated into the guard so that when it’s angled at 90 degrees you can use the wheel to get a nice tight line.

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The verdict: Grass trimmers

Innovation and usability combine in the Ego Power Plus ST1510E loop handled line trimmer and the self-loading line system has finally done away with one of the most onerous parts of using a line trimmer. For a battery model, the power and performance matched many petrol machines that were tested and the trimmer was well balanced and lightweight so you could use it continuously without having to stop for a break.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.