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Almost every Australian property owner understands how to mow their lawns. However, using a whipper snipper on lawn edges can be trickier than mowing. And if you’ve never used a whipper snipper, you’ll need as much help as you can get to give your lawn the perfect edge.



What’s A Whipper Snipper?

A whipper snipper, also known as a string trimmer or a line trimmer, is a handheld gardening tool used for grass cutting. It consists of a long shaft with a cutting head at one end and a motor at the other. The cutting head contains a spool of strong plastic line that rotates very quickly, slicing through grass and weeds.



How To Choose The Right Whipper Snipper

a whipper snipper stands by a fence on a mowed lawn near a house in a rural area

Choosing the right whipper snipper can be tricky. Whipper snippers come in both electric and petrol-powered models, and they can be fitted with different types of cutting heads to suit different applications. So, here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for a whipper snipper:

  • The size of the area you need to trim. A small whipper snipper is perfect for tight spaces, while a larger model can cut grass and tackle larger areas more quickly.
  • The type of vegetation you need to trim. Some whipper snippers are designed for tough weeds, while others work best on delicate grasses.
  • The type of terrain. If you have hilly or uneven ground, look for a model with variable speed control so you can adjust the speed to suit the terrain.
  • Your budget. Whipper snippers range in price from around $100 to $500, so it’s important to set a budget before you start shopping.

If you’re on the market for a whipper snipper, check out our recommendations for the best whipper snippers in Australia.



How To Use A Whipper Snipper


1. Check Your Surroundings

Before you start using a whipper snipper, it’s important to look at your surroundings. Make sure there are no obstacles that could get in the way, like children or pets.

It’s also a good idea to have a green waste bag and bin ready for cleaning up after. It will make it convenient to get the debris out of the way and help speed up the lawn mowing process.



2. Put Safety First

While using a whipper snipper might not seem as dangerous as working with chemicals, there are still a number of risks involved in gardening. That’s why it’s important to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when operating powered garden tools. 

Gloves can help to protect your hands from cuts and scrapes, while safety glasses can shield your eyes from flying debris. In addition, wearing long pants and closed-toe shoes can help to prevent injuries from contact with sharp tools or plant life. You should also wear ear muffs to keep your ears safe from the noise of the motor.



3. Set Up Your Whipper Snipper

Once you’ve checked the area and put on safety goggles and ear protection, it’s time to set up your whipper snipper. 

  • Start by reading the manufacturer’s manual carefully. This will help you understand the different parts of the machine and how they work together.
  • Choose the right type of line for your whipper snipper. The most common line types are round and square. A round line is better for general trimming, while a square line is better for edging.
  • Install the line in the string head to the trimmer shaft according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure that you tense the line correctly — if it’s too loose, it will come out of the spool; if it’s too tight, it will break easily.
  • Be sure to thread the string through all the holes in the head before cutting the excess line. 
  • Next, install the battery (if applicable) and fill the fuel tank with fresh petrol.



4. Start Your Whipper Snipper

Many people have difficulty getting their whipper snipper engines going, but it doesn’t have to be so tough. Here are our pro tips on how to start a whipper snipper.



How To Start A Petrol Whipper Snipper

close up shot of gasoline whipper snipper

Most petrol whipper snippers have four-stroke engines, which means that there are four movements of the piston for each complete cycle of the engine. Starting a four-stroke engine is a little different from starting a two-stroke engine, but it’s not difficult once you know what you’re doing. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to starting your petrol whipper snipper:

  • Before starting, check if the fuel is fresh and that the engine is properly lubricated. If the engine is dry, add some oil to the cylinder.
  • Make sure the fuel tank is filled with petrol — at least half a tank is ideal. You don’t want to run out of petrol halfway through your gardening session.
  • Place the fuel lever in the “on” position and the choke lever in the “full” position.
  • Check that the spark plug is seated properly and that there’s no debris blocking it. A dirty or blocked spark plug can make it difficult to start the engine.
  • Prime the engine by pulling the cord a few times before you try to start it. This will help to get the fuel flowing and make it easier for the engine to start.
  • Now pull the cord rapidly until the engine fires. If it doesn’t fire on the first try, repeat the previous step.
  • Once the engine has started, let it warm up for a minute or two before trimming.



How To Start A Battery Powered Whipper Snipper

Before you can start using your battery-powered whipper snipper, you’ll need to charge the battery or insert a 36 volt battery. Once the battery is ready, push the power button to turn on the device. Then, use the trigger to activate the spinning blades.



5. Spin Away From Your Path

With most whipper snippers, you can choose the direction of the trimmer. You should always ensure that the trimmer is spinning away from the direction that the whipper snipper is travelling. This will help to prevent the blades from becoming tangled or pulled out of position. It’s also a good idea to keep the trimmer head close to the ground to avoid damaging plants or kicking up stones.



6. Create The Perfect Edges

garderner trimming the lawn with a whipper snipper

Begin by holding the whipper snipper at waist level and engage the throttle. For optimum performance, ensure that your trimmer is operating at full speed. Slowly move the trimmer head around your desired area, and use a back-and-forth motion to cut grass or weeds.

To get the cleanest cuts, work inwards rather than outwards. If you start from the inside of the lawn, you’ll reduce the speed of the trimmer and cut down its effectiveness. Also, by starting from the outside, you are much better positioned to produce a straighter edge.



7. Use Whipper Snippers On Grass Only

One mistake that people often make is using their whipper snipper to cut through anything thicker than grass. This can cause the trimmer line to become tangled and the machine to stall.

Cutting through tough material can wear down the trimmer line and blunt the blades, making it less effective at cutting grass. So, next time you’re tempted to use your whipper snipper on something other than grass, think twice. There are other tools better suited for lawn and garden maintenance, and you can check them out in our post for the best lawn mowers. And if you want to keep weeds out of your garden, we have a post for that, too.



Whipper Snipper Aftercare

When you’re finished, turn off the power and wait for the string to stop rotating before setting down your machine. After each use, be sure to empty the trimmer line and any debris that may have accumulated in the trimmer head. Brush off any dirt or grass that may cling to the machine. To extend the life of your trimmer, it is also important to lubricate the cutting head and trimming line regularly.



How To Store A Whipper Snipper

  1. Let the engine cool completely. Trying to force the cover on when the engine is still hot can damage the plastic.
  2. Empty out any fuel that’s left in the tank. If you leave fuel in the tank, it can degrade and clog up the engine.
  3. Make sure that the blade is properly locked into place. This will keep the blade from becoming damaged or dislodged during storage.
  4. Clean off any grass or debris from the blades and motor. Doing so will remove any build-up of grass or dirt.
  5. Be sure to store your whipper snipper in a dry place, out of direct sunlight. If you have to leave it outside, make sure it’s covered, so it doesn’t get damaged by the weather.





Is It Easy To Use A Whipper Snipper?

gardener mowing the lawn using a whipper snipper

Yes, it is! Most people find that using a whipper snipper is fairly straightforward. The key is to practice and get a feel for the tool before you work on your lawn. And when you start trimming, be sure to go slowly at first so that you can get a sense of how the blades respond to the grass.



Should You Mow Or Whipper Snip First?

There’s no right or wrong answer, but there are a few things to keep in mind. If you mow first, you’ll have a much easier time manoeuvering around obstacles like trees and flower beds. However, whipper snipping first will give you a neater edge and make it easier to get straight lines.



How Do You Hold A Whipper Snipper?

Make sure that you’re holding the whipper snipper at waist level. Stand up straight and hold the whipper snipper to the right side of your body, with the muffler facing away from you. This position will give you the most control and prevent fatigue.

When manoeuvering the whipper snipper, grip the handle near the base, with your index finger resting on the trigger. This will give you more control and allow you to guide the whipper snipper more precisely. Remember to keep your arms and shoulders relaxed — tense muscles will make it harder to control the whipper snipper and could lead to injury.



How Do I Start A Whipper Snipper?

First, make sure that the spark plug is properly installed and that the gap is set correctly. Next, check the oil level and fill the tank with fresh petrol. Pull the cord slowly and steadily until the engine starts. Once it’s running, give it a few minutes to warm up before you start using your whipper snipper.



How Do You Edge Your Lawn With A Whipper Snipper?

beautifully mowed lawn edge

Begin by cutting along the edge of your lawn, following any straight lines or contours as needed. Be sure to move slowly and steadily to avoid missing any spots. Continue moving inward towards the middle of your lawn, angling the whipper snipper so that it cuts against the edge you just created. Once you reach the middle of your lawn, turn around and head back towards the outer edge, keeping the blade angled inwards. Repeat this process until you’ve gone all the way around your lawn.



Go Slow Mow For The Best Results

As with any new skill, it takes practice to get good at using a whipper snipper. The key is to find the right amount of pressure to apply and get comfortable with the tool. Once you have some experience under your belt, you’ll be able to whip through your lawn like a pro. If you’re unsure how to get started or need help mowing your lawn, give us a call.

About Author

Jamie Donovan

Jamie is an Australian horticulturalist and landscape designer. He enjoys writing about landscape architecture, garden design and lifestyle topics.


About Author

Jamie Donovan

Jamie is an Australian horticulturalist and landscape designer. He enjoys writing about landscape architecture, garden design and lifestyle topics.