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More than ten years ago, my wife and I bought our dream home, here in the Sunshine State.
Shortly after that, I bought a brand new Ryobi gas-powered grass trimmer, to use on our new lawn. It cost me $159 at Home Depot.
The Ryobi never worked as well as I’d hoped it would. It was hard to start, it didn’t have enough power, and it was extremely loud.
Over time, it got even harder to start, and didn’t want to run for very long, which forced me to spend more and more time working on it.
In fact, it got so bad that I didn’t even use it for a couple of years.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, I was actually glad to discover that it had broken down enough that I couldn’t fix it — so I could finally leave it out on our parkway, for someone else to take.
After that, I did hours and hours of research on the Internet, to find a suitable gas-powered replacement trimmer.
I knew that I could buy one for less than $100, but I read lots and lots of complaints about all of those cheap models.
So I decided that I wanted to spend at least $200 for mine, but I didn’t want to spend any more than I had to to get the features I wanted.
At that price point, in my local stores, that gave me a choice of a couple of Stihl trimmers (at Ace Hardware) and a couple of Echo trimmers (at Home Depot).
If I were willing to spend $360 or more, I would be very tempted to buy a Stihl trimmer, because everywhere I looked, people praised the Stihl commercial-grade trimmers.
But my research taught me that, in the $200 price range, Stihl’s FS line of trimmers are considered to be only homeowner-grade trimmers — noisier, less reliable, harder to start, and with a much more finicky line-feed system than Stihl’s commercial-grade trimmers.
On the other hand, all of Echo’s trimmers got great ratings, and even Echo’s lowest-priced trimmers are considered to be light-commercial-grade.
In fact, 475 reviewers on the Home Depot Web site rated one particular Echo trimmer 4.5 out of 5 possible stars, and 91% of them would recommend it to a friend. Echo warrants it for 5 years of home use, or 2 years of commercial use, and Home Depot sells it with a 30-day return policy.
So that’s the one I’m going to buy today: an Echo SRM-225, straight-shaft, gas-powered trimmer, at Home Depot, for $199. That’s only $40 more than I spent on my Ryobi trimmer 10 years ago.
Based on what I learned in the past several days, I’m going to use only ethanol-free gasoline in my new trimmer. All of my local “Wawa” gas stations sell it — 89-octane, ethanol-free, “boat gasoline.” And I’ll make sure to always add Stabil fuel conditioner to it.
UPDATE, 4:00 PM: Wow! It’s a tremendous tool — light, fast, powerful, and quiet! Right out of the box, I filled it with conditioned “boat fuel,” and it began to sputter to life on only the second short, easy pull (with the choke on). Then I turned the choke off, and it started up completely on the second short, easy pull.
As I worked my way around my yard, it quicky sliced right through all of the long grass and weeds that I had been neglecting around my house for the past several weeks. Its bump-feed head worked well to feed new trimmer line, and when it ran out of its sample supply of trimmer line, it took less than 2 minutes to load a new 20-foot-long trimmer line into it.
When it hit a few patches of weeds that were up to 18″ tall, instead of wrapping them around its spinning head and then coming to a stop, like my Ryobi trimmer always did, its .095″ trimmer lines sometimes cut right through them — other times, it wrapped the long weeds around its spinning head and then quickly snapped them off and tossed them away.
Nothing stopped it — or even slowed it down.
When I finished trimming all of the grass and weeds, I turned it upside-down, with its debris shield facing up, like this guy demonstrates, to quickly edge all of my sidewalks.
The Echo SRM-225 is definitely a winner!
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