Gas vs. electric showdown

Features - Maintenance

When it comes to lawn groomers, choose the energy source best for your needs.

June 6, 2016
Heather Larson
Photo courtesy of B&B Landscaping

The debate over whether a gas-fueled or battery-operated tool works better rages on. When it comes to trimmers and edgers, the two sides have gotten closer together. Now manufacturers’ innovations have improved both gas and electric models so much that the decision is more difficult.

In order to help you make the best choice for your particular needs, we asked landscapers what they use and why. Some of their answers might surprise you.

When gas prevails.

Jason Ambro, owner of Ambro’s Landscaping in Sequim, Washington, manages 17 properties which consist of condos and commercial accounts. He employs one full-time worker besides himself.

“Gas models are much easier for us because we already use gas to fill up our lawn mowers,” Ambro says. “Plus we don’t have to carry power cords on our jobs or wait for batteries to recharge and we get more done in a shorter period of time.”

Ambro owns four gas-powered edgers – one wheel-type and three pole-type. Besides liking the price, he also says they are lightweight and last a long time. He uses them to create new, clean edges or to clean up overgrown, shaggy ones. Maintenance is minimal and includes changing the blade, pressure washing the bottom to remove dirt and debris and changing the air and fuel filters and spark plug as needed.

Ambro also has seven gas-operated trimmers. He runs them every day, making tidy lines between lawns and sidewalks or driveways, topping and blending along the edges of beds, and making clean cuts anywhere lawn mowers can’t reach.

He likes using the Edgit Pro attachment on his trimmers.

“I’ve used both gas and electric in the past and the electric don’t last as long and don’t have enough power,” Ambro says. “With corded models, you have to keep plugging them into different outlets, which becomes a challenge or the cordless types go through lots of batteries.”

While gassing up his mowers, Ambro also buys fuel for his trimmers. For upkeep, he changes the bump head, which gets beat up from hitting sidewalks. He likes to pressure wash his trimmers to keep dirt and grass from building up on them. Changing filters, switching spark plugs and replacing strings all keep his trimmers in top shape.

Ambro says when deciding whether to buy gas or electric landscaping devices, you should consider your clients.

If most of the homeowners and commercial property holders in the area take going green very seriously, you should opt for electric.

“But if you work on large areas and the people aren’t very eco-friendly, then go for gas,” Ambro says.

A Split decision.

Ernie Brandenburg, who runs B&B Landscaping with only one occasional part-time employee, oversees 63 properties in Timonium, Maryland. He needs efficiency in the machines he buys.

When he bought his edger almost five years ago, gas was the only option available in his locale, but he’s happy with it. He operates the handheld-pole type because it’s easy to carry around and load off and on his van.

To keep his edger running well he regularly cleans the engine, changes the spark plug at least once a year and the air filter once or twice a year.

He also lubricates the drive gears and inspects and replaces the start-cord from time to time.

“Gas models are much easier for us because we already use gas to fill up our lawn mowers. Plus we don’t have to carry power cords on our jobs or wait for batteries to recharge and we get more done in a shorter period of time.” Jason Ambro, Ambro’s Landscaping

But when it comes to shearing grass and weeds where mowers can’t go, Brandenburg prefers a cordless electric string trimmer, of which he has two.

Since they don’t require fueling, need very little maintenance and won’t spill gas on your hands, the choice was a no-brainer for Brandenburg. Other selling points include low noise, no fumes and eco-friendliness. They’re also easy to start, he says.

“Just pull the trigger and you don’t have a carburetor to choke,” Brandenburg says.