How To Use A Whipper Snipper Safely

Before we dive into some safety tips, we should clear up any confusion there may be about the term “whipper snipper.”  Effectively a whipper snipper is what Australians call a line trimmer – a piece of equipment also known as a weed whacker or string trimmer, that’s used for edging a lawn or removing weeds from the edges of a driveway.   Right, with that cleared up, let’s get started.

  • Even if you have used a trimmer in the past, it is a good idea to read over the manufacture’s instructions that come with the model you are using before starting work as there may be differences in what you are used to.
  • It always makes sense to use protective safety gear when operating a trimmer.  Glasses, heavy duty gloves and ear muffs are a good idea.  If you will be working in a dusty environment consider wearing a dust mask
  • Do a quick scan of the area that you are planning to trim.  Check for any hidden rocks, sticks or cords and remove these.  Then make a rough plan of the path you will take around the garden so you are well prepared and will be able to complete all trimming tasks in one trip.
  • Before you switch on the trimmer make sure that the cutting line is tightly spooled.
  • Most gardeners recommend a side to side motion when using the trimmer, trying to position the head so that it is just the tip of the cutting line that is doing the work.  This increases efficiency and reduces the risk that you will overload the motor.
  • Move forwards when operating the unit rather than backwards as you will reduce the risk of tripping.  It’s also less tiring operating a trimmer in this way.
  • If you are using a bump feed mechanism to deliver more cutting line, simply tap the line spool on the ground firmly.  This will feed out a proper length of fresh line.
  • Bear in mind that line trimmers are not designed to cut through branches or think shrubs.  You’ll be better off using pruning sheers or clippers for this kind of work.
  • If you are using an electric whipper snipper, never use it in the rain or if the ground or vegetation are damp.
  • Most modern units will usually shut off when you let go of the throttle or release the “On” switch.  But there are some models that will idle and still be spinning when you release the throttle, so take care to keep all body parts clear of the head.

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