The History of the Weed Trimmer

The weed trimmer simplified garden chores.
The weed trimmer simplified garden chores. (Image: Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images)

For centuries, gardeners had arduously clipped their gardens and lawns by hand or with hand-held clippers. In 1972, a new invention was born: the Weed Eater. Known generically as a weed trimmer, string trimmer or weed whip, this amazing little invention whips grasses and weeds with a nylon string.

Video of the Day


George Ballas, a Houston businessman who loathed clipping grass by hand, was inspired for the design of a string trimmer while at a car wash. He was intrigued that the spinning nylon brushes cleaned his car without damaging the finish. Ballas concocted a prototype using a tin popcorn can, some nylon fishing line and the rotary on his lawn edger. The fishing lines cleanly sliced through the weeds.


Ballas consulted with a mechanical expert to create the Weed Eater brand string trimmer. Some models sport an internal combustion engine fueled by gas; others are powered by electricity, requiring lengthy extension cords.


Television advertisements presented the Weed Eater to a national audience, and sales topped $80 million by 1977.


Ballas sold his business to Emerson in 1979; it later merged with Poulan. In 1986, Emerson/Poulan sold the business to Electrolux.


Promoted By Zergnet

You May Also Like

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.