Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

The History of the Weed Trimmer

...
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.

Inspiration

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.

  • For centuries, gardeners had arduously clipped their gardens and lawns by hand or with hand-held clippers.
  • Known generically as a weed trimmer, string trimmer or weed whip, this amazing little invention whips grasses and weeds with a nylon string.

Development

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.

Sales

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

Ownership

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

Related Articles

History of Balers
History of Balers
How to Remove the Spool from a Craftsman Weedeater
How to Remove the Spool from a Craftsman Weedeater
History of the Mcculloch Chain Saw
History of the Mcculloch Chain Saw
How to Load a Ryobi 105R String Trimmer
How to Load a Ryobi 105R String Trimmer
How to Put String on an Electric Weed Eater
How to Put String on an Electric Weed Eater
Centipede Vs. St Augustine Grass
Centipede Vs. St Augustine Grass
Are Ficus Trees Poisonous to Children?
Are Ficus Trees Poisonous to Children?
Snapper Mower History
Snapper Mower History
What's the Origin of Plantain?
What's the Origin of Plantain?
How to Rewind the Spool of a Grass Trimmer
How to Rewind the Spool of a Grass Trimmer
How to Identify Lawn Weeds in the Midwest
How to Identify Lawn Weeds in the Midwest
How to Cut Weeds With a Machete
How to Cut Weeds With a Machete
How to Replace the Trimmer Cord on a Yard Machine Y28
How to Replace the Trimmer Cord on a Yard Machine Y28
Garden Guides
×