This Weed Wacker Hack Offers Protection for Your Plants

Updated: May 18, 2023

Want to keep your shrubs and plants safe from your weed wacker? We review a TikTok hack on how to do just that, plus share a few ideas of our own.

When it comes to trimming grass and removing weeds from around buildings, trees and shrubs, it’s hard to beat the speed and effectiveness of a weed wacker. These highly useful lawn maintenance tools make quick work of lawn growth in hard-to-reach areas that even the best lawnmowers can’t quite get to. Whether gas or battery-powered, weed wackers (also called string trimmers) use rapidly spinning plastic cords at the end of long, handheld shafts to sever blades of grass in seconds. They can also be fitted with various attachments for even more usefulness.

Trouble is, if you’re not extremely careful they can easily sever other things, too. Any small trees, bushes or shrubs growing near grass are in serious danger whenever the weed wacker comes out. That’s why we reviewed a viral TikTok hack claiming to offer a simple and effective way to keep the greenery you don’t want to weed wack safe.

How to Keep Your Plants Safe While Using a Weed Wacker

@mellowwanderer Garden Hack Alert: Weed Wack Like A Pro And Keep Your Plants Safe! #hack #hacks #garden #gardening #landscaping ♬ original sound – MellowWanderer

This TikTok video by creator @mellowwanderer demonstrates one fairly quick and easy way to protect your shrubs and small trees next time you mow and weed-whack your lawn. The process involves a short length of standard aluminum downspout (used to redirect water from roof gutters), and a pair of tin-snips.

First, he uses the tin snips to cut a short length of downspout (about 18 inches long). Then, he cuts the downspout vertically from top to bottom along one side. This allows him to open the downspout and place it around a shrub or small tree.

He then carefully places the open-sided length of the downspout around a shrub. When doing this, it’s best to loosen up the earth around your shrub with your fingers or a trowel beforehand. Make sure you don’t open the downspout so much that it gets bent out of shape. As you can see, in the video, the downspout is closed all the way, to make sure there’s no gap where the vertical cut is. The shrub is now protected from the fast-moving strings of the weed wacker.

Tips to Protect Your Plants While Weeding

If you don’t want to use an aluminum downspout to protect your shrubs or small trees, you can purchase readymade protective plastic tubes instead. You can also take a different approach entirely.

The downside to this hack is that you have to install protective tubes around all your shrubs, then remove them once you’re done weed wacking. You could leave them on permanently, but that doesn’t look very nice. That’s why my preferred approach to shrub protection is to remove all the grass from around each tree or shrub in a circle roughly 18 inches in diameter. I then cover the soil in cedar mulch to prevent grass from coming back. The last step is bordering the circle with decorative river rocks. This decorative 18-inch circle gives a sufficient buffer zone so that the weed wacker never contacts the shrub or tree. It also looks great and requires very little ongoing work.