How to Start a Whipper Snipper Like a Pro

Written By:
Scott Carroll
Published On:
November 21, 2023
Person holding a battery-powered whipper snipper

Have you ever spent half the morning trying to start your whipper snipper? Or are you considering buying one but need more support with operating it? 

Fear not! Mastering this useful tool is much simpler than it seems. In this guide, I’ll walk you through every step, from understanding what a whipper snipper is and why you’d want to use one to start up different types of whipper snippers.

Definition and purpose of a whipper snipper

A whipper snipper — known in some regions as a weed whacker or trimmer— is a handheld device engineered for cutting grass and other plants in areas your lawnmower can’t reach. These spots include around tree trunks, posts, garden fencing or garden beds where precision is required that a traditional lawn mower cannot provide. 

Benefits of using a whipper snipper

  1. Precision Cutting: The compact design and unique trimming mechanism allow precise pruning even in tight spots.
  2. Ease of Use: Despite their powerful performance, most whipper snippers are lightweight and easy to handle, making them accessible tools even for beginners.
  3. Time-Saving: This tool swiftly takes care of overgrown vegetation, saving homeowners valuable time.
  4. Versatility: It can perform numerous tasks such as edging, mowing small patches and removing weeds.

Henceforth, if you have been wondering how to maintain those awkward corners that seem impossible to mow, introducing yourself to whipper snippers would end your search on quite an impressive note! They’re robust companions designed for seasoned gardeners who need extra help and beginners seeking comfortable gardening introductions. 

Understanding the different types of whipper snippers

As you navigate this guide on starting a whipper snipper, you must distinguish between various types. While some may assume all whipper snippers are created equal, they aren’t. Broadly speaking, there are three main types: electric, petrol-powered, and battery-powered. Each comes with merits and demerits that might affect your usage experience.

Electric whipper snippers

Also known as corded whipper snippers, these tools operate via an electrical current supplied by the main power. Their slender and lightweight designs represent them graphically. They offer continuous use without the need to refuel or recharge batteries.

But how do you get one up and running? Let’s delve into the steps for starting an electric whipper snipper.

How to start an electric whipper snipper

  1. Inspect the power cord for any visible signs of wear or fray. Safety should always be paramount.
  2. Plug the device into an appropriate extension cord, but ensure it remains switched off at this point.
  3. Roll out your desired length of line from the string trimmer head.
  4. Stand upright while holding the handle firmly; be sure no part of your body is close to the cutting area.
  5. Switch on your equipment from its power button or switch.

It’s easy, isn’t it? That’s why electric models qualify as potential best suits for those seeking easy start whipper snippers!

Petrol whipper snippers

Petrol models, often touted as gas weed wackers, are more powerful alternatives for tackling large swathes of stubborn weeds and grass.

Despite their power, petrol whipper snippers are only somewhat known for being easy to start. However, with the right steps, you’ll learn how to start a petrol whipper snipper like an absolute pro. 

Let me show you how.

How to start a petrol whipper snipper

  1. Carefully fill up your gadget’s fuel tank with appropriately mixed fuel – generally a blend of unleaded gasoline and two-stroke engine oil.
  2. Proceed to push the primer bulb (usually located near the carburettor) 3 to 5 times until it fills with gas.
  3. Turn on the choke, then tug at your starter cord until you perceive signs that the motor wants to start, usually answered by sounds from the machinery.
  4. You should turn off the choke at this point, but do not hesitate to pull the starter cord again if necessary.

Despite perceived complexities, when armed with these instructions, even beginner gardeners will soon be starting their petrol whipper snippers like pros!

Battery whipper snippers

A battery whipper snipper, or cordless string trimmer, is a valuable tool in the arsenal of both professional landscapers and do-it-yourself homeowners. These machines are known for their convenience, portability, and absence of gas fumes. They make remarkably quick work of tricky terrain, slicing through tall grasses and persistent weeds with minimal effort.

How to start a petrol whipper snipper

At first view, petrol-powered whipper snippers may appear intimidating due to their slightly complicated startup process compared to electric or battery-operated alternatives. Yet once understood and practised a few times, starting them can be accomplished quite literally without breaking a sweat!

Before that, please ensure you’ve got all your personal protective equipment (PPE) on, such as safety goggles or glasses, gloves and sturdy footwear—your safety matters while handling any gardening tools.

Here’s my step-by-step guide on how to start your petrol whipper snipper:

  1. Check fuel: The first step involves checking if the fuel tank has enough petrol mixed with oil.
  2. Purge air from carburettor: Press the priming bulb about five times until you see it fill up with fuel; this helps purge air from the carburettor.
  3. Set levers: Put the choke lever in the ‘Start’ position and the throttle lock in the ‘On’ position.
  4. Pull starter cord: Firmly hold the machine with one hand. Pull quickly and strongly on the starter cord using your other hand- it usually takes around five pulls to start. 
  5. Change switch position: Once the engine starts, let it warm up for 10 seconds. Then, place the choke in the ‘Run’ position, and you are ready to go!

While each model may vary slightly, this sequence generally applies to most brands of petrol whipper snippers. Before starting, it might be beneficial to consult your specific model’s instruction manual.

I encourage you to take pride in mastering these steps—it means you’re growing as a knowledgeable gardener and have become adept at handling power tools! 

Troubleshooting common issues with starting a whipper snipper

You may encounter a few hiccups when attempting to start your whipper snipper. Fear not, as this is common even among seasoned gardeners. Below, let’s troubleshoot some commonly reported issues and how you might resolve them.

Whipper snipper won’t start

This problem frequently vexes many gardening enthusiasts, asking how to start a whipper snipper? Here are some quick checks to conduct if your whipper snipper won’t start:

  • Check whether the device has enough fuel (for petrol models) or is fully charged (for battery-operated ones). An easy-start whipper snipper always requires optimal power.
  • Inspect the spark plug. A dirty or damaged one can prevent the machine from starting. Cleaning or replacing it often solves the issue.

For more information, see our troubleshooting guide on how to fix a whipper snipper that won’t start

Excess smoke while running

It’s normal for a petrol whipper snipper to produce some smoke when starting up. Nothing out of the ordinary there! 


  • If your machine continuously emits excess black or blue smoke after being turned on, there might be an oil problem. Remember to use the correct ratio of gasoline to oil in 2-stroke engines.
  • Hunt for potential leaks and repair them quickly before they create bigger problems. 

Engine starts but stalls immediately

Learning how to start a whipper snipper isn’t simply about getting it operational; once it is powered up, it must stay running.

  • This concern typically stems from an air filter full of debris or grime. Simply cleaning the filter could rectify this hiccup.
  • It could also indicate carburettor issues requiring further attention—a thorough cleaning or, if extensively clogged or corroded, perhaps replacement.

Running into these challenges might initially feel disheartening, but don’t let them dissuade you from mastering how to effectively operate these lifesaving lawn tools. Occasionally, patience is key in fruitful troubleshooting. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Considerations before starting your whipper snipper

Before delving into the specifics of starting a whipper snipper, let’s discuss some critical points you should consider. It’s not just about mastering the technique; you must also contemplate safety precautions, maintenance needs, and operating conditions.

Firstly, ensure that your whipper snipper is in good operational condition. Check for tangible signs of wear and tear or broken components that could potentially compromise its performance –or worse– your safety. Additionally, it would be best to clearly understand the environment where you plan on using your tool. Are there any obstacles that could interfere with operations? Or perhaps certain areas you would need to avoid?

Safety precautions when operating a whipper snipper

Safety is crucial, so we’ll explore steps worth incorporating into our whipper-snipping routine.

  • Wear appropriate protective gear: This should, at minimum, include sturdy work gloves, long trousers, and closed-toe boots. For added protection, consider wearing goggles or safety glasses and earmuffs.
  • Know your stop switch position: Before using your whipper snipper, familiarise yourself with the emergency stop switch. If something goes awry during operation, swift access can halt all activity.
  • Stay clear of nearby individuals: While operating the device, maintain at least 15 metres between yourself and others – even more when children are around.
  • Respect operating hours: Do not use your machine at inappropriate times (early or late nights) when it may disturb others.

Awareness of these considerations offers more than just information; they assure safe usage whenever using a whipper snipper. By maintaining cautionary practices, any potential risks are immediately mitigated. Safety always comes before anything else – even when chasing the perfect garden view.

Wearing protective gear

Protecting yourself from potential injuries keeps potential muck or debris away from the machine’s working parts—thus reducing unnecessary clean-up after operation.

When starting your whipper snipper, make sure you’re suitably attired:

  1. Gloves: They vastly enhance grip while handling any tool, especially when dealing with recoil pull cords.
  2. Safety glasses: Flying debris is a common occurrence during grass trimming jobs. Wear safety glasses to ensure nothing impedes your vision or threatens the delicate areas around your eyes.
  3. Work boots: Ideal footwear should be sturdy and provide good grip under all weather conditions.

By wielding these basic pieces of protective gear, you safeguard yourself and the instrument, creating an environment conducive to regular upkeep with minimal hassles.

Best Whipper Snipper for Ladies

Maintenance tips for keeping your whipper snipper in good condition

Proper maintenance is an essential aspect of starting a whipper snipper. It’s important not only for preserving the longevity of your equipment but also for ensuring its effective functionality. Below, I’ll give you some top-notch advice on how to keep your whipper snipper in tip-top condition and ready for action.

Avoiding certain areas or obstacles

Operation in problematic locations is another factor responsible for premature damage or wear-out of your easy-start whipper snipper. Choosing where and how you wield this tool can significantly reduce potential harm:

  • Avoid hard surfaces like concrete or brick pavements. They could put undue strain on the motor to maintain efficient line spin.
  • Keep thick, woody vegetation at bay, as it may tangle around the cutting head and cause unwanted delays and damage.
  • Lastly, avoid interfering with anything metallic. Stray screws or wires can not only blunt your trimmer line but also cause fragmentation which could harm both you and the machine.

Discerning what to avoid when trimming is half the key to starting a whipper snipper effectively without running into trouble. Maintaining awareness of these issues will ensure your equipment stays healthier for longer.

These maintenance tips are instrumental in keeping your whipper snipper in pristine condition. By following them, you’re choosing to uplift the standards of safe operation while simultaneously prolonging the gadget’s lifespan significantly—letting you continue doing what you enjoy most.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a novice, understanding how to start and maintain a whipper snipper is crucial for achieving that perfectly manicured lawn. This guide has walked you through the essentials—from the basics of what a whipper snipper is and its benefits, to detailed instructions on starting different types, including electric, petrol, and battery-powered models.

We’ve also tackled common issues and provided maintenance tips to ensure your tool remains in top condition. Remember, the key to success lies in choosing the right type for your needs, adhering to safety precautions, and regular maintenance.

With this knowledge, you’re now equipped to handle your whipper snipper like a pro, transforming those hard-to-reach areas into neat, tidy spaces. Embrace this powerful tool with confidence and watch as your garden flourishes under your care. Happy whipper snippering!


What should I do if my whipper snipper doesn’t start on the first try?

If your whipper snipper doesn’t start on the first attempt, check the basics: ensure it has enough fuel or battery charge, the spark plug is clean, and the air filter isn’t clogged. For petrol models, recheck the fuel mix. If it’s an electric model, ensure the power source is connected. Repeat the starting procedure, ensuring you’re following the steps correctly.

How do I adjust the idle speed on my whipper snipper?

Adjusting the idle speed of a whipper snipper usually involves a small screw on the carburetor. Turn the screw slightly to adjust the idle speed. However, it’s important to refer to your specific model’s manual, as the process can vary. Adjusting the idle speed ensures the engine runs smoothly when it’s not cutting.

Is it normal for a new whipper snipper to be difficult to start?

It’s not uncommon for new whipper snippers, especially petrol models, to require a few extra pulls to start. This is often due to the engine and components being new and not yet ‘broken in’. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the initial start-up and be patient. The starting process should become smoother with regular use.

What safety checks should I perform before starting my whipper snipper?

Before starting your whipper snipper, perform a quick safety check: ensure all nuts and bolts are tightened, the cutting head is secure, and there are no loose parts. Check the fuel line (for petrol models) for leaks and ensure the battery is properly seated (for battery models). Always wear appropriate safety gear before starting the machine.

5. How can I prevent my whipper snipper from overheating?

To prevent your whipper snipper from overheating, avoid overloading the engine by cutting too thick vegetation too quickly. Take breaks during prolonged use, especially on hot days. Ensure the air vents are clean and unobstructed, and for petrol models, use the correct fuel mixture. Regular maintenance, like cleaning the air filter, also helps in preventing overheating.