Made in Texas: This Houston invention is the reason our lawns look so neat

String trimmer
String trimmer (Pixabay)

HOUSTONWelcome to Made in Texas, where we write about products made in the Lone Star State.

Today, we’re featuring the machine that makes it easier to trim the weeds from those hard to reach areas on our lawns, the Weed Eater.

The product

The Weed Eater, also known as a string trimmer or weed whacker, is a lightweight handheld garden tool that uses a rapid spinning line to cut any plants growing in unwanted areas.

The inventor

The inventor of the ingenious device was a Houston entrepreneur named George Ballas. Ballas was a dance studio owner and a World War II bombardier, according to Texas Monthly.

The idea behind it

Ballas’s breakthrough moment came while he was at a carwash observing how the spinning bristles cleaned his car without damaging it and wondered if he could use the same principle to trim the grass around trees’ trunks without damaging the bark, according to the company’s website.

When Ballas returned home, he dug in his trash and grabbed an old popcorn can, poked some holes in it, inserted strings of a fishing line to simulate bristles and hooked it to his rotating lawn edger to create the first string trimmer.

Ballas then hired an engineer to perfect his creation, and not long after, he launched the first two Weed Eater models in 1972 named the “Weedie” and the “Clippie.” The rest is history.


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