Best Hedge Trimmers of 2019

A hedge trimmer gives you the opportunity to create the perfect landscape. Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best hedge trimmer for your landscaping needs.

Best Hedge Trimmers: Which Is the Smart Solution for Your Garden?

Whether you want to prune your hedges into perfect symmetry or indulge in a bit of creative topiary, nothing gets the job done as quickly or efficiently as a purposefully designed hedge trimmer.

And whether you have a compact urban plot or several acres to tend, the market most certainly has a hedge trimmer that's right for you. But the question is, how do you find it?

At BestReviews, we're here to help. We test products in our labs and analyze feedback from hundreds of product owners. We interview experts and study the market closely to determine which products are the best of the best. And we never accept free samples from manufacturers, because we want to remain trustworthy and bias-free.

Thanks to our diligent research, we understand the questions you may be grappling with as a potential buyer. Should you go with a gas-powered hedge trimmer or an electric hedge trimmer? Would you prefer a corded or cordless tool? Should you opt for a single- or double-sided blade?

Below, you'll find a complete shopping guide with answers to these questions and more. When you're ready to buy a hedge trimmer, we invite you to investigate the three product recommendations at the top of this page. Each is an excellent machine.

The best time to prune young hedges varies from species to species, so it's important to do a bit of research before you trim. Once a hedge is established, tidying and shaping it can be done in the summer when you won't disturb nesting birds.

Choosing Your Hedge Trimmer Power Source

One of your first big decisions when choosing a hedge trimmer is which power source you prefer. If you like the might of a gas-fed power tool, you may prefer a gas hedge trimmer. If you prefer the reliability of electricity, a corded hedge trimmer could be for you. If you like the convenience of battery power, you may prefer a cordless hedge trimmer.

Gas-Powered Hedge Trimmers

Gas-powered hedge trimmers have been around for a long time. These powerhouse tools are reliable and durable, and they're favored by professionals. No matter how big your hedge grows, a gas-powered trimmer will get the job done.

On the downside, gasoline is flammable. If your hedge trimmer has a two-cycle engine, you should mix oil with gas, which some people don't like doing. Gas-powered hedge trimmers are quite noisy too, and they can be difficult to start. Regular maintenance is key to the upkeep of a gas-powered hedge trimmer.

Corded Hedge Trimmers

Corded hedge trimmers are popular for a reason. You simply plug the tool in, turn it on, and trim. They're light, easy to use, and quiet with minimal maintenance requirements. Some corded hedge trimmers have the same cutting capacities as cordless models.

The main drawback is the cord; it restricts how far you can travel with the hedge trimmer in your hands. You'll almost certainly need to use an extension cord, which is inconvenient for several reasons. Extension cords get tangled, people can trip over them, and they're not safe to use if it's damp outside.

Cordless Hedge Trimmers

Cordless hedge trimmers start at the press of a button. They promise unrestricted movement, and recent improvements have made them more powerful than ever. These tools are clean, quiet, and virtually maintenance-free.

But they aren't perfect. Due to battery weight, a cordless hedge trimmer can weigh as much as a gas-powered hedge trimmer. And although some smaller cordless hedge trimmers are claimed to rival the power of gas-fed models, their performance dips as the battery drains.

If you want true freedom of movement with a cordless hedge trimmer, you'll probably want to keep at least one spare battery on hand for those times when your tool needs a recharge.

Questions to Ask Yourself
All three types of hedge trimmers—gas-powered, corded, and cordless—have pros and cons. If you're still debating between the three power sources, ask yourself the following questions.

Do I need a hedge trimmer for professional work? If you're a professional who works with yard tools, you will likely want a gas hedge trimmer. Gas-powered hedge trimmers are consistent performers that can chomp through everything from fine growth to inch-thick branches. Having said that, some professionals also keep a cordless hedge trimmer on hand for work in noise-sensitive areas, such as school and hospital zones.

Do I live in an urban area with a modest plot of land? In this scenario, a gas-powered hedge trimmer would be overkill. We recommend choosing between a corded and cordless hedge trimmer for a medium-size city yard. The choice should come down to how big your plot of land is and how much money you want to spend.

Do I own a large plot of land? If so, your decision may be a little more difficult. Gas power is certainly reliable, but a cordless hedge trimmer is easier to maneuver. A corded hedge trimmer is also a possibility, though you'd likely have to plug in an extension cord to reach the edges of your property.

Which type of hedge trimmer would best suit my physique? Gas and cordless hedge trimmers are much heavier than corded hedge trimmers. If you suffer from reduced strength, the latter is probably the better choice. If you're able-bodied, a heavier gas-powered or cordless tool would probably suit you fine.


Lithium-Ion Versus Nickel Cadmium Batteries

If you opt for a cordless hedge trimmer, make sure it takes lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. They're pricier than nickel cadmium (NiCad) batteries, but they produce more power and last a lot longer.

Choosing Your Hedge Trimmer Blade

All hedge trimmer blades aren't the same. The materials with which they are made vary, as do the blade design and size.

Blade Material

Hedge trimmer blades are typically made from case-hardened steel. It's a relatively cheap, durable material that keeps a good edge. Sometimes, a hedge trimmer's blade is described as "laser-cut." This refers to the method of manufacture and has no actual bearing on how good the blade is.

Some hedge trimmer blades have a titanium coating. This coating is purported to keep the blades sharper for longer. Commercial hedge trimmers aren't coated in titanium, however, so we wonder about its effectiveness.

Blade Design

Blades can be single-sided or double-sided. A single-sided blade has a row of teeth along one edge, whereas a double-sided blade has a row of teeth on both edges.

Double-sided blades are favored by consumers who need to do lots of shaping, as the blades cut in both directions.
Single-sided blades are preferred for creating hedges with flat tops and vertical sides. Since the blade will cut only in one direction, it's easier to keep it running straight and level. Notably, however, this arrangement benefits right-handed people more than it does left-handed people. With a single-sided blade, a lefty must make cuts in a direction that is unnatural. Most get used to it, but some left-handed people prefer a double-sided blade for this reason.

Blade Sizes

The most popular hedge trimmer blades are 20 to 24 inches in length. That's long enough to cope with most tasks yet short enough to be manageable. But you can find hedge trimmers with other blade sizes too.

● Some very small "handheld" hedge trimmers have blades that are just five inches long. These tools are nice for pruning shrubs, but they're not practical for hedges.
● Some compact hedge trimmers have blades that are 16 to 18 inches long. This is a workable minimum for creating straight, level hedges. This length is also suitable for topiary, when you need more maneuverability.
● Professional-grade hedge trimmers generally have 30-inch blades, though the longest we found during our research was 40 inches.

For particularly tall hedges, you can get a long-reach hedge trimmer. This tool is like a brush cutter, with an engine at the back and a long pole. If you already own a professional-grade brush cutter, you may be able to get a hedge trimmer attachment for it.

Other Hedge Trimmer Features

Blade Gap: All hedge trimmers have a maximum quoted branch size they can cut. This is sometimes referred to as the blade gap. Note that the measurement given is almost always stated as "up to." If you assume that your hedge trimmer is going to cut that size of branch all day, you'll likely be disappointed. A rule of thumb would be to take one-quarter inch off the quoted blade gap to get a better idea of a hedge trimmer's normal capacity.

Run Time: Manufacturers of cordless tools often quote a run time. They also use phrases like "in ideal conditions." It's safe to assume that in the real world, run times will be shorter. Therefore, it's very useful if the hedge trimmer has an indicator to let you know how much charge is remaining.

Rotating Handle: Some hedge trimmers have a rotating or multiposition handle. This allows you to change the angle of the cut without having to twist your hands and arms into uncomfortable positions.

Interchangeable Batteries: If you already own a number of cordless garden tools, check to see if the hedge trimmer's batteries are interchangeable with your other tools. If so, you could save money by buying a "bare tool"—a battery-operated hedge trimmer without a battery.

A scabbard is usually supplied to cover the hedge trimmer blade when not in use. Some scabbards are made of cardboard; better scabbards are made of plastic.

How Much Does a Good Hedge Trimmer Cost?

We caution against buying cheap hedge trimmers because of quality and durability concerns. That said, you can find an entry-level corded hedge trimmer for a decent price if your garden is small. Many trusted manufacturers sell reliable, light-duty hedge trimmers for $35 to $50.

The convenience of a cordless hedge trimmer will cost you considerably more. Plan to spend a minimum of $100 to $200 if you want a cordless hedge trimmer that's comparable to a similar-size gas model.

A quality gas-powered hedge trimmer will also cost a minimum of $100 to $200. In fact, the best gas-powered hedge trimmers are likely to cost in the $300 range.

Professional-grade hedge trimmers vary tremendously in price, but as you might expect, the cream of the crop is expensive. A hedge trimmer with a 30-inch blade is likely to cost more than $400. An articulated hedge trimmer can cost $500 or more.


Limit Hedge Trimmer Use to Simple Hedges and Shrubs

A hedge trimmer is great for tidying and managing hedges and shrubs. It's not a brush cutter or chain saw, however, so don't expect to use it for clearing saplings or dense undergrowth.

Hedge Trimmer Tips

● Always wear gloves and facial protection when operating a hedge trimmer. If you're using a gas-powered hedge trimmer, wear ear protection, too.
● Keep children and pets away from the area where you are working.
● Big handles with lots of space around them give plenty of room for gloved hands and lots of grip options for better control.
● Hedge trimmers should have a double trigger, also known as a dead man's button. Both need to be depressed for the machine to operate.
● If you're using an extension cord with your hedge trimmer, watch out for tangles that could present a hazard.
● If you're operating a hedge trimmer while standing on a ladder, ensure that the ladder is steady and positioned properly. Never over-reach. Better yet, have someone around to help.
● After use, turn your hedge trimmer off or disconnect the power, then use a stiff brush to clean the blades. If you've been cutting sappy branches like pine, use solvent to remove any sticky residue. Never use abrasives. Wipe the rest of the machine with a cloth, and store it in a dry location.
● If your hedges are overgrown, don't try to trim them all the way back in one pass. Taking several small bites at it will make the job easier on both you and the tool, and you'll end up with better results.

A gas-powered hedge trimmer can run all day, but using one for an extended period can be exhausting. When it comes time to refill the tank, take five minutes for yourself. Never operate machinery when tired.

Keep Sharp: Hedge Trimmer Blade Care FAQ

Q. How will I know if it's time to sharpen my hedge trimmer blade?
A. You'll know when your hedge trimmer blade needs sharpening because it will start to chew and snag rather than cut. On average, a hedge trimmer blade requires sharpening every 50 to 60 hours. However, this may vary depending on what you're cutting.

Q. Can I sharpen my hedge trimmer's blade myself?
A. Yes, you can sharpen a hedge trimmer blade with a round file, but it's a laborious task. If you choose to do this, take care to work only on the shaped cutting edges, not the flat portions of the blade. If you'd prefer someone else do it, check with your local hardware or tool store. Chances are you can easily find a professional to sharpen your blade for a nominal price.

A light coating of WD-40 or a similar lubricant will help protect your hedge trimmer blade from rust and prevent sap from sticking to it.
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