Our aim at Hedge Trimmer Reviews is to help you buy the best hedge trimmer for you, your garden, and your wallet. Our reviews cover cordless, electric, petrol and long reach models from major manufacturers such as Bosch, Black & Decker, Flymo and Ryobi.
Choosing the best hedge trimmer can be complicated. There are dozens of models on the market, and choosing the wrong one can be costly. Get one too big and too powerful and you’ll be wasting your money; get one too small and under-powered and you’ll be wasting your time. But get the best hedge trimmer for your garden and you’ll finish the job quickly and easily, leaving you with more time to sit back and admire your handiwork.
Our buying guide will help you choose the most appropriate hedge trimmer.
Types of Hedge Trimmer
There are three types of hedge trimmer, varying according to their power source: electric, cordless and petrol. In brief:
- An electric hedge trimmer is lightweight, easy to use, costs the least, and is suitable for most small to medium-sized domestic gardens.
- A cordless trimmer offers greater mobility, but battery life restricts how much work you can do in one session.
- A petrol model is the most powerful, but can be heavy, noisy, expensive and tiring to use.
Long Reach Trimmers
Also known as pole hedge trimmers, long reach trimmers are designed to enable you to cut taller hedges, and to save bending when cutting lower down. They are available in electric, cordless and petrol models.
These are often over 2m in length and are ideal for cutting very tall hedges without standing on a step ladder. Most models will have articulated blades, so that the angle of the blade can be altered to match the angle of the hedge.
If you’ve only got a small amount of work to do (perhaps just a single shrub in your front garden) then manual clippers or a good pair of shears may be the best solution. After all, gardeners have been using them for centuries before the advent of powered machines.
Especially for topiary enthusiasts, these can often be the first choice.
Read our buying guides for more information on each type, and for reviews of popular models.
How to Chose the Best Hedge Trimmer
Factors to Consider
What factors should you take into account when buying a hedge trimmer? Your final choice will be a matter of compromise. If you want the most powerful machine, then you will have to accept that it will be heavy and noisy. If you want a light and manoeuvrable machine, then it will have less cutting power.
Here are some questions to consider before making your final choice.
How much can you afford, or are you willing to spend? Hedge trimmers can vary a great deal in price, from around £35 for one of the lower specification electric models, to over £400 for a professional petrol model.
Frequency of Use
How often will you use it? If you have a small to average-sized garden you’re unlikely to use your hedge trimmer more than a few times a year, in which case a cheaper electric model is probably your best option.
There is little point in spending a fortune on something that is used so infrequently, especially when there are plenty of quality machines available for a reasonable price.
How big is your garden? For an average size garden an electric model will be perfectly adequate. If you’ve got a very large garden, with the hedges a long way from an electric socket, then a cordless or petrol hedge trimmer will probably be best.
How noisy is the machine? This is something that will affect not only you, but potentially your neighbours as well. Generally, petrol machines will be noisier than cordless or electric models, and ear defenders should be worn if you’re using one for an extended period.
How heavy is the machine? A good rule is to select the lightest machine that will do the job. Just a little extra weight can make a big difference to the strain on your arms and shoulders. This is especially true if your hedges are tall and you’re going to be cutting at shoulder height or above, or if you’re going to be using the trimmer for a long period of time.
What size branches are you going to be cutting? Petrol hedge trimmers are the most powerful, and can cope with branches up to 28mm in diameter. Cordless and electric models are designed to to deal with branches with a maximum diameter of 16-20mm, depending on the model.
If you need to cut anything larger than that, then something other than a hedge trimmer might be best. Remember: a hedge trimmer is not a chainsaw – it is designed to cut through thin branches and twigs.
Blades sizes can vary from 15cm (6″) to 70cm (28″) in length. The smaller blades are mainly used on small hedges, or for detailed topiary work. Generally, the longer blades are more expensive, heavier, more difficult to control and more tiring in use.
The choice of blade length is a matter of compromise. The longer the blade the quicker the machine will cut, but it will be heavier to use. Generally small hedges will need a blade length of 46cm or less; medium hedges 46cm to 60cm; and large hedges 60cm and upwards. The longer blades are mainly aimed at professional users.
ii) Cutting Capacity
The distance between the teeth is the blade width, and this determines the cutting capacity. As a general rule any branch that fits between the teeth will be cut. For example, a 16mm blade will cut branches up to a thickness of 16mm.
A wider blade width will give a rougher finish than a narrow spacing, but will cut thicker branches.
iii) Single and Double Action
Blades can be either single or double action. With single-action blades only one of the blades moves; with double-action blades they both move, but in opposite directions. This helps to maintain the balance of the hedge trimmer and reduces vibration.
It is important to clean the blades after every use. It is likely that after a cutting session there will be sap on the blade. If this is left to harden the blade will stop cutting effectively.