For any homeowner with a hedge or shrubs around their home, they know these plants periodically need trimming. For this task, a hedge trimmer is a necessary piece of equipment. While traditional manual hedge trimmers are quaint, to get the job done quickly and efficiently, a powered tool is better. Hedge trimmers are classified by their power source: electric, battery, or gas. Each type of hedge trimmer has advantages and disadvantages.
Electric hedge trimmers are probably the most popular. They can cut branches up to ½-inch in diameter. They’re light, least expensive, and quiet. Plus, they don’t pollute like a gas-powered trimmers. On the downside, the electric hedge trimmers require a power cord that can be awkward to maneuver while you trim. This also limits your range of trimming to within a certain distance to a power outlet.
Battery powered hedge trimmers eliminate the need for a power cord, so are more portable. However, they aren’t as strong as the gas or electric trimmers and generally last about 45 minutes before you need to recharge the battery or replace it. These are best for small trimming jobs.
Gas powered trimmers are certainly the strongest, cutting branches up to ¾-inch in diameter. They are portable, but the most expensive of the powered trimmers. However, they pollute, give off fumes and are heavy. Gas powered models are best for large yards or professional use.
Other features to look for in your trimmer include safety switches. Many models require both hands to be on the trimmer before it will run. This greatly reduces the chance of cutting a finger. Some have lock-on and lock-off switches that don’t require you to have both hands on the trimmer to operate. Although, more convenient, they are more dangerous.
The best trimmers will have two, double-sided, dual-action blades that pass by each other making for a cleaner, easier cut. The blade lengths range from 13 to 30 inches long. For homeowners blade lengths are between 16 and 24 inches long for the best balance and weight. However, longer blades allow you to cut wider hedges in one pass. Good quality trimmers will have blades that stop quickly after letting go of the handle as a way to avoid injury. Gas powered trimmer blades should stop while the engine idles and have vibration controls to minimize hand and arm fatigue. Some gas power models also have safety shields to protect the user from flying debris.
For tall shrubs consider a pole trimmer. These gas or electric powered trimmers are safer than standing on a ladder and trying to trim with a traditional model. Pole trimmers that are dedicated to just trimming are better than string trimmers with a pole pruning attachments.
When buying a trimmer, check for good balance and comfortable grips. Although most trimmers weigh less than twelve pounds, they can be tiring to use over time if the handles are awkward and the unit imbalanced. As with any power tool, wear protective goggles, gloves, sturdy shoes, and ear protection (for gas powered models).
Best of the Best:
Here’s a good mix of high quality electric, battery, and gas-powered trimmers. Select the best trimmer for your yard based on the type and quantity of trimming that needs to be done.
Find the best hedge trimmers to make a day's task in the yard go smoothly. We recommend the best hedge trimmer from Black and Decker, Echo, Stihl, Craftsman and others.