Buyers Guide: How to choose the Best Hedge Trimmer

Best Hedge Trimmer Reviews for 2018 - Featured

Deciding what kind of hedge trimmer equipment you should get is a difficult and time consuming job, considering the potentially big investment you will likely to make. For example, are you interested in the best hedge trimmer powered by an engine? Or a regular, manual pair of hedge clippers would do? The right tool will probably serve you for years, therefore making an informed decision is a must have and we are here to help. In this article we feature the best hedge trimmer ideas for 2018 and the features to look for.

Why use a hedge trimmer?

A nice, well kept hedge is a source of pride and respect. It turns dull and bare outdoors to tidy, well organized spaces and can represent the extension of your home and personality. 

Most people plant hedges to ensure privacy, hide unpleasant views or filter out noisy neighbors and busy roads. 

Whatever the reason, a hedge needs maintenance regardless its size and type. Looking after hedges is hard and time consuming work, this is where the best hedge trimmer for your needs comes into play.   

What type of hedge trimmer is best for me?

The type of hedge trimmer needed may depend on a number of things. It is greatly determined by the kind of hedge you have, the amount of hedges, their height and the distance from the house.

Manual hedge clippers or shears

Well tried and tested for centuries, not much can go wrong with a pair of shears.  The question you should ask yourself, are you happy with some exercise? Are you going to cut all your hedges in an hour or so? If the answer is yes to both, then look no further. We have included a great pair of hedge shears in our list, you may check out our take on them or go straight ahead and purchase them, job done! 

Corded Electric Hedge Trimmers

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Cheapest
  • Powerful
Cons
  • Cord can get in the way
  • Limited reach

The best electric hedge trimmers are very light, powerful and usually the most common and cheapest of all the motorized hedge tools.

Of course the reach will be limited by the length of the cable and the optional extension cord, so you should consider the distance from your mains plugs to the hedges. The electric motors will provide constant power though as long as you have access to the mains.  

Since it does not need expensive batteries that tend to degrade over the years nor the chore of mixing gas and oil and other dirty stuff, regarding maintenance, electric hedge trimmers are the easiest and least demanding.

Read our comprehensive Best Electric Hedge Trimmer Reviews for 2018 article!

Cordless Battery Powered Hedge Trimmers

Pros
  • Freedom of movement
  • Ease of use
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Additional batteries may be needed

The best cordless hedge trimmers offer unprecedented freedom, since you won’t be restricted by the length of the cord. Cordless trimmers are safer in wet conditions as well, which should not be the lowest priority!

Cordless hedge trimmers with better batteries are on par with their gas counterparts. The research and development of rechargeable battery systems and electric motors really propped up in recent years, increasing battery lifetime, run time and power as well. 

Still, battery run time is usually between half and one hour, depending on the quality, capacity and technology being used. Usual charging times could be anywhere between one hour (premium hedge trimmer batteries) and several hours.

Read our full Best Cordless Hedge Trimmer for 2018 reviews!

Gas Hedge Trimmers

Pros
  • Freedom of movement
  • Power
Cons
  • High maintenance
  • Fumes
  • Noise
  • Vibration

The best gas hedge trimmers are bringing in all the power that you might need, especially compared to cordless hedge trimmers with small batteries.

Gas powered hedge trimmers are more than capable of cutting through thicker branches as well as perfect for larger gardens with tens of yards of hedges.

The price you pay for all this power and flexibility is weight and size, as gas trimmers tend to be bulkier and heavier than electric versions. 

Since a gas powered hedge trimmer is essentially running a two stroke engine, it requires the same kind of maintenance and attention as your car. You will need to make sure the proper oiling, replace spark plugs, and get the right kind and mixture of gas and oil to run on.

Read our ultimate Best Gas Hedge Trimmer Reviews for 2018 post!

What size hedge trimmer to choose?

In terms of hedge trimmer sizes, length, width and tooth spacing are all important factors. Hedge trimmer blades are metal plates with teeth around the edges.

Blade length

Blade lengths range from as short as 5 inches (like the Sun Joe Cordless Hedger) up to 40 inches for professional use. Choosing the right blade length will have an impact on the quality of the cut, ease of use and safety. A short blade might prove ineffective for large hedges while a sizable length might come with unjustified extra weight and danger from loosing your balance.

Hedge trimmer blade

Best Hedge Trimmer 2018 - Blade Length

As a rule of thumb, 16 inch or smaller hedge trimmers are more than enough for small to average or young hedges. 20 inch or larger trimmers are best for large, bushy, well established hedges but need more practice and confidence to operate. The best hedge trimmer for an average size garden with good healthy hedges, you can’t really go wrong if you pick a quality 18 inch trimmer.

Blade gap

The blade gap, aka the distance between the teeth, determines the branches it can cut. The wider the tooth gap the thicker branches it can eat up. 

Blade sides

There are two kinds of blades to complicate making the right choices, single and double sided. Single sided blades are safer where the teeth are always cutting away, while the more popular double sided blades are much more effective but also need more care and caution.

Safety and other features to look for

Modern hedge trimmers, being gas, electric or cordless, come with many features to make your life easier, and most importantly, safer. Today’s best hedge trimmer should contain and feature one or more of the following: 

  • Tooth extensions put more distance between the hedge trimmer blades and the operator, preventing body parts to get into contact with the teeth
  • Dual switches help safety by requiring two-handed operation of the hedge trimmer
  • Locks can prevent accidental start of the trimmer and is recommended for households with kids around. The On Lock on the contrary makes it easier to keep the hedge trimmer running, no need to hold a button. This is a comfort feature, and could potentially be dangerous, so careful with this.
  • Front-handle shields protect hands from getting in contact with the teeth
  • Wraparound handle is a comfort feature to maintain position even in odd angles and high reaches

When is the best time to trim hedges?

It’s not as easy as simply deciding to take action when your hedge looks a bit rough around the edges.

Both formative hedge trimming and regular maintenance hedge trimming work best at particular times of year. Whether your hedge is deciduous or evergreen will also determine what time of year you should get your hedge trimmed (source).

As a general rule, these are the optimal times for hedge trimming:

Evergreen hedges:

  • Formative hedge trimming should be done in the spring, just after planting. It will also need to be trimmed at regular intervals for the first two years after planting, until the hedge keeps its shape.
  • Maintenance pruning should be done each summer.

Deciduous hedges:

  • Formative hedge trimming should be done in winter, just after planting. It will need to be continued at regular intervals for the first two years after planting, until the hedge holds its shape.
  • Maintenance hedge trimming should be done every summer.