Hedge trimmers are ideal for the homeowner trying to maintain their property and for commercial companies clearing land. Hedge trimmers, sometimes called hedge shears or hedge clippers, are power tools designed to quickly trim and sculpt bushes. Though a simple concept, new technology in the field offers the potential buyer a slew of options. Pronto’s Hedge Trimmer Buying Guide will help you find an affordable, efficient model, whether you’re taming the backyard jungle or practicing topiary.
Cordless hedge trimmers are lightweight and portable but offer the least cutting power. Corded electric hedge trimmers are the most popular choice for home use, although they’re limited to the length of a 100-foot extension cord. Gas hedge trimmers offer the greatest cutting power and unlimited portability, but they’re the heaviest and most-polluting hedge trimmers.
The size of a hedge trimmer is measured by its blade length. Choose a single-bladed trimmer for light trimming and topiary or a double-bladed trimmer for tall bushes. Get a hedge trimmer with the smallest blade gap that will work with your bushes.
Your hedge trimmer should feel comfortable and balanced in your hands. Wraparound handles offer better control for awkward angles. Pivoting handles let you adjust the blade to different cutting positions.
Most hedge trimmers weigh between 10 and 15 pounds. The larger your blade, the heavier your hedge trimmer will be. Be sure to choose a weight that you can hold and maneuver comfortably for extended periods.
Choose a hedge trimmer with front and rear hand guards that will keep your fingers from sliding into the blade. Look for a deadman’s switch that shuts off the engine when it’s released and a blade lock that lets the engine run without moving the blade.
A metal extension from the chassis of a hedge trimmer that holds the blade.
The space between the teeth of a hedge trimmer’s blades. Larger blade gaps enable you to cut thicker branches.
A feature that disengages a hedge trimmer’s blades, allowing the engine to start or idle without the blades moving.
A button or mechanism that immediately stops the engine when it is released.
A hedge trimmer with blades on both sides of its bar for faster cutting.
A plastic shield that prevents your hands from sliding into a hedge trimmer’s blade and protects them from flying debris.
A hedge-trimmer handle that locks the blade into different angles from 0 to 90 degrees for easier cutting.
A hedge trimmer with a blade mounted on one side of the bar. This provides greater safety, but it also forces you to change positions more often while you trim.
Hedge trimmers come in a variety of styles. There are cordless, electric and gas models. Their size and make are often linked to their blade size. The average hedge trimmer is designed for a hedge around five feet high and five feet wide. If the hedges you plan to trim are higher or wider than this, think about the position you need to be in to reach them and whether you have enough strength to hold the trimmer in this position.
Cordless hedge trimmers are highly portable and only need light maintenance. These hedge trimmers start easily and don’t pollute the environment. However, cordless hedge trimmers have the least cutting power, and their batteries may not last throughout your trimming job. Cordless hedge trimmers are great for smaller jobs that require a lightweight hedge trimmer and for touch-up situations. Compare the recharging time on batteries, which can be as much as 24 hours.
Electric hedge trimmers are the most popular choice. Corded electric trimmers include pushbutton starters, require limited maintenance and also don’t pollute the air. These hedge trimmers are relatively light in weight, inexpensive, easy to handle and quieter than gas trimmers. The major drawback of a corded electric trimmer is their cord dependence. Many manufacturers suggest using a heavy-duty outdoor cord no longer than 100 feet for proper power. This puts anything more than 100 feet from a power outlet beyond the reach of your hedge trimmer.
Gas-powered hedge trimmers offer more portability without the hassle of worrying about cords and batteries. These hedge trimmers come with two-cycle gas engines that provide plenty of power. However, gas-powered hedge trimmers’ engines also pollute the environment, create noise and require you to mix oil and fuel. Gas trimmers are harder to start, require more maintenance and are generally more costly than electric or cordless hedge trimmers.
A hedge trimmer’s blade size affects the kind of trimming you’ll be able to do, and it also affects the weight of the hedge trimmer. Think about the thickness of the hedges or bushes you plan to cut. The thickness of these branches determines the size of the blade you’ll need.
Blades range from 13 to 30 inches. The blade gap of a hedge trimmer is the distance between its teeth, which indicates the size of the branch a trimmer can cut. Wider gaps can cut larger-diameter branches. On gas-powered, professional hedge trimmers, the blade gap is one inch or more. Residential models have a blade gap limited to 3/4 of an inch for safety.
Hedge trimmers can come with single- or double-sided blades. Single-sided blades are safer; it’s easier to hold the cutting edge away from your body. Double-sided blades are more efficient: they can cut large, thick hedges in horizontal and vertical motions, and you won’t have to change your position to do it. With a single-sided blade, you need to shift positions to shift the blade’s direction.
For a homeowner performing routine yard work, the standard is a hedge trimmer with a 30-inch bar with a single-sided blade. If you have smaller shrubs to trim and sculpt, choose a shorter bar that is easier to handle and maneuver. Tall shrubs require a longer blade, and double-sided blades will increase your productivity. For these larger shrubs, look for telescoping or long-reach hedge trimmers.
A hedge trimmer that’s hard to hold leads to messy or uneven trimming, and it can be a safety hazard. A hedge trimmer should feel comfortable and balanced in your hands. When you trim hedges, you may end up in awkward positions for hard-to-reach angles; therefore, you want to make sure your hedge trimmer can be held comfortably for long periods of time.
Your hedge trimmer should feel steady while you’re maneuvering it. Heavy, bulky hedge trimmers are harder to control, which causes fatigue. Look for hedge trimmers with anti-vibration features; these ensure cleaner trimming and better safety.
Hedge trimmers with pivoting handles can turn the blade 90 degrees for vertical cutting. This handle is helpful when you are trying to cut up and down. Wraparound front handles allow your hands to stay in one position while you turn the trimmer to cut vertically or at an awkward angle. Front handle shields are a good safety feature that keeps your forward hand away from the blade.
A, large, powerful hedge trimmer won’t save time if you can’t hold it. Think about your upper-body strength and whether or not you are able to hold a 10-pound hedge trimmer for extended periods of time. Most professional hedge trimmers weigh from as little as 10 pounds to as much as 15 pounds. Compare the shipping weights of hedge trimmers to find the right fit.
You’ll also want to consider how the weight is distributed. Weight distribution affects productivity: lighter, balanced models are easier to maneuver and increase productivity. A well-balanced hedge trimmer also results in cleaner trimming.
Like any power tool, hedge trimmers can be dangerous. Better hedge trimmers include an array of safety features to help keep you safe.
Look for a hedge trimmer with hand guards mounted on the front and rear handles. These keep your hands away from the blades and protect them from flying debris. Choose a hedge trimmer with the smallest blade gap that will do the job to protect your fingers.
For the safest operation, choose a hedge trimmer with a deadman’s switch that stops the blades when released, and a blade lock that freezes the blades when the engine is starting or idling.