Kristen Hicks on April 17, 2017 3 Comments Table of Contents Survey Your Yard Types of Hedge Trimmers Factors to Consider When Buying Popular Brands to Consider Trimming your hedges and trees is a lot of work. If you try to get it done with shears, you’ll find yourself spending a significant amount of time and wearing yourself out needlessly. One simple purchase can make a huge difference in how much time and energy the job takes, and most people who make the investment are glad they did. Hedge trimmers allow you to get your hedges and shrubs looking just right without it taking up too much time or energy. The right hedge trimmer makes the work efficient, safe, and fast. If you’ve realized it’s time to invest in a hedge trimmer, or you’re ready to replace one that’s getting old, here are the main things you need to know to find the right one for you. Survey Your Yard The first thing you need to do before starting your search is to really give your yard a close look. Finding the right hedge trimmer for you will require having a good idea of: The type of hedges you’ll be using it on. The height and thickness of those hedges. How accessible they are – are they close to walls or the fence, for instance? The size of your yard. These factors will play a significant role in figuring out the right size and level of power you’ll need from your hedge trimmer. If you have a large yard and big hedges, a more powerful model will make the work move faster. If your hedges are located close to a fence, you may appreciate a shorter hedge trimmer that’s easier to maneuver in the tight spaces. Finding the right hedge trimmer largely depends on the job you’ll be doing. Types of Hedge Trimmers Hedge trimmers can have one of two power sources: electricity or gas. Your first big decision in choosing a hedge trimmer is which type of power you prefer. Electric For most home users, electric hedge trimmers will be the best choice. They’re more lightweight and thus easier to use. They’re more affordable. They’re quieter. And they’re easier to start and maintain than gas models. The main area where electric hedge trimmers fall short is when it comes to power, for especially big or tough trimming jobs, the work will be slower and more difficult than with a gas hedge trimmer. Electric hedge trimmers come in either corded or cordless options. With a corded hedge trimmer, you’ll have to do deal with extension cords as you work and stay within a set distance from the outlet the whole time, which is inconvenient. Corded hedge trimmers make the work easier as you can go as far from the outlet as you need, don’t have to trail cords behind you, and can use the trimmer for as long as the battery charge lasts. Gas If you have a larger yard with big hedges, then a gas hedge trimmer may be worth the buy. They cost more, weigh more, and are harder to use (especially for beginners), but they can take on tougher jobs faster. If you’ll be using your hedge trimmer for commercial purposes, or if you have hedges that are particularly large, thick, or unruly, then a gas hedge trimmer will make the work easier. Note: If you’re new to hedge trimmers, start with an electric hedge trimmer. They’re easier to maneuver and safer to use when you’re getting the hang of things. If you find the electric hedge trimmer isn’t powerful for your needs after you’ve become adept at using it, then consider upgrading to gas. Factors to Consider When Buying Hedge Trimmers Once you’ve determined the needs of your particular yard and figured out the best type to go with, you’re ready to think about the other various factors and features different hedge trimmers have to offer. Here are the main things to take into consideration during your search. Power Hedge trimmers are powerful tools, but the amount of power you can wield with a trimmer varies by product. The main indicator of power is the power source. Gas hedge trimmers will bring a higher level of power to hedge trimming than electric models. But electric models offer a variety of power levels as well. Those with a high voltage can tackle harder jobs faster than some of the more affordable models that come at a lower voltage. The level of power you need is entirely dependent on the types of hedges you’ll be trimming, their size, and the amount of power you’re comfortable wielding. Cost With hedge trimmers, the main things you’ll pay a premium for are higher power and greater convenience. The most affordable hedge trimmers will be corded, lightweight models that are best for simpler jobs. These can cost as little as $30. When you add in the convenience of a cordless model, the minimum price jumps up to around $60, but your ability to trim more hedges from further away from the house increases significantly. Things like a higher-powered battery, longer blade, and faster charging time can all add to the cost as well, but make bigger jobs easier. Gas hedge trimmers routinely cost more than electric ones, starting at around $250 and going up to over $500 in price. The higher-cost gas models are useful for contractors and businesses, while most home users should be able to satisfy their needs with a more affordable choice. Length Hedge trimmers come with a range of blade lengths. Longer ones can make it easier to trim your hedges more evenly, or they can be difficult to manage and unwieldy if you’re working in a tight space. For most typical hedges, an 18” blade will work just fine. If your hedges are larger than usual, a 20” blade or larger might make the work easier, if you have the room to maneuver it. If you’re new to hedge trimming, starting with a shorter blade is recommended, as it’s safer when you’re still getting used to the work. Blade Types The main two issues to be aware of when it comes to your blades (other than length, that is) are how far apart the blade teeth are, and whether your blades are single or double sided. The distance between the blade teeth, or blade gap, affects how useful your hedge trimmer will be for different types of branches. Commercial hedge trimmers usually have blade gaps of an inch or more, but many home users will be satisfied with smaller blade gaps in the 3/8 to ¾ inch rage. Single-sided blades are safer and easier to maneuver with since you can easily keep the side of the trimmer with the blade faced away from you. For people who are experienced with hedge trimmers though, a double-sided option can speed up how fast your trimming work is, since it cuts on both sides at once. Weight A hedge trimmer’s weight has a big impact on its ease of use. Heavy hedge trimmers are harder to hold aloft and can wear even experienced users out quickly, but they tend to be more powerful. Lighter models will be much easier and safer to use in general, particularly for anyone new to using a hedge trimmer. Ease of Use As just addressed, weight is one of the biggest factors in ease of use. The other factor that makes a big difference is a hedge trimmer’s power source. Gas models require more maintenance and can be harder to control, while electric models are more lightweight and easy to start. Cordless electric models provide even greater ease of use, since you can take them anywhere without having to keep up with a cord. In addition to these main factors, a number of features play a role in ease of use. Some hedge trimmers allow the option of an on lock, so you don’t have to press the trigger the whole time you’re working. Wraparound handles make it easier to hold the trimmer comfortably for long periods of time. A rotating blade makes it easier to hold your trimmer at different angles when you’re maneuvering around a fence or wall. And a cordless hedge trimmer that comes with an extra battery can save you the trouble of having to wait on a charge to finish a project. Maintenance No matter what type of hedge trimmer you buy, it’s important to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure safe use and a long life for your hedge trimmer. All hedge trimmers will require some maintenance, but the amount of work you have to do will vary based on a few factors. With gas trimmers, you’ll need to stay aware of how much fuel they have and refill with the right mix of oil and gas whenever needed. You’ll also need to replace the spark plug periodically and keep the intake vent clear. At the end of the season, you should run stabilizer through the engine and make sure you store the trimmer properly. For all types of hedge trimmers, you need to keep an eye on the blades and make sure they stay sharp. You may need to sharpen the blades you have or replace old blades with new ones from time to time to keep your hedge trimmer in good working order. And you’ll need to keep your hedge trimmer clean in between uses as well. Safety With a tool as powerful as a hedge trimmer, safety has to be a top concern. High-powered blades are nothing to take lightly. Anyone new to using a hedge trimmer should take care to go with a lightweight model with good safety features and follow all instructions carefully. Even those who have been using hedge trimmers for years should be careful not to get complacent and always treat the blades with care during use. Many hedge trimmers come with features designed to add some safety to their use. Tooth extensions make it easier to keep the blades further from your body. Some hedge trimmers automatically cut power to the blade as soon as you release the trigger, so there’s less risk of an accident. And some include front-handle shields that help you avoid moving your hand too close to the blade during use. At least as important as any features that come with the hedge trimmer are the precautions users choose to take as they work. It’s recommended that you use safety eyewear and gloves while using a hedge trimmer to reduce your own risk and, for louder models, invest in some earplugs or other hearing protection equipment as well. And make sure to read over all information provided by the manufacturer before using a new hedge trimmer so you can follow their safety guidelines when you use your new tool. Noise Electric hedge trimmers are often far quieter than gas-powered ones, which is a big benefit to users that hate loud noises and want to avoid upsetting their neighbors. If you do need the power of a gas hedge trimmer though, be prepared to buy earplugs or some other form of hearing protection. If you’re concerned about the noise levels of a hedge trimmer you’re considering, check the reviews to see if customers mention how loud it is, or get in touch with the manufacturer to see if they can provide the decibel level to give you an idea of what to expect. Durability Ideally, you want to choose a hedge trimmer you can count on for years to come. Powerful machines like this have a lot of parts that can potentially break and your best bet is to look for a brand with a strong reputation that provides a good warranty on their products. Customer reviews can also usually give you a glimpse into how long you can count on a hedge trimmer to last. But at the end of the day, how you use it and how well you maintain it will play a key role in its lifespan as well. Features: Cordless — A cordless electric hedge trimmer is easier to use and makes it possible to go further from the house as you work without issue. Tooth Extensions — Tooth extensions put more distance between the hedge trimmer’s blades and your body, decreasing the risk of getting cut. Dual Switches — Dual switches require both hands to use the hedge trimmer, which increases the safety. On Lock — An on lock makes it easier to use the trimmer for long periods of time, since you don’t have to hold the trigger down the whole time. Off Lock — An off lock reduces the risk of someone accidentally turning the hedge trimmer on and is particularly recommended for anyone with kids in the house. Wraparound Handle — A wraparound handle makes it easier to hold the hedge trimmer more comfortably while you work. Warranty — A good warranty tells you the manufacturer stands by their product and provides peace of mind that you shouldn’t have too many problems. Hedge Trimmer Brands With any power tool, brand reputation matters. A reliable brand can be counted on to make sturdy and powerful products that can do the job and last a long time. To help you identify the hedge trimmer brands you can trust, we looked at user reviews of hedge trimmers made by a number of top brands in the space. Here’s a summary of what customers have to say about them. Black & Decker Black & Decker sells a range of affordable electric hedge trimmers that largely satisfy customers. Reviewers say they make hard jobs easier, are powerful, and are lightweight. Battery-powered models get praise for lasting a long time and not taking long to charge. Most reviewers have plenty of good things to say and very few have any complaints. Dolmar While Dolmar’s hedge trimmers don’t have too many customer reviews online, the ones they do have say a lot. Customers say their hedge trimmers are quiet, cut well, and are well designed for safety. Efco Efco offers gas hedge trimmers that mostly get positive reviews, but with a few complaints mixed in. Happy customers say their trimmers are easy to start, easy to use, and last a long time. One reviewer especially mentioned liking that the hedge trimmer was designed to point the exhaust away from the user. A few complain about their model breaking soon after purchase or needing frequent filling. Reviews suggest you’ll probably be happy with Efco, but you may have some issues with certain models. GreenWorks GreenWorks sells a wide range of electric hedge trimmers that earn strong reviews across models. Customers say they’re powerful, the charge on them lasts a while, they’re easy to use, and they last a long time. Based on customer reviews, GreenWorks is a brand you can count on. Husqvarna Husqvarna’s hedge trimmers earn mixed but predominately positive reviews from customers. Many models earn positive reviews for being easy to use, working well, and being quiet. Some get complaints for not being as powerful as expected and not lasting very long. Check the reviews of the particular model you’re considering to make sure you go with one that people are happy with. Milwaukee Milwaukee sells electric hedge trimmers that are well reviewed by customers. Reviewers say their hedge trimmers are powerful and easy to use. Reviews suggest they’re a solid choice for a convenient, cordless hedge trimmer. Poulan Pro Poulan Pro provides gas hedge trimmers with mixed reviews. Some customers say their trimmers are powerful and a good value for the price, while others complain that they’re too heavy and the blades break too quickly. Positive reviews outnumber negative ones, but it’s worth giving them a look to know what you’re getting into. Remington Remington sells highly regarded electric hedge trimmers. Customers rave about the quality of their hedge trimmers and compare them favorably to other brands they’ve tried in the past. They say the trimmers cut great, are easy to use, and are very powerful. This is a brand with a stellar reputation amongst customers. Ryobi Ryobi makes electric hedge trimmers that most customers are happy with. Customers say their hedge trimmers work well, are easy to use, and that the batteries last a while. For a convenient electric hedge trimmer, they’re a safe bet. Snapper Snapper’s electric hedge trimmer is well reviewed for being easy to use, powerful, and lightweight. Customers are pleased with the value for the price and the convenience of using the trimmer. Reviews point to a high likelihood that you’ll be happy with Snapper. Tanaka Tanaka sells gas hedge trimmers that customers are routinely pleased with. They say they’re easy to start and lightweight enough to use for a while without your arms getting tired. On the whole, their reputation is solid. Conclusion A good hedge trimmer can make tending to your yard much easier, but its’ crucial that you find a model that’s the right level of power for your needs and safe for you to use. Spend some time looking through your options and consider how well matched each option is to the type of work you know you’ll be doing with your hedge trimmer.