The best cordless hedge trimmer depends on a few things, such as : your budget, the types hedges you have, the area of hedges you need to trim and whether or not you want the freedom of battery-power or if you don’t mind managing an extension cord as you work. Personally, battery powered tools are worth every penny because they allow you work unencumbered, in in many cases, they can be as powerful as gas-powered tools.
Table of Contents...
- 1 Intro | Best Cordless Hedge Trimmer
- 1.1 BLACK+DECKER — LHT360CFF 60V MAX 24″
- 1.2 Makita XHU04PT 36V LXT 25″ —
- 1.3 DEWALT DCHT860M1 40V — 22” Hedge Trimmer Kit
- 1.4 Makita UH6570 25″ — Best Electric Hedge Trimmer
- 1.5 Do you actually need a hedge trimmer?
- 1.6 Choosing the perfect hedge trimmer
- 1.7 The Beauty of Hedges and Shrubs
- 1.8 Can A Hedge Trimmer Cut Weeds?
- 1.9 Hedge Trimmer vs Chainsaw | Which one do you need?
- 1.10 Related posts:
Intro | Best Cordless Hedge Trimmer
If you’re cutting hedges, it makes sense to purchase a quality hedge trimmer to match your needs, be it gas or electric powered. Using a manual hedge trimmer is inefficient and ultimately a waste of time since cordless hedge trimmers are so inexpensive nowadays. Hedge trimmers allow you to cover large areas in extremely short periods of time, while achieving a level of finish that is simply impossible with the limited cutting capacity of manual hedge clippers.
You can get perfectly flat sides on those hedgerows consistently, with little effort, making your yard appear neat and tidy, which I’m sure your neighbors will appreciate. And, by spending your money on a pole-mounted “long reach” unit like this Greenworks 22272 — a 20V pole hedge trimmer, you can conveniently trim hedges up to 8 feet in height without ever having to lift your boots off the ground.
24″ Battery Hedge Trimmer — WORX WG291 56V
We are going to review 4 of the best cordless hedge trimmers currently available on the market, along with an extremely popular corded electric model. Never trimmed your own hedges before? No problem, that is exactly why we made this article- to show you how easy the job becomes with a good hedge trimmer. There are several different models out there from various companies, under dozens of brand names. It can get pretty confusing if you don’t know what to look for. You have gas powered hedge trimmers, corded electric models, and cordless hedge trimmers which we shall focus upon in our article. But there is more to selecting a hedge trimmer than just knowing how it is powered.
Before purchasing a hedge trimmer, you need to ask some questions. Is the blade long enough to effectively cut the hedges in your yard? How heavy is the unit? If it is a cordless model, what is the runtime? Is there enough space in between the teeth to chop down branches thicker than 20mm without getting stuck? Does it have essential safety features like a blade guard, catcher plate, tip protector, etc. And how ergonomic is the design? Models with rotating rear handles are extremely easy to use and put less strain on your wrists, they pretty much do all the work for you which is why so many people prefer them.
If you’re here for the reviews, they are right beneath this introductory section. And if you’re a beginner who wants to know more about hedge trimmers in general, we highly recommend that you stick around till the end of this article.
BLACK+DECKER — LHT360CFF 60V MAX 24″
Best cordless hedge trimmer if you’re on a limited budget. Overall excellent value. A competent trimmer that customers love.
- POWERCUT feature lets you Power Through Jams with the Push of a Button
- Power through tougher jobs with the SAWBLADE that cuts branches up to 1½” thick
- 24″ dual-action blade improves comfort by reducing vibration while you work and gives you extended reach to get to hard to reach branches
- Comfortable handle design with soft grip zones gives you freedom of movement and control while you trim
- State of charge indicator shows battery charge level, so you always know how much power you have left
- Max Cutting Capacity : ¾”
- Weight : 8.4 lbs
✓ View or download the MANUAL for the BLACK+DECKER LHT360CFF
The BLACK + DECKER LHT360CFF is everything a homeowner could ask for in a gardening tool. It packs more than enough power to slice through branches as thick as 1”, and despite featuring a moderately large 24” blade this hedge trimmer is incredibly lightweight at just 8.4 pounds. This cordless hedge trimmer is also very maneuverable, so you will have no trouble shaping your hedges and shrubs however you want. Its dual- action blades will mitigate most of the vibration, so you can operate it for long periods of time without feeling any discomfort in your palm or fingers.
The LHT360CFF kit contains 3 components :
- One LHT360 60V MAX cordless hedge trimmer (tool)
- One LBX1560 60V MAX lithium ion battery (1.5Ah)
- One BDCAC60B 60V MAX charger (will also charge 20V MAX batteries)
Let’s talk about the tool first- the LHT360 cordless edge trimmer. Its standout feature is the special “POWERCUT” mode, which comes in handy when you’re clearing really thick brush or some heavily overgrown hedges. Located right in front of the rear handle is a button which upon being activated will operate the blades at a slower speed but with much greater force.
Basically, it decreases the RPM and increases the torque, kind of like the 1st gear on a vehicle. What this does is pull the blade out of a sticky situation where it might be stuck between 2 branches, or accidentally jammed in a tree trunk. Apart from the POWERCUT function, BLACK + DECKER also included a handy little extra tool at the tip of the blade in the form of a miniature reciprocating saw blade which you can use to take down branches larger than 1 inch (but smaller than 2 inches). This reciprocating saw blade is extremely sharp but hard to place because it is located at the very end of the 24” cutting blade. There is a metal shoe like structure which you can use to angle the cut, it also helps you secure the saw blade to the branch in order to execute the cut.
This saw blade does have its drawbacks- for instance, it will often accidentally cut into branches or stems that you didn’t intend to damage. Other times, it is plain simply a hindrance since any branches that are near the tip of your blade will simply rock back and forth instead of being cut. Either way, it doesn’t harm the performance of the LHT360 in a significant manner, since customers claim that they are able to cut down branches up to 1” thick. The reason behind this power is the combination of a highly optimized dual action blade, 60V lithium ion battery, and a powerful DC motor.
Ergonomics are excellent, even though this model doesn’t have a rotating rear handle. Safety is pretty good as well, with a throttle lock off switch that is built right into the trigger assembly. We are huge fans of this design, since the conventional positioning of throttle lock off switches above the rear handle is harder to access when you’re moving your arms around hedges and shrubs, sometimes the lock off will accidentally disengage and your trimmer will stop midway through a cut. The space between each tooth on the blade is ¾”, and it should be plenty to cut all sorts of shrubs such as boxwood, juniper, privet, holly, yew, hebe, etc.
We believe the BLACK + DECKER LHT360CFF is perfect for maintaining hedges on small to medium sized property, and it can handle most branches up to 1.5” in thickness. For commercial use like in a landscaping business you almost certainly need a gas powered hedge trimmer, and a cutting blade longer than 30 inches. We don’t recommend the LHT360CFF for precisions tasks on smaller shrubs that requires a high level of detail, since it has a 24” blade with a saw attachment at the tip. You’re better off using a smaller cordless hedge trimmer with an 18” blade (or smaller) for tiny hedges (maybe you’re doing topiary work).
Makita XHU04PT 36V LXT 25″ —
Best Cordless Hedge Trimmer if you want a professional-grade battery-powered trimmer. Includes a dual-slot quick charger and two 5Ah 18V batteries which charge in under 45 minutes.
- Delivers up to 60 minutes of run time on high setting under load using two 5.0 Ah BL1850B batteries
- 6 speed dial (0 – 1,800 SPM) allows the user to match the speed to the application
- 25-1/2” blade provides increased cutting capacity
- Lower noise level at only 86.5 dB; up to 30% quieter than gas
- Makita-built motor delivers 1,800 SPM for faster cutting
- Weighs only 12.2 lbs. with (2) 18V batteries for reduced operator fatigue
- Compact and ergonomic design at only 39″ long
- 5-position rotating rear handle for increased comfort during vertical and angle trimming
- Two-handed operation; tool is activated only when the trigger and front handle are engaged
- L.E.D. battery gauge indicates charge level
- Electric brake for increased productivity
- Star Protection Computer Controls protect against over-load, over-discharge and over-heating
- Blade tip guard protects blade from unnecessary wear
- Heavy duty gear case engineered for improved durability
- Cordless for instant start-up, zero emissions and reduced maintenance
- 18V LXT Lithium-Ion 5.0Ah battery BL1850B features an integrated L.E.D. battery charge level indicator
- 5.0Ah battery BL1850B provides up to 65% more run time per charge compared to 3.0Ah battery BL1830
- 5.0Ah battery BL1850B reaches a full charge in 45 minutes or less
- Dual Port Charger charges two (2) 18V LXT Lithium-Ion 5.0 Ah batteries in only 45 minutes
- Dual Port Charger features a built-in USB port for charging portable electronic devices
- The Makita Rapid Optimum Charger communicates with the battery’s built-in chip throughout the charging process to optimize battery life by actively controlling current, voltage and temperature
- Built-in fan circulates air through the battery during the charging process to cool the battery for faster charge time.
- 3-year limited warranty on tool, battery and charger
Documents for the Makita XHU04PT :
If you want the absolute best in cordless power tools, Makita is the company for you. Today we are reviewing their 18V LXT cordless hedge trimmer lineup, which consists of 4 different models:
- The XHU02Z, a 22” model powered by a single 18V LXT lithium ion battery (brushed DC motor)
- The XHU04Z, a 25.5” “X2” model which is powered by dual 18V LXT batteries (also uses a brushed DC motor)
- The XHU07Z, a 24” model powered by a single 18V LXT battery (brushless DC motor)
- The XHU08Z, a 30” model powered by a single 18V LXT battery (also uses a brushless DC motor)
To make things clear, note that all tool- only variants have a “Z” at the end of the model number. For example- XHU02M1 is a complete package containing the hedge trimmer, charger, and battery while XHU02Z is just the tool which you can purchase as a single part. The main attraction of this show is the 36V (18V x2) XHU04PT, a kit containing one cordless hedge trimmer (model XHU04Z), two 18V 5.0Ah batteries (model BL1850B), and a dual port 18V LXT charger (model DC18RD).
This unit features a 650mm (25.5”) cutting blade that can be set to operate at 6 different speeds varying from 1000 to 1800 strokes per minute (SPM). And, it even has a 5- position rotating rear handle for seamless transition between various grip styles. You can make beveled cuts, horizontal cuts, vertical cuts, and curved cuts on any small to medium sized bush or shrub with this hedge trimmer. And thanks to the variable speed setting, you can work on everything from delicate leafy shrubs to tough coniferous plants.
While cutting thick branches, or trimming larger hedges, you can use any speed setting between 3 (1500 SPM) and 6 (1800 SPM). For smaller bushes and flowering shrubs, you can use speed settings 1 (1000 SPM) and 2 (1300 SPM). The 25.5” shear blade is large enough to take on hedgerows, and bushes that are 1 meter across in width. You can chop branches up to 1 inch in thickness and make both vertical as well as horizontal passes without changing your grip. This is because of the rotating rear handle and wrap- around 270° front handle. The Makita XHU04Z isn’t exactly the lightest cordless hedge trimmer at nearly 11.4lbs with two BL1850B 5.0Ah batteries installed. But its excellent ergonomics and rotating rear handle allow you to use this hedge trimmer frequently without any discomfort. You can use it for trimming both formal (needs maintenance 3 to 4 times annually), as well as informal (needs cutting once or twice per year) hedges.
With two 5.0Ah 18V LXT batteries installed, this cordless hedge trimmer can operate for up to 60 minutes which is far better than most other models from competing manufacturers. The average cordless hedge trimmer only lasts for 30 minutes under constant load, and even a premium model such as the BLACK + DECKER LHT360C barely makes it to 40 minutes. The secret behind this massive runtime of the Makita is its dual 5.0Ah battery system. While the BLACK + DECKER we reviewed earlier has a 60V battery, the current supply is actually quite low at just 1.5Ah. Which means the battery can only supply 1.5 amperes of current for one hour before it runs out of juice.
In comparison, a 5.0Ah battery can supply up to 5 amperes of current for one hour before its need charging. And the XHU04Z is powered by two of them, for maximum performance with no compromise on runtime. And you don’t have to worry about changing air filters, smoke, spark plugs, mixing fuel, etc. because this is a cordless electric hedge trimmer. You get the power and mobility of a small to medium sized gas powered hedge trimmer, without any of the maintenance headaches.
VIDEO | A Closer Look at this Makita 36V Cordless Hedge Trimmer
If you just want something basic and lightweight, without all the bells and whistles of a premium grade cordless hedge trimmer, get the Makita XHU02M1 kit which gives you the XHU02Z 22” hedge trimmer along with a single 4.0Ah 18V LXT battery and the DC18RC rapid optimum charger. The XHU02Z has a maximum speed of just 1350 SPM which is not enough to trim coniferous shrubs or branches thicker than 0.75”, but you can use it to detail hedgerows after you’re done trimming with something larger (like a 30” gas powered hedge trimmer). It lacks the rotating rear handle found in other 18V LXT models and has no speed adjustment either. But it is the cheapest and lightest of the bunch, which makes it a great choice for beginners who want to get started with pruning and trimming their own lawns.
The XHU07T and XHU08T cordless hedge trimmer kits:
Let’s discuss the XHU07Z and XHU08Z. These cordless hedge trimmers use single 18V lithium ion batteries, compared to the XHU04Z which is powered by a dual 18V system for a total of 36V. On top of that, both the XHU07Z and XHU08Z use brushless DC motors, which run cooler and more efficiently compared to standard brushed DC motors. The XHU07Z hedge trimmer can achieve insanely high blade speeds of 4400 SPM, using just one 5.0Ah 18V LXT battery. It has a 5- position rotating rear handle just like the XHU04Z but since this is a prosumer grade hedge trimmer designed for harsher environments, it also features Makita’s patented XPT (Extreme Protection Technology) which uses superior seals and a toughened up shell to protect the internals from dust and water in jobsites.
Anti-Vibration Technology for your Comfort | Makita XHU08Z
You can purchase the Makita XHU07T kit which contains the XHU07Z hedge trimmer, two 5.0AH 18V LXT batteries, and a dual port rapid optimum charger. We highly recommend purchasing the kit, since you get 2 batteries and a rapid charger which can be used to charge up one battery while you’re using the other one to trim hedges. When one battery gets depleted, the second one is done charging so you can in theory at least, work non- stop. Multiple batteries are a must- have if you’re part of a professional landscaping crew.
The XHU08Z is basically a larger XHU07Z, with a longer shear blade (30” vs 24”). It measures 49.75” in length while the XHU07Z is 44.25” long. It is also slightly heavier at 9.05 pounds (with battery installed), compared to the 8.65 pound XHU07Z. You can purchase the XHU08Z separately (tool only), or as part of a kit (model XHU08T) — containing the cordless hedge trimmer, two 5.0Ah 18V LXT batteries and a dual port rapid optimum charger. Both the XHU07Z and XHU08Z have superior anti-vibration technology compared to the XHU04Z, and they beat it in power to weight ratio by a significant margin due to their use of brushless DC motors.
EGO Power+ HT2411 56V | 24″ Cordless Hedge Trimmer
2.5 Ah Lithium-Ion Battery & Charger
- 24″ Dual Action Blades: Hardened steel for precise cuts
- 3000 SPM’s: Clean, fast cuts
- ¾” Cut Capacity: Cuts through thick branches
- Electric Brake: Stops the blade action immediately upon release of the trigger
- Primary D-Handle Soft Grip Design with Auxiliary Bale Style Assist Handle and Integrated Trigger: For maximum comfort, control and convenience while trimming at any angle
- High-Efficiency Brushless Motor : Delivers longer run time, low vibrations and an extended motor life
- Gives you the speed you need to make fast, clean cuts
- Rugged construction keeps your tool safe under more conditions
While EGO claims that their HT2410 Power+ brushless hedge trimmer is the worlds first cordless hedge trimmer with a 1” cut capacity, it is mostly a marketing gimmick. However, we acknowledge the fact that this is indeed a very powerful hedge trimmer (3000 strokes per minute) and is capable of effortlessly breezing through most light to medium duty trimming jobs around the house.
VIDEO | Ego Power+ 24″ Battery Hedge Trimmer
The weight is balanced very well, so you can get a nice firm grip without one of your arms feeling more stressed than the other. The double action 24” hardened steel blades cut through shrubs and bushes like a scissor through paper. You will have zero trouble ripping through twigs, stems, branches, and other foliage. The primary reason behind all this power is the combination of a brushless DC motor and their POWER+ ARC Lithium battery. The high power output of this battery in conjunction with an ultra power efficient motor enables this cordless hedge trimmer to rip through vegetation for a perfectly clean finish every single time. You can make wide sweeping cuts on brush that is several feet thick, and the blades won’t bog down or stall
The 24” double action blade system can be sharpened or replaced at home; all you need to do is remove a couple of screws from the gearbox and you’ll be able to access all the important stuff underneath. Vibrations are cancelled out by the two shear blades moving back and forth in opposite directions to each other, and there are shock isolation mounts around the motor to prevent vibration transfer from the hedge trimmer chassis to your hands. There is an electric brake for safety, which will instantly stop the blades much like the inertial chain brake on a chainsaw. A throttle lock-off switch and blade tip guard provide additional safety. Like all cordless hedge trimmers, the Power+ HT2411 is extremely easy to operate.
No need to mess around with starter cords, chokes, or primer bulbs — this hedge trimmer will start instantly with one press of the button no matter the temperature or how long it has been sitting in your garage. The HT2410 cordless hedge trimmer can be purchased as a standalone unit (tool only), or as part of a kit which contains the trimmer along with a 2.5Ah 56V battery and charger. The model number for this kit is “HT2411”.
DEWALT DCHT860M1 40V — 22” Hedge Trimmer Kit
Includes: DCHT860 Hedge Trimmer, 40V MAX 4.0 Ah Lithium Ion Battery, and Standard Charger
- Powerful high output motor for cuts up to 3/4″ thick
- 22″ laser cut, hooked-tooth blade design for long reach
- Removable gear case cover for easy blade exchange
- High impact housing for shock resistance and durability
- Removable top cover for easy access to brushes
- Part of the 40V MAX* system of Outdoor Power Equipment
✓ View or download the MANUAL for the DEWALT DCHT860M1.
You wake up one morning, and notice that the bushes in front of the kitchen window are getting really tall and thick. Give them a couple months, and they will be dining alongside you. But you can’t use a noisy gas powered hedge trimmer to take them back down to size, because the municipality and home owner’s association have rules regarding noise pollution during early morning and late night. Well, guess what- a cordless electric hedge trimmer will give you the mobility of a gas model with the quite operation of a corded electric model. Meet the DEWALT DCHT860B 22” 40V cordless hedge trimmer- a perfect companion for when you need to trim things up in the garden without making a whole lot of noise.
It weighs nearly 11lbs with the battery installed and features a 22” laser- cut hooked tooth blade for precision cuts. Inferior or cheaper hedge trimmers use stamped steel blades which are not as sharp and also wear out faster. The laser- cut blade will cleanly take branches off your shrubs without getting caught up, preventing any permanent damage to the limbs. The DCHT860M1 kit comes with a 160Watt hour battery that operates at 40V, so it supplies 4 amps of current for up to 1 hour (watts = voltage x current so 160 watt hours = 40 volts x 4 amp hours). That is plenty of juice for trimming down the hedges around a medium sized driveway, patio, and lawn on just one battery.
Most customers who are new to hedge trimming will likely purchase the DEWALT DCHT860M1 kit which contains the DCHT860B 22” cordless hedge trimmer, along with a 40V MAX 4.0Ah lithium ion battery and charger. But if you already own a product from DEWALT’s 40V MAX lineup (like a blower or drill), you can simply purchase the bare tool (model DCHT860B) since you will already have the battery and charger ready at home. The DCHT860M1 kit also includes a plastic sheath for the blade, so you can store and transport the hedge trimmer safely.
Makita UH6570 25″ — Best Electric Hedge Trimmer
- Well balanced and with less weight
- Two-hand operation switch, motor runs only when grips are held with both hands
- Large, transparent hand guard permits a good view of the work area
- Ergonomic grip design for improved comfort and handling
- Low motor noise level for quiet operation
- Engineered for lower vibration and increased user comfort
- Blade tip guard protects blade from unnecessary wear
- Built-in clutch reduces gear damage by disengaging gears if blade binds
- Grips designed for maximum cutting flexibility
- Comfortable front grip engineered for balance and versatility
✓ View or download the MANUAL for the Makita UH6570.
When you don’t have long hedgerows or large lawns to trim and just want something to take care of bushes growing around the walls of your house where you can conveniently reach with an extension cord, it makes sense to invest in a corded electric hedge trimmer. They are lighter than their cordless counterparts because no batteries are involved. You have an endless supply of energy as long as the electricity bill is paid, and the only thing preventing you from running that trimmer all day long is an overheated motor. And they are cheap too- even the most premium corded electric hedge trimmer is going to cost less than an average cordless model.
So how does the Makita UH6570 stack up against other corded electric hedge trimmers like the BLACK + DECKER HH2455? Well, the Makita is more expensive. And at first glance it may seem like the UH6570 is a bit behind on features compared a popular electric hedge trimmer like the BLACK + DECKER HH2455. For instance, it doesn’t have a rotating rear handle. And it is also heavier than the HH2455 at 8.2lbs vs 6.5lbs. But what about power? Surely the Makita wins that one. Well actually, the BLACK + DECKER HH2455 has a blade speed of 2800 strokes per minute compared to the UH6570’s 1600 strokes per minute.
But in this case, the SPM number alone doesn’t mean much. Because we know the Makita has a much more powerful motor. Unlike the HH2455 which uses a mere 3.3amp AC motor, the Makita UH6570 is powered by a 550 watt 4.8amp AC motor. Despite being slower, the UH6570’s blade can actually cut through thicker branches and is less likely to get stuck or bog down when you’re sweeping it across the top of a dense bush.
That powerful motor combined with the more robust construction and longer blade (25.5” vs 24”) explains why the UH6570 weighs more. The Makita also has a centrifugal clutch which is designed to slip if the blade gets jammed while cutting, to prevent damage. The UH6570 also has a tooth spacing of 28mm which allows it to cut branches up to 1” thick, while the BLACK + DECKER HH2455 can only manage up to 0.75 inches. So in conclusion, you do get what you pay for. And the Makita UH6570 is a brilliant hedge trimmer if you don’t plan on cutting too far away from the house.
Do you actually need a hedge trimmer?
What are the applications for a hedge trimmer?
This is the first question you need to ask yourself- do I actually need a hedge trimmer? And the short answer is- if you want to trim your shrubs easier and faster, you absolutely need a powered hedge trimmer of some sort (electric or gas). Come to think of it, most of the appliances we use in our lives aren’t weren’t considered absolute necessities a few decades ago. Can you wash clothes without a washing machine? Yes you could, but it would be very unpleasant. Can you ride a bicycle to work instead of taking the car? Yeah, if you are an extreme environmentalist and really want to burn some calories. Point is, why complicate things when you can do them much more easily using machines instead of your body.
A nice pair of garden shears will cost you 20 bucks and last several years if you take proper care of them. There are all types of shears and clippers for trimming hedges, cutting grass, and you can even buy a little pruning saw to cut down small branches. At the top of the line, you have Japanese precision hedge shears for laying extremely fine details on topiary. This Okatsune shear with 7-5/” blades is a brilliant example of Japanese quality, and it costs more than a BLACK+DECKER BEHT200, 3.5 amp, 18-inch electric hedge trimmer. You can’t trim hedges along a 500- foot long driveway within 10 minutes with the Okatsune precision shears. On the other hand, your Toro 51490 cannot create a beautiful piece of topiary. You need some of that good old hand crafted magic and precision shears to create exquisite shapes out of trees and shrubs.
But topiary aside, does the average homeowner benefit from owning a hedge trimmer? Yes, even if you only have a couple of shrubs scattered around the lawn. Your hedge trimmer doesn’t have to be a top of the line model, it just has to be descent and well built. Take good care of it, and it will last forever since most people only trim their hedges twice a year. Cordless electric hedge trimmers are the perfect choice for you since they combine the mobility of a gas hedge trimmer with the convenience of an electric model.
You can take a look around your garden or lawn to get an idea of how much shrub you need to maintain. If you don’t have hedges (thickly grouped collection of shrubs) or sculpted bushes, you might be able to get away with clippers or shears. But that depends on your age, how active you feel and if you have the time. Time is the biggest advantage you get with a powered hedge trimmer. What takes one hour with a pair of garden shears will take 10 minutes with a hedge trimmer. And your shears cannot reach 7 or 8 feet above the ground unless you pull out a ladder. But with an extended telescopic pole attachment for your hedge trimmer, you can easily trim the top of shrubs that are taller than 8 feet. You will be feeling like an NBA player, minus the ladder. Most homeowner models have 20 to 24” blades which give you an additional 1.5 to 2 feet of reach on top of your own height, without the need for an extension pole. This is simply not possible with manual hedge trimming.
A lot of people enjoy growing and maintaining their own lawns and gardens, treating it like a DIY home improvement project. Unkempt shrubs and bushes give your home a bad look and lower its aesthetic appeal. The plants themselves are going to suffer if you let branches grow unrestrained, because the budding branches on the bottom will be blocked from sunlight by the overgrown branches on the top. Dead branches are also an issue, you need to prune those whenever you see one.
With a hedge trimmer you can shape a bush however you want, you can make a box, sphere, or any other geometrical shape out of a simple cluster or shrubs. If you have a long privacy wall of trees and shrubs that is several hundreds of feet in length, it is impossible to prune all of them with manual labor alone. Hedge trimmers also make it much easier for you to trim woody, thorny bushes with thick branches. Hedge trimmers can even be used to cut grass in tight parts of your lawn that the mower cannot reach (ex. grass around tree trunks, rocks, or children’s play equipment).
So in conclusion, your hedge trimmer allows you to trim, thin, and shape bushes with great ease. You spend much less time compared to manual labor with a pair of garden shears, and your back is going to thank you. Just make sure to get one that is of good quality, it doesn’t have to be the best and most powerful model. To learn more about how to select the proper hedge trimmer, read our next section.
Choosing the perfect hedge trimmer
Before purchasing a hedge trimmer, you need to consider three things :
- Blade length
- Tooth gap
Blade length is simply the length of the cutting edge, which can vary from 16 to 24 inches on most homeowner hedge trimmers. A longer blade will help you chop off more branches and leaves with each swing of the trimmer, so your work will be completed faster. But it will also make the hedge trimmer heavier and awkward to maneuver in tight spaces. Besides, if your shrubs and bushes are all under 3 feet in height there is really no need for a gigantic blade since most of it will never make contact with the plant anyways. A longer blade also makes it harder to keep track of the movements you make, so an inexperienced user may accidentally touch their own body with the tip of the blade since you can cover so much distance with the same amount of arm movement if the blade is long.
Tooth gap decides how thick of a branch your hedge trimmer can chew through. Most cordless hedge trimmers have a 0.75” space between the teeth, and we recommend a minimum of 15mm if you want to do any meaningful pruning with your hedge trimmer. Otherwise, you might as well be using a pair of handheld clippers. Branches thicker than 1” are generally not meant to be cut with a hedge trimmer, a small pruning chainsaw is more appropriate for such tasks.
Weight may not seem like such a big deal to you at first, mainly because most of the hedge trimmers in the 18” to 24” segment have weight differences within 4 to 5 pounds of each other. And you may think “well I have no trouble lifting a 25lb dumbbell at the gym, this 12lb hedge trimmer can’t be that heavy”. Any that will be the biggest mistake you make, because within the first 10 minutes of operating that hedge trimmer your arms will begin to feel sore and unresponsive. Especially if you’re cutting tall hedges that extend up to 7 or 8 feet in the air, with your elbows constantly above shoulder height.
Look at it this way, lifting a heavy weight for a moment and putting it back down doesn’t put nearly as much stress on your arms as holding a moderate amount of weight for extended periods of time. And let’s not forget the vibrations either- holding a vibrating mass can seriously mess with the blood flow around your fingers and wrists, making everything feel numb after a few minutes.
When buying a hedge trimmer, follow these general guidelines for blade length :
- 16” or lower for small to average sized hedges
- 18” for above average sized hedges
- 20” for large hedges
- 24” and above for commercial use
And make sure to get a hedge trimmer with a tooth gap of at least 0.75 inches or 19.05mm. The weight should not exceed 13 pounds for a cordless hedge trimmer and 15 pounds for a gas powered model. If it is a cordless hedge trimmer, make sure that it uses a lithium ion battery and not NiCad or NiMH batteries. On gas hedge trimmers, make sure it has a good vibration dampening system.
Features to consider before choosing your hedge trimmer
Throttle lock off switch: This is a safety feature which makes sure that the motor won’t run unless you depress both the trigger and the lock off switch at the same time
Blade lock: It will immediately stop the blade from moving in case of an emergency, like the chain brake on a chainsaw
Anti vibration: As we explained earlier, constant exposure to vibrations from power tools can cause severe discomfort in your hands and may even result in permanent nerve damage through Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome. Hedge trimmers use dual action blades and shock isolation rubber mounts around the motor to reduce vibrations.
Hand guard: Prevents debris such from flying into your hand and keeps your hands from contacting a moving blade.
Double action blades: This consists of two shear blades oscillating parallel to each other in opposite directions to create a scissor like cutting action which improves performance while simultaneously reducing vibrations since the two motions cancel each other.
Laser cut blades: Only found on premium quality hedge trimmers, these blades are cut from a plate of metal with precision lasers and their cutting teeth are ground with abrasive materials like diamond to provide a razor sharp edge that cuts faster and cleaner. Ordinary hedge trimmers use blades stamped out of sheet metal.
Hardened steel blades: Hardened steel is made by taking medium to high carbon steel alloy and heat treating it, followed by quenching (rapid cooling) and tempering (increases toughness of hardened steel by making it less brittle). These blades will last longer and require less frequent sharpening compared to regular steel blades.
Transparent gas tank: Helps you keep an eye on fuel levels at all times.
Easily serviceable gearbox: Often times you will have to replace the blade or grease the gears within the gearbox of your hedge trimmer. Professional models make it easy by designing a gearbox that can be easily opened, typically with an aluminum cover. Homeowner models have more fragile gearboxes. Stihl uses a unique greasing mechanism on their hedge trimmers (such as the Stihl HS 81 R) in which you simply open up a hole in the bottom of the gearbox and screw in the grease tube. You then squeeze the tube to grease the gears, no need to open up the box.
Rotating rear handle: Allows you to transition between vertical and horizontal cuts without changing your grip.
Wraparound front handle: Makes the hedge trimmer much more maneuverable, and you are guaranteed a solid grip no matter which way your hedge trimmer is aligned.
The Beauty of Hedges and Shrubs
Hedges and shrubs add to the curb appeal of your home and complement the hardscape elements of your yard such as walkways, paver patios, driveways, etc. A well mowed lawn coupled with some properly trimmed hedges soothes both your mind and soul after a hard day of work as you take a leisurely stroll through the yard. A hedgerow is multi-functional- it acts as a privacy screen, a living fence, a windbreak, and an ornamental piece to elevate the natural beauty of your garden.
Electric vs Gas Hedge Trimmer
There is no denying that gas powered hedge trimmers have a power advantage over their electric counterparts. You will struggle to cut a 1” branch with some of the cheaper electric hedge trimmers while even a basic 20cc gas model will make short work of thick shrubs and coniferous hedges. Gasoline has the advantage of much higher energy density for a given volume of space, so you can get more runtime. Refueling is quicker than charging a battery, and batteries are expensive to replace when they die. Gas powered tools will dominate electric tools in power to weight ratio, thanks to tiny 2 stroke engines. But the advantages end there.
You need to mix oil and fuel in the right ratio before you can add it into the tank of a gas powered hedge trimmer. Storing the fuel is another issue, since anything older than 30 days will start to degrade unless you add fuel stabilizer. Storing gas indoors is a big no- no for obvious reasons, but you can keep as many batteries as you want inside your house. Gas powered hedge trimmers need constant maintenance to work properly. You have to clean the air filter, spark arrestor, spark plug, and adjust the carburetor.
Starting a gas powered hedge trimmer can be a tricky thing, especially if it has been sitting in the garage for a while. Gummed up carburetors and cold climate can cause you to rip your hair out in frustration along with the starter cord. Chokes, primer bulbs, and all sorts of tinkering is needed to even get it started. But this is what you do on an electric hedge trimmer- press a button. That’s it. Just press a button, and it will start up every single time regardless of how long it has been sitting in the garage or how cold it is.
Can A Hedge Trimmer Cut Weeds?
Yes you can, although it is not very efficient. A string trimmer is much more suited to the job, but if you really want to take out weeds with your hedge trimmer make sure that your hedge trimmer has a sharp blade. A double action blade is preferred for this sort of task, and make sure you’re using either a cordless or gas powered model since the cord on an electric hedge trimmer will get tangled up in the weeds. A hedge trimmer with a wraparound front handle is needed, since you require a bit of dexterity in order to get the weeds out. If the weeds are growing among your hedges, you will have no issues taking them out with the rest of the foliage while doing your regular hedge trimming.
Hedge Trimmer vs Chainsaw | Which one do you need?
Ever wanted to use your small cordless chainsaw or little 30cc gas powered chainsaw for pruning bushes and shrubs in the lawn? Well, most chainsaws aren’t designed to cut down twigs or branches smaller than 3 inches in diameter. The cutting action of a chainsaw is similar to that of a bandsaw, whereas the cutting action of a hedge trimmer is more like that of a reciprocating saw. When you try to trim hedges with a chainsaw, you will notice that instead of cutting the leaves and branches your chainsaw will simply push them aside.
A hedge trimmer traps the branches between two rows of teeth, preventing them from bending out of the way. It is almost like several hundred tiny shears firing off simultaneously along a line. That is why they excel at trimming hedges but are useless when you want to fell a tree. Chainsaws on the other hand, are extremely good for cutting trees but very ineffective at cutting small stems, twigs, etc. You can use your chainsaw for pruning, i.e. to chop down small branches. We do not recommend using chainsaws for trimming hedges, since the chain can get caught up resulting in kickback. There are special forest clearing saws to cut through thick brush or shrubs with large branches.