Hedge Trimmer vs Shears (7 Things to Think About)

While hedge trimmers allow workers to do large quantities of hedges in one session, hedge shears still have their place in the garden. The main benefit of hedge shears is you tend to have a much more natural looking hedge at the end of the job. A hedge trimmer will create a very flat, sculpted look while shears will leave a little more texture to the hedge.

In this article, we’ll look through a few key differences between hedge trimmers and shears so you can determine what’s best for your job.

Hedge Trimmers vs Hedge Shears

Final Look

We think this is the main reason you’d still want to use shears on a hedge. Sometimes you look at a hedge and it looks too sculpted. It might be too square, too round, or the surface too flat. You look at the hedge and immediately notice that it’s been very aggressively trimmed using an electric hedge trimmer.

For people who want a more natural looking shrub, manual hedge shears are a good bet. If done well, the hedge will almost look as if it naturally grew to a perfect form. The video below from Ace Hardware breaks this down a little more, with a nice clear example:  

Control

Shears are a much, much slower labor or love for each hedge. But they also allow you to have greater control over your project. By working more slowly, you can step back regularly to reassess and see the hedge begin to take form. You’re less likely to make one fell swoop that messes up the whole job.

Minimizing Damage

There’s also the chance that hedge trimmers can strip hedge branches and cause split ends. This commonly happens when a hedge trimmer has blunt blades. A good way to solve this is to get a powerful hedge trimmer that can cut thicker branches, such as a gas powered hedge trimmer. You can also get ones with blade sheaths to protect the blades and ensure you sharpen your hedge trimmer’s blades regularly.

Reliability and Maintenance

Shears aren’t going to run out of battery charge on you. But cordless hedge trimmers often only run between 1 and 2 hours before needing to recharge. There are some solutions here, such as getting a corded hedge trimmer of to pass on an electric hedge trimmer and get a gas model instead.

But gas hedge trimmers have higher maintenance requirements, such as the need to get the right fuels, and maintain the combustion motor within the tool. Similarly, most hedge trimmer blades need to be oiled regularly to keep them running smoothly.

By contrast, hedge shears don’t require much maintenance at all. A few drops of oil every now and then should keep them working for years and years. 

Speed

This is the consideration where hedge trimmers have an enormous advantage. When working on more than one or two small bushes, it becomes very time consuming to trim a hedge manually. But hedge trimmers with long 22″ blades will allow you to tackle very long hedges very quickly.

So, professionals or people wanting to work on multiple hedges will make their decision primarily on this metric. You can’t spend weeks on a hedge! 

Accessibility

Many corded hedge trimmers make it hard for you to get to hedges far from a power outlet. Shears, of course, don’t have that issue. This is why it’s always best to get either a gas or cordless hedge trimmer.

But pole hedge trimmers have a huge advantage over shears: they are on a telescoping pole that allows you to trim hedges up to 12 feet tall! When it comes to reach, shears are at a disadvantage over telescoping tools. Nonetheless, at the 6-7 inch range, it’s easier to lift shears over your head than a hedge trimmer. So this one’s a split decision, depending on what sort of shrubs you’re attacking. 

Noise

This is an odd one, but it’s a consideration I can imagine my grandmother thinking about. Many elderly gardeners like a peaceful afternoon in the garden. If you’ve got time and you like gardening in your little patch of the world for the pure pleasure of being outside in nature, you’ll probably prefer shears over the obnoxious noise of a power tool.

Electric Shears? (Shrubbers)

Disclaimer: Below there is an image of electric hedge shears. This image will take you to an Amazon sales page. As an Amazon associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

There’s a middle ground, too: electric hedge shears, often called a ‘shrubber’. These can be great for elderly people who want a fast, quiet and simple handheld solution. They’re a small personal handheld tool rather than a power tool that’s too much to handle for many people. We’ve provided an image of a good one on the right here. You can click the image to see it on Amazon. As an Amazon associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Final Thoughts

While at first thought it appears hedge trimmers are the no-brainer best tool for the job, some people may prefer shears for a range of reasons. The casual gardener with a small number of hedges to sculpt could find manual shears a relaxing and rewarding day to spend the afternoon. A sheared hedge can look more natural and be more enjoyable to work on. But for people leading busy lives or with lots of hedge to work on, hedge trimmers win the day.