How to Choose a Hedge Trimmer for your Garden

There are many different types of hedge trimmers – and making up your mind about which one’s right for you can be overwhelming. It’s impossible to recommend just one as the best, because different people will have different needs. Priorities you need to consider include:

  • Weight
  • Strength & Power
  • Power Source
  • Length of Blade
  • Reach
  • Etc.

We’ve reviewed just about every type of hedge trimmer here at Shed and Yard. So here are our thoughts about what is the best hedge trimmer for different people.

Image: The Black and Decker 40V Max Powercommand Cordless Hedge Trimmer. One of the strongest cordless models on the market. Click the image to see the product on Amazon. As an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

How to Choose a Hedge Trimmer

1. For People with Small Yards

If you have a small yard, you have a lot more freedom to choose cheaper options. You could even choose shears over a hedge trimmer if you have just one or two small shrubs.

One benefit of a small job is you can get a hedge trimmer with a small blade. While most hedge trimmers have 22 Inch blades, if you’re just trimming small hedges, you might be able to get away with a little 17 or 18 Inch blade. It will take longer to trim the hedges, but with a small yard, that concern is minimized.

You can also make the choice to get a corded hedge trimmer. We rarely recommend corded models, but if you’re never going to be too far from a power outlet, then you can save a lot of money here. Most corded models have the advantage of being very lightweight – much lighter than, say, a gas powered model. Expect that your corded model will come with a short 6-foot cord, which will require you to get an extension cord to run the rest of the way to the power outlet.

Chris Says:We rarely recommend corded hedge trimmers, but if you’re just going to be doing work in a small courtyard, they’re a good lightweight and low cost option.

But remember that we don’t recommend corded models if you’re going to be going too far from your power outlet. So they’re only good for small courtyards. One frustrating aspect of corded models is that they often snag and entangle in hedges and the cords end up being one of the first parts of the trimmer that starts to fail. 

2. For Elderly People

Many elderly people prioritize weight (or more accurately, light weight) when choosing a hedge trimmer. First and foremost, electric hedge trimmers will nearly always be lighter than gas powered models. The most lightweight type is a corded hedge trimmer, but as we’ve noted above, there are a lot of disadvantages of corded models. So the next type you consider is a lightweight cordless hedge trimmer. We particularly like the line of Worx hedge trimmers in this class.

Chris Says:Elderly people generally prefer light weight models. The lightest electric hedge trimmer you can get is about 4.5 Lbs, while the average weight is closer to 7.5 Lbs.

Another benefit of electric hedge trimmers is that they have less maintenance than gas powered models. You don’t need to buy fuel or mix your fuels for 2-stroke motors. There are overall less moving parts, less startup issues, and less problems. The tradeoff here is that they’re often a little less powerful than gas powered models. 

3. For Professional Landscapers

In reality, if you’re a professional landscaper with a large and profitable enough business, you would probably want a few different types of hedge trimmers for different purposes. Primarily, you’d likely want both a powerful cordless model (Black and Decker does some great ones) and a powerful gas powered model (we like Husqvarna’s range).

Chris Says:You’re looking at about 11 – 15 Lbs dry weight for a gas powered model. This is about 4-8 Lbs higher than the average electric model, which will usually weigh in at about 7.5 Lbs.

But at the core of your arsenal will likely still be a strong gas powered hedge trimmer. They’re heavier than electric models but much more powerful. They’ll get you through thicker shrubs and branches, and they’ll leave a nicer finish than electric models. They’re less likely to strip branches which can lead to a scrappy final look – so we’re still bullish on gas models for professionals.

4. For Thick Branches

Thick branches require powerful hedge trimmers. Traditionally, we would have said that means going for a gas powered model. And we still stand by that to some extent. But there have been a few really good cordless trimmers on the market lately that pack a punch. Top of this list is the Black and Decker range which have Power Cut – a 15-second mode that, when triggered, can help you to cut through some of those thick branches that you’re struggling on.

Another big innovation of recent years is the saw tip blade. Several brands have come out with a saw tip model which, as the name suggest, provides a saw tip that can be used to hack through branches up to about 1 1/2 inches thick. While this sounds like a good idea, we’re not the biggest fans. It’s hard to hold a branch steady with one hand while operating a two-handed hedge trimmer with a saw tip on the end! You’re probably better off getting a pole saw. The other issue we have with the saw tip is it’s no use when doing regular sweeping trims. You end up only being able to trim from the middle, meaning you can’t do hedge work using the tip of the blade. That hedge work with the tip is great for getting a nice sculpted look.

So all in all, we recommend either a very powerful Black + Decker electric model, or a traditional gas powered model, for thicker branches. For more information, see our review of hedge trimmers for thick branches

5. For Tall Hedges

If you have very tall hedges that you won’t be able to reach with a handheld hedge trimmer, you’ll need to get what we call a ‘pole hedge trimmer‘. These are hedge trimmers that have long extension poles that allow you to get to the top of hedges up to 12 feet high. A good pole hedge trimmer should have the option to adjust the angle of the trimmer so you can precisely and accurately trim high up hedges. In this sense, pole hedge trimmers have several key similarities with pole saws.

But beware that pole hedge trimmers aren’t as easy to use as a regular hedge trimmer, particularly when working on thick branches. The other thing to remember is you can’t just ‘attach a pole to the end’ of a regular hedge trimmer. The pole is a built-in feature, where the controls are at one end of the pole, and the blade is at the other.

Conclusion

We’ve reviewed just about every hedge trimmer on the market here at Shed & Yard. On balance, we like a good powerful cordless model unless you’re a professional or you’re just working on a small courtyard garden. Professionals might like a mix of a gas, cordless, and pole model to be able to swap and change to suit their needs. But if you’re outside working all day, you’ve also got to keep in mind you’ll run out of battery sooner or later on a cordless model!

We hope this general information has been helpful, and good luck choosing a hedge trimmer!