long range hedge trimmer

The Best Hedge Trimmers For Garden Maintenance

Published 21st July 2021
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Has the last few months of wet yet warm weather left your garden looking a little wild? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one! The perfect combination for plants, the recent bout of bizarre weather has caused a growing frenzy, with everything from herbs to hedgerows shooting up at lightning speed. But, while we enjoy a break from the rain, now’s the perfect time to cut through the chaos - and OnBuy is here to help!

When it comes to taming your smaller plants, you rarely need anything more than a good pair of secateurs, but what about your larger shrubs? A once painstaking and time-consuming task, the only way to keep hedges in line was to spend hours slowly snipping away with a pair of shears. But, thanks to hedge trimmers, that’s a problem of the past! Designed to do all the hard work for you, these highly sought-after garden power tools make light work of trimming, shaping, pruning, and perfecting your hedges, all with very minimal effort on your part. What’s not to love?

So hedge trimmers are great, but how do you pick the right one for you? A quick search online will reveal a mass of models, from petrol to electric, all available from a wide range of brands. Don’t worry if you can’t choose between them though, as we’ve done it for you! In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know before purchasing your new power tool and suggest some of our favourite models to help you narrow down your search. So, let’s get started - chop chop!

Petrol powered or electric hedge trimmers?

trimming hedges with Braun

Although there are some minor variations in hedge trimmer designs, the easiest way to categorise them is by concentrating on how they’re powered. It’s a showdown between petrol hedge trimmers and those powered by electricity. So which is better?

Petrol-powered - Coming with two-stroke engines as standard, these heavy-duty hedge trimmers are ideal for tougher tasks. Not only do the blades spin incredibly quickly, they generate more torque too, which means they can cut through thicker branches and tangled undergrowth with ease. The power and performance they offer make them extremely popular with gardening professionals and landscapers, and they usually come with additional features, such as an extension pole, to meet the demands of the modern gardener.

There are several downsides to petrol hedge trimmers though: they’re noisy, they give off fumes, and they’re often rather heavy, which makes them quite uncomfortable to work with over time. They also require fuelling, manual starting, and a degree of maintenance, which could make them too much trouble for smaller gardens. However, when it comes to power and tackling the trickier tasks, nothing else quite compares. 

Electric - Light, portable, and easy-to-use, electric hedge trimmers are ideal for gardening newbies or those with back or joint issues. You can find both mains-powered and battery-powered models on the market and, thanks to the development of Li-ion batteries, you won’t have to worry about sacrificing performance if you choose to go cordless. A decent cordless hedge trimmer will last for 30 to 60 minutes before the power runs out, which is ideal for smaller shrubs. When it comes to maintenance, you needn’t worry as much as you would with a petrol trimmer. All you need to do to keep an electric trimmer running is keep the blades well greased with spray-on automotive lubricant (we recommend WD40).

However, this convenience comes at a bit of a cost. The recharging time will vary from model to model, but it usually takes anywhere between one to four hours - not ideal if you’re limited on time. While their lightweight design makes them great for sculpting hedges that are above waist high, you may start to experience issues when trying to tackle bigger bushes with thicker branches, as they lack the power of a petrol alternative. Having said that though, for smaller gardens that require less maintenance, you can’t really go wrong with an electric trimmer.

How to stay safe while using hedge trimmers

saftey gear when hedge trimming

While they’re not as dangerous as chainsaws, hedge trimmers do pose a number of safety risks. But don't worry too much; with a few cautionary measures and accessories, you’ll have nothing to fear from your new garden power tool. It’s important to keep a strong grip on your hedge trimmer while you’re using it, so wearing a pair of gripper gloves is a great starting point.

Another safety risk is flying twigs and bits of leaves. While they shouldn’t penetrate your skin, they can irritate or damage your eyes, so it’s essential you wear eye protection during use. Depending on how powerful your strimmer is, its motor may be loud enough to cause hearing loss, so ear protection is important, too. Although petrol-powered trimmers are the usual suspects when it comes to noise, electric models can get equally as loud, so we recommend covering your ears regardless of which model you buy.

The top trimmers

chopping through leaves with hedge trimmer

Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to start the search and get shopping! To make your life easier, we’ve weighed up the pros and cons of different designs and brands, and whittled them down to a short list of six of the best hedge trimmers on the market today. From long-reach trimmers for tall hedgerows to small manoeuvrable choppers for sculpting, with one of these spectacular machines in your outdoor arsenal, your hedges will never look better!

The beginner’s choice | Gracious Gardens 2-in-1 Hedge Trimmer

Gracious Gardens 2-in-1 Hedge Trimmer

Pros: Very reasonable price, two interchangeable blades for different tasks, small size makes it easy to manoeuvre 

Cons: Short cutting length, not effective for thick growth

We’re kicking off our guide to the best hedge trimmers with this simple yet spectacular model for beginners. This budget-friendly beauty from Gracious Gardens is significantly cheaper than many of the other models you’ll find on the market, and it's great for sprucing up small hedges. It also has a pair of interchangeable blades for different jobs: the long, thin blade is ideal for hedges and the short, wide one is designed for cutting grass and low-lying shrubs. While it’s called the grass trimming blade, you can also use it to quickly cut across the sides of square hedges for a symmetrical trim.

This little hedge trimmer weighs just 700g, and with its short handle, it's easy to use one-handed. That makes it the most portable garden trimmer in this category by far. As one of the many cordless hedge trimmers on this list, the 2-in-1 model runs entirely on battery power. It will run for about 60 minutes on a full battery and it takes three to five hours to charge it back up from empty. 

So it’s portable and flexible, but how well does it cut through branches? That’s more of a mixed bag. The blades extend about 12cm out from the machine’s body, which is pretty short. The spacing between each blade is only 8mm too, which limits its cutting power. It’ll tackle green growth like leaves and fresh twigs with gusto, but isn’t suitable for hacking through dead wood or thick clumps of twigs. If you need to trim back bramble patches, blackberry bushes, and other hardy verging, you’ll need a more powerful machine than this one. For its low price however, this machine is still one of the best hedge trimmers available right now.

The real powerhouse | Stiga SHT 660 Petrol Hedge Trimmer

Stiga SHT 660 Petrol Hedge Trimmer

Pros: 27mm blade spacing for thick branches, anti-vibration system, simple to maintain, rotating handle makes it easy to switch from vertical to horizontal cutting

Cons: Relatively expensive, only three cutting positions

If you have a large garden (or just need to get tasks done quickly), the Stiga SHT660 is the hedge trimmer for you. This petrol-powered model makes light work of cutting through even the toughest of hedgerows, thanks to its fast spin and 60cm blades that are spaced 27mm apart. 

And while it’s certainly powerful, it’s also sophisticated. Petrol engines send a lot of vibrations through your palms, which can make them uncomfortable to hold after a while. Stiga’s special multipoint anti-vibration system cuts down on the trembling, keeping you comfortable and in control. We’ve mentioned before that petrol hedge trimmers are hard to maintain, but the Stiga SHT 660 makes it easier thanks to tool-free access to the air filter. 

However, all that power comes at a premium cost, making it a little out of reach for those on a tighter budget. Plus, while the rotating handle at the back makes it easy to switch between cutting positions, you only have three to choose from. This shouldn’t be an issue for more casual gardeners, but professional landscapers might need something with a little more flexibility.

The safety first choice | Swift 40V Electric Hedge Trimmer

Swift 40V Electric Hedge Trimmer

Pros: Translucent safety screen, dual-lever control keeps your hands safe, designed specifically to be ambidextrous

Cons: Heavier than other products, less precise cutting

If you want to feel as safe as possible while shearing your hedges, try this hedge trimmer from Swift. Designed and built in the UK, this 40-volt, battery-powered trimmer prioritises protecting you from harm. Many cordless hedge trimmers have a safety screen at the shaft of the blade arm but none are as big as the Swift’s. It’s made from translucent plastic and will deflect the vast majority of twigs and leaves thrown your way. 

It also has a dual-lever control system: with one trigger built into the rear handle and another in the front, you can’t start the motor with your hands close to the blades, and it will cut out automatically if you lose your grip. Despite being safe, it’s still pretty powerful - the Swift trimmer’s 22mm cutting action is not as great as the Stiga, but it’s definitely enough to cut through most branches. Plus, Swift drew up the design plans with left-handed people in mind - it’s totally ambidextrous!

The safety features keep you protected, but they also make cutting at certain angles a little trickier than usual. This isn’t helped by how heavy this garden trimmer is. When you add the battery, this machine weighs almost 5kg, making it one of the heaviest battery-operated hedge trimmers here. Still, these are small prices to pay for one of the safest and best hedge trimmers out there.

The trimmer for tall hedges | Gracious Gardens Long-Reach Hedge Trimmer

Gracious Gardens Long-Reach Hedge Trimmer

Pros: Horizontal mode is great for trimming close to the ground, great reach, telescoping handle always remains comfortable 

Cons: Can’t adjust angles as you cut, not as stable as other long trimmers

This is the second Gracious Gardens hedge trimmer we’ve included in this guide, and the first of two long-reach hedge trimmers. It extends to a maximum height of 2.4m, so when holding it at waist height, you’ll definitely be able to reach the tops of 3m hedges and above. If you need it shorter, the telescoping pole can shrink up to 0.5m. 

This trimmer is tall, but it’s also great for working at the ground - that’s because its blade has a pivoting head that can be locked between five positions in a 120-degree arc. In its most extreme position, the blades are parallel to the ground, making it great for trimming the borders of shrubs or slicing off the tops of weeds. You need to touch the head to adjust the angle, which means you’ll need to switch the trimmer blades off to do it safely.

Another issue with this machine’s design is that it’s not quite as stable as some long hedge trimmers. Most hedge trimmers of this size give you a harness or a chunky second handle near the bottom. This pole trimmer is just that - a pole. A black gripping area just above the handle lets you hold it with both hands, but it might still wobble a bit. It certainly isn’t dangerous, though. Like the Swift, an automatic cut-off switch means if you let go the blades stop spinning immediately.

The most elegant trimmer | Bosch EasyHedgeCut

Bosch EasyHedgeCut

Pros: Extra sharp diamond-ground blades, anti-blocking system prevents stalls, battery compatible with other Bosch power tools, good for topiary

Cons: Small blades, front trigger seems a little flimsy

Our penultimate entry comes from one of the biggest names in the business, Bosch - the rather bluntly named EasyHedgeCut. However, this little device is far more elegant than its title would suggest. With a light, compact body, this practical power tool is very easy to control, making it as good for curvy topiary trimming as the small Gracious Garden Hedge Trimmer.

One of the reasons that this Bosch hedge trimmer is so light and portable is its small blades. At just 45cm long, they’re even shorter than the Tecktake. The teeth are packed closely together too, with just 15mm separating each one. That normally means mediocre cutting power, but Bosch’s keen blades (which are ground sharp against diamonds) are great at slicing through vegetation.

The short blades are also helped by Bosch’s special anti-blocking system; if the blades get caught on a branch, an electronic sensor detects the increased load and begins flipping the motor in and out of reverse, sawing away at the blockage until it’s cut through. It’s a fantastic addition that means the Bosch EasyHedgeCut can punch well above its low weight. 

But we’re not so enthusiastic about the front trigger. Like the Swift Electric Hedge Trimmer, the Bosch EasyHedgeCut has two triggers that have to be held down at once for the blades to spin. This is great, but the front trigger doesn’t sit very well in the case and you can rattle it from side to side easily. We don’t think it will snap anytime soon, but it’s more fragile than other designs.

The EasyHedgeCut is part of the Bosch 12V ALL System, a collection of Bosch power tools that all use the same interchangeable battery. This makes it easy to find replacement and spare batteries, and it’s very convenient if you’re an avid DIY enthusiast as well as a gardener.

The comprehensive kit | Hyundai 52cc Petrol Garden Multi Tool

Hyundai 52cc Petrol Garden Multi Tool

Pros: Multiple tools in one, high-torque motor works very well below max speed, 180-degree adjustment with safety lock, extension shaft for extra tall hedgerows 

Cons: The harness is a little awkward to adjust, also must be turned off to adjust angle of blades

The second of two long-reach hedge trimmers in this guide, the Hyundai 52cc Petrol Garden Multi Tool is even more special than the Einhell contender. As its name suggests, it’s not just a hedge trimmer, but four tools in one. As well as a hedge trimmer, you get a chainsaw, a grass strimmer, and a brushcutter for clearing thick clumps of weeds and long grass! Each of these power tools are attachments that fit onto the machine’s petrol-powered body.

As well as the four tool ends, there’s also an extension shaft that provides an extra 80cm of reach, allowing you to reach tall hedges. It also comes with an over-shoulder harness that ensures you're always in control of the trimmer’s blades while working. This is a great addition but it isn’t perfect, as the harness can be quite difficult to adjust properly.

Like the Einhell Pole Trimmer, the Hyundai Multi Tool lets you adjust the angle of the trimmer blade to trim horizontally or vertically. There are 12 possible positions to choose from and a double safety lock prevents the blade shifting unexpectedly. This design also means you have to shut off the trimmer to adjust the angle. While not as inconvenient as the mains-operated Einhell, you’ll still need to spend a few seconds restarting the motor. 

Speaking of the motor, this terrific trimmer has a powerful 52cc petrol engine that’s equipped with a sophisticated gearing system that provides a huge amount of torque. This high torque means the trimmer skill cuts effectively at low speeds, making it easier to control and more fuel efficient, too. If you don’t already own garden power tools, this is definitely one of the best hedge trimmers you can buy right now.

The final cut

trimmed hedges in a garden

Snap up one of the best hedge trimmers mentioned above, and your rows will be whipped into shape in no time. But that’s just the start! To create a perfectly pristine outdoor oasis, you won’t just have to contend with unruly hedges. You’ll also have to tackle overgrown lawns, wayward tree branches, scattered leaves, and more. Thankfully, for every garden problem, there’s a garden power tool to solve it - and we’ve got everything you need here at OnBuy. 

Keep your grass in check with our range of lawnmowers and strimmers, cut through those especially thick branches with one of our high-powered chainsaws, and make getting rid of fallen leaves a breeze (literally!) with our selection of leaf blowers! With all this and more available from popular brands like Hyundai, Flymo, and Bosch, you can rely on OnBuy to cover all your green-fingered goals.

For more top gardening tips, head over to our list of home, garden and pet guides. There, you’ll find lots more great advice (and products) to turn your yard into a green nirvana. Great examples that will help your garden flourish include garden storage ideas to save space, how to pick the ultimate water feature, and how to create a wildlife haven on your doorstep. Gardening bliss is just a few clicks away!

The information in this buyer’s guide is correct at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.

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