Hedge trimmers can work for every property and budget
A hedge trimmer can be a huge time- and muscle-saver for anyone who has a yard. Whether you just need to shape a few shrubs, or you have acres of hedgerows, a hedge trimmer will make short work of the job. Choosing the best hedge trimmer starts with gauging the size of your yard and the kind of plants you grow. A bigger property needs a trimmer that has the power to keep working long enough to finish the job and one that can handle larger diameters.
Electric hedge trimmers are quiet and efficient. If your property isn't very large, electric hedge trimmers (sometimes called corded hedge trimmers) are small and light enough to move around easily. They're also the least expensive type of trimmer. Unlike gas models, they're quiet and don't have any unpleasant emissions. They do have a couple of drawbacks, however: They limit your range, and there is a risk of tangling or cutting the cord while you work -- but that can be avoided with careful management of the cord.
Cordless hedge trimmers offer greater freedom of use. There is no cord to limit how far you can roam. They're quiet too, and don't produce any emissions. The drawbacks are that you're limited to how long the trimmer's battery lasts on a charge and you have to carry the battery itself, which can add several pounds of weight to the trimmer. That said, the introduction of lithium-ion (Li-ion) technology has improved things on both fronts to the point where the best performing cordless hedge trimmers have become viable alternatives to gas-powered trimmers, even in heavy-duty commercial applications. So if you thought battery-powered trimmers were always underpowered, it might be time to take another look.
Some cordless trimmers come with two batteries, or spares are available -- if one runs out, you can swap it for the other and continue working. Hedge trimmers designed for commercial work often have the option of a backpack battery that offers long run times while keeping the trimmer down to a manageable weight. If you know you will need to use the hedge trimmer frequently or for long periods, your other option is to invest in a rapid charger for quick recharge times.
Gas hedge trimmers are the power players in the landscaping world. They cut through thicker branches than electric models and cut cleanly, leaving precision cuts and lines. They're also a top choice if you're dealing with a lot of property as a gas tank can be refilled infinitely, compared to the limitations (reach and run times, respectively) of electric corded and cordless models. The do have some significant drawbacks, however, including weight, noise and emissions, plus the extra maintenance that a gas motor entails. Still, gas trimmer fans say those hassles are worth putting up with for the extra power and speed that these landscaping tools deliver.
Finally, if you're edging and trimming grass low to the ground, you might benefit more from a string trimmer than a hedge trimmer. Once you're done with either, a leaf blower is one of the easiest ways to clean up.
Finding the best hedge trimmers
To find the best hedge trimmers, we looked to both expert reviews and user feedback. There aren't a ton of experts currently reviewing hedge trimmers, but we found useful reports at Popular Mechanics and ProToolReviews.com. Users go a long way toward filling the gap, however, including feedback on long term satisfaction. Amazon.com is good source of owner reviews, as are major home and garden retailers such as HomeDepot.com, Loews.com and others. The results are our top picks among corded and cordless electric hedge trimmers, and gas powered models.