Best for smaller yards, electric hedge trimmers (sometimes called corded hedge trimmers) are the first option many homeowners consider. With prices usually below $100, they're very economical; they're also the smallest and lightest of the trimmer types, and very easy to maneuver overhead and in tight quarters.
All three of the electric hedge trimmers profiled in this report are quiet -- all the better for endearing yourself to nearby neighbors, especially if you like to work in the yard early in the morning. They're also backed by two-year warranties and offer very good durability when used for the light, occasional work they're designed for -- so deciding between models comes down to a question of features, weight and brand loyalty.
The 3.3-amp Black & Decker HH2455 (Est. $70) looks to be a terrific choice, and it's our Best Reviewed recommendation, but it's close. Pluses include an on-lock trigger, which lets you lock the power switch "on" so you don't have to continuously squeeze it as you work. It also features a rotating handle that swings through a full 180-degree arc, letting you change the angle of the blade for trimming in tight quarters or awkward positions. That also makes the trimmer easy to use regardless of whether you are right handed or left. Though it's a little heavier than the other corded hedge trimmers that we consider to be great choices, at 6.5 pounds the HH2455 is still light enough for most users to handle comfortably. It's rated to cut branches up to 3/4 inches in diameter, and owners say it largely lives up to that. Though the feedback we see at HomeDepot.com is a little more limited, and a little more mixed, Amazon.com users give the HH2455 top marks -- it earns a 4.6-star rating based on more than 760 reviews.
Still, if the lightest, most maneuverable hedge trimmer is a must, the 4.3 pound Black & Decker TR117 (Est. $30) looks to be a great alternative. Its 17-inch blade is also the shortest in the report, which makes it ideal for trimming small, rounded hedges and in tight spots -- but if you want to trim larger hedges or simply get through the job faster, you'll do better with the 24-inch Black & Decker HH2455.
Though it's the least expensive hedge trimmer we recommend, the low price and light weight don't mean that the Black & Decker TR117 is a lightweight when it comes to taking care of trimming tasks for a typical suburban property. Owners say the TR117 lives up to the promise of cutting branches up to 5/8 inch thick, although near-capacity branches may require an over-under cut. It's quiet, too, something nearby neighbors are sure to appreciate. As long as you bear in mind that this isn't a hedge trimmer for heavy duty work, most say durability is excellent, and so is satisfaction as evidenced by its 4.6-star rating at Amazon.com based on nearly 450 reviews.
Finally, the Toro 51490 (Est. $50) actually has the highest power rating, at 4 amps, but sits between the two Black & Decker hedge trimmers we recommend in terms of reach (22 inches) and price. Its cutting performance (branches up to 9/16 of an inch) is in the same range as the other two hedge trimmers reviewed in this section. The Toro trimmer is absolutely loved by those whose reviews can be seen at HomeDepot.com (a 4.6 star rating and recommendations from 99 percent of the more than 170 users that own it). On the other hand, user reviews at Amazon.com seem a bit more mixed, although why that is so is difficult to determine since this hedge trimmers feedback is combined with that of a Black & Decker string trimmer.
Beyond what's outlined above, the three corded electric hedge trimmers have a lot in common. In all three cases, users say the trimmers work great when used to cut small, live (soft) branches. All three of them start to slow a bit as they approach their maximum capacity or encounter old, dead branches, and they may even require you to do a few over-under cuts -- but they'll still get the job done.
If you don't want to spend a little extra for the Black & Decker HH2455's features and capacity, both the Black & Decker TR117 and Toro 51490 are excellent alternatives. In fact, they're so similar that many users have divided into camps based simply on brand loyalty.
If you prefer a handle that's in line with the axis of the trimmer, you should opt for the Black & Decker TR117; and if you'd rather have a loop handle that runs perpendicular to the trimmer's axis (and extends equally to both sides, so it's friendly for left-handed users), go for the Toro 51490.
And finally, if nothing bothers you more than the extension cord falling out of an electric trimmer's plug-in, you might feel better using one of the Black & Decker models. All three trimmers mentioned here have cord locks meant to keep those "oops" moments from happening, but judging from user comments, the Black & Deckers' cord lock works a hair better than Toro's.
The Black & Decker HH2455 and its two runners up all excel at what they're designed for -- quickly trimming lots of small branches. But if you want to trim larger branches, work far away from a power outlet or simply not worry about cutting or tangling a long cord, consider purchasing a larger and noisier, but significantly more powerful gas hedge trimmer. Or if you need extra mobility for small jobs, consider an eco-friendly cordless hedge trimmer that's powered by rechargeable batteries.
Elsewhere in this report: